Opening politics the wellstone way - (4-2010)


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  • Welcome people heartily Build enthusiasm
  • Paul Wellstone’s biography Acknowledge his importance to many people Talk about Senate career – the most progressive (click) Role as organizer – give examples (click) Teacher, mentor, friend – always made us feel anything was possible Circumstances of death and how we are going on
  • Briefly describe the major programs of Wellstone Action Scope of Camp Wellstone – 2 ½ day program Campus Camp – targeted to a wide variety of college campuses – taught by young organizers Movement Building Project with nonprofits, especially those serving under-represented communities Labor trainings – customized trainings with targeted labor unions Advanced Campaign management – for folks who already have significant campaign experience – taking them to next step to manage campaigns Camp Sheila – carry on work of Sheila Wellstone in domestic violence. Wellstone Fellows Program – identify young organizers in communities of color and provide 6-week long training, mentorship and placement with organization
  • Authentic candidates connect their own lives and values with voters’ lives and values through trust and empathy. Voters are perceptive and hungry for authentic leadership.
  • It is not about just electing the right person – or winning this – “the most important election of our lifetime.” We need to think of the long haul. How do we build today to turn the tide two years – four years – ten years down the road. What are we doing today that always moves the ball forward. Or, if the words of our favorite strategist Grover Norquist – never a choose a fight that does not grow the power of your organization.
  • What exists between our dreams and our current reality is a GAP – the question is how do we bridge that gap to make our dreams our reality? Note: you can spend some time discussing the things about peoples’ current reality that they wish were different and what the change is that they seek. What are the current problems in our communities: our neighborhoods, cities, country and world? What would things look like if we had our way (our dreams)? Finish with the question that leads to the next slide: so what’s holding us back from bridging that gap between our reality and our dreams? The answer is “power”.
  • What we will be talking a lot about is “power” – power comes from the latin word “potere” (Spanish word “poder”) which means “to be able to.” To have power is to be able to achieve one’s agenda. The guy I nthe suit doesn’t want us to think this way. He wants us to think we’re powerless, that we can’t change city hall, that one person can’t make a difference, that everything is too big, that politics is just corrupt – he wants us to think this way because he benefits. Martin Luther King – “Power is Neutral. It is merely the ability to achieve a purpose. It is good or bad depending on the purpose.
  • Closing the GAP (Wellstone Triangle modified by Unions New South Wales modified by us) Background to the slide: Each point represents a component for building progressive power. The inside colored components are the operational, or organizational components that correspond in many unions – Political Department, Government Relations (or lobbying) and sometimes the Education or Training Department (if one even exists), and Organizing. In the center and central to everything is leadership development. Introduction : Paul used to say, “Electoral politics without community organizing is a politics without a base. And grassroots community organizing without electoral politics is a politics a marginal politics, for electoral politics is one of the chief ways we contest for power in a democracy. But community organizing and electoral politics without good progressive public policy is a politics without a head and without a direction.” The Wellstone Triangle illustrates the connection between these three components for building progressive power. All three are necessary, and if we take seriously the connections between the three, each changes how we act, even if we locate ourselves principally in one of the specific points. GROWTH: Community and labor organizing . On one point is community and labor organizing. It is about growing our relationships by is going deep within our organizations and within our communities, building relationships, and organizing around common concerns. This is about building a constituency that demands change and can both develop new elected leaders and can hold them accountable. POLITICS: Electoral organizing . The second point of the triangle is electoral politics. This is about determining who will make the decisions and holding them accountable. AGENDA: Progressive Public Policy . Finally, we need the vision thing. This is about a clear, progressive public policy agenda with a vision for a better world. Why waste a lot of time winning elections if the world doesn’t change. Why organize unless there is a vision for how the world might change. This is the goal – the agenda – what gets moved when power is built. Together these build the power that we need to fill the “GAP” between our dreams and our reality. The connection : Public