Living in Society

Message Is To Vote. How Do We Get There?

State Capitol

In a 589-word article published Monday, July 11, Des Moines Register reporters Katie Akin and Francesca Block managed to reduce Sunday’s Reproductive Freedom Rally of thousands of people at the State Capitol to pabulum.

“Speakers encouraged attendees of the event to vote for candidates who support abortion access, donate to aid organizations that help women pay for abortions, and to discuss the issue with their communities,” they wrote.

It was unclear from the article how any of that would get done.

They featured organizers of the rally, which was reaction to the recent Supreme Court decision Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center which overturned Roe v. Wade. Akin and Block did little more than touch on enough aspects of it to get a story. The rally happened, the Register reported it, but it was the wrong story.

President Biden encouraged women to continue to protest this Supreme Court decision. Click here to view a video of his weekend statement to media. One assumes protests will continue, yet the unanswered question from Sunday is how can thousands of protesters turn into a functioning, effective movement?

The Democratic answer to almost every contemporary issue is to get out the vote for Democratic candidates up and down the ticket. For some of us, this needn’t be repeated as we get it: do everything we can to elect Democrats. Beyond this there is little depth or consistency in media messaging. Without solid organization and a master plan, Democrats risk being beaten again at the ballot box. This time, a lot more is at stake than in 2020, if that’s possible.

The Iowa Democratic Party is in transition. I’ve known Chair Ross Wilburn since he was mayor of Iowa City. I liked him then and I like him now. It is a mistake to look toward the small cadre of Democratic Party officials or state central committee members for meaningful guidance. By its nature, the Democratic Party and the tactics and tools we use are decentralized. Any get out the vote effort has to be grounded in precinct politics. Local voters must take ownership. I’m confident they can.

To an extent, the several Supreme Court decisions this year have motivated voters to get more involved. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (abortion), West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (agency regulation of the energy sector), Kennedy v. Bremerton School District (school prayer), New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen (gun control), Carson v. Makin (state funding of private schools), and others engaged diverse constituencies across the nation. It would seem there is plenty to motivate folks to vote.

I understand many families and friends talk among themselves about politics. The challenge is expanding the circle of contacts to include others in our community. Several prominent campaigns in the state have encouraged just that. Some plans are specific, some nothing more than to contact a few new people each week about the election and why it is important to vote Democratic. It is something yet what are the metrics to determine the efficacy of these approaches? It’s hard to say. This is no plan unless one puts air quotes around the word.

I’m glad there was something in the Register about Sunday’s rally. What we need more than a boilerplate news story is a plan. One that goes beyond advocacy groups that organized the rally.

If you haven’t, give your local county party a call and get involved in the 2022 midterm now. You will be thankful you did.

~ First posted on Blog for Iowa