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“We Are Not the People We Have Been Waiting For”: Prominent Progressive Resigns from State Central Committee

Laura Hubka, a leader in the Iowa Democratic Party and prominent member of Iowa’s progressive movement, resigned from her seat on the party’s State Central Committee following the completion of her duties earlier this month. Following her resignation she sent a letter detailing the issues she had dealt with while attempting to work towards moving the party in a winning direction and the reasoning for her exit. PVI has received a copy of this letter and you can find the letter in its unedited entirety below:

I sent an email late last week resigning my positions on the Iowa Democratic State Central Committee, the 1st District and my Chair position in Howard County. Now that I have taken care of my duties within the party I would like to be more specific on why I left. I will concede that these are my opinions but I know through the time I spent talking to the people of Iowa in many different locations though-out the state that I am not alone in my opinions or feelings.

We say “the truth is on our side” but what if we are part of the lie?

From the first time I took on being a volunteer for the Democratic Party for Barack Obama I was excited and thrilled to be part of something so big and being able to “change the world”. I imagine that many feel l this way. “Stars in the eyes and dreams in our hearts”. I plugged away for years and years. We all know the story of the losses and the “investigation” and “rebranding” we tried to do over the years as we got our asses handed to us.

We blamed “money” and “outside” sources. Everyone in leadership kept looking past the problem. The “party” was anything but a party. The power struggle within was getting bigger and bigger and we watched really good candidates get squashed out of the game because no one wanted to face the hard truth that America was changing. We say that the republicans want to “take us back” but the democrats don’t want to change either. They are not brave enough to try something different because “that won’t win races”. Well, were we winning? Maybe I missed that? No, we lost a RECORD number of seats. More than ever before. Still, we saw back slapping and old ways used over and over again. “Wink and nod”

We want to “celebrate” that Secretary Hillary Clinton got the “popular vote”. We want to put a “W” in our column? Really? That shows the desperation we have gotten accustomed to. We are so proud that we “won” even though half of the players on our team (The USA) did not even want to play?

So we stand around being “proud” and pointing fingers at Clinton, Bernie and the Russians. Who do you really think lost this thing? The 99% of American people who are struggling to work, live, eat and find some sort of “American dream”. WHY? Because we stopped talking to them and instead assumed they were “ours” because, well, you know “people that vote republican are deplorable”. We let the internet talk to them. The internet told them nothing but that “we” were not the republicans.

So they looked over at the republicans and it appeared they had a candidate that wanted to bring jobs back, make America first, get us health care and was saying what they were feeling- mad, bad, awful things.

So the choice was vote for the republicans who were saying things they wanted to hear or the democrats that were saying nothing new.

I could not get ¼ of the volunteers to knock doors or make phone calls that I had been able to get before. I told you and SO many others told you as well. You shook your heads and just acted like it was the people that  just did not get it. You did not invest  time or money in finding out what was going on. The lie being told was there was no way Trump was going to win. Full stop.

So many young people were involved. Tech savvy and invested. There was no hiding from mistakes and the doors were wide open on everything. They were reading state party constitutions and by-laws. They came to meetings prepared after sharing information on how things were supposed to be done only to find that nothing was done the way it was written on most occasions. People that had been involved for a long time took this to be an “invasion” of the party. A huge divide started that was much larger than the “Bernie v Hillary” thing but everyone likes to blame it on that and continue to do that to this day. Do you see it? Do you see it that way? Or is it just still a “Bernie v Hillary” thing to you?

We play our own game of “the rules apply only to those outside our circle”

Our state party is the 1st in the nation. 1st on the list of committees that get attention from the powers that be at the DNC. They don’t live here but yet we take marching orders from them. We take in kids from all over the nation ready for some Iowa action.

It’s the place to be if you want to shine up your political resume. These kids are often from big cities and places nothing like Iowa. We throw them into supporter housing and make them work 20 hours a day and give them a couple of vacation days. WE make them wait for re-imbursement for mileage and any other thing they need. More times than not their basic needs are not met in any way. Either physically and emotionally. I think this is the price they pay although we are the party of “equal rights” and “equal pay” and the party for the underpaid and overworked. Granted some of them eat it up, come back and move their way up the chain.

We get consultants and build more and more levels to each campaign as they arrive. More housing, more money and more TV time. YAY Iowa! Money!! It’s great for our economy. No harm no fail.

Now back to my point. My exit.

I have seen and dealt with sexism, racism, misogyny, accessibility denial, name calling, snickering, bullying, classism and inequality since I started but even more so as I climbed up the ladder to the leadership. One story is told to one person and another version is told to someone else.

