Where Iowa Democrats go from here: Thoughts for the next party chair

Dec 05, 2020

It's about engaging, messaging and candidates

The new party chair needs to take a three-prong macro approach if the IDP is ever going to turn the state something resembling purple. They need to concentrate on engaging, messaging, and recruiting attractive candidates.

To engage with potential voters, you have to raise awareness and bring them together — long before campaigns get started. And it has to be a constant effort. How? Make being an Iowa Democrat a social thing to do. The party needs to become a social destination, like PTAs and places of worship. When it’s safe to do so, get events going to develop social circles, which can springboard campaign circles. Getting your friends and neighbors together to enjoy food, beverages and company is the easiest way to build infrastructure.

Regarding messaging: Iowa is not New York or California. Our candidates need to speak to our needs, which may not gibe with
Democrats of Brooklyn. Iowans do not want to “defund the police.” If this means our messaging doesn’t conform to what comes out of the left-most wing of the party, so be it. Even Joe Manchin’s centrism is far more progressive than any Republican’s. Let’s raise the big tent here in Iowa and keep it raised. And convey that our candidates really do represent Iowans. We need to engage professionals who truly understand how to craft effective messaging, not rely on the one-size-fits-all approach that has produced enough crap to fill a CAFO.

And we need attractive candidates. Tip O’Neill famously said, “It’s always the candidate.” We need to search for energetic women and men who can persuade their friends and neighbors to vote for them. That means don’t round up the usual suspects. Dump out the many-times-warmed-over coffee and brew a new pot.

Anyone who declines to energetically adopt these fundamentals is doomed to bury the IDP in a hole so deep, we might as well be South Dakota.

Denial is not a strategy for opening Iowa schools

Jun 26, 2020

There is a way

Yes, you can mitigate distancing in school, not ideally but it can be done.

For example, we could eliminate rank-and-file rows and space desks around the room (learning in the round).

Instead of having everyone change classes at once and cramming hallways with potential virus carriers, it could be done classroom by classroom. Yes, this will extend the school day, but isn’t that worth it to help ensure good health?

Principals can work with teachers, students and parents to generate ideas to make this difficult situation function without torpedoing education and wrecking safety.

Grief in the time of COVID

May 25, 2020

The cruelty of it all

How sad!

How sad that we are denied what mental health experts tell us we desperately need in a time of crisis: human contact.

How sad that in trying to stamp out the virus through isolation, we may be stamping out our humanity.

How sad that public officials seem bent on ignoring the most insidious side effects of this medication, even when taken as directed.

Reopening should not be positioned simply as choosing profits over people. It is far more nuanced than that because the future of human nature is at stake. We need a solution with that as top-of-mind, for the scientists and public officials.

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