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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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A Trifecta of Tools for Victory (Part I of III)

An entire suite of exciting new tools have become available to Republicans, and if deployed, will mean a much wider margin of victory in 2012 than we would otherwise see – indeed, these tools may be critical for victory in 2012 at all.

Article I in this series will discuss the major release of rVotes.com.  Article II will tell you about Nationbuilder.com, and article III will discuss PrecinctProject.us.

Background
Almost everyone recalls the massive web site/campaign management tool, Obama for America (OFA), that was a major factor in Obama’s 2008 victory.  The day after election day, the site was renamed Organizing for America (OFA).  Today, both domain names redirect you to barackobama.com, the president’s current 2012 campaign site.  Note that during the interim since Obama’s election, OFA (as Organizing for America), has continued to build on the historically strong online activist presence that we witnessed in 2007/2008.

Although the system is pervasive and massive, and performs many, many campaign functions required for victory, what drew public attention at first was the web site’s ability to quickly draw in hordes of activist volunteers (some 400,000) via the web, engage them online, and immediately make them productive online in promoting a campaign victory.

Both LadyImpactOhio (here and here as well) and I took a look at the system before and after the campaign.  While LIO’s research was much more thorough than mine,  my own research was conducted prior to the election as I succeeded in contributing a small amount to the Obama campaign with a credit card (and a foreign billing address) to confirm the campaign was purposely engaged in the criminal activity of accepting foreign contributions.  LIO’s vigorous research was much more comprehensive.

The system, built up over nearly a decade from it’s precursors known variously as Catalist, Voter Activiation Network (VAN) and VoteBuilder, became OFA.

OFA was not just used to elect candidates, it was used extensively to organize and mobilize support for passage of Obamacare and other measures.

One of the key strengths of OFA is it’s ability to share data among many activist organizations such as the campaigns, ACORN, SEIU, Planned Parenthood, etc.

The Republicans correctly perceived it as a real threat.  It was.

Predictably, the RNC, once so seriously threatened by this array of tools, wants to put it’s head in the sand when offered the very same tool today: rVotes.  That’s a story for another series of articles.  No matter, the state GOPs and Tea Parties will be deploying this system as soon that they can wrap their minds around it and evaluate it, and that’s a major task in and of itself.

As we’ve examined rVotes carefully around the backwaters of the internet for the past few weeks, I’ve gotten in the habit of telling newcomers to the topic that it will take you over a week of casual reading to wrap your mind around everything that rVotes can do for a political effort and its allies.  That’s no exaggeration.

rVotes is already deployed in Rhode Island, and GOP state chair Ken McKay is reportedly ecstatic with it, as it has  already won the RI GOP one election they thought was unlikely.  I’ve heard of moves afoot to get rVotes implemented in AZ, CA, MI and MN.  Other states will soon follow.

Emerging as rVotes.com
rVotes and even its precursor, VAN are products of capitalism.   The software was written by venturesome capitalist programmers with the intent of future profit.   (I hope this is encouraging news to you, Dear Reader, as this is a conservative web site.)    The Democrats paid up first.   When Steve Adler, the original VAN programmer decided to leave VAN in 2005, in order to get other elements of the settlement he wanted (such as taking his source code with him) he had to agree to a 5 year non-compete clause.

He has now emerged from that non-compete provision, and is making his software (with 5 years of improvements) available to Republicans.

The weeks of investigation a large group has already performed in the backwaters of the internet leads me to anticipate a few possible early responses.  Before you respond with suspicious comments about top-down systems that ignore the grassroots from profiteering publishers, please take a careful look at rVotes licensing arrangements (I won’t go into them here).  As I noted above, many of us have been investigating and researching rVotes for weeks now – conference calls, news lists, etc., and have concluded that rVotes deserves a serious hearing from party, civic and Tea Party/912 leaders.

If you are suspicious of the rVotes principals intentions or motives, then I suspect in turn that no words of mine here could allay your suspicions.  Perform your own investigations and satisfy yourself one way or the other.

Yes, rVotes will seem expensive to early adopters.  The prospect of access to rVotes will also energize the grassroots to go out and simply raise that money now, so the real question becomes one of foregoing victory next year in your area while you wait for the investment price to come down.  Since grassroots Republicans can be formidable fundraisers, I don’t think it’s worthwhile to consider foregoing the victories that would otherwise accrue to local parties and Tea Parties.  After all, it’s only money, as Rebublicans are sometimes heard to say.

And the creators of a system this worthwhile in its support for our victories deserve to prosper.

Remember, the Democrats have been clobbering us with this system for 4-6 years.  That’s a very good track record.

This article does not say much about what rVotes actually does.   As I allude above, understanding rVotes is not a quick study.  Follow the links above to explore.  Do it when you have plenty of time.

Finally, as the creator of PROCINCT, I anticipate that others might ask or wonder,  ”why would you endorse a system or product that many would regard as a competitor to yours?”  Passage of time will prove that there will still be a place for PROCINCT.   So my reply would be simple and short:

For our efforts, for our way of thought, for our way of life, it’s about victory.

Ron Robinson is founder and creator of PROCINCT, is a GOP official/activist in Los Angeles county, a new media & activist blogger and a businessman.

Crossposted

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PC Power and Governance

It’s not just about getting out to walk the precincts.  If we are dissatisfied with what our party delivers to us and our to government, it’s on us to get involved with party governance and correct the party by governing it directly.   I’ve written much elsewhere just how much success this strategy is having in many states already – the party is changing!  You are needed to accelerate that change.

But most PCs are simply unaware of just how much governing power they possess – and we need to be training each other to use it, to wield it!

Governing the party

It turns out there is much more involved (or there can be) than just voting once every 2-4 years for your county chair, or state chair and national committee critters.  Much more than just being on the platform committee of your county or state.  Look at the second column from the left on the chart below – the column with a sampling of the local boards, commissions, agencies and authorities in your region.

As one of the local PCs in your community, you practically have first claim to sit on one or more of these boards and commissions if you make your interest known – and especially if your county or state chair makes a few calls to help you.  It may sometimes take some sharp elbow work, but it can be done, usually as easily as when you became a PC.

So we should be going after these various board, commission, agency and authority seats with a vengeance.

How your local power cascades and is magnified/leveraged. (click to enlarge in a new tab)

 

One caveat: the above chart by the third column from the left is talking solely about city/county employees, but your influence goes much farther than that as a member of a board or commission: you also influence vendors (may longime vendors with ‘sweet’ contracts) neeting attendees, and many more people than we can represent on the chart.

I’m not relating these facts out of any excess of scholarship or study.   I quite literally stumbled into the idea as a result of an invitation – an invitation that I suspect many readers here will envy, especially with the rapidly rising popularity of  organizations like True the Vote and voter fraud work.

I was invited to attend a meeting of VSAP, the LA County advisory board that will help choose the voting equipment we be using in LA in 2016.  At the meeting I asked to be appointed to the board, and suggested how I might help, and my offer was accepted.  Even though I work for the ‘opposition’ party compared to most in the room that day.

What’s your area of interest?  I’m betting you can find one in the second column above.  Then join in, in your local community, and contribute to the governance of your community as well as your party.

We often accuse our party leaders of being ‘too nice’.  Are we guilty of the same thing if we’re not ready to get into the rough and tumble of community and local party governance?  After all, we should not be calling on our leaders to engage in these difficult battles if we are not present on the battlefield to support them.

I don’t have to tell you what the consequences for us are if we do not do this, right?

 

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