Welcome to the Madison Project’s PrecinctProject.us!
You may have noticed that there is a nationwide movement afoot to regain control of our parties and govern our parties back in the direction that serves our country best. If not, this is your introduction to Madison Project’s contribution to that movement. A movement that encourages you to become active in the governance of your party by becoming a Precinct Committeeman (PC) in your neighborhood, then build on that to become involved in the governance of your county and state parties. I won’t tell you how right here, but to keep you reading, I will tell you that it’s very, very easy, and you can do it!
For the national conversation, we’ve settled on the term PC (for Precinct Committeeman), but it may be called something different in your state: alderman, precinct captain, precinct executive, central committee member. The salient point is that a PC has a vote to govern the party at the level where they serve. They vote for who is going to be county chair. They vote in sub-committee meetings to choose candidates and settle party policy. In short, they vote on the internal governance of their party.
What is the movement’s purpose? To restore control of the party to the people. To ensure that the party serves the interests of citizens, and not entrenched interests in the state capitols and in Washington DC.
If you’ve ever experienced the sense that your party is out of control and nobody is really behind the steering wheel, then the sense you are feeling conforms exactly with reality. There’s a reason why this is true. Essentially, the parties are operating at half speed with little governance. This can be quantified, and has been quantified: nationwide, of all the voting seats available to govern the party, half are sitting empty. Unoccupied. Vacant.
Little wonder then, that we see our parties acting like unsupervised children. No “adults” are present at the party meetings to vote the party back to a sane course. In one party, out of roughly 181,000 precinct seats that vote at the county level, only about 90,000 of those seats are filled with voting members. This represents an unprecedented opportunity for you to join in and help govern your party. Elect better county chairs. Elect better state chairs. Elect better National Committee people. Guide and govern the elected leaders we already have in the party.
Our objective? Simple: to fill all those empty seats on the party committees, thus ensuring that better leaders become available to the party, and that they are elected to lead the party.
Who can participate? Anyone can participate and govern their party. I’m looking at you.
Why should I participate? Because you want to be effective in changing the direction of your party and thus your country. If you’re like me, you’ve written a lot of letters to your congressman in the last couple of years. Perhaps, like me, you engaged in a little fantasizing that your Congressman or a staffer would call you to discuss your thoughts and ideas. I’ve learned, since I became one, that if you are a PC or are otherwise involved in your county or state party governance, then you
will get that call from your congressman or his/her staffer. ”Somehow” you become one of “the anointed” and voila, your phone calls are returned!
You see, elected officials pay careful attention to what party officials have to say to them. And if you are a PC, you are indeed very much a party official.
An elected official may scoff when somebody mentions the word “primary” to them, but they are suddenly very very serious about listening if a PC utters the word “primary”. Only a PC has the authority within the party to actually make a primary happen. So if you want to drive an icy spike of fear into an elected official’s heart, first become a PC, then mention the possibility of a primary to that elected official. You will notice that official suddenly becomes very attentive to your ideas.
Oh, and I think that official will begin to return your phone calls. Quickly.
But there’s more. If you become a PC, you will quickly notice that there is a real power vacuum at the county and state level. Remember I said half the governing, voting seats in the party are empty? Well those empty seats exist also at the county and state levels. Again, half or more of those voting seats are empty. That means if you want one, you can get one. As this movement has gathered steam, we’ve gotten many, many reports from beginners who went to their county organizing caucus for the first time and emerged as a district chair, and state delegate, and even county chair on their first day of party activism. We’ve heard similar reports from many states and many counties. If you simply go stand close to the party, the vacuum of empty seats will suck you in and place you in positions of genuine power to govern the party!
How do I get involved? Becoming active in governing your party is like joining any other civic organization. First you find out where the meetings are and begin attending. Introduce yourself to the local chair, vice-chair and secretary. Find out where the party needs help and offer to help. Voting positions are usually filled during primary elections or caucuses held every two to four years in most states, so here’s the money shot: your county chair can usually appoint you to a vacant voting seat, and it’s key that you quickly ask for such an appointment.
The key to this entire mode of activism is to have your vote to govern your party, so don’t be shy about asking for that. Later, you can appear at you local caucuses or stand for election to your seat (whichever method is used in your state) and win your seat in your own right. But a vote cast by a member who received a vacancy appointment from your county chair is just as good as a vote won in the biennial caucuses. It’s your right to vote to govern your party. Use that vote.
There are many resources available to help you.
PrecinctProject.us, this site, which is intended to be a comprehensive hub, furnishing basic information and detailed information on each state, as well as information on other sites that may be helpful. Different people prefer different styles for learning, so we try to direct you to a resource that will help you learn the way you want to learn.
theprecinctproject.wordpress.com – this is the oldest and original site for information on becoming a PC. It’s like a quiet library where you can get links and information on your particular state on the process for becoming a PC.
ConcordProject.org – a wonderful media property with lots of videos and detailed information on the PC process on each state.
party.PROCINCT.net – PROCINCT’s distinctive offering is that you can ask questions and take part in discussions about becoming a PC. Like Concord, PROCINCT also offers a wide array of videos and detailed state information.
If you are a leader or a highly engaged activist, we’d invite you to blog with us at any of these sites. Click the contact link above or fill out the “Suggest a Resource or Tip” dialog below at right.
What’s the next step? Contact your local party and attend the next meeting! Use the resources here and on the other sites (click on your state) to find out how to contact your county party, then attend the meetings and meet your local party officials. Insist that your county chair appoint you to a vacancy if one exists so you can cast your vote in your local party. Then seek a district or county or state post (which is easy) and cast your vote at that level.
Like any new movement – or any new facet of an existing movement, we’re engaged in a genuine adventure. There is plenty of room for new leaders. There is plenty of room for new activists who have new requirements to lay upon their party. Like any new adventure, we are still supplementing the basic information on many states we do not have complete information on yet. Most information we have on individual states was supplied by individuals like you who went through the process themselves and then told us about the process in their locale so we could document it for you here. We’d invite you to help us (and others) in that same fashion if we are lacking some details on your state. In any event, we can always answer questions and help mentor you through the process; we hope then that you will be willing to mentor others. But please note well: the generic information we still have posted on some states is proven to work perfectly. Every time.
Join us in this adventure of taking back our party. Nothing will bring our politicians to heel faster than engaging in this process. Nothing will change our parties and stiffen the backbones of our legislators more than citizen party officials demanding real change, real public service, and real adherence to constitutional principles.
Ron Robinson is founder of PROCINCT.net, a discussion web site that helps citizens become Precinct Committeemen (PCs) and provides walk lists to precinct captains doing GOTV work in their neighborhoods. Ron also does public evangelism and alliance work in promoting PC activism in order to change his party. He is a PC and party district chair in Los Angeles county.