To Engage, or To Disengage?

  • Jan 17, 2013
  • meredith
By Ann Grabowski, Emerge California Class of 2013
Emerge America and my own chapter of Emerge California have been quite successful in engaging women in conversations about their own abilities to run for office and be successful. We talk day in and day out about the need to reach out and engage more women, young women, progressive women, blue women.  
While I think this process and conversation are imperative to the success of our Party (and eliminating gender bias) I hope that our strategy and conversations don’t stop with that assertion. In my own admittedly limited observation, we’re losing women and young professionals from the Party cloth at a steady rate, and we’re losing voters in droves.  As we work to engage young people – especially young woman in the Party, they face an established group of leaders (largely male) who don’t care to be displaced by a Young Dem looking for their first leadership post.  So how do we keep our recently engaged leaders from becoming frustrated with the Party leadership outside of trying to limit Party infighting? One word: mentors. Another word: pipelining. 
We know that we need mentors to keep our young leaders engaged, but what do we do about engaging voters? While there have been significant gains in Party registration, the growth of Decline to State registration is alarming and it’s a statistic not to be ignored – especially in California which has been a traditionally “blue” state. What disengages voters? As far as I can tell, rhetoric and direct mail top the list.  So how do we remedy that issue? I’m going to place my bets on electing rational, independent minded women with strong core values and a conviction in building relationships and reaching out to voters.
A short blog post isn’t the place for a full analysis on the future of the Party, but I think that it’s important to parallel our efforts with engaging women with a conversation about how to keep leaders engaged, and work to ensure that those leaders are committed to listening and honestly serving the residents that they represent – elected, appointed, or just as neighbor.