A Cornfield Conference

According to Indiana Public Media, 1938 saw the Republican Party in disarray, both nationally and in Indiana. FDR and the Democrats had won massive victories in the 1936 elections, and the New Deal was rapidly concentrating federal power in the Democratic Party.

It was so bad that the editors of Fortune suggested that the national GOP go out of existence. In Indiana, Democrat Paul V. McNutt had been governor since 1933, and Republicans in the state were apathetic.

In February 1938, Homer Capehart went to Arch Bobbitt, then state chair of the Republican Party, with a proposal to hold a “mid-term Republican conference” in August –a “cornfield rally.” Twenty thousand precinct committeemen, county chairmen, their families, and dignitaries from out of state attended, and it worked: the Hoosier GOP rebounded.

I was totally unaware of this history, but evidently Democrats in Northwest Indiana weren’t. They’re modeling an upcoming event on that bit of Hoosier history.

According to the press release, a Tri-State Cornfield Conference on June 29th will be hosted
by Democratic Party organizations in Noble, Dekalb, Lagrange, Kosciusko, and Whitley Counties.

The main conference will occur on Saturday, June 29th in Kendallville, Indiana at the Noble County Fairgrounds.  Special guests will include State Representative Karlee Macer and State Senator Eddie Melton.  The conference will start at noon.
An extensive digital activist training seminar will occur over 3 days at the fairgrounds, June 28-30th, by Becker Digital Strategies, which has been featured at Net Roots Nation.

Carmen Darland, the organizer of the event, and Vice Chair of the Noble County Democrats, explains that it is time for a similar revival of Indiana’s Democratic Party (and not so incidentally, time for a restoration of checks and balances), both at Indiana’s Statehouse and in Washington.

The obvious purpose of the event is to get Hoosier Democrats fired up for 2020, and an extensive speakers’ list promises to focus on the importance of the upcoming election, not just for Democrats, but for the country and the planet.

Tickets for the entire three days of the conference (including training sessions) are $10 per person, and are available on Act Blue or by calling (260) 237-1199. Additional information can be found on Facebook @2019CornfieldConference, or by contacting Carmen Darland via email: carmendarland@gmail.com.

I found this planned event very encouraging.

Thanks to gerrymandering, (and unlike the situation in 1938) Democrats in Indiana face a very uphill battle. But uphill is not the same thing as impossible. The key–as anyone with even the most modest amount of political smarts will attest–is turnout. Even most of our so-called “safe districts”–in Indiana, those gerrymandered by Republicans for Republicans–are not so safe when enough citizens who haven’t previously voted get off their couches and go to the polls.

Gerrymandering (and yes, Democrats are equally guilty of choosing their voters in states that they control) creates apathetic citizens. Residents of districts drawn to be “safe” for the party drawing the lines figure their votes don’t count, so they don’t vote. Increased turnout, however, can make those votes count, and that is one of the messages that must be repeatedly emphasized at the upcoming Cornfield Conference.

The stakes have never been higher. Here’s hoping that Mark Twain was right when he said that while history doesn’t repeat itself, it does rhyme.


  1. What is the driving force behind some of the ignorance we see every day in this country? I believe it’s immigration. If you look at American history, there have been so many groups of immigrants that have been used to sow fear in certain sections of our population, to achieve a political goal. The hypocrisy is mind-boggling, you have business interests courting immigrants to work in their fields and factories to keep wages low. All the while the political party of business, demonizes immigrants. They use religion as a battering ram to subdue those who they feel are unlike themselves. We are a secular society made up of many religions, any one religion should not be able to hold sway over anyone’s actions or beliefs in this country. Until these situations are rectified and brought to light, the GOP will use them as a wedge to hold on to any sort of power they can acquire. If Christians actually read scripture, they would realize Christ was more of a socialist. When the rich man came to him and asked what he could do to be a follower, Christ told him to sell all of his possessions , that was too much for this wealthy man. Christ said that a wealthy man being his follower would be like a camel coming through the eye of a needle. Christ said take care of widows and orphans, the Mosaic law said to respect foreign residents because the Jews had been foreign residents. Jesus Christ put all of this in perspective when he said “Love your neighbor as yourself and Love God” the “whole law hangs on this.” The GOP hypocritically goes contrary to Christ’s law.

  2. John Sorg – Excellent points. I would love to be a fly on the wall to watch what happens to those so-called republican evangelical Christians when you say things like that to them because they really can’t defend themselves. ?

  3. Where are the other 87 counties? If there are any Democrats left in them, they ought to be there.

  4. The National D-Party has abandoned Indiana. We are a solid red Koch state and Charles and David don’t even have to spend much money. The Evangelical/Racist Right are very obedient.

