As we considered sites for the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting, we looked for a location that would demonstrate our party’s ability and willingness to compete in states that have traditionally been Republican strongholds. We chose Arizona.
Arizona represents an opportunity for Democrats in 2014 and beyond. Each year, more young voters and people of color get involved in the political process, and they are voting overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates.
But it’s not just the demographics that are making Arizona a more competitive state. Democrats are going to do well in the Grand Canyon State this year and beyond because we simply have an agenda that better resonates with Arizonans concerned about the health of the economy, who want immigration reform driven by common sense, and who believe in the virtues of having a thriving middle class.
At the same time, Republican extremism continues to alienate the people of this state. With their so called “Autopsy” report, the leaders of the GOP made a show of their intention to change a set of policy positions that are increasingly out of step with mainstream American views. As part of that makeover, Republicans vowed to soften their hardline stance on immigration. But earlier this month, when the Republican National Committee had its own meetings, members voted to reject a pathway to citizenship, which was a crucial element of the reform package that passed the U.S. Senate this summer with bipartisan support.
Instead of helping us pass landmark legislation, Republicans have been repeatedly voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and they’ve even threatened to defund it or shut down the government. They claim to want to be a more inclusive party, and yet in state after state they’re pushing to restrict voting rights and they’re moving to pass dangerous new restrictions on women’s health care.
Despite all their talk about changing their ways, Republicans are becoming even more insular, more obstructionist, more rigid, and more ideological.
Democrats are winning because we’re inclusive, results-oriented, and pragmatic. We have twice elected Barack Obama president. Under his leadership, Democrats in Congress have worked with the president to bring our economy back from the brink; repeal the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy; pass and now implement health care reform; and bring our troops home from Iraq.
But despite our wins, we cannot rest on our laurels. We need to keep moving forward and focus on the future, starting with the midterm elections of 2014.
That’s why Democrats gathered in Arizona this week to announce a plan to broaden our support so that we can bring in more independents and even registered Republicans who are frustrated by the national GOP.
That plan will start at the state party level, where Democrats will increase their efforts to recruit talented staff and volunteers, training them to be our advocates at the local level. In this way, we will exploit the grassroots advantage that was so vital to our party’s victories in 2008 and 2012.
We will also build on our technological advantage. That means perfecting the same technology that helped us to identify voters, bring them our message, then remind them to go to the polls.
As part of that effort, we will be launching a National Voter Registration Project, as well as redouble our efforts in voter protection, not just because it’s good for the party but because it’s good for democracy when more Americans are involved in the democratic process.
Finally, in the months to come we will put pressure on the Republican Party to do more than talk the talk about change. Voters in this country know that actions mean more than words. When Republicans fail to follow through on their promises, we will let citizens know it and then those citizens can hold them accountable for it when they go to vote.
Make no mistake: We are not a regional party. We don’t have one path to victory, like our friends on the other side. We can compete everywhere — and win. With voter registration a key component of this, we will compete in places like Texas, Georgia, and here in Arizona.
This is the commitment we make as leaders of the Democratic Party. But we know that ultimately our success will be defined by individual Americans, working together toward the common goal of giving everyone the opportunity to improve their lives. We are the party of inclusion, and for those who feel alienated from the Republicans, who know that there is always room for more hard-working, fair-minded people under the Democrats’ tent.
— Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida is chair of the Democratic National Committee.