Dear Bernie and Hillary: Transform the Democratic Party

Throughout society, Americans are held back, beaten down, and suppressed. To counter that oppression, we urge you to call on your supporters to transform the Democratic Party into an activist organization whose members fight for the Party’s platform and build precinct-based communities that serve local, unmet needs year-round.

Our society is run by individuals at all levels who aim to get as much money and power for themselves, their families, and their organizations as they can, regardless of consequences.

Most Americans struggle to survive financially and focus on trying to gain some economic security. Many live so close to the edge, one emergency can push them over. Millions who want to work can’t find a job. Millions more work but still go hungry or become homeless.

Citizens don‘t have enough voice with their government. Workers don’t have enough voice in their workplace. Students and parents don‘t have enough voice in their schools. Worshippers don‘t have enough voice in their religious institutions. Clients don’t have enough voice in their social services. Victims of police brutality don‘t have enough voice in the criminal justice system. Consumers are manipulated by incessant advertising.

Far too many people are abandoned, forsaken, locked up, or isolated with no close friends with whom they can confide about personal problems. Large numbers dull their pain with drugs or alcohol. Many are running faster without getting anywhere, taking in more information and processing it more quickly, without taking the time to listen to and understand one another. Some feel trapped. Others are drifting. Almost everyone seeks deeper meaning, wanting to make a significant difference in the world and help relieve suffering.

Afflicted with economic anxiety, people become angry and take it out on scapegoats. We indulge in personal attacks and judge others based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or some other arbitrary characteristic. We impose labels that distort reality. We fall into either/or thinking. We become dogmatic and want to win ideological battles.

Oppression damages the human spirit. The glorification of “winners” undermines the self-confidence, self-worth, self-acceptance, and self-empowerment of everyone else, who are considered “losers.” The competitive pressure to climb the social ladder weakens the ability to collaborate as equals.

The result is a divided society with divided selves who do not have the personal and collective power to threaten the status quo.

To make this nation more democratic, we need a bottom up, grassroots organization whose members help one another be all they can be and help this country live up to its ideals. The Democratic Party could be that organization, a grand coalition.

Registered Democrats elect Party leaders to local and statewide bodies, whose members elect leaders of the national Party. As such, it is democratic. But the Party focuses on elections, and merely electing Democrats is not sufficient.

Between elections the Party does little to advance its platform and engages in little or no year-round precinct organizing. Party activists who are elected to positions of power within the Party tend to defer to elected officials. Many of those activists are ambitious themselves and want to gain favor with elected leaders. Party leaders reduce members to functionaries who fit into the electoral machine.

Given the will and discipline, a unified grassroots effort can change those patterns. Staying involved with the Democratic Party throughout the year, we can empower one another in our daily lives. We can nurture vibrant, compassionate communities by getting to know our neighbors and engaging in activities like peer learning, public forums, registering voters, social events, house parties, mutual support, and environmental cleanup, as well as get-out-the-vote during elections. Party members who share that commitment might create and join a new Party caucus to advance this project. Elected officials could use their office and their campaigns as organizing tools to grow community. And in primary campaigns, Democrats could back candidates who support this effort.

So we ask you, Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders, to endorse this statement and urge your supporters to help transform the Democratic Party and this nation into compassionate communities dedicated to promoting the general welfare. When we do, all Americans will benefit.

Wade Hudson
Michael Larsen
Larry Walker

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