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50 State Organizer Layoffs: Just the Normal Structural Stupidity of Political Organizations

So, on Friday I wrote a piece saying that all the 50 state organizers were being laid off, and that that amounted to a wholesale destruction of the 50 state strategy. I also speculated Rahm might be involved.

They are being laid off, but I’m now convinced neither Rahm nor anyone else had anything to do with it. This is just how political organizations like the DNC are run. Virtually all employees are hired with a memorandum of understand (MOU) which says how long they’ll be employed. At the DNC that MOU generally runs, at longest, till the day the current DNC chair is to step down. In the case of the 50 state organizers it runs till the state chair steps down, which is the end of November.

So, this is business as usual.

Now, I’ve worked in (private) business doing what amounts to relationship management. I can think of nothing more harmful to the long term interests of an organization whose workers job is to build up relationships, than letting those workers go en-mass every few years. At the very least, workers should have contracts which don’t go to exactly the end of the State chair’s term, but to one month beyond that, so the new chair has a chance to decide who he or she wants to keep. This is especially the case for the State chairs, who are elected, and thus don’t have the prep time to decide who to keep and not and to let them know they’ll still be wanted.

Many of these workers will find other jobs. As I’ve been told, "this is the best political environment in years for jobs". Democrats won a ton of Statehouses, along with the House and Senate. Good organizers will be in demand. But this isn’t about what’s good for the organizers, I’m glad they’ll get jobs, I’m not glad that so much of their combined knowledge and relationships will be lost to the DNC and the 50 state strategy.

That said, I also do believe the 50 state strategy will stick around. It’s just that because of standard practice in political hiring, it will take a gut wound by losing a lot of the people who have been working on it.

So let me suggest that perhaps, just perhaps, some jobs should be semi-permanent. The new chair can always let them go, but at least set up their contracts so there is some overlap, so they aren’t already walking out the door the second the chair walks in.

Because as it stands, it’s management malpractice.

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Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh was the Managing Editor of FireDogLake and the Agonist. His work has also appeared at Huffington Post, Alternet, and Truthout, as well as the now defunct Blogging of the President (BOPNews). In Canada his work has appeared in and BlogsCanada. He is also a social media strategy consultant and currently lives in Toronto.

His homeblog is at