1) Instead of just asking for money, tell me where you stand on the issues. I get dozens of emails a day asking for money but no reason why I should really give you any. Vague concepts like “I support public lands” or “good paying jobs” or “Montana values” won’t cut it.
Republicans say all those things but they also tell you where they stand on other issues. They’re anti-choice, anti-science, anti-immigrant and pro-gun. And enough people love this, the “telling it like it is,” that the messaging pays off and the candidates, too often, get elected.
Be courageous, Democrats. Even if I don’t agree with all your issues, if you have the guts to lay your policies out there, you’ll gain my respect.
2) Sign the “No Fossil Fuel Money” pledge. From the website:
Taking the pledge means that a politician and their campaign will adopt a policy to not knowingly accept any contributions over $200 from the PACs, lobbyists, or SEC-named executives of fossil fuel companies — companies whose primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution, or sale of oil, gas, or coal.
This site also lists the candidates who have signed the pledge, including a number of Montanans. Some of those candidates have pledged to take no money at all from fossil fuel interests. Please take a look.
If your campaign can’t survive without taking contributions from the fossil fuel industry, well, maybe you shouldn’t even be running.
3) In a similar vein, if you aren’t going to aggressively attack the climate crisis, take me off your list.
4) Pay some dues before running for a top tier office, like running for city council or county commissioner or the legislature. Get some experience and name recognition, build alliances and a grassroots network…
There’s something to be said about being “an outsider,” but imagine how much more effective you’ll be if you understand the intricacies of government and the office you’re running for.
There are notable exceptions. Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer comes to mind. He too could have accomplished more — at least in his first term — had he been more familiar with the legislative process and governing in general.
This doesn’t seem to apply to the Republican Party as its base will vote for anyone who is rich and has an ‘R’ after their name. Examples of this would be Sen. Steve Daines, Rep. Greg Gianforte and, of course, Donald J. Trump. But look at the disasters they’ve turned out to be.
This is not how the Democratic Party is going to build its “Blue Bench.” Maybe some of the newbies will consider running for a lesser office after they’ve taken a beating at the polls. Until then, Democratic leadership has to encourage and mentor candidates who have served in local and regional office. The party needs to be grooming them for important statewide and national offices.
5) Do some serious outreach to the youth vote. Many of the younger, potential voters, are completely disenfranchised from both political parties. Give them a reason, Democrats, to vote for you: economic, environmental and social. Blow off one of your high end fundraising events and meet with the kids in the Sunrise Movement, Pride organizations, feminist and peace groups — even Green Party and Democratic Socialists.
Bring these young people into the fold and if you continue to support their interests, even as those interests evolve, you’ll have them for life.
I’ll reinforce the first point before signing off. Nobody wants a namby-pamby candidate. Be bold, be aggressive and oh yeah, 6) work your ass off. That is all.