Indiana Democrats should embrace, not hinder, outside support, says a socialist organizer.

Indiana ranks as the 10th lowest state in terms of voter registration, and in 2020, it had the 5th lowest voter turnout in the entire country. The year 2022 witnessed the lowest voter turnout in the United States, with Indiana experiencing a staggering 20% decline in participation compared to 2018. Even during the 2023 elections, certain Democratic precincts in Indianapolis recorded a turnout of less than 10%.

Non-voters provide valuable insight into their reasons for not participating in elections. A significant majority of them, around two-thirds, expressed agreement with the statement that “voting in elections has little to do with the way that real decisions are made in our country.”

Indiana is home to a large number of individuals who actively engage in sharing political content on the internet. Moreover, Hoosiers have a higher propensity than the average person to engage in political discussions and conversations concerning social issues with their family members and neighbors.

Our neighbors across the state are eager to be part of the decision-making process for their cities and the state. However, they feel that their voices are not being heard and that they have little influence over policy or the results of Statehouse races. They believe that they are being excluded and marginalized by the political insiders from both parties.

My neighbors and I are actively working to combat these trends and tap into the innovative spirit of political outsiders. To begin with, we have taken a public stance against the actions of state Sen. Aaron Freeman during this year’s legislative session. Freeman, in his ongoing efforts to dismantle public transit in Indianapolis, introduced Senate Bill 52.

We have a series of fundraisers and training workshops coming up, which are open to everyone in the state. These events are designed to help individuals learn how to actively engage in politics and combat the Republican supermajority rule. Our main message is simple: “Come as you are. All are welcome.”

People eagerly seize the opportunity to express their genuine selves when they can go door-to-door, engaging in meaningful conversations about pressing matters, contributing modest donations, and imparting these valuable skills to their community.

In addition to my role as a socialist organizer, I have had the opportunity to work as a people manager in the private sector for almost ten years. At Angie’s List, the company experienced a significant downsizing period before a buyout, resulting in a reduction of employees from 2,200 to just over 1,000. Despite this challenging time, my team, responsible for managing escalated and upset callers, handling ecommerce refund requests, and mediating between contractors and homeowners, achieved an impressive employee retention rate of over 90%, the highest among all teams in the company.

To achieve this, we utilized the proven techniques recommended by Harvard Business Review. We actively listened to our direct reports, gaining a clear understanding of their desires and aspirations. By empowering them to thrive, we fostered an environment where success was not only attainable but also encouraged.

In our team, we strived to ensure that each member recognized the significance of their work in terms of personal development and advancement. As a manager, I prioritized the success of my team and made it a point to demonstrate this to them. During the hiring process, I took the time to understand the career aspirations of potential candidates, and if their goals did not align with our department, I would honestly communicate this to them while offering assistance in finding a better-suited opportunity elsewhere.

Most of the time, we were able to find a shared understanding between the tasks at hand and the personal aspirations of our team members. Whenever they expressed a desire to switch departments or even leave the company, I willingly provided letters of recommendation and supported their choices. It was this nurturing and inclusive approach, rather than a culture of fear and hierarchy, that played a significant role in our accomplishments in employee retention.

From the very beginning, our team embraced the arrival of new individuals by valuing their opinions and needs. We recognized that their input was crucial to the team’s success. Therefore, we made it a priority to include them and ensure that they felt heard and valued.

Democrats in Indiana, particularly in Marion County, have gained a negative reputation for being unwelcoming towards outsiders. Over the past five years, individuals like Dee Ross, Belinda Drake, Karla Lopez Owens, and Josh Peters have been featured in this newspaper, expressing their concerns about the way energetic and enthusiastic outsiders are undermined, excluded, and prevented from being embraced and celebrated.

As Democrats, we have all inherited this messy history and we cannot alter the past.

We have the power and the responsibility to alter the current situation if we desire a different outcome in the future. The current party infrastructure in Indiana has proven ineffective in winning state-wide elections.

Winning for Democrats requires embracing and welcoming outsiders to the table with open arms and gratitude, instead of keeping them at a distance.

In order to secure victory, Democrats must offer voters dynamic and enthusiastic campaigns that actively seek and value their involvement. Democrats should view voters not only as passive participants, but as active co-creators in the political process.

As Democrats, it is imperative that we focus on reforming our party’s culture and practices. One area that requires our attention is the two-primary rule, which inadvertently shields insiders and hinders our ability to adapt and evolve. To effectively address the challenges of the present, we must adopt a more inclusive and open approach, extending a warm welcome rather than turning people away.

My neighbors and I are passionately building a political movement that embodies these values. We welcome individuals from all walks of life to join us, offering them training on how to effectively wield political power and influence. Together, we are committed to reclaiming our state. Although our campaign is still in its early stages, we have already begun to taste victory.

Jesse Brown, a Democrat, proudly represents District 13 on the City-County Council.

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