Focus on Problem identification NOT Blame

Julie Stauch was a leader of the Hillary Clinton delegate group at the March 12 Polk County Democratic convention, which turned into a disaster. She responds to calls by Pat Rynard and others for longtime Polk County Democratic Party Chair Tom Henderson to resign. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I’ve seen posts this week blaming Tom Henderson for a variety of things, ranging from Caucus night to the Polk County Convention. This is wrong for two reasons.

REASON ONE: First, and foremost, Tom has been very dedicated and innovative with the Polk County Democrats. He’s been a strong voice for Democratic candidates up and down the ticket, bothering to be well informed about each candidate and speaking with calm conviction. He’s been consistent and reliable, something very few volunteer leaders achieve over one year, let alone for multiple elections.

REASON TWO: Blaming is a dangerous approach to problem solving because the problems we are facing are NOT the cause of any one person, anywhere. We would all be better focused on defining the problems and then dealing with solutions that directly solve each problem.

Right now in Iowa our two major problems are success and two presidential candidates. Success in that we have had so many more people engaged in the process than anticipated, which triggers a whole host of problems with facilities, paperwork, and the number of volunteers needed. And it means a lot of new people who don’t know the process and need more information to feel confident they are being treated fairly. The second problem, only two viable campaigns on caucus night, heighten the tensions between the two groups. When we have more than two candidates, we’re still jockeying for position, but with the added complexity of multiple campaigns to work with. That changes the intensity levels, which decreases the vitriol. Everyone needs to take a deep breath, keep working the process, and remember our long game is winning next fall. We don’t need to blame anyone. We do need to be honest about the problems and seek solutions, not blame. As our labor friends say, “Work like hell and organize!”

  • Instead of blame a better understanding of what happened and why

    Jonathan Neiderbach Pointing fingers and placing blame is rarely helpful. That said, given the situation – a county convention that nearly everyone involved has called a disaster – don’t you think it would be helpful if convention leadership issued a statement on what happened and why, including why so many of the rules were not followed? It might help to defuse the situation, which is going to be a hot topic at this Saturday’s committee meetings and Monday’s Central Committee meeting.

  • I don't accept your premise

    that Polk County Democratic leaders are serious about identifying and fixing problems. Gavin Aronsen of Iowa Informer talked to Henderson about the Polk County convention:

    “I know this is a tense election season,” he said. “The Sanders supporters, understandably, may not have understood the process because some of them are new to it. But it was done pursuant to the rules” and “was run well.”

    How anyone who spent March 12 at Valley High School could claim the convention was run well is beyond me. Henderson’s comments suggest to me that as usual, Democratic leaders would rather circle the wagons than admit something is seriously wrong.

    I am inclined to agree with Pat Rynard that we need new leadership to begin to address the problems.

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