Before we can formulate an overall strategy to grow the Democratic Party in rural Texas, we must identify what the biggest obstacle to that growth is. From our experience the biggest obstacle is the lack of visibility and the prevailing prejudice against Democrats in general in the region. With that comes the sense of fear or dread of being known as Democrats that many out here carry around with them. Primarily this results from a lack of numbers, or at least a perceived lack of numbers. The simple fact is we do not know who the Democrats are because so few people vote in a Democratic primary, when local elections will be decided in the Republican Primary.
In this context the old way of doing things is not going to change anything. Most Rural Democrats think of themselves as part of a major political party. We are not. We are a minority party in most of our counties, and we must begin to think, plan, act and operate like a minority party. What we really should be is our own version of "The French Resistance" of WWII fame.
When you live in occupied territory, you cannot live, work and operate the same as you did before the occupation. In the resistance your immediate goal is not to overthrow the occupier, it is to make life for the occupier as difficult and as expensive as possible. The resistance does this by recruiting, training, collecting weapons, supplies and resources and stockpiling them. They look for opportunities, plan and strike to inflict the maximum damage on the enemy they can, and then disappear.
In a similar, though non-violent way, this is a model for Democrats in Republican dominated rural counties. But to do this takes organization, volunteers, time and resources. We cannot take on the occupiers head on. In most places there is little to no chance of winning an election at present. So we have to forget about that for now. Our first job is to recruit people to our cause and build strength and a presence. The first priority is to grow our numbers. This is not recruiting in the ordinary sense, of talking to people one on one. We gather recruits and grow our numbers by growing participation in the Democratic Primary. Our first goal should be to focus solely on growing the number of people voting in your primary election. Our only test of success right now should be if the number of people voting in our primary elections is growing over time. Whether you can elect a candidate in the fall election is irrelevant. If you can, great! If you can't, encourage people to run just to have a candidate on the ballot in the primary to drive their friends and supporters to the polls. It doesn't matter if they can afford to or even run a race in the general election.
To start building a party we need people voting in our primary, regardless of whether they ever attend a meeting or volunteer with the local organization. We must know our voters and the only way to know our voters is focus all our effort on the primary and getting every Democrat, Independent or Republican to vote in our primary. Once we start doing that, and start growing, then the Resistance will be ready to move to the next level.
Jon Mark Hogg, is a San Angelo lawyer but always wanted to be a part of the resistance.