Using The Wellstone Action Resources For Political Action
The message of the Berniecrats and the Our Revolution movement is that the best way to bring the undelivered promise of American Democracy to life is through participation in the political process. Bernie called for more citizens to run for political offices at all levels of government. Because of his challenge my list of facebook friends who are actively planning to contest an election has grown from one to a couple more than that, and I hope it continues to grow.
I think that by making elections more competitive, and by bringing the perspectives of younger people into political offices, we can lay the groundwork for a paradigm shift in how government operates and who it works for. This will happen because politicians will become more responsive to their constituents with more competitive politics, and because fresh legislators gain the power to try fresh ideas.
Before coming up with what fresh ideas to legislate we need to get legislators into power. This is where Wellstone Action, RIP Senator Paul Wellstone, has something to say.
Politics the Wellstone Way – How to Elect Progressive Candidates and Win on Issues was the organizing workbook that taught me how to organize. It can be downloaded through the Wellstone Action resources page along with organizing primers like The Organizer’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is more modern and digitally focused.
Politics the Wellstone Way will explain the grassroots to a person interested in activating themselves on a certain issue or running for an elected office. That being said, if the actual plan is to be a typical establishment politician or run an ‘astroturf’ issue campaign then this book will only be useful in explaining the opposition. Senator Wellstone wanted people running for office to focus on getting elected through popular will, not through a brute-cash strategy.
The book has chapters on preparation and planning, crafting a winning message, building a voter base, running communications, running field operations, budgeting and fundraising, scheduling and goal-setting, Get Out the Vote campaigns, successful advocacy and lobbying campaigns, and sustaining progressive change. It also has case studies and a template for campaign planning.
Organizing can be a lot of fun, however the bit I enjoy least is also the most important. The importance of preparation and planning cannot be overlooked. It is momentum-killing to be told that there was a deadline to register for an event that’s important for the campaign. The campaign’s budget can be thrown off entirely by a forgotten fee. Or an ambiguously worded talking-point could discourage potential volunteers and donors. Any of these issues can be circumvented through preparation. Do not misunderstand me, these issues will still come up but preparation will minimize them. The book will show potential organizers how to avoid these missteps.
Wellstone Action also like to focus on face-to-face interaction with constituents and peers. Senator Wellstone won his first Senate campaign in 1992 against an opponent who outspent him 7-to-1. He won because he drove across Minnesota, knocked on doors, and spoke to people in their communities. He alse released a series of humorous, low-budget advertisements, like this gem. The advertisements were a metaphor for his campaign and why he won. They were not glitzy, they were authentic. They boasted his connections to the constituent’s communities, and they displayed a man who would represent every Minnesotan.
We need more Senator Wellstone’s in this country. We need more legislators who are interested in breaking the corporate stranglehold over our government. The Obama campaign and the Sanders campaign proved that there is a voter-base of people who want the promises of American Democracy to be true, and who believe that government should operate for the people and reduce the misery of poverty. They also demonstrated the power of 21st century communications technology to empower a technocapable generation to spread political messages of hope and build significant support.
The power is there and what better time is there than now to use it?
“It has to start somewhere,
It has to start sometime,
What better place than here,
What better time than now,
All hell can’t stop us now!”
Rage Against the Machine, Guerilla Radio