Democrats gathered in Des Moines today for a discussion about the future of their party.
The event was organized by “New Democracy” — a group that describes its mission as making an appeal to voters who are Republicans or not aligned with either of the country’s main political parties and “make Democrats.”
Former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius said Democrats have to start explaining how government can make a positive difference in the lives of Americans.
“You can’t cede territory,” said Sebelius, who won four statewide races in Kansas before joining President Obama’s cabinet in 2009. “You can’t just say: ‘Well, I’ll only campaign in the seven urban counties where 70 percent of the vote comes from,’ so you start there,” Sebelius says. “…People want to know you’re more like them than different from them.”
Maryland Congressman John Delaney has already announced he intends to run for president in 2020. He argued rather than present “a thousand” issues to voters, the party should focus a simple message about “jobs, pay and the dignity of work.”
“Sixty percent of kids in this country live in a county where there’s no demonstrated upward economic mobility,” Delaney said. “That means the American Dream’s really not alive in those places. They care about that stuff and that’s what our message should be focused on.”
Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander ran a close but losing race for the U.S. Senate in 2016. Kander said politicians should stop trying to “crack the code.”
“I tell Democratic politicians all the time…’People can tell if you’ve taken a position and you’re acting,'” Kander said. “Don’t act. Just go out and say what you believe.”
The three Democratic politicians made their comments during taping of a joint appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program that will air tonight at 7:30.
New Democracy hosted a day-long event at the State Historical Building. Kander, Delaney and Sebelius were among the roster of speakers, as was former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. Vilsack told the crowd Democrats “got smoked” in rural areas and the party cannot win by simply focusing on a few urban strongholds.