For a large format version of this article click here.
Derek Eadon wants to help the Iowa Democratic Party redefine its message and its meaning for voters. “[Democrats] haven’t done a good job communicating what we stand for, and we haven’t fought for the things we all agree are important.” Eadon’s strategy for the IDP would to take the GOP to task “… for everything they are doing wrong. [Republicans] take money away from Iowans and give it to corporations that don’t have the best interests of Iowans in mind. We need to elect leadership in this state that puts Iowa first.”
Derek Eadon has worked with the Democratic Party in Iowa since taking a position as field organizer in 2006. He served as Iowa State Director for President Obama’s 2012 Campaign after filling the roles of field organizer and Regional Field Director in the 2008 campaign. He was also General Election Director and State Director for Organizing for America in Iowa, were his focus was building the grassroots campaign for President Obama and all Democratic candidates. Eadon was Coordinated Campaign Director for the IDP during the 2010 election cycle. He founded Bluprint Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in campaign and event management, in 2013.
A response to the significant losses the Iowa Democratic Party saw in the 2016 election cycle is Mr. Eadon’s first priority.
“[Democrats] have to acknowledge that we lost because we lost people. We lost the voters. The silver lining in that is the fact that people are ready to have a tough conversation about what it means to be a Democrat today, in Iowa and across the country. We need to refocus on our message and create a new plan for moving forward. People have been talking about the need to change how [the Democratic Party] operates for almost the entire time I’ve been working with the [Iowa Democratic] Party. There is finally energy and support for making those changes.
We need to reach out to new people and to those we’ve lost by making the party more accessible. Big dinners and fundraisers aren’t enough. The focus on the donor class to drive the party has left the majority of people, people whose support we need, behind. We need to be the big tent party, not just talk about being the big tent party. That means treating everyone with respect, and that starts with listening to people.”
The need for a populist economic message presented by the Democratic Party is something Eadon has already heard from voters around the state.
“I’ve been asked by liberal and conservative friends why [the Democratic Party and its candidates] aren’t talking about jobs. Why aren’t we talking about the things that people are concerned about? The Democratic Party has always stood up for the needs of the people over the needs of business. We need to highlight economic fairness, and make sure voters understand that Iowa’s GOP is taking opportunities away from Iowans to help their donors, big corporations.
[Democrats] need a spokesperson to bring our message to the people. We need to communicate our values. The Democratic Party has been the party that provides the voice for Americans that feel left behind. We need to do that again. We need to stand up and fight for things Iowans need; healthcare, education, a clean environment, and protection for our civil rights.”
Derek Eadon’s experience as an organizer is something he sees and invaluable to the next IDP Chair.
“Talking to people, and more importantly listening to people, is a skill you learn as an organizer. People want to be heard, but you have to make sure they understand that you will really listen to what they want to say before they’ll be comfortable talking to you. Every Democrat needs to learn how to do that.
My experience with President Obama’s campaign has made me understand how important making and maintaining relationships is to doing an effective job advocating for our issues. When we respect the time and effort people put into [the party] we make them feel valued. That’s how you make sure people stay involved, and excited, in what we’re trying to do.
When we value our people, we set a standard that makes it easier for new people to feel welcome. That’s one of the most important things we can do to build the party, to show people we respect their opinions and concerns, whether they’re new to the party or not. Everyone wants to feel respected, and it’s one of the easiest ways to start to turn things around.
We need to work on the grassroots, having smaller, less formal, events for Iowans to learn about [the Democratic Party], our candidates, and our values. At the state level, we can help the county parties to reach out to voters, and people that are open to our message. We need to help connect people around the state, to show that there are Democrats everywhere. That’s how we’ll find candidates to run for office in all ninety-nine counties, and how we’ll energize the party to stand up to the GOP.
This can’t wait until the next election. We have to make connections now, and keep them, whether or not there’s a candidate to support. [The party] needs to be engaging in communities on a regular basis, building the relationships that bring and keep people involved in sharing and advocating for our issues. That’s how we’ll find the next generation of people willing to fight for the values of the Democratic Party in Iowa.”