A grim Indiana Democrat awaits election results last November. (HPI Photo by Mark Curry)
A grim Indiana Democrat awaits election results last November. (HPI Photo by Mark Curry)
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Democratic Party hasn’t felt like much of a party lately.  More like a support group meeting, or an amateur cage match.  We have a lingering case of loseritis, and it has negatively impacted our collective self-esteem. We need to remember that we are the party of fun, of cool, a party of people who are motivated about the well-being of others.
        
How many of us have moved on from rolling our eyes to smashing our screens when we receive those doom and gloom overly urgent political fundraising emails? It is time to reconnect to our identity, and the promise we can bring to Hoosiers around the state.  We are the party that appreciates everybody, no matter your gender, color, religion, sexual orientation, whatever.  People, we like all of you!  And we think it is important to stand up to bullies who don’t.   
    
We also get things done.  In fact, Democratic leadership is thriving in our cities and towns around Indiana. Democrat mayors here are sending kids to college, getting the lights turned back on in neighborhoods, revitalizing town squares and incubating businesses.  And they are doing it in clean, efficient and productive ways. Al Franken had it right back in the 90’s.  Like his SNL character Stuart Smalley, we are good enough, and we are smart enough.  We just need to take back control of our story.
    
Somewhere along the way Republicans won the branding war in Indiana. Democrats in Indiana used to conjure up images of nice, hardworking, neighborly folk; people who took good care of their lawns and held the door open for you. People who would gladly babysit when you found yourself in a last-minute jam. That’s still us.   
    
Yet market research suggests that today, too many people now associate more negative words with our party affiliation, words like radical, angry, intolerant.  And that is just not who we are.   
    
Branding is as much about tone and voice as it is about messaging.  And truth be told, our tone has been shrill.  Sarcastic.  Patronizing. Somehow over the past 10 years or so, we have developed a bad attitude.  Rather than communicate our values, our ideas and our success, rather than cast a vision of a vision of who we are, we invested too much time in finger-pointing and complaints. And lately, when we are talking among ourselves, we can be just plain defeatist.  
    
I hope Democrats will join me and turn out not only for protests, but to lend our best effort and to tell our story at community clean-ups, neighborhood council meetings, at Independence Day parades, at religious observances and everywhere where people gather to do good things.  We need to fly the flag, figuratively and literally, most of all because we truly are the good guys.  
    
The opportunity before us is to remind the greater public and ourselves of our core identity.  We need to set aside the snark, and cast a clear vision for how life can be appreciably better with Democratic leadership.  And then we need to walk our talk.

Hale is the 2016 Democratic lieutenant governor nominee and former member of the Indiana House.