Political strategists and consultants tell our candidates to support incremental policies which will not offend voters. The strategy is to play it safe and wait for Republicans to fail so badly that voters will elect Democrats. This is exactly what happened in 2006.
This strategy doesn’t inspire people to vote. When you act like a Republican, you fail to build the political will for making the massive policy changes we need. We believe electing a Democratic majority is not an end itself, but rather the means to an end. Our ultimate goal is to create a real progressive society – one that is just, fair, tolerant, and sustainable. So if you really want to get there, you need to identify and elect candidates who want to build a progressive society and have the leadership skills to take us there.
Leadership is about offering solutions and building the political will to support them. That’s why we work to elect Democrats who will be leaders inside the Democratic Party on Capitol Hill, in state Houses, counties, and cities across the country – Democrats who will take us to the next level.
We think the best way to find visionary candidates to support is to skip the standard checklist that a lot of DC groups use and, instead, to engage in a conversation with candidates about their vision and bold ideas. Most candidates find this very different and very refreshing. Filling out our questionnaire is the first part of this conversation, a way for candidates to introduce themselves and their ideas to us. And in the process, they learn we’re not business as usual.
In 2006, we were proud to support a great slate of candidates, including Jon Tester and Sherrod Brown in the Senate, and Keith Ellison and Kirsten Gillibrand in the House. And 21st Century Dems were fighting in the trenches of state and local races, too – Ted Strickland for Governor of Ohio, Mark Ritchie for Secretary of State of Minnesota, Jamie Raskin for the Maryland State Senate, and Ike Leggett for County Executive in Montgomery County, Maryland. We supported Andrew Rice for State Senate in Oklahoma and Gabby Giffords for Congress in Arizona. We helped candidates all across the country, up and down the ballot, some targeted and some who were not. And we won 9 of 11 primaries we were involved in.
We’re excited about the 2008 campaign season, and we’re looking forward to working with more visionary candidates. Last time around, 21st Century Democrats helped get some big wins for Democratic candidates, and this time we’re looking to do even more.