An Open Letter to Tom Perez and the Women of the Party

We are the women of the Resistance, but we are more than that. Likewise, we don’t characterize our work as a Revolution. Despite the intensity and magnitude of the current battle, we know it is a continuation of the war we have been diligently fighting for decades. We are the women of and behind the party. We are the women on the ground who work quietly and steadfastly in our communities through countless campaigns, changing issues, and crises. In our wake, our hard-won progress stretches behind us, always precarious, and we work every day to protect and build upon it. We are grassroots activists, fundraisers, community organizers, advocates, writers, marchers, protesters, mothers, grandmothers, sisters and daughters. We are both teachers and students and know that the struggle for relevancy necessarily happens on the ground. It is in this spirit that we write this letter and raise our voices to be heard.

Two critical issues that cannot be separated are unity and messaging. While we understand the intent behind appointing Bernie Sanders as Democratic Outreach Chair and showcasing him on a Unity Tour, it was always a self-defeating endeavor because Sanders has not actually had control of his ‘movement’ for quite some time. Yes, his words matter, insofar as they reinforce the division of the Left, as they often do, but attempts to bring strategy, unity, or coalition building fall on deaf ears. This is primarily because Sanders is not only a man; he’s also a symbol. Of course, he didn’t start out that way. Sanders, the man, ignited the excitement and political interest of a great many people — especially Millennials. He appealed to them emotionally on issues that resonated with them. He tapped into the passionate idealism of youth. He stoked the fires of righteous indignation and it was largely successful, for good reason. In fact, there is a great deal to learn here in terms of effective messaging. Unfortunately, he also roused the image of a revolution, and the implied instant gratification that accompanies it. We, of course, knew better. Bernie’s idealism is no different from the idealism in our own hearts, but we can’t afford to behave as if we don’t understand the battlefield and the spectrum of views and circumstances that span the nation.

The normal outcome, if there even is a normal anymore, would have been for Sanders and his supporters to refocus their efforts on electing the Democratic nominee after his primary loss. We appreciate that many did, but several factors came together to transition Sanders into a symbol of division in the Left, not the least of which was Bernie’s own constant criticism of the party from which he ran for President. Russian interference acted as an accelerant, simultaneously chipping away at the Democratic Party and fostering division by targeting the Far Left. Human nature being what it is, the Far Left is no more ready to admit they were targeted than the Right. If anything, knowledge of Russian influence is resulting in even more obstinance and ire. Post-primary, a single image of Bernie speaks volumes about one’s political frame of reference, not just on issues, but against what they have come to believe about the Democratic Party as an obstacle to and adversary of their goals. For those of us who have actually fought in the trenches for equity and justice, this is extremely frustrating, yet we acknowledge the need for change and improvement in messaging, outreach and visibility.

We know what we have worked for, what we defend, and what we work toward. With heads bent and shoulders set we have quietly battled year in and year out against the GOP to protect and lift up all of our communities. Bracing against the anti-intellectualism and vitriol employed by the Right, however, has dampened the passion and clarity of our message to the casual voter and newly political. In our commitment to the inherent ‘rightness’ of our work, we have relied too much on what we see as common-sense. In the field, particularly for the politically inexperienced, our message has been reduced to ‘not-GOP’, ‘not-Trump’, or, even more disappointingly, ‘the lesser of two evils’. In a democracy, pragmatism is crucial and idealism without pragmatism will yield nothing – this is a sobering reality learned on the battlefield, but we can all look back to a time when our own passionate idealism was unfettered by the complexities of real change-making. The need for compromise, strategy and diligence does not alter our core ideals. However, we have failed to convey that.

The weaponization of Sanders’ supporters against the Democratic Party combined with a GOP trifecta in the 2016 election makes our outreach and messaging critical. We can’t afford to simply wait for political maturity to set in. Our core values are emotional: Morality, Integrity, Justice, Compassion, Truth. This is the language of the Democratic Party, the party of the people. This is the language we must use to engage with the electorate from campaign stump speeches to small group discussions. And it’s time for the women behind the party to step into the light and into the public eye. The influence of social media and mainstream media is paramount. This is the world of the Millennials and we are all along for the ride. The GOP understands this as do Berners. Memes, symbols, even people, become branding. A single emoji of a frog or a red flower communicates a world view. Bernie Millennials, like Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez, become walking billboards by branding themselves into the imagery of political events, and, like Bernie, their image speaks a message and resonates emotionally. We lack those visuals. We lack that public face. It’s time for that to change.

We write this letter for two reasons. First, to express to the DNC that unity cannot be achieved by showcasing a person who exemplifies our division, specifically a division rooted in a political fairy-tale that shuns the realities of American democracy. We ask the DNC to lift up, instead, those who have shown perseverance, and unwavering commitment to doing the most good for the most number of people. To this end, we suggest a second Unity Tour that reflects all that we represent and more. Secondly, to ask the women who have given so much, working tirelessly toward positive social change, to step forward into public roles as leaders and social influencers. We are women of all colors, with and without disabilities, united for the sole purpose of preserving our party and America’s integrity. The public needs to see who we are, what we’ve worked for, and why we’re Stronger Together.

