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A Call to Action

A Message from SCDP Black Caucus Chair, Brandon Upson

I grew up in a very competitive family. From chess to spades, from basketball to seeing who could pop a wheelie the furthest -- we competed to win. Up against my grandfather and my uncles, I lost a lot. But losing taught me an important lesson; it taught me how to win. My family never allowed me to blame my losses on my youth, my size, or their tendency to overwhelm me when I had them in a corner.

Many of us have these same stories - our own David versus Goliath stories of winning against the odds, of being counted out but pressing forward anyhow. And about learning from getting knocked down.

November 8, 2022, is no different. We all know that being a Democrat in South Carolina over the last twelve years has been challenging, and we've lost race after race up and down the ballot. But there's not one single person or campaign to blame. And I won't do it here because now is the time

to stop blaming one another. We must start learning from the losses so we can come together to chart a course toward our future as a party.

These failed elections have shown us that we cannot win by forming temporary transactional relationships with our voters. South Carolinians don't care how much you know, how much money you raised, or how many times you are on TV; their number one concern is how much you care. Moreover, we have to take a full inventory of our past actions and take real action to change what has not worked.

First, engaging our communities must be a year-round activity regardless of the election cycle. This has been proven time and time again, most recently with LaShonda NeSmith-Jackson and Heather Bauer. They both flipped seats against well-funded, overwhelmingly supported opponents. LaShonda was outspent 25 to 1. Heather and LaShonda’s campaigns were an evolution of the year-round service and engagement they made in their communities. When they showed up in neighborhoods across their districts to ask for their vote, they already had an existing level of trust established. In LaShonda’s race, she increased voter participation across every demographic and won with a decisive victory. She is proof that competing in local elections and building a bench works.

Secondly, we know a dollar invested on the ground to organize

the grassroots is a dollar well spent. Thanks to Trav Robertson and President Obama's organization, Organizing for America, Vincent Sheheen's 2010 campaign had the most robust field program in South Carolina's recent history. In this campaign, Democrats came closer to winning than we have since losing the seat in 2002. In 2010, Democrats made over one million phone calls, knocked on more than one hundred thousand doors, and hosted dozens of grassroots events in every corner of the state. Alas, that has not been the case in recent general elections.

Lastly, we can't win by trying to out-Republican the Republicans, and we damn sure cannot succeed without a unified Party. Georgia is a perfect example of how we can be true to ourselves as Democrats, organize on our values, and win. Our Party's platform best explains what separates us from the Repu

blicans; it reflects our values. When we stray from who and what we say we are, we separate ourselves from our base and our values, which is a losing strategy.

It is time for a change… a change in how we engage our communities, how we fight the opposition, and how we wield our collective power. We can no longer afford to fight to the death in our primaries but pull punches when we face the Republicans in November.

This message is a call to action for our members, friends, family, fellow Democrats, and compassionate Independents to unify, assess the damage, make the appropriate changes, and get back in the fight. Because, as Democrats, our strength is in each other, and we are stronger together. And only together will we ever win again.

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