Indivisible’s Electoral Strategy

It’s been just seven months since the Indivisible Guide went live and Indivisible groups began to bring it to life, owning their districts and mounting powerful accountability efforts nationwide. Our movement includes a diaspora of thought and backgrounds, bringing together longtime activists with many who are new to politics.

The Indivisible movement has accomplished an extraordinary amount already. Together, we’ve stalled Trump’s legislative agenda and fought off TrumpCare—a bill that was supposed to pass on the first day of Trump’s administration—for nearly seven months. This enduring fight to preserve healthcare for millions of Americans was unthinkable in November in the face of a unified conservative federal government. Our success so far shows the extraordinary potential of constituent power in American democracy.

Congressional lobbying isn’t enough—we also have to win elections. Lobbying members of Congress is one way to achieve the progressive change we seek. But it’s not the only way, and it’s not enough on its own. We have to turn the constituent power of the last several months  into electoral power. We have to elect the kind of policymakers who will not only push back on this Administration, but also rebuild our democratic institutions and fight for a boldly progressive future.

For months on the Listening Tour, we’ve been talking to Indivisible groups about how we can help. We want to fight for candidates up and down the ballot who stand indivisible for the people. We want to take back the House and even the Senate. We want to win Governors’ races and state legislatures so that we can turn back the tide of partisan redistricting. We want to look beyond the midterms and build the kind of long-term political power that will reshape American democracy.

To achieve this electoral success, Indivisible groups want a policy platform and tools to see it adopted. We need a bold progressive vision. Not empty slogans. Not corporate campaign tricks. Yes, this means standing against this Administration’s assaults on our values, and it also means articulating what those values are. If they are to achieve this vision, groups tell us they need tools and resources to expand the electorate and to get involved in races up and down the ballot.

So through the Listening Tour and other outreach, we’re working across the Indivisible movement on two major projects:

  1. A policy agenda to challenge our leaders and aspirant leaders to share in our vision.
  2. Tools and resources to expand the electorate and bring more people—especially those who’ve been underrepresented or disenfranchised—into the political process.

To give you a sense of what this means and what to expect from us, here are some of the things that we’re working on:

Indivisible 435: Building power for the thousands of Indivisible groups in every one of the 435 congressional districts. Our government is what it is today because national campaigns make choices to write off whole swaths of the country as unwinnable, and Tea Party activists have driven the conversation to the right. Too often, the Democratic Party has accepted rather than resisted this set of conditions, alienating working people and communities of color. The Indivisible movement’s fight against the Trump agenda has shown that there is a powerful progressive movement that reaches every corner of this country, and the special elections we’ve seen so far in 2017 have shown that that movement has the energy to change elections and force candidates to reckon with us.

Indivisible 435 is an extension of that movement energy, supporting and working alongside our local groups to continue owning their constituent power in their turf and pushing the national conversation back to the interest of the people. This program will involve:

  • Electoral tools and resources. One crucial tool that Indivisible groups lack is the voter file, which is absolutely necessary to effectively target outreach to specific households. We’re working on getting Indivisible groups access to the voter file, as well as calling and texting tools that they can use to contact and mobilize voters, independent of any candidate’s campaign.
  • Guidance and training. How do you run a voter registration drive or a canvass? How does your group engage with candidates or make decisions about who to support? How do you run for office yourself? These are just a few of the questions that we’re hearing from groups, and we want to help answer them or connect you with the folks who have the answers.
  • Expanding the electorate. Republicans have invested years in cynical tricks to keep some Americans out of our democracy. We will work with local groups and partner organizations to engage folks who are currently underrepresented in both voter registration and voter turnout. Building an inclusive movement requires our attention to make sure our elections, and our government, belong to everyone.

Strategic Targeting: Engaging on key races to reclaim congressional and state power. We’ll identify key congressional, senatorial, and state races where we have strong people power that could make the difference, and where there are opportunities to support emerging progressive leaders. We’ll seek out ways to direct resources and support to local Indivisible groups.

  • Defining our values. We’ll be using feedback from our movement to help publicly define our values and create a platform that guides us. We will always aim to be transparent about our theory of change and our plan to win.
  • Candidate Endorsements. We’ll be supporting our groups in endorsing key progressive leaders and candidates, based on alignment with our platform and other strategic factors.

You’ll start to see some of these tools and resources in the Fall and others in early 2018.

It’s also important to talk about what we’re not going to do. We are not going to act as an arm of the Democratic Party. We believe that vibrant independent progressive groups like the Indivisible movement play a critical role in holding both parties accountable and pushing them to be better. And we don’t think that any politician is entitled to hold on to their seat of power if they’re not representing their constituents and doing everything they can to protect American values and communities.

Our ideas are winning ideas. But we must behave, strategize, invest and vote like we believe in them. This is a critical moment for expanding what is possible for the Indivisible movement. This is not just about winning one or two election cycles, it’s about rising to this historic moment. It’s about recognizing the path that led us here, the path we need to build and the path that will lead us to what is newly possible: a radically inclusive, progressive and bold future led by regular people who are fed up.

Indivisible national is not doing any of this on its own. Every step of the way, we will be standing indivisible with local group leaders to define and implement this electoral strategy. Together, we will add electoral muscle to constituent power. Together, we will win.

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