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GETTING THE DEMOCRATS’ ATTENTION: Contact the DNC’s “farm” team?

Recently, I got a fundraising email from an organization called Democratic Municipal Officials. I took it as an invitation to voice my 2022 displeasure with the Democrats directly. Other Democratic voters might also want to contact the DMO and give the Democrats one more chance.

For those who don’t know anything about the DMO, they are a national organization based in Chicago. They self-describe as the “farm” team for the national Democratic Party. This suggests that, through their 30+ state chapters and 6,000 members, there might be a few chapter leaders who are grounded enough to understand why so many Democratic voters are feeling politically homeless in 2022.

This blog contains:
—My response to the fundraising email, including specific issues and specific solutions that Democrats should address
—Detailed information about the DMO that may be useful to other activists who are inclined to give Democrats one more chance
—Brief observations about DMO’s messaging & structure that may foster a better working relationship between voters and leaders

A. MY RESPONSE to DMO Fundraising Email
B. DEMOCRATIC MUNICIPAL OFFICIALS: Can DMO deliver the message? (“one more chance”)

A. MY RESPONSE to DMO Fundraising Email

(1) My background as a voter and activist
I have never been attracted to party politics, but as my 50 years of voting have unfolded, I have voted mostly for progressive, Democratic candidates. On the other hand, as my own 71 years of activism have unfolded — especially since 2005 as I’ve tried to make a living in activism (Food + Farms + Democracy) — my sense of political homelessness has been growing.

Since the Al Gore disaster (the 2000 election conceded to Bush without a fight), Obama disasters (bailing out the banks, drones, deportations, etc.), the Hillary Clinton disaster (she was always a carpetbagger), my disappointment in the Democrats had been slowly growing in the dark. It finally erupted in 2018 when Democratic leadership clarified their corporate and institutional allegiances by first stonewalling on impeachment and then going through the motions of impeachment, all the while chastising or ignoring the true justice leaders of our time, such as Barbara Lee and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

Now in 2022, even though I still occasionally contact my legislators (all Democrats) on specific issues, I don’t have much faith in their (a) understanding of real democracy, (b) understanding of our money & banking system, and (c) understanding of reality, e.g., human biology (sex v. gender), food production (soil v. leafblowers), language (things before words, experience before vocabulary). The DMO fundraising email signalled that it was time for me to say so.

The DMO’s national office is 2.5 miles from my house, headed by a local politico, Barb Moore, the wife of a former Chicago alderman in one of Chicago’s most progressive wards (49). Barb and I had engaged sporadically over the years, on food & farm policy, on participatory budgeting, and on local politics. I thought I’d take a chance and let Barb know how I feel about the Dems these days, along with some ideas that might bring voters back to the Democrats — or, more accurately, bring the Democrats back to the voters.  

For the record, here’s my June 14, 2022 email to the DMO.

(2) The Response to DMO (lightly edited for clarity)

Hi, Barb [Exec.Director], Mr. Robbins [Director of Communications & Operations] —

I think this is a great idea, doing some broader fundraising, especially in DMO’s backyard (e.g., Chicago, Evanston, etc.), during the Jan. 6 Committee hearings.

Unfortunately, there are five sticking points for me in 2022, at the age of 71, as a lifelong feminist, environmentalist, and as a lifelong supporter of mostly Democratic, progressive candidates. If you’re interested in the details of why I can’t contribute to the Democratic Municipal Officials organization, see below.

(Signed) Debbie

1. Accountability: Democratic Party leadership’s disinterest in
a.  impeaching Trump in a timely fashion the first time So far as I know no 2018 candidate ran on an “impeach Trump” platform. Jan Schakowsky was VERY late to the impeachment party. 

b. Going after Trump’s associates and enablers in 2022 (Jan. 6 Committee)It’s not enough to just go after Trump. Many of his associates and enablers have been fixtures of corruption in other administrations (William Barr, Roger Stone, etc.) going back to the 1980s (Iran-Contra). Let’s have some accountabiity.

c. Transparency, public trust, shared power, honest messaging, real listening, especially on the local level (e.g., City of Evanston).
–We just lost out on a great city manager due to some last minute snafu with the City Council (we may never find out the details).
–Recently my State Sen. (Laura Fine) held a “town hall” on antisemitism. Except it wasn’t a town hall; it was a 45-min. webinar with 15 mins. for Q&A. Even though I sent my question in ahead of time, it wasn’t acknowledged or addressed.
—Despite passing a declaration of “climate emergency” recently, Evanston’s Economic Development Committee actually proposed (and is still considering) subsidizing electric leafblowers for Evanston-based landscape businesses. As a professional gardener (now retired), I can confirm that all leafblowers are climate killing machines.

2. Gender identity, gender industry: Biden and Democrats
a. are selling out women’s rights, language, and authority (sex-based rights) in favor of gender identity (whatever that is). One of Biden’s first acts as president (Jan. 20, 2021) was Executive Order 13988, preventing discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Women’s rights, language, safe spaces, and authority depend on such discrimination. (This reminds me of one of Clinton’s first acts: “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”)

b. are endangering & confusing children and families re irreversible medical procedures (puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, cosmetic surgeries), gender identity curricula (e.g., Evanston PreK-3). Gov. Pritzker and the Pritzker family have been internationally identified as a major part of the problem because of their investment in Big Pharma. 

c. are putting men in women’s prisons (including in Illinois)

d. are allowing men in women’s sports

e. finally passed an Illinois Midwives bill — that doesn’t mention “woman” once and defines client as “childbearing individual”

For more information and some of the nuances that Democrats aren’t getting, I recommend:
—Women’s Declaration International (WDI was started in 2019 in UK, now with 40 national chapters)
—WDI-USA national political convention: Reigniting the Women’s Liberation Movement (Sept.23-25, Washington, DC)

3. Lack of coalition building on systemic issues: Municipal officials’ (and candidates’) inability to understand that they can’t fix SYSTEMIC issues on a local level.

