It may sound trite, but I am a firm believer in the concept of being the change one wishes to see in the world. In the wake of the November elections, it has become easy for progressives to settle into a rut of complaining among ourselves. I should know, given the considerable amount of time I spend griping on Facebook and Twitter. But lately, I have been asking myself: does this actually accomplish anything?
If I ran into you out in public and said “I hate your clothing,” and then just walked away, what would that accomplish? I’m betting it would either anger you or hurt your feelings, and it would likely leave you wondering – why do they hate it? What do they think I should be wearing instead?
While the scenario above is a silly example, I think this rationale can apply to political conversations. So, when I saw quite a bit of frustration being stirred up online by a surprisingly tone-deaf fundraising mailer from the Iowa Democratic Party , I decided it was time to be the change we wanted to see. I wanted create a new mailer to clearly illustrate what we progressives actually want to see instead of just complaining among ourselves about what we don’t.
I am pretty amazed by the results. People (largely) stopped arguing about the topic. They refocused their frustration into helpful suggestions. We drew together to make the new mailer stronger. People reached out with invitations to meetings and forwarded the new mailer on to county parties for local implementation.
Together, we took a poster that highlighted the Democratic Party’s perceived flaws – big money, pay to play, and elitism and transformed it into a message we fervently hope the Party can embody again: being a home for everyone, regardless of income or status.
What started as an idea to try to stop online bickering and do something creative morphed into a fantastic discussion that I hope to carry forward to the state central committee meeting later this month.
It is my hope that the Iowa Democratic Party will respond well to this idea. We won’t just be providing them with a nebulous complaint, we will be giving them a road-map to the type of progress we wish to see in the Party. But, even if they don’t, I can feel confident that we turned talk into action and took a measurable step towards progress. I’m hoping this will also serve as a blueprint for how to coordinate meaningful change on future issues that emerge.
So, seriously, be the change you want to see. What you and your peers can accomplish might surprise you.