There were people getting overly upset because we wanted to make sure we had a vegetarian option on our work-shop menu. Backstabbing and obvious sabotage to others plans because they are “not part of a certain group”. One person was told to take their items to another area just because another person did not get along with them. Email chains that purposely exclude others on a certain committee because the “gang” doesn’t like them then blaming that person for not knowing what is going on. Accessibility not being taken into account when meetings and events are taking place (even when reminded and called out on it) So wrong and discouraging. Snickering and “just a little too loud” conversations taking place right behind the person that is being talked about. Derogatory remarks made about our LGBTQ and people of color.

Younger folks and those who had not been involved before were standing up to ask questions about procedures that they just wanted to understand (considering those procedures were NOT being followed in many instances). They simply wanted answers. Those people, new comers with new and good ideas and questions, were now put into the “troublemaker” category.

The people that have been involved the longest were being called out on procedures and amendments that they themselves voted on within the last 5 years. They were arguing and challenging their OWN words. They started talking about how this was not “fun” anymore. It is so childish and discouraging.

I took a seat on the State Central Committee with other like-minded people thinking that we could change it from the inside. I have always been the middle of the road person. Always trying my best to encouraging both sides of this democratic divide to see the others point of view. I did it as long as I could. About a year.

I feel bad for leaving because I encouraged so many to stay. I feel bad because I told them we could change it. I feel bad that we had to deal with the road blocks that I think will not move. I am just wondering what it will take?

I am sure I am not the first to come up against this problem. Some just sit back and watch but I will always refuse to do that. We are not the people we have been waiting for.

Who are we and what do we stand for if not for each other?

 

Laura L. Hubka

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13 thoughts on ““We Are Not the People We Have Been Waiting For”: Prominent Progressive Resigns from State Central Committee Leave a comment

  1. The 1st campaign I ever worked on was in 2014 for Rick gill. he was running in my state house district against a corrupt incumbent. Put up signs, talked to people, and he lost 70/30. So I decided I’m going to get more involved in politics.

    I find out that Indiana has the lowest voter turnout in the country and my county Dearborn has the lowest voter turnout in the state in 2014. So I decide I’m going to get involved heavily the next time around and then Bernie came into it. So I started organizing in my congressional district. I created a network across 19 counties and in the reddest district in the state Bernie won the primary. Mike pences old district. In fact Bernie won our state primary.

    So as I decide to get more involved in politics I became the secretary of my local party. I grew our party over the course of a year from 6 members that came to meetings to 30 members that came to meetings and I had every intention of running for chair at reorganization this past March. My county chair, knowing this, recruited someone that did not attend meetings to run for chair and then a woman, Tricia, who is very manipulative, decided that she was gonna run against me for vice chair when she realized I was running for vice chair. Then she hassled me at 9:30 on a Tuesday night to bring me her letter of intent because as secretary it was my duty to collect those. I told her That there was no need for me to get it at 9:30 on a school night when my kids were in bed, that I can pick it up from her a couple of days later. I was very busy that week, keeping in mind she had a solid 3 weeks to turn it In . She hassled me to pick it up from her husband repeatedly and so I agreed.The next day and between taking my daughter for kindergarten round up and taking my son to a therapy appointment I stopped and picked up this letter from him at a gas station. In this letter she States that she is not running for vice chair she is running for chair completely circumnavigating my run considering the male female component that is required to run a party. She literally wanted to come to my house at 9:45 would been 10 o’clock on a school night just to see my face when she said she was running for chair .

    So I decided not to run for chair against her because I didn’t wanna seem petty because I’m not a petty person. I decided not to run for re election in my county in any position as I did not want to be involved in her kind of politics. Instead I ran for state secretary of our party.

    Our state secretary was retiring going on to a different position in a company somewhere and it was open they hadn’t listed anyone so I thought it was a good chance for me to get my name out there. During this time I was a member of the Indiana Democratic Party emerging leaders project which is an exclusive group that you have to apply to get in and they only take 40 people a year and it is a 4 to 5 session program where the party gives you lots of information about fundraising and about reporting, about making sure you follow fec rules and marketing advertising budgets. it’s a great amount of information so I thought I had a good chance.

    The state party tapped someone that was already on the committee to run against me and make a lateral move. Because that’s what they do in Indiana to keep power from leaving the corporate hands. In the course of our election I went and I met with constituency caucus groups I met with all kinds of people made calls talk to people. and then we get to the election and March and we have questions that we have to answer. so one of the questions Im asked is what you do when there’s an incumbent in office and there’s primary challenge. For me the answer was easy I told them as a younger progressive Democrat I feel it is the party’s duty to use all its resources to advocate for all primary candidates to truly let the voters make an informed decision and then whoever wins that primary the party should use every resource at their disposal to help them win in November. Their Candidate chose to answer very simply “you keep your d*** mouth shut.” I lost 28 to 3.