    We are surrounded by states legalizing marijuana and we just passed a law allowing Sunday liquor sales. LOL

    The D-base is already fired up, but the D-Party isn’t interested in giving the base what it wants. The DNP just wants to win for their Donors. Until this backward mentality changes, nothing changes.

    Have all the cornfield parties you want…without a platform for the people the organizers are wasting their time.

  5. While they weren’t part of our original design, political parties play several important roles in our government. We can’t get along without them and run smoothly. They are the incubator of politicians and political ideas and provide the electorate with alternatives to choose among. Two big ones is not the only system that will work but it is the one that we are familiar with. Bottom line is that despite the disfunction that has creeped into the system, elimination of the party system is not the solution.

    But there needs to be at least two of them. How, besides Putin, did we get to the situation that we found ourselves in after 2016 of essentially having one with all of the power? Political maneuvering is one explanation but a bigger source is propaganda. For whatever reasons, political entertainment invaded virtually every room, pocket and purse in the country and from it emanated Rush Limbaugh et al and Fox News and friends all de facto big brother loudspeakers dedicated to propaganda, euphemistically labeled “fake news” today, but propaganda nevertheless, dedicated to the selling of power of, by and for plutocrats. Many Americans simply weren’t equipped to reject it because it held the promise of power to those who needed either needed scapegoats to blame their failures on, or because they were plutocrats.

    Plutocracy is certainly one way to organize society which has been tried very often in our history but was always temporary as those who must be held down to allow plutocrats to be held up always ended it mostly violently. It was the de facto government before the American
    Revolution and Civil Wars and was rejected by we, the people.

    Those of us who avoided the propaganda and remember the country before it now have two jobs to do. One is to restore the two party system, the other is to rebuild both parties back to functional. However things have to be restored strategically and to me that starts in 2020 with a shift from the one party in power being Republicans to power for Democrats until the ship of state is righted. The only way that can be recognized as not partisan is to understand and accept the role and success of propaganda in the creation of the status quo.

    We are in uncharted territory for most of us and need to proceed generally cautiously but at the moment accept complete focus on getting back to the starting line for democracy which is choice even if it means suspending some choice next year, the two party choice. We will return to it but the pendulum will have to swing between extremes at least once in order to do it.

    The good news is that the choices among Democrat Presidential candidates are as wide as can be imagined. We need to understand the demonstrated vote getting capabilities among them in order to select in the primary the most likely to succeed, then support that choice even if it’s not ours with dedication and passion as the start of the country’s recovery.

    Sometimes the choice of what to do is to just accept what has to be done.

  6. Hopefully, they can come up with some relevant issues, rather than a President Agent Orange Pastor Pence bashing session.

    Among those issues might be freezing funding for religious schools, tighter regulations on the performance of charter and voucher schools, Increased public school teacher pay, expansion of Community Colleges, tighter rules and regulations on factory farms, and disposal of coal ash, 1% surcharge on state taxes for persons or families with income more than $1M.

    Go bold or stay at home. We do not need anymore John Greggs or Joe Donnelly types.

  7. For those who believe I am cynical must not understand that Citizens United is for both political parties. There are a handful of democratic socialists like AOC who are refusing corporate donations while the remaining ensemble line up at the troughs.

    From the internet, “Corruption is the misuse of public power (by elected politician or appointed civil servant) for private gain.”
    Once again, if you’re voting the way your corporate donors want, you are corrupt. If you don’t like having your party called corrupt, have them reject corporate donations completely. Return the DNP to the people and see what happens. We’ve already got the experience from the Justice Democrats and Democratic Socialists.

    Meanwhile, the DNC is aligned with Wall Street and Oligarchs.

  8. This could be the action needed to spur attendees to return home and encourage much needed volunteers at the grassroots level and donations, always needed, from those unable to volunteer. Evidently people are needed to return to those “thrilling days of yesteryear” to walk neighborhoods and knock on doors. Those long ago volunteers always raised my interest in the candidates as well as upcoming elections. Also volunteers needed to work in all campaign headquarters.

    “According to the press release, a Tri-State Cornfield Conference on June 29th will be hosted
    by Democratic Party organizations in Noble, Dekalb, Lagrange, Kosciusko, and Whitley Counties.”

    Peggy; those named above are the sponsoring counties, attendees from all counties are welcome and encouraged to attend and participate. I like the idea of the “Tri-State” involvement; maybe learning and sharing will build a stronger voting bloc of states than district by district in each state. Indiana Democrats obviously need some new ideas and encouragement to get out the vote…this could change the Electoral College vote in 2020. But the elections this November MUST be stressed as vital to begin to change this red state so their work must begin soon.

