What do we stand for?

Members of the California Democratic Party have seen our organization dangerously drifting away from many of our long-held values: inclusion and respect for diversity. Environmental stewardship demonstrated in actions, not just words. 

And -- most importantly -- effective democratic governance.

In recent years, we have had a horribly abusive chair, and leaders whose actions resulted in survivors feeling further traumatized. As a survivor of sexual assault, who has worked as a California Assemblywoman to reduce these violent crimes and hold perpetrators accountable -- this is most concerning to me. 

We cannot dismiss valid environmental issues and expect members to fight for them.

We cannot ignore the threats of pollution in the most vulnerable communities in our state, because we are not willing to mandate creating new training and employment opportunities for those being harmed by Big Oil and other toxic industries.

We can’t simply say diversity, inclusion and equity are our core values: we have to demonstrate this, by listening to, and encouraging input from, everyone -- not just the politically connected insiders.

We cannot say we will elevate women and value their leadership skills and life experience, then do the opposite, and fight to elect someone who has not been effective.

If the current chair had been a woman leading the State Party during the 2020 Congressional losses in November she would likely have been ‘reassigned’ and would not have been heralded for her ”successes.” California Democrats lost four targeted congressional seats in 2020 that the predecessor had won in a non-presidential year in the same period of time, along with losing key propositions, followed by poorly planned and executed the ADEM elections.

These losses and missteps have emboldened Republicans as they develop their plans for a recall, intent on adding seats they are targeting in 2022.

We need new leadership -- not a Party chair who flames the recall fires by calling it a “coup” and drawing scathing editorials from major newspapers around the state.

We need a person who won’t grossly mismanage a working group to address sexual misconduct to the point that the co-chair resigns in despair.  

We need a person who has successfully run one of California’s largest agencies.

A person who has served our state in several capacities, and is now running to be the first woman elected to our Party since 1985 -- yes it has been 36 years since the CDP elected a woman to lead.

We need the dedication, experience and leadership of Delaine Eastin.

It is offensive and tragic for our Party to allow the current culture and leadership to continue. I believe it is important to speak these truths about our Party if we are truly going to create the organization that will lead us into a brighter future.

Delaine and I know many of you are fighting for the soul of our Party and our future. 

We MUST stand for our values, and for that we need leadership. Leadership that is not afraid to fight for what we believe. To be strong, even when the pressure is high. To listen, even when it is hard to hear. To build relationships with those we do not always agree with. Leadership that can unite our Party in common purpose. Leadership that is not afraid to speak the truth, and that can lead us to heights that do not seem possible today, when we are mired in an atmosphere of divisiveness, favoritism, callous disregard and intimidation. Where we will live our values, every day, and win races and win propositions and model behavior that will help our future leaders be better.

This approach is essential to our financial strength. The truth is that when the California Democratic Party does not stand for what our platform says we stand for, we are just the lesser of two evils; people may join but they won’t believe in us or contribute financially.

Some may say this is idealistic. Some may say we should not expose our failings. But if we do not acknowledge our shortcomings, if it is the “unspoken truth” that the California Democratic Party is a shell of what it once was, how can we get better?

That’s what Delaine wants to do: help us to get better. And it is what she has done in every position she has held. Face the ugly truth, and fix it. And some days are hard, but it is always worth it in the end. In the end, it is always better. Much better. And not just with results, though she has had them. For example, when she ran the Department of Education her staff learned to be better leaders and managers. Teachers were better supported and celebrated. The education of California’s children improved. And we created leaders for tomorrow, with values and skills they were proud to share. That is the Democratic Party Delaine wants to lead.

Let’s stand up for our values and win elections by electing Delaine Eastin as our next California Democratic Party Chair. 

As Maya Angelou said, "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time."  Don’t settle for less than what our Party deserves. Join Delaine and let’s build a better future for our Party.  

Thank you,

Lori Saldana

California Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore, retired