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How To Save Your County In 5 Minutes, Episode #1

Today the Madison Project is launching a new series of weekly podcasts titled, “How To Save Your Country In 5 Minutes.”

As the title suggests, each podcast is only 5 minutes in length, but in each one we will give listeners actionable items that they can do each day to turn this country around. From policy to politics, this series will be your one stop shop.

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Vetting Candidates

Even Tea Party Candidates Lie

Candidates Lie

Most of us have done a very limited amount of vetting candidates, though of course we size them up all the time. But there is a difference between choosing among a group of candidates from their media presentation and actually vetting them. Vetting is a systematic process for discovering the strengths and weaknesses of individual candidates before offering them assistance.

The process of vetting is especially important to Precinct Committemen, who are the ultimate grassroots activists. As members of political parties, committeemen (or precinct captains, delegates, or whatever they are called in your state) are the first line of defense in keeping the bad actors out of politics — and in identifying good public servants, as well.

I divide the key factors in vetting a candidate into Commitment, Policy, and Retail Politics categories. In breaking down those factors, realize that they are related and often in conflict, so don’t get caught up in the categorization. A candidate sometimes will have to choose between his commitment to getting elected, to his principles and policies, and how to speak to a given set of voters on particular topics.

Another note before digging in: candidates lie. They forget, obfuscate, hedge, hide, engage in wishful thinking, and try to put the best face on things. A good vetting process is designed to alert both the candidate and the investigating committeeman to potential pitfalls. It is an essential part of filling local offices and developing a campaign strategy for the selected candidates.

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Getting Involved in Your Party

Glenn Reynolds, the famed Instapundit, wants people to know that they can make a difference nationally by getting involved locally. As linked by Ed Morrissey at HotAir, Reynolds notes:

You might join a political party — many small-government activists are trying to take over the Republican (and some even the Democratic) Party at the grassroots level and work from the bottom up, from the precinct to the state level.

It’s surprisingly easy to get involved in politics locally, and you can acquire responsibility and influence quite rapidly if you’re good with people and willing to put in the work.

The parties have a similar structure, mostly dictated by state law at this point. State chairs, district and county chairs, sometimes are separated by more layers from the grass roots level. But the grass roots is almost always something called a Precinct Committeeman.

The PCs are usually elected by the primary voters in a party. They in turn vote on the higher offices in a given party.  But here’s the big secret: nationwide, about half of these slots are empty. When empty, either fewer people vote for the higher offices, giving those who do vote more power, or the incumbent (e.g., county chairman) gets to vote for himself by proxy.

We at the Precinct Project have been trying to get principle-driven, constitutional conservatives to join the major pary of their choice by becoming Precinct Committeemen. Really, we don’t care which one you choose: both parties need to be more influenced by conservatives.

Browse about the site and you’ll see instructions for contacting your county chairman and offering to help.  Probably the chairman is overworked and underpaid, because he’s a volunteer, and will welcome the help. But if you get stonewalled, you can contact me (@lheal) or the Project main account (@PrecinctProject) on Twitter, and we’ll get to the bottom of things.

Despite what you may have heard, the parties are not the same. They are just weak, and controlled by incumbents who make the laws circumscribing what the parties can do. What is needed is for ordinary citizens to get off their couches and spend a couple of hours a month regenerating the party structures.  If we do that, the politicians will sit up and take notice, because we will engage the people in their government once again.

Originally published July 4, 2011.

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The Why and How of Party Reform

The purpose of a political party is to get out the vote for candidates who support a platform. We have allowed our parties to atrophy, so that rather than the parties controlling candidates, incumbents and candidates with money control the parties.

In particular, parties have not performed their get out the vote (GOTV) duties, so candidates have had to take up the slack. Usually the campaigns and parties coordinate poorly, so that some voters are never contacted while others, the more attractive voters, may be contacted even if they have already voted. Along with negative campaigning and an emphasis on appealing to moderate and independent voters, the lack of a party structure has led to low voter turnout.

These conditions have given us candidates, especially incumbents, who are not beholden to parties. They raise their own funds and each perform their own targeted GOTV. As a result, it has been said recently that a member of Congress is more likely to die in office than to lose a reelection bid.

The cure for all of these ills is to rebuild the parties from the ground up, starting with ideologically motivated Precinct Committeemen (PC).

The function of a PC is slightly different from a campaign’s precinct captain:

  • The PC’s first job is to find a replacement, then a team
  • PCs need to develop ongoing relationships with voters using data tools for casual contacts, online interaction, door-knocks and phone calls
  • The PC is a farmer, growing a crop of voters a little bit at a time
  • Every voter (even outside party) should know how to contact the PC
  • Success for a PC lies in improvement, not just in winning the precinct
  • Each PC should be self-sufficient in funding

If the PCs and various levels of the hierarchy were all doing their jobs, campaigns would not need to do GOTV and could focus on messaging and publicity.

One of the key functions of a PC is to catch a voter’s eye at the convenience store or at church and remind them, sometimes with just a nod in an off-year, that he or she is a voter. That ongoing relationship is the difference between a campaign precinct captain and a PC. The campaign harvests what the PC sows.

Originally posted August 11, 2011..

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2010 Was the “Year of the Precinct Committeeman” in Arizona

I’d like conservatives to make 2011 be “The Year of the Precinct Committeeman” because, if that happens, conservatives will then be in a position to elect conservatives to the leadership posts inside their Party and be in the best position to get out the vote for the best conservative candidates in the all-important, traditionally-very-low-turnout primary elections.

In other words, conservatives would engineer a reclaiming of our government.

Many claim this is a “center-right” country. If that claim is true, no reason exists preventing us from electing majorities of conservatives to the state and federal legislatures.

No reason other than we conservatives are not using our political system.

No reason other than we conservatives are not using the best political tool we have to elect good, decent people to be our public servants.

No reason other than the fact that over half of the precinct committeeman slots in either party are, on average, vacant in every local party committee across America.

Bottom line: we would greatly increase our chances of replacing the corrupt incumbents, and electing good, decent people to be our elected public servants, if we conservatives would “invade” our respective local Party monthly committee meetings and go about the task of filling up the over 50 per cent of the precinct committeemen seats that are, on average, vacant. Want proof? Read on.

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What is The Precinct Project?

Political parties are political vehicles. They aren’t sacred and often times we can see them shift in significant ways when viewed historically. The reason for this movement is that these political vehicles are defined by the people who make them up. They are malleable and can be strongly influenced by dedicated groups of activists.

This truth has strong implications for all grassroots movements, such as the TEA Party. Most conservatives today realize that the historical realities and legal structure of our electoral system make our two-party system a long-term reality. Whether you are a fan of that or not doesn’t change that it’s a fact. Wishing the system to change will not make it so. There is a way, however, to change the way the party works!

The Precinct Project has been launched in an effort to help educate and motivate conservatives across the country to become more involved in the political process. Toward that end, we are working to gather and curate an ever-growing amount of information about how to become a Precinct Chairman or Committeeman, how to be effective in that role and how to maximize your impact within the party system.

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Texas Primary Ballot Application

If you want to run for office as a Precinct Chairman in Texas, you need to first make sure you’re on the ballot. Below is the official application that you will need to fill out in order to secure your spot on the Texas primary election ballot.

For more information on Texas elections, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s elections division website.

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Precinct Power Presentation

This presentation is brought to you courtesy of American Majority. This is just one of the many presentations that AM offers for free through their resource section. This presentation will walk you through the mechanics of creating a precinct level voter activation plan. It covers everything from precinct prioritization to GOTV:

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How You Become A Precinct Committee Member

This video was made by our friends over at the Concord Project. They are a fantastic resource for precinct and GOTV related tools:

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