    This is contentious because senator Donnelly is the most at risk democratic senator in the nation however he consistently votes against the democratic platform . This is also contentious because as I was a state delegate. I went to our convention for 2016 in Indianapolis and even though Bernie won the primary they acted like he did not and they opened for dinner with a video from Hillary Clinton addressing the Indiana delegation. as a matter of fact, the only time Bernie was ever mentioned was in the opening of the dinner when the state chair said if you’re here for hillary’s stand up, if you’re here for teachers stand up, if you’re here for police officers stand up, etc., and at the very end, almost as an after thought, he said if you’re here for Bernie stand up .

    They changed the rules so state delegates only voted for national delegates that supported their primary choice, thus limiting the amount of delegates for wither candidate. We went on and fought for resolutions there and were told that it was just sour grapes. we were treated like 2nd class citizens that they just didn’t want.

    At the beginning of this year I formed an LGBT non profit group here locally with 2 other women. The new chair of the county party, we will call X, whom I’ve already mentioned, decided she was going to tell one of the other co-founders that if I was involved at all they could expect no help from the local Democratic Party. She had my cofounder stalking me online with other people and reporting back to her. I left my LGBT group due to the discord she had sewn from telling them I was banned from the party for ethics violations, which is a flat out lie.

    During this time I’ve also started a political action committee called 92 county strategy that is dedicated to spreading civic information and helping normal everyday people run for office and teaching them how to do it while showing them that elected officials are just normal people that felt the call to serve .

    With 92, I have hosted a series of webinars over the last several months teaching people about offices like township trustee and county council because people know what a senator does but they don’t necessarily know what a trustee does and that’s a really important position for people to be involved in especially if they care a lot. Now in this series I have interviewed multiple democratic elected officials including our former lieutenant governor candidate Christina hale as well as a current sitting member of the state central committee who has been on the state central committee for probably 20 years . That same chair of the county Tricia told everyone in the county that was on her mailing list, That 92 was a disparaging group and that if anyone had anything to do with it they would find their position in jeopardy. I’m still doing my webinars.

    So before I left the pride group I was approached by a Woman I met through the Bernie campaign in regards to opening a free clinic in our area. So I started another nonprofit, the volunteers in medicine of Dearborn Ohio in Switzerland Counties incorporated, and we’re working on opening a free clinic in our county that will serve 6 to 8k people without insurance across 3 counties. In the beginning of this process, I reached out to local news media and got us an interview on Fox 19 news station here for Cincinnati to advertise a town hall about the clinic and X called My Bernie friend because my Bernie friend is a democratic member of the park board here in our county one, of the maybe 5 elected democrats we have in our entire county, and told her that if I have anything to do with the clinic they should expect no help from the Democratic Party . And as soon as she seen us on the news she picked up her phone and called my Bernie friend furious that I was still involved. I am now the executive secretary of the board of directors .

    I also received a personal letter from the state chair saying that I was no longer allowed to come to the Hoosier hospitality dinner with my free ticket that was awarded to me through the emerging leaders project because I was honest and said that our state chair has created so many appointed positions on our state central committee that it is ran more by people he has appointed than by people that were ultimately elected by voters. (considering voters to precinct people to county chairs to district chairs to state chairs to state party order of things ).

    I have worked with volunteers from across the state to create a series of resolutions to pass, hopefully at the next state convention- if we can get enough progressive delegates elected, that would return some of that power back to the voters and back to the party volunteers. our county chair X, even after our county voted to pass 9 of 10 of them by vote, went to the district meeting and told them she changed her mind that her counry wouldn’t be voting for them . He husband is now running for state rep.

    I had Republicans ready to work my democratic booths when I was the secretary of my county party And I worked every day for 2 solid years. I took time away from my family, my friends, my life, to dedicate everything to that party and that’s what they did to me .

    I have since been courted by the American progressive party they would like me to be the chair of the Indiana state progressive party and do you know why I haven’t really done it yet? because they don’t address civil rights and systemic racism in their platform .

    I am FIRMLY #DemExit. I do not tell this story to many people. I prefer to let my efforts speak for themselves. But with 2018 coming and so many progressives with rose colored glasses try to reform a party that is disgusting to its core, I think they need to know what they are up against.