policy without community organizing and electoral politics is a think tank, divorced from any ability to be enacted. Community organizing without the other two is without direction and without electoral politics can be marginal and cedes one of the most important arenas of power to someone else. Electoral politics without policy and agenda becomes the cynical politics that is just about winning, and without community organizing is without accountability and is politics for politics sake. Community organizers and electoral organizers have a lot to learn from one another. In electoral organizing, we are very goal focused and tactical: every action results in votes won or lost. Community organizers can often lose the accountability and goal oriented urgency of electoral campaigns and can apply this targeting and strategic expertise to our organizing and issue work. Community organizers are all about building relationships and sustainable organizations. Electoral organizers too often are so focused on winning the goal that they can create unhealthy and unsustainable organizations (by definition campaigns are temporary) use people and burn them out. The inside of the triangle . As a member-based program – we need to do Education and Outreach (conversations and relationship building) and Growth (how do we grow our organizations and coalition relationships). This builds a common ground for action and creates solidarity around that shared vision. We then do Member Mobilization around electoral politics. This is the political program – member education, persuasion, and mobilization all around electing the right decision makers. The third piece of the program is Agenda Development and Advocacy. This is developing the “ask” and agenda that we want to move and educating candidates, and members, and the general public around these issues/values. We use the base created through organizing and political engagement to move this agenda. Too often each of these is in its own organizational silo. They need to be integrated if we are to build long term sustainable power. The final component is leadership development . There are not enough good leaders out there – nor enough hands to do the work that needs to be done. We need to find them, recruit them, nurture them, help them, sustain them. This is for both our organizations, and candidate recruitment to run new leaders for political office. Leadership development needs to be integrated into everything that we do.
  • When you put all of this together in a different way you get at the core of building a movement. At the core is basebuilding – this is the organizing work – that is all about building the capacity and commitment and infrastructure around a compelling vision. It is upon this foundation of relationships that we ask people to take action – not for us, but for themselves. At different times during any given cycle, certain actions rise to greater importance. Elections determine who will make decisions. Advocacy work moves an agenda.
  • Opening politics the wellstone way - (4-2010)

    1. 1. Welcome!
    2. 2. <ul><li>Community organizer with farmers, students, low income people, environmentalists and workers </li></ul>Our Roots: Paul Wellstone <ul><li>U.S. Senator from Minnesota: 1990 – 2002 </li></ul><ul><li>College professor for 20 years </li></ul><ul><li>Mentor and friend to thousands of people </li></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>Igniting leadership in people and power in communities to win change in the progressive tradition of Paul and Sheila Wellstone. </li></ul>Our Mission
    4. 4. The “greening” of America! 32,000+ trained since 2004 in 45 states; alumni in all 50! Over 35,000 people trained since 2004 in 48 states; alumni in all 50!
    5. 5. Over 800 candidates trained; 300 alumni elected to office!
    6. 6. Hundreds of organizations , thousands of organizers winning progressive change!
    7. 7. Lesson 1: Authentic leadership is not only the right way, but is also a winning strategy. Lessons <ul><ul><li> Trust </li></ul></ul>Candidate (Values & experiences) Voters (Values & experiences)
    8. 8. <ul><li>Lesson 2: </li></ul><ul><li>We need strategy and a long term perspective that looks beyond a single victory. </li></ul>Lessons
    9. 9. Our Dreams Our Reality The GAP
    10. 10. Power The ability to achieve our purpose or agenda What fills the GAP is …
    11. 11. The Wellstone Triangle: Our Model for Building Long-Term Power A genda G rowth P olitics Wellstone Action/with modifications by Unions New South Wales Issue Advocacy -Development Electoral Mobilization Growth -Education- Outreach Develop New Leaders Community/Labor Organizing Builds a constituency that fights for change Electoral Politics Determines who makes decisions and holds them accountable Progressive Public Policy Provides vision, direction and agenda
    12. 12. Building grassroots power to affect change: Or how we begin building a movement Advocacy Lobbying, contracts, coalitions, issues Electoral Determining who will make the decisions Basebuilding Building capacity, commitment and infrastructure around a compelling, coherent vision and set of values Organizing Work Mobilizing Work Mobilizing Work
    13. 13. Let’s Get Going!