If we are going to call ourselves a coalition party, we need to walk the talk.

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“Dems in disarray” is a trope journalists love to apply liberally (no pun intended) to any moment where there’s apparent disagreement between folks on the left. It used to bug the crap out of me! But I’ve recently come around.

We need to embrace it.

We Democrats just love to tell everyone we are a coalition party. Why, then, are we so averse to the natural conditions and tensions that arise from such an arrangement? The shortest, perhaps over-harsh answer: “we’re selfish.”

America is a big, messy, contentious, diverse nation, ethnically, culturally, geographically, and economically. We’re rough around the edges…

2020 was essentially a max turnout election. We hit all of our numbers. But we were matched, blow for blow, by energized republican voters. There is VERY little evidence of partisan defections or cross-over. We won some, we lost some. But the data shows some dark clouds ahead. Clouds that challenge our conventional wisdom. Clouds that we ignore at our peril.

So… what do we do now?

Albert Einstein was asked what he would do if he had an hour to solve world hunger. He replied by saying “I’d spend 55 minutes defining the problem and five minutes defining the…

I have a theory…

Throughout human history, as advancements have been made, practices and skills that have been made obsolete are replaced with new ones. Those modern practices and skills bring prosperity to the practitioners, and people shift to the new paradigm of how things are done. Some won’t adapt, but things move, generally, slowly enough that they can continue to exist in the halo of what will soon be bygone.

Regardless of the social, economic, or political system in which you exist, this has always been the case. Those that participate in the new system are ascendant, while those…

Photo credit: Equal Exchange Blog

America is a funny culture, littered with contradictions. Like a messy house, over time you just don’t notice it anymore. But if you step back, there are a whole lot of things about our culture that are just — well — weird.

Take death, for instance.

In the abstract, we use death, whether natural, premature, or deliberate (even gratuitous) as entertainment. Our movies, stories, games, and music are laden with it. We use it as a vehicle to pull out emotions, to appropriate and vicariously live the thrill, fear, or tragedy of others. …

Not everyone can be Butch Cassidy. Or, can we?

For the life of me, I’ll never understand it.

People work so hard to build a good operation. They hire great people, know all the data and the market. They have awesome pitches, killer marketing plans. And yet… when you ask them, they can’t describe where they are going.

People are great at telling you what they do. When it comes to the change they are trying to make, that’s a lot harder. And, if you’re a leader in a Cause Organization, the change you’re trying to make is what you do.

That’s where a Vision Statement comes in.


That feeling when: your Board doesn’t like the new initiative.

Every time I’m joining a new team, I ask myself the question “what does this group need from me?” The answer is always different.

For most of the last 15 years, I’ve been operating in leadership roles where I was not the direct supervisor of anyone on my team. In business, we call these “matrixed teams.” They’re a common way of running development projects and strategy efforts. In my activist role, it’s just called “life.”

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen a team spin apart because the person in the lead role didn’t distinguish it from…

If there’s one universal law of leadership, it’s “everything is your fault.”

The One, Universal, Indispensable Law of Leadership

If you’ve read my introductory story, you’ll know that my writing is focused on helping Cause Organizations develop and thrive with a strong leadership culture. Despite all the hard work, energy, and passions people put behind this important work, they often go through cycle after cycle of growth and collapse. It’s my hope to give activists and organizers the tools they need to break that cycle.

Often, people find themselves in leadership positions in Cause work because they were the most passionate, most committed, or most available. …

These three things may seem simple, but they are the pillars for your leadership culture.

In my previous article, I outlined the problems Cause Organizations (non-profits, political organizations, and other issue-driven chartered organizations) have due to a lack of leadership culture. I also identified six points that indicate you have a problem.

In this article, I get you started on the road to recovery with three simple things you can implement right away: a shared mission, a shared vision, and shared core values.

Alright, I can almost hear you rolling your eyes through the screen. But stick with me; I promise it will be worth it.

While I’m at it, I want to draw your…

A strong leadership culture is the foundation of any organization. Is yours crumbling?

Cause Organizations, in my experience, have a unique Achilles Heel when it comes to their leadership culture. That is: they don’t think they need one.

You’re in leadership for a non-profit, political organization, or other cause-driven platform. Your mission is important, your cause is just, and, from the numbers, people (and dollars) should be flocking in. Instead, attendance is down, volunteers are lackluster or downright passive, and, worst of all, you’re not making the money you need to get your message out.

I’ve had the opportunity to lead programs, organizations, and campaigns of all sorts over the past 25 years…

Mass Shootings 1982–2019 (Mother Jones)

In the wake of still more mass murders in cities across the United States, those aligned with the gun lobby and gun rights voters are begging us: “don’t politicize this tragedy.” They want us to feel like it’s crass and heartless to demand action. They want us to doubt the causal factors. They want the story to fade. Anything to get through the next 48 hours without having say anything to jeopardize their donors or voting blocs.

Throughout our history, we have politicized tragedies and used them as a rallying cry to force action. From Pearl Harbor to 9/11 to…

Michael Harris

Budding Arizona Democratic political operative.

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