The Case for Kurt Meyer for Iowa Democratic Party Chair
This article was originally published on Bleeding Heartland, a community blog about Iowa on Monday, January 9th 2017.
He’s The Right Choice for Millennials and All Iowans
As a co-founder of The Political Party – an organization that seeks to better connect progressive millennials to our political system with the goal of affecting change – it is important to me that the next leader of the Democratic Party understand my peers; a generation of tech savvy, racially diverse, progressive idealists who believe that there is no problem that cannot be solved by innovation and creativity.
We’re more than the hipsters in skinny jeans and ironic t-shirts trope. We are a generation that still believes social and political progress is possible, because we have seen and reaped immeasurable benefits from unlikely partnerships and collaborations since birth. We understand and embrace the awesome power of technology. In fact, many of us don’t know a world without social media; powerful tools developed by young entrepreneurs who have created entirely new methods of communication. Now, I am smart enough to know that I cannot and should not attempt to speak on behalf of all millennials, but in the very least, I do know that we are diverse, we are nuanced, and capable of changing the world for the better.
After evaluating all of the announced candidates for Iowa Democratic Party Chair, Kurt Meyer stands out as one with perhaps the most well-rounded view and understanding of the millennial generation. The fact that he has raised three millennials with his wife Paula notwithstanding, over the past four election cycles, Kurt has worked with young people who parachute into Iowa to work on political campaigns. Not only does he happily host many of these individuals in his home during their time in Iowa, but he’s worked for them by knocking on doors and making phone calls, he has introduced them to community stakeholders and Party leaders, and he doesn’t stop there.
Long after Election Day has come and gone, Kurt is intentional about cultivating relationships with these individuals, encouraging them to stay in Iowa to build a bench, but supporting them if they leave to pursue other opportunities. He helps millennials when they begin their careers, he helps them grow in their careers, and most important, he maintains lasting friendships. In the political world – where relationships and social capital reign supreme – there is no better friend than Kurt Meyer.
As a seasoned campaigner and former candidate for office, Kurt has the intellectual firepower and communication skills to carry the message of the Party, an important task given the recent Republican wave that has swept the state. The next Party Chair will need to remind working class Iowans that the Democratic Party has always and will continue to fight to protect their interests. The next Party Chair will need to remind rural Iowans that the Democrats care about their wellbeing and that our tent is big enough to house their goals and aspirations. As the political rhetoric from President-elect Trump seeks to marginalize and alienate women, immigrants, racial and ethnic and religious minorities, we must remind the world that the Democratic Party in America is rooted in inclusivity, a principal born out of that sacred credo that all women and men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, chief among those being life, liberty, and the ability to pursue their dreams and bring into existence their own sense of happiness.
While Democrats move through this post-election phase of self-reflection, we must always hold space for constructive criticism, even principled dissent when necessary, but in doing so we must resist the urge to retreat into warring factions. We are all Democrats and now more than ever, we must stand united against the grievous threat to progress posed by the extreme ideology espoused by the majority of Republicans who have come to power. Meyer’s philosophy of “Active Neutrality,” will protect against the infighting brought about by the formation and propagation of intra-Party factions. He has never endorsed a candidate in a primary, and has used his leadership role in Iowa politics only to advance the goals of the Party and progressive causes.
Although my generation could soon become the largest voting bloc in America, millennials are no monolith. Earning our support and our vote will require authentic politicos who will craft their message through open dialogue rather than a focus group; who rely on an intellectual exchange of ideas to arrive at their policy positions as opposed to polling data. Thankfully, Kurt is known around the state for his authenticity and intellectual prowess, which is both refreshing and needed.
Millennials want to be heard. We want to know that our Party actually values our talents and contributions. We want to belong to a Party that is diverse and welcoming of new ideas, from new voices. We don’t want to be given lip-service, or told to wait in line for our chance to affect change. We’re all in this together and the next leader of the Democratic Party must believe in the transformative power of our collective effort. Kurt Meyer has lived this belief for decades. He is a servant leader with a clear vision for the future of the Democrats in Iowa. Our Party, the millennial generation and all Iowans deserve his leadership.