    Thank you for this article.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bravo! How many of us tried to get involved and do the right thing and were met with these kind of vicious high school games and manipulation. how many people were brave enough to stick it out at meeting after meeting after meeting until we couldn’t take it anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was born and raised in Iowa, went to college in Oregon and moved to San Francisco and then Las Vegas Nevada. I’ve been a Nevada resident since 2004 now but think of Iowa often. In Nevada I got more involved politically in 2008 with Obama’s campaign and even more in 2015 thanks to Bernie Sanders and some great friends of mine. I am heavily involved in the Progressive movement in Nevada and even ran for State Assembly last year. This year I ran for NV State Dem Party Chair and would have probably won if 20+ more Progressive supporters were in the room, in fact we had perhaps 60 more in the room but they were not granted votung rights due to a drawn out vetting process relating to an MOU the NV Dems made with local Progressive activists and Keith Ellison. We have been working since 2016 to reach parity in our state central committee which we should have had after the State Convention, but processes were not followed and the State Central Committee had only about 13% Sanders delegates instead of 46% that would have reflected the representation at our 2016 State Convention. Every state is different, and how individuals, personalities, and preferences are used to dictate actions and decisions within the Dem Party in each state differ. But it’s true that in most cases, probably in every state, we are all seeing a similar dynamic happening of a divergence of opinion or philosphies. One side generally wanting to keep the Dem Party working the way it always has, with the same power structure and general approaches to campaigning and elections, and the other side primarily consisting of new faces but also of party veterans who believe we must change our approach to internal systems – political organizing – fundraising – and also political issues. In some states change might not seem possible, in every state change is never easy. In Nevada things are evolving in positive ways progressives are making lots of in-roads and have a seat at almost every table, often the minority of seats, but sometimes the majority. Change takes time, and not everyone is expected to be patient forever, but what big positive changes in the history of our society were easy, or took place over 2 or 3 years? I can’t think of any that took less than 10, and I can think of more that took 20 or 30 years to happen, but everyone of them were on the right side of history and every one involved hard working people, often fighting against great pressure and great odds just to make moves that seemed to not have any impact, and yet they still won, and I believe that everything every progressive does makes an impact. So we keep working, in whatever form that takes in your state. Just be the change, and don’t stop. Thanks for reading. Owen Carver

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  4. Thank you for your article and effort to self-examin. JFK’s campaign got me started, though I was too young to really have a clue. Worked on RFK’s campaign, but after the assassinations, when the Party chose to run Hubert Humphrey against Nixon, I knew there was a real problem with trying to work “within the system.” Power not only corrupts, it co-opts any attempts to change it. So we have “incrementalists” (apologists for the system) telling us to think small while at the same time calling themselves “progressive.” and telling us to “resist” the very institutions they perpetuate. Working outside the system, it is, though, very difficult to gain any traction. So we do both, one hand scraping it off the other, and trying to lend encouragement to those who have not yet quite crawled back on to their couches. It may be one thing to be “radicalized.” President Obama’s pushing for “Hope,” for me, missed the mark. I act not so much out of hope as out of a statement of who I am. It still takes courage to keep moving foreward, and choose to in fact BE the one’s for whom we have waited.
    Mark A. Hirshfeld
    Ventura County Activists for Bernie Sanders 2020

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  5. Great letter. Thank you for speaking your mind. Hope you can find a way to stay involved in politics outside the establishment. Somehow, someway, we have to change things for the sake of our future.

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  6. The issues that are being rAised here are issues that I have encountered here in Dallas. Eventuly, I just quit trying to participate. I got the feeling that everyone was trying to protect there power and position.

    Maybe these attitudes have contributed to the rise of Bernie and his supporters.

    Bernie has the highest level of integrity.
    Bernie is open and honest.

    No matter what, the only way that I can see us getting our democracy back is by electing Bernie as our next President.

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  7. You should check out @OurVoiceUSA and see if it aligns better with your interest in making a difference in Iowa and the nation… fb, twitter, Medium, and a website ourvoiceusa.org
    Its a non-profit start-up I volunteer for and I can tell you that although each of us have similarly progressive views, your particular experience is both understood and sometimes mirrored by some of us in the org.

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  8. I remember watching old friends pre-facebook unfriend me over my attitude towards Clinton (whom I voted for) compared to Bernie.

    The pragmatic, middle-aged, center of the Democratic Party is too comfortable with their own pragmatism to see where it has led them over the past 30 years.

    Meanwhile, even with the most unpopular presidential candidate in history holding them back, the conservatives won the entire country at every conceivable level. Democrats brag about being more honest, but where it counts the most — to *thine own self* be true — today’s Democrats are by far the least honest, most untrustworthy group of politicians *and voters* in our Nation’s history. And everyone knows it, deep down.

    Which is why Democrats lost everything this time around.

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  9. Thank You for giving a shit , that’s more then many of the Talking Heads !
    I’m in OHIO, and these Congressmen and Senators here are going to feel our Anger at the Pols for years to come Democrats and Republicans !
    Nows a good time to Blow the Election Process up, and do away with both Parties !!!
    They suck EQUALLY !!!

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  10. I have read Hubka’s resignation letter several times now, and to be honest, I see no greater meaning in it. Hubka glosses over the real issues – like money in politics, and Corporate Influence (which she flippantly dismisses as “the ‘Bernie v. Hillary’ thing) – and focuses, instead, on how small, and petty, Iowa Democratic politics is.

    Hubka offers no insights and solutions. She simply says “This is frustrating. We are getting nowhere. I quit.” To which I say – “So what?”

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  11. Pingback: Bleeding Heartland

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