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After Hillary Clinton lost the election in November, Democrats are taking a long, hard look at the future of their party.

Doug Ballard, Arizona state committee member of the Democratic National Committee, was invited to speak on the recent DNC chairmanship election and the difficulties faced by the Democratic Party at the monthly meeting of the Democrats of the Red Rocks on March 16.

Ballard expressed content with the election of Tom Perez, a former Secretary of Labor under the Obama administration, as new DNC chairman. The election in February followed the resignation of former chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz last summer over leaked emails confirming a plot to damage the Bernie Sanders campaign during the primaries.

Ballard said he had supported Perez’s main opponent, Keith Ellison, on the first ballot, which Perez fell short of winning by one vote. On the second ballot, however, he supported Perez and remains confident that the new chairman will do his best to unify the divided party.

During the election process, Perez was mostly favored by supporters of Obama and Clinton, while Sanders enthusiasts rallied around Ellison. The confirmation of Perez as new DNC chairman therefore spiked anger among the latter group — which Perez was able to calm by suggesting Ellison for deputy chairman.

Ballard identified multiple areas the Democratic party needs to work on. He worried about funding for state and local parties drying up, as most monies are directed to political action committees and special interest groups. Yet, the DNC concentrates mostly on congressional and presidential elections, leaving local campaigns to the underfunded state parties.

At the same time, Republicans have been following a long-term strategy of ruling from the state-level — and have been successful in that. “Democrats have been asleep,” Ballard said. He stressed that Democrats need to focus on building state parties, and getting out and listening to voters’ thoughts and needs.

Furthermore, he pointed to the importance of investing in state attorneys general, as they have been the ones challenging some of President Donald Trump’s policies, such as the controversial travel ban.

Another issue has been splintering on the left, according to Ballard. He pointed to the difficulty of bringing special interest groups together and insisted that the party needs to network and coordinate better, as well as prioritize certain issues. He compared the current situation to a canoe in which everybody is paddling in a different direction and effectively going nowhere. “We need to start pulling together,” Ballard said.

Further lessons that the Democratic party has learned from the last presidential election was that they need to invest in secure technology after the Russian hack, and need a clear economic message, as Clinton failed to provide one — in contrast to Trump.

Concerning Trump, Ballard said that Democrats have to unify in resisting his agenda.

“We’ve entered a culture of worshiping at the altar of self-interest, where it’s ‘me, and screw everybody else,’” Ballard said.

On a positive note, he closed his presentation by pointing out that Trump is mobilizing a groundswell of people that are wanting to get involved in resisting policy, and are even stepping up to run for office.


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