After a disappointing election season, local Democrats say they are looking to the future and that their support has only grown stronger.
The Boone County Central Democratic Committee held a public meeting at the Daniel Boone Library Thursday night to get feedback from members of the community and to strategize for future campaigns.
“The problem I see with the Democratic Party is that this type of grass-roots organization that we’re very good at building for elections does not sustain after elections,” said Scott Christianson, vice chair of the committee. “We’re right on the issues, we got the right candidates, but we’re losing because we don’t have the organizations between the general elections.”
Despite this criticism, Christianson said he was happy to see about 80 people show up to the meeting to help identify the strengths and weaknesses of the party and to develop strategies for moving the party forward.
Liz Kerry, a retired worker for U.S. Congress, said she thinks Democrats need to emphasize that they are the party of the people.
“The problem with the campaign was we countered the Republican message,” Kerry said. “We spend most of our time and money talking about issues that don’t relate to the common good or the common man.”
24th District Rep. Chuck Graham said his campaign was successful because it had a strong message that was able to resonate with a majority of the community.
“I think you have to find a message that works for your community,” Graham said. “You can’t let the other side define what the issues are. We need to define ourselves better as Democrats and the Democratic Party.
“We need to be talking about the things that matter to people. We need to understand why they vote the way they do. And we need to make sure we’re speaking to those issues,” he said.
Rachel Wright, who works for the Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition, said the morality factor in the election was a misnomer.
“I think we have to reshape morality,” she said. “For example, one thing I believe is really immoral, for instance, is kicking people off of Medicaid, for one. And I think we have to reshape the issue, for example, when Republicans try to pass a bill that would cut thousands of people of Medicaid. And I think we need to let people know that that’s an immoral action.”
Other suggestions for the party included sending out postcards to voters after the election, forming a local think tank in Columbia and getting rid of negative campaigning. Although some suggestions were made for the next presidential election, Christianson said it is more effective to build the grass roots from the bottom up. Others said they haven’t even started thinking about what to do next.
“I am not thinking about 2008 just yet,” Wright said. “We got a lot of specific elections coming up.”