To: David Pepper, ODP Chairman and Nina Turner, ODP Leadership Team Chair:

Congratulations on being selected as leaders of the Ohio Democratic Party.  Thanks for producing your document: “Turning The Tide: Our Vision.” It gives Democrats a lot to think about. I like the “five basic principles” you outline — that you indicate will be the foundation for a “Blueprint to Victory” document that will be published in early spring.

The principle that most stands out to me is:

“ENERGIZING OUR INFRASTRUCTURE: The Party needs to touch voters where they are, and do so with passion — not just in the weeks prior to an election, but on an ongoing basis. This means firing up and empowering the entire Democratic infrastructure so it’s not simply a long list of names in a database, but and ACTIVE, WORKING infrastructure, fueled by passion and energy at every level of the Party.

Screen shot of the cover of John Pepper's book, "What really matters"

Screen shot of the cover of John Pepper’s book, “What really matters”

This principle is all about passion and motivation. Democratic candidates lose elections when Democrats are not motivated to pitch in and help — or, at least vote. John Kasich would not have been elected, if Democrats would have come out and voted. Without an actively engaged base, Democratic candidates will continue to lose. How to get Democrats motivated is a big question.

Every leader of an organization — church, school, club, business, or political party —  asks himself or herself: What can I do to motivate individuals to make their maximum contribution to the success of this organization?

There are many books that deal with the question of how to make organizations successful. I looked up the book, “What Really Matters,” written by the former CEO of Procter & Gamble, John Pepper — David’s Dad — to read the advice John Pepper may be offering to his son, the new “CEO” of the ODP (according to the ODP Constitution). What I get from the snatches of the book I read on Amazon is that John Pepper has a lot of good advice. He emphasizes that the success depends a lot on whether, or not, an organization builds a sense of  “community” within itself.   He tells about the enduring loyalty and camaraderie of P&G employees and says, “This unique sense of community is P&G’s least tangible, yet most distinctive and difficult-to-match competitive advantage.”

The “Turning the Tide” quote presents a dreary view of  the Democratic infrastructure as it looks right now — a “long list of names in a database.” Most people on this list have little or no meaningful connection with others on the list and certainly don’t think of themselves as being part of a Democratic community.

The ODP is a political institution consisting of only 148 voting members. This small group stands apart from the Democratic base. In the 2014 May Democratic Primary, there were 1,307,000 Democrats who voted. These active Democrats are the ODP “Infrastructure” and success for the party depends a lot on whether this group is “energized.” Very few of these Democrats feel they have any voice within the Democratic Party. To energize this base we need to expand opportunity.  We need to reimagine the Ohio Democratic Party as an extended Roberts Rules online community of Democrats who commit to working together, to listening and communicating with each other, and to making positive impacts in their local communities. Even a participation of only 10% of those voting in the last Democratic Primary would bring 130,000 Democrats into community, but even a start of only 10,000 would be very energizing. I’d like to see changes in the ODP Constitution so that:

  • Any Ohio citizen that votes in two Democratic primaries is invited to become a voting member of the ODP and a full participant in the ODP website.
  • Every four years the state leadership, the state party chair, via an online convention, is elected directly by the entire expanded ODP membership.
  • An “Executive Committee,” chosen through election, determines many issues but for some key questions, the entire expanded ODP membership is invited vote.

Chapter Three of John Pepper’s book is entitled “Going for the Big Win.” It begins with a quote from John Kennedy: “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” David and Nina, we need dramatic and drastic change in the Ohio Democratic Party. Please take a risk. Buck the status quo. Dare to go for the big win. Use your talents and energy to transform the Ohio Democratic Party.

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