Sincerely,

Rachel Murphy Azzara
@RachelAzzara

Beverlee Hughes
@BeverleeHughes3

Nancy Ervin
@Nurse4allPeople

Sudha Mohan
@sumoh7

Gayle Asher
@gayleasher1

Pat Fuller
@bannerite

Rebecca Galles

Katherine Erwin
@kjoerwin

Jamie Thompson
@luvman33wife

Janice L. Park
@alaskawater

Sheila Brady
@SheilaBrady16

Joanne Gucciardo
@Jgucciardo2

Donna R. Miller
@AgitatorsNeeded

Rama Dey-Rao, PhD
@ramadeyrao

Barbara Schneider
@barbls23

@deejay90192

Sophie Travis
@SophieinCT

Karen Blunt
@_KJRB_

Randy Prine
@randyprine

Dee Flaherty
@Deemoney521

Diane Straub
@didkins4life

Geneva Boulianne
@politicalgeneve

Christine Szumacher
@imanemerald

Donna Becker
@Samnsara1997

Danielle Cahn
@d_cahn

S Bishop
@CAGoldenBear

E James
@jawja100

Suki Graves, M.Ed.
@freeandclear1

Kathy Christopherson
@kachristo

Michele Moen
@MoenMikey

Maggie McBride

Betty Harry
@Earnest_One

Sally P.

Sheri A Farinha
@xoSheri

Molly U.
@plantflowes

Author: razzara

Mother, strategist, writer, advocate, activist. My education is in Anthropology and Philosophy. I am the Founder and Director of Democrats Work For America, a political action committee supporting grassroots organizations and initiatives.

16 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Tom Perez and the Women of the Party”

  1. Bernie can’t speak for us as long as he seeks to divide us. Since he now claims to be an independent, he shouldn’t represent the Democratic Party in any way.

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  2. Add my name to this list. Bernie does NOT represent Democrats. If he can’t join the party without being treated like a celebrity, he does not belong with the party. He hasn’t paid his dues, whereas so many women have. How can we allow a man who denigrates our party every time he gets on television to act as a representative of our party.
    It’s time for the Democrats to make the “faces of Democracy” be average citizens who vote regularly, volunteer, and truly care for the average citizen. They must be those who support our party for all the right reasons, and popularity or fame are NOT the right reasons.
    Democrats, please talk to your party members (aka voters) for your messages. Have a contest, open a site for suggestions, let’s make our platform & our party stand OUT and FOR something.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. From your fingers to Perez’s ears, I hope. He has been pretty tone deaf so far. DNC is losing out on potential contributions. I can’t give much, but it’s going straight to candidates, and not to the DNC unless this misguided pandering stops.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent job on this letter I would like to sign on!! @naenae82575 true blue democratic from the 90’s ’til now Clinton/Gore/Obama/Clinton !!

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  5. How is painting Sanders as somehow ‘anti-women’ or inconsistent with the aspirations of women going to help unify the party? This isn’t about men versus women. Sanders was open and candid about his views and this resonated with many Americans, male and female. The Clintons appear to position themselves politically just to the left of the Republicans and that fails to excite a great many Democrats as evidenced by the election results. We lost with HRC and her platform
    so let’s blame Sanders and not the response to Sanders by the DNC.

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  6. Denigrating Bernie does not help the cause “It’s time for the Democrats to make the “faces of Democracy” be average citizens who vote regularly, volunteer, and truly care for the average citizen. ” Please advise what an “average citizen” is, exactly…

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  7. Morality, Integrity, Justice, Compassion, Truth.

    Action!

    Do as you say!

    The DNC needs to focus its voice not to conservatives or the moderates , but to so called Deplorables, the forgotten, all those most here (myself included) called zombies, brainwashed, idiots etc…

    If you listen closely, really listen to many of them, you will understand the dark side of the DNC.

    So yes – Morality, Integrity, Justice, Compassion, Truth – yes that is a great message. But now show the rest of the country the Action, walk the talk.

    The number one issue, the core of all evils that corroded both parties is the corp and richs intervention in governing.

    You the DNC, make the first step, don’t wait for the GOP, don’t wait for the WH, be the leader of the ppl, and show Action now. Set new rules for the party, prohibit it, and cleanse the party first.

    Than carry your message with pride. Then all those who turned their back to you, may start listening again.

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    1. Couple notes:
      1. That is never what Deplorables referred to. It was a statement about a particular faction of DT supporters who liked his message because it encouraged their racism. A faction whose minds you would not be able to change.

      2. I (nor any of the signers of this letter) are the DNC.

      Like

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