Simeon Talley, organizer of The Political Party events, answered some questions about the organization and what role it plans to play in Iowa’s progressive movement. PVI’s questions are in bold.
Tells us a little bit about your background, where are you from and how did you get involved with politics?
I’m originally from Columbus, OH and came to Iowa to work in politics. In 2008 I was one of the first Field Organizers hired to work on the Obama campaign during the Iowa caucuses. Since then I’ve been focused on merging entrepreneurial endeavors with the arts & culture. Most notably through the Iowa Fashion Project.
Although it has taken me some time to fully re-engage with politics, once you get the political bug it never really goes away.
What exactly is The Political Party? How did it get started? What are some of its main goals?
The Political Party is an effort to creatively engage young people in politics and to identify as well as encourage more young progressives to run for office. Despite what the name may suggest we are not a third party. Rather, we believe that arts & culture can be a catalyst for political and social change.
It was launched in the fall of 2016 through a series of events in Des Moines and Iowa City. These events featured issue-oriented talks about topics young people care about, live entertainment and live music.
Our far-reaching goals are to have a specific impact in Iowa politics: more young people voting, running for office and assuming leadership positions. In the short run, we’re focused on raising awareness and creating momentum for new voices and ideas in Iowa politics.
How do you see The Political Party shaping the progressive movement in Iowa?
That’s a question that we’re still wrestling with. We live in such a challenging moment that is at the same time full of opportunity and renewed energy. I personally believe that when young people are engaged and involved, progressive ideas and candidates win. But engaging young people or any other group can’t be an on again off again endeavor. There must be a consistent commitment to reaching out to young people. I hope that The Political Party can be an instigator or even a convener of a robust dialogue, as to how we turn a lot of the protest and anguish into a sustained progressive movement.
What other types of events does The Political Party plan on holding in 2017?
We hope to be making an announcement soon about future plans. But you can always expect; cool and fun events, inclusive events and events that empower people to make a difference.
What are your thoughts on what the next IDP Chair should be doing?
Well, the next IDP Chair should be doing a lot. Because there’s a lot of work to be done. We at The Political Party hope that the next chair has a serious commitment to making the Democratic Party more appealing and has a compelling vision to do so.
Does The Political Party plan on endorsing any particular candidate after the forum?
We have sent each candidate a questionnaire. After the forum but before the State Central Committee vote, we will make an endorsement.
What do you think can be done to unite a fractured IDP? How can Bernie and Hillary supporters unite? If so, can The Political Party be the organization that makes that happen?
It might be cliche to say, but what unites progressives is truly far greater than any differences we have. And right now we have a lot to unite around. There’s an entire swath of progressive policies and gains that are now threatened. I hope that the focus remains where it needs to be, ensuring that the most vulnerable in our society and those who stand to lose the most under conservative governance, don’t get undermined by backward looking policies.
I suspect if we’re having those types of conversations, we’ll be able to get past some of the divisions and fractures that exist. One more thought: I’m an Obama ‘08 guy. Our mantra was: respect, empower and include. It was ingrained in how we treated each other, those who supported Barack Obama, and those who supported different candidates. I hope that we can restore that ethic of truly respecting and empathizing with one another.
What does The Political Party plan to do to united young progressives from different political stripes?
We’re going to make politics fun, meaningful and empowering. I think that most young people who truly want to see a more fair, just and equitable world will be attracted to that.
The Political Party will be hosting an event for the candidates for the IDP Chair positions this Friday at Grand View University. The event starts at 6 pm. The tickets are free and information can be found at the following link:
Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party Progressive Caucus