For example, municipal officials could organize 
a. across counties: public banks, food policy councils
b. across states: public banks, adopt GPI instead of GDP — “progressive” candidates and officials especially need to understand what genuine economic progress is
c. nationally: nationalize the Fed, create public sovereign money, eliminate private bank money AKA fractional reserve lending; end corporate personhood; pass GPI Act

Evanston’s former mayor, Liz Tisdahl, initially ran on a platform of collaboration with other suburbs, etc. That was one reason that I voted for her. A year later, when I had seen no example of such collaboration, I asked her about it. She said no one else was interested.

4. At the age of 71, I am nearly destitute, having been cheated by multiple food “justice” colleagues in a wide variety of ways during the “great” recession (2007-10). There is still little funding for my work (Food + Farms + Democracy), even though people ask for my help every day. I am currently working with The ARK. They have been helpful, but it’s likely only short-term. I have no $$ to share.

5. Institutionalism: Democrats keep bailing out banks & corporations, instead of the rest of us.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that I’m not the only one inching closer to homelessness, chronic hunger, etc. The evidence is all around us. I didn’t even answer Jan Schakowsky’s “survey” about Biden’s proposal for a 20% (?) tax on over-rich people. What an insult, after how many years of not paying any taxes and paying legislators to write the rules in their favor?

— Adopt universal basic income as “funded sovereignty”: UBI to enable all voters to take our primary job seriously: popular sovereignty.
— Cancel all student debt
— Drop the means testing mentality for what should be basic human rights — food, healthcare, housing, etc.

Can DMO deliver the message? (“one more chance”)

1. About DMO
This is the entire section on “About DMO”. I thought it most useful to copy the whole thing so people can decide quickly whether they want to connect with DMO — whether or not, to use Nancy Pelosi’s phrase, the Democrats are “worth it”. 

Democratic Municipal Officials (DMO) is a national association of elected mayors, city council members, and other municipal leaders. DMO has over 6000 active members and has state chapters forming in over 30 states. As a constituency organization of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Democratic Municipal Officials is the Democratic voice in local politics and the local voice in Democratic politics.

Any incumbent municipal official who self-defines as Democrat, even if they hold non-partisan office, can become a member of Democratic Municipal Officials.

DMO serves as the structure through which municipal officials who subscribe to the principles of the Democratic Party can communicate and promote Democratic goals at the local level. We also serve as the liaison between local elected Democrats and the DNC.

• Democratic Municipal Officials is the fastest growing organization within the Democratic Party and the largest coalition of Democratic officials in the United States. We hold three seats, including an Executive Committee seat on the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

• DMO represents city council members, mayors, and other elected officials from cities, towns, townships, villages and boroughs of all sizes. Our Board Members represent most of America’s large and prominent cities.

• DMO is the “farm team” for the national Democratic Party. Our members have proven electoral success and many continue on to statewide and federal offices.

• We have active members in most states, and in more than 30 states members are forming State Chapters that host meetings, conduct events and trainings, and provide opportunity for participation by DMOs who may not engage in National League of Cities (NLC) or state municipal league functions.

• Our Policy Committees coincide with NLC committees and we work to move policy matters within NLC. Additionally, we work on national policy priorities within our cities and states and in Congress. When a city council member calls her Congressman that calls gets taken, and taken seriously. We ensure that a Democratic voice is heard in the national municipal policy that NLC takes to Congress.

• We work to build a Democratic future by using both new and old networking methods to link local Democrats, forging a two-way relationship between local Democrats and the DNC.

• We invest in tomorrow’s national leadership by highlighting the accomplishments of local leaders, and training Democrats to win and to speak effectively to our issues.

• We craft solutions for America’s challenges by capitalizing on America’s cities and towns as laboratories for policy innovation; promoting our members’ effective policy solutions; and developing a municipal-based advocacy platform for the Democratic Party.

2. Other practical info & observations about DMO
a. State Chapters
This is the DMO’s webpage of State Chapter chairpeople; 29 chapter leaders are listed. 
Observation: Why doesn’t DMO have a chapter in all 50 states?

b. New Political Director: Dominick Perkins
News release — June 7, 2022
Observation: Is this a good sign for engagement with DMO, for giving Dems another chance? that they’ve just hired a new Political Director? (I don’t know who was the previous one or if they had one.)

c. Power Cities include:
• The city with the largest population in its state
• The city with the highest GDP in its state
• Cities with a population of approximately 200,000 or more
• State Capitals
Observation: How about highlighting cities that are central to rural areas?

d. Message from DMO Alumni Council Chair Lou La Monte
(former mayor of Malibu, CA)
The first line of Mr. LaMonte’s message is: “The long nightmare of Donald Trump as President is finally over!”
Observation: I don’t know when Mr. LaMonte wrote that message, but as of June 15, 2022, the long nightmare of Donald Trump as a political player in the U.S. is far from over.
Observation: Has the alumni council ever considered investing in a youth and/or new voter leadership program?