Fundraising is Not Enough: The Party Needs New Blood
The conversation around abortion rights has sparked new critiques of the Democratic Party; here’s one way that passionate liberals can work to change it.
After the fall of Roe v. Wade, many American liberals feel a growing disillusionment with the Democratic Party.
To the many American liberals, the moral injury of the fall of Roe cuts even deeper given that it happened during a Democratic presidency, with a Democratic Party Majority in Congress. Common among the lamentations: “How could this have happened when things were supposed to be getting better?” and “If the Democrats can’t do anything about this, what good are they?”
In this moment of anger and frustration, these feelings are perfectly valid. But anger and frustration don’t change a political process or party alone. To do that, you have to participate in the party’s machinations.
In the American system of politics, that means becoming a Precinct Committee Person (PCP for short).
Why & how:
You voted, called your representatives, and gave money to a candidate’s campaign. You even marched! But still, the power of a registered voter is limited in this country to voice your opinion, set against the backdrop of all other views being expressed alongside yours. Moreover, you have no say in the internal workings of party policy and minimal access to elected officials.
But it doesn’t have to stay that way. Precinct Comittee Persons play an essential role in shaping the future of America’s major political parties. They elect district, county, and state party officers; select the party’s National Committee members, and send delegates to the presidential convention. More importantly, PCPs draft and vote on the policies and the agenda that will be advocated for at the county, state, and national levels every two years.
This is a lot more active a role than writing a letter to your Senator will ever be.
- Register to vote as a party member — You have to be a registered member of a party to play a role in its inner workings. It’s not a complicated process, though. It only requires you to select the party you’d like to participate in when you register to vote. It’s as easy as that!
- Find your county party organization and talk to them — As soon as you’ve registered as a member of the party, you can get in contact with your county party organization. If and when possible, attend county party meetings. Meet your county and precinct committee persons. Let them know you are interested in volunteering to become an interim PCP in the short run.
- Request to run as an elected PCP — When election time rolls around, you have the option of becoming an elected Precinct Committee Person in your state congressional district. Every state is slightly different in how they approach this. But, district-level elections are typically held during party primary season. There are frequently more vacancies than candidates, so there’s a good chance you can win an easy election here.
- Get involved to create the change you want in the party — You can do this from day one with the conversations you start with the other members of your party’s county organization. You will be enabled to do more once you decide to become a PCP and can be set off to a great start later should you choose to become an elected PCP. Your participation is what you make of it.
What if this approach isn’t for me?
Many people reading this might think this approach isn’t for them. And there are a lot of perfectly valid reasons to feel this way. So I’ll address a few concerns that might come up:
“Why try to work within a system that has repeatedly failed us?”
Whether or not you believe the American system of governance is fundamentally broken — or even incapable of delivering results for many Americans, it’s here and readily available to participate in. You may notice that that is not the praise of the American system as a glowing beacon of democratic greatness. That’s because I agree that American politics is profoundly and foundationally flawed — possibly irreparably. BUT, your disinterest in it does not preclude its impact on you. If nothing else, participation in party policy is a form of self-advocacy.
“participating with these political parties is a distraction from organizing in real, meaningful change.”
I disagree. While not all of us have the time and energy to throw ourselves into endless meetings week in and week out, the amount of time you choose to spend participating in various functions at the local level is entirely up to you. It is a time commitment. I am not going to lie to you about that. But IF you can make the time, it does not have to preclude your participation in other methods of creating change in your community.
“I don’t want to join a party that doesn’t already align with my values!”
I’ll be blunt here: nobody cares! At the end of the day, in the present American political system, there are two parties whose entrenched dominance is not going away soon. If you want them to advocate for you and your community, nobody is better positioned to ensure this happens than you. If you don’t feel that the party aligns with your values, it’s more reason to advocate within it until it does.
Finally, you may have noticed that, throughout this article, I have used the generic term “the party” and not referenced the Democratic Party specifically. That’s because this process can be engaged in with either party! There’s no reason that liberals have to resign themselves to becoming only Democratic Party PCPs. They can register as Republicans and change the GOP from within, too. The process works pretty much the same way.
What I hope I have conveyed to you is that you have the potential to unlock a much greater degree of participatory power than you probably presently have. It’s there for the taking if you choose to take it on.