Fears of a Digital Talent Gap on the Left

A steep hill, indeed

Greetings from Netroots Nation! I’m in Atlanta with hundreds of my favorite folks on the Left, learning and chatting and learning and chatting (right now I’m in a session on the future of digital organizing run by Beth Becker and John Brougher).

Last night I had a long conversation with two experienced folks from the digital politics world…both of whom worried about what they saw as a serious talent shortage on the Left. I’ve noted a long-running shortage of experienced staff on the Republican side before, but Democratic campaigns and progressive organizations are running into a similar problem now.

I suspect one reason is simply that so many different organizations are growing their online work, while the number of people who actually know what they’re doing hasn’t expanded accordingly. The huge field of Trump-inspired Democrats planning to run in the next two years creates even more demand, though Virginia’s 2017 state elections might at least help us find a few new faces.

Still, the New Organizing Institute’s implosion two years ago left a huge hole in the Democratic/progressive training infrastructure. NOI’s bootcamps couldn’t teach new organizers everything, but they did give participants a basic foundation in the field. Perhaps more importantly, they created a pipeline that more-experienced organizers could tap for new talent. Several organizations (and our own Beth Becker) are trying to fill the gap, but no one has created a comprehensive national program to turn out campaign-ready digital staff.

As the Democratic National Committee works to get its act together, perhaps it will seize the moment and help to fill the talent pool. In the meantime, look for Beth’s trainings, coming soon to a town near you. And if you’re trying to build your own skills right now, I know an ebook you should check out. You heard it here first.


Photo via Wikipedia

Written by
Colin Delany
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