Subject: We're running to include and respect everyone
Felesia Martin, Lee Snodgrass and I are running to lead the Democratic Party of Wisconsin on a platform of "FIRE": Fight on issues, between elections; Include & Respect everyone; and Empower activists and county parties through better data, technology, and training.
Last week, I sent an email about the "Fight" in our platform (you can read it here). Today, I'm writing to delve more into what our ticket means by "Include & Respect."
The value of inclusion and respect for all people comes from three places. First, it's who we are. Second, it's the right thing to do. And third, it's a strategic necessity. If we're going to beat Trump and, in the coming years, win majorities in the State Senate and State Assembly, we have to organize everywhere--with nobody written off and nobody taken for granted.
Communities of color are fundamental to our party and to our state, but are too often left out of the rooms where decisions are made--with predictable results. That must change. The Wikler-Martin-Snodgrass ticket holds diversity as a core value that will inform all aspects of our leadership: how we hire, train, and retain staff; how we build the talent pipeline for future party leaders, campaign staffers, and candidates; how we organize in the field; the languages we speak; and where and how we show up. As a party, we have to start by listening, and then fight on issues year-round that reflect the priorities of communities of color--not just showing up asking for votes on election day. And we can help white allies in our party develop their skills in fighting racism and building cross-racial alliances. If we want to end racial disparities in Wisconsin, we must live out our values within our party as well.
Rural communities are essential to our coalition and state--but many rural Democrats feel that their communities have been written off by their party. Every community counts. As a party, we must start with the recognition that what works in Madison or Milwaukee doesn't necessarily work in rural Wisconsin, and that if we want to grow, we have to start by hearing the voices of those who know their communities best. There are many voters who might not identify with our party but who agree with our values--on health care, clean water, public education, fair maps, and the dairy crisis. Rural organizers know that sometimes a strategically placed barn sign is more powerful than a TV ad. And there are exciting new efforts to build cross-county rural organizing efforts, from the "Super 17th" Senate district to the 12th up North, that the party should support. Let's show up, listen, champion rural issues, tap local talent and expertise, and demonstrate through our actions that Democrats care about rural Wisconsin.
Suburbs have become a vital battleground, and we should organize like we know it. Even where Republicans have a numerical advantage, great organizing can drive down their margins and make GOP victories impossible. Cities are often islands of blue--which creates opportunities to drive up our vote totals, win local elections, and tap energy to build the party in surrounding areas. Young people are key to not only the future of the party, but the present--and by raising funds for paid internship and fellowship opportunities, connecting on their issues, and communicating in ways that actually reach them, from texts to social media, we can build on the spectacular 80% jump in youth turnout from 2014 to 2018. Seniors bring experience, commitment, and flexible time. Faith communities, people with disabilities, veterans, LGBTQ people, people of all genders, organized labor, newly energized progressives and party stalwarts--all of us are vital.
That's the theme here: everyone. Every person, and every community, is worthy of respect.
Felesia, Lee, and I have been so grateful for the opportunity to learn from so many amazing people during this campaign. If we're elected, we can't promise we'll get everything right--in fact, we can promise that we won't. But we also promise that we'll try, and that we'll listen, and that we'll welcome feedback when we screw up. Listening, adjusting, and improving is how we grow. And grow we must.
The Democratic Party is the party of the people--all the people, no matter how they look or where they live or whom they love. By embodying that value, we'll become more powerful than the Republicans can possibly imagine. We'll defeat Trump and Robin Vos and the GOP machine that has stolen our democracy by sowing division, fear, and hate. And we'll build a Wisconsin where all are welcome and all are lifted up.
The DPW state convention is now 10 days away. If this vision resonates with you, we hope we'll earn your vote there. (You can sign up to endorse us at benwikler.com/endorse). And either way, we hope to earn the chance to work with you to make this vision a reality.
P.S. Sign up to volunteer with us at convention and like our campaign on Facebook to keep up to date on our progress and our travels around the state!