As the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, I see on a daily basis the impact of politics and policy on my family, neighbors, friends, and residents. Earlier this year, I ran for chair of the Democratic National Committee because of a sense, in communities like mine, that national politicians were talking too little about us and too much about each other, and themselves.
The upcoming elections in 2017 and 2018 offer an opportunity for the Democratic Party to change that, rebuild, and once again be rightfully known as the party that cares about people and works to make their lives better. Yet success — in the short and long term — is far from guaranteed.
National politicians were talking too little about us and too much about each other, and themselves.
Progressive organizations and Democratic constituencies are extremely energized and more ready for action than ever. But the party is still struggling to unify around a single message, and remains at a structural disadvantage in most states. Even if Democrats had won the White House in 2016, the party would be facing serious issues in states across America: today we are at our lowest level of influence in office since the 1920s.
The strength of our party has always been its determination to protect people going about their everyday lives. As Democrats and progressives look to the future, we should remember our most essential values. A lasting majority will be possible only when we are consistently offering answers to fundamental concerns that touch the lived experience of Americans in our everyday lives.
The national mood reflects the challenges that hang over our country. Political polarization is at its worst in modern times. Working and middle-class families feel ignored and left behind by a political system that treats them like data points in a focus group, rather than as real people whose lives are affected by the policy choices our elected officials make. Wall-to-wall coverage of the political intrigue in Washington focuses on which Capitol Hill players won the daily news cycle, with barely any reference to the communities and lives where politicians’ decisions actually hit home.
That’s why I’ve decided to establish Hitting Home, a political action committee that is dedicated to elevating the voices, concerns, and aspirations of Americans who no longer feel like they have a seat at the table in our political discourse.
Hitting Home will mobilize resources to elect Democrats, at every level and in communities both red and blue, who will put the lived experiences of Americans front and center. We will support candidates who focus on showing voters what we are for — not just what we are against — and understand how to do so in terms of our everyday lives.
Through various forms of media — paid, earned, and social — we will use American voices to illustrate why politics really matters. We will take as our foundation the belief that every policy and every candidacy should be justified mainly on the basis of what it represents for people who live with the effects of political decisions at every level.
Both our politics and our policies need a reset. By re-centering our work at the kitchen tables, workplaces, and schools where it matters most, we will reconnect with the moral center of our party. We will also, I am convinced, be practicing a more meaningful and effective political strategy.
As we mount this effort, I will turn to those who share our values for help. I will look to allies throughout the progressive movement for energy, amplification, resources, and above all — stories. With your help, we hope to get involved in races throughout America that need more real voices to help cut through the noise. Basing our approach on a renewed politics of the everyday, we will win again, and deserve it.