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‘Minuteman lists’ could be a tool for candidates


Party should keep track of resources for campaigns.
by Paul Lachelier†

Wed 10/01/03†
GreenPages, Vol 7, No.3

Remember learning in U.S. history class how Revolutionary War era “minutemen” mobilized in minutes into a fighting force?†

Remember also how Civil War era abolitionists like Harriet Tubman created an “underