Getting Involved in Illinois:
There is one process to become a precint committeeman in all 50 states that you can begin today. You are actually becoming a ‘party official’ so there is some formality to the process. We are still reaserching the particulars for your own state, but there is one proven method that works every time regardless of your state.
Contact your county chair and your county secretary (details below**) and ask them when and where your monthly party meetings are held. Attend those meetings and ask how you can become a voting member of the county committee. You may discover that the election season to acquire a voting seat is 2 or even 4 years in the future. Plan on attending monthly meetings anyway and make your presence known by volunteering for committees or other jobs. Vacancies can occur, and you want to be first in line for an appointment if one occurs, and you do that by being active and being known. Even as a non-voting but active party member, you can greatly influence local party officials if you are judicious.
While you are waiting for the next election or caucus, ask if any vacancy appointments are available, and seek such an appointment. Ask if existing members of the committee are allowed to have voting alternates (or otherwise hold a voting proxy) and seek such an appointment or proxy.
When the election or caucus season does roll around, plan on being there and being helpful. Many folks are very surpised to find themselves emerging from caucuses (in the states that use the caucus system) as the county chair and/or a state delegate (which means you help choose your state chair and your national committeepeople!).
Thoughts From a Precinct Committeeman:
We talk to many activists who profess to be unable to endure the shame of working within the very party that they feel has betrayed them. Remember that the objective is to change the party to be that party we can eventually express approval for. That will take some time, but there are so many activists engaging in this process now that in some states like AZ, NH, UT, NV, GA, the change is taking place suprisingly quickly! Consider if the legacy you wish to leave is freedom for your children and grandchildren, or enslavement for that same posterity with your own principles intact.
There may be more people than you think already on your party central committee who support your ideals, but feel out-voted by their peers and who would speak up more clearly if they have the support of greater numbers from people like you (I assure you, lots of them are out there). It may take awhile to identify these other committee members and ally with them. In the meantime if you speak up publicly in favor of fairness and judiciousness on the commmittee, those members with whom you can ally will quickly come and identify themselves to you — you will actually make allies on both sides and that can be very valuable.
Contacting Your Party Chair:
** You can begin by clicking on your political party’s state website in the right side bar of this page. Many state web sites provide a list of county chairs (and sometimes other county officers) somewhere on their web site – you may have to look around for it. For states that do not provide a list of county chairs on their web site, you can try googling your political party’s county party headquarters. You may need to contact directory assistance to see if a county party HQ phone is listed. Finally, if the above doesn’t yeild results, you can contact a local elected official of your party such as a mayor, commissioner, councilman or state assembly member, or state senator whose staff can help you contact your local party. In all events, be sure to contact both your party chair and your party secretary – the party secretary often has more time to deal with beginning requests than the chair does. Be persistent. Email and leave voice mail twice a week if you have to, in order to get a response. Determination is an asset in a party activist!