  9. I think Todd’s commentary unduly pessimistic. Democrats have a well defined platform whereas Republicans have none other than to make the rich richer and the poor poorer, and their votes suppressed. I also think a meeting of Democrats in rural northeastern counties is smart in view of the ravaging of farmers’ income by Trump’s tariffs. Red farmer votes turned blue give us a double whammy in electoral terms, a vote we get and one the Republicans lose. I do not agree that organizers of the meeting under discussion here today are wasting their time with an alternative of sitting on their hands expecting to win merely by being anti-Trump in the hope that somehow turnout will blossom in November.

    Yes, Indiana is a red state, and it will stay that way unless we abandon an internal policy of despair and allow it to remain that way by doing nothing about it, so I for one favor any plan or idea that can make red purple from Evansville to East Chicago and all points betwixt and between, and in this connection I am reminded of FDR’s acronym agencies during the 30s that were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court only to be replaced in a matter of days by a new approach to solution of the problem whose methods the court found unconstitutional. He had failures, but not for lack of trying. Some of his giant successes included the Social Security Act of 1935, the SEC, federal insurance of banking accounts which ended periodic panics etc., all against the real and daunting despair of the Great Depression. The New Deal looked forward, not backward, and despair was not within its lexicon, as in “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

    The only way to defeat gerrymandering and voter suppression (absent Putin’s tactics) is by massive turnout, and in my view any plan, meeting or other device put together to achieve this, especially with the very encouraging liberal bent of new voters in view, is to try out anything otherwise legal to achieve it, including Democratic meetings in blue counties and, like in the days of FDR, if it doesn’t work, try something else – quickly.

  10. Those such as John Sorg want to destroy the Democratic Party. The more they become Republican-lite the better for the likes of Sorg and others like him. Grifters gotta grift.

  11. Gerald, are you mentally ill? Or is it just genetic willful ignorance? Probably a little of both!

  12. Democrats now are offering up to voters about the greatest diversity in worldviews among candidates as can be imagined. The primary will choose the one best supported by Democrat rank and file.

    Once that’s done, however it comes out, it will be a welcome change from the corruption and incompetence we have now.

  13. For starters, the Democratic platform is to ‘defeat Trump’. That’s a powerful organizing tool.

    There are corporate Democrats to be sure, but the Democrats also want to pass a law to undo “Citizens United” and the power of huge, undisclosed contributions by mega-million corporations and individuals.

    The Democrats also want to stop gerrymandering by both parties to restore competitive districts for state legislatures and congressional races. That would make candidates of all persuasions more responsive to all voters rather than just the voters in their own parties.

    These so-called structural changes (and others) would make a HUGE difference in how much politicians pay attention to average voters AND to substantive solutions to average voters’ concerns. Vote Democratic.

  14. “If Christians actually read scripture, they would realize Christ was more of a socialist. When the rich man came to him and asked what he could do to be a follower, Christ told him to sell all of his possessions, that was too much for this wealthy man. Christ said that a wealthy man being his follower would be like a camel coming through the eye of a needle. Christ said take care of widows and orphans, the Mosaic law said to respect foreign residents because the Jews had been foreign residents. Jesus Christ put all of this in perspective when he said “Love your neighbor as yourself and Love God” the “whole law hangs on this.” The GOP hypocritically goes contrary to Christ’s law.”

    Thank you John Sorg for putting what is to me the most perplexing aspect of what passes for the GOP today and the rampaging hypocrisy that it entails into its proper perspective. I drove this point home again to myself just last night by reading the same passages and thinking the same exact thing. It’s all there ready to be read and acted upon if we really are what we say we are and hold true to the values that we say we hold true to.

    The Democrats have got to be able to pin Trump’s ears back as well as those of McConnell and his other lackeys and also go after the traditional bread and butter issues like a laser beam full tilt which is where virtually every American is right now on top of watching Washington, DC explode with the most dysfunctional government likely in our history. This hijacking of our government by a political party that now seems only bent on inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on anyone and anything in range of them has to be brought to a swift end. Their willingness to abandon traditional American values while they pay lip service, and only that, to the core principles of Christianity also needs to be brought to an end.

    I dare say that if you had a substantive conversation with virtually any American even including those that have drunk large quantities of the Kool Aid at some point you would find common ground with all of them. That would require, however, a massive campaign by not only the Democrats but also people that do not have as their core principle cynicism but instead those that have regard for their fellow man, see the tremendous strength in that, and the understanding of a common goal to put this country back on track for all of this no matter who we are and no matter where we live. Wasn’t that the very underpinning of this country being that “land of liberty” people used to refer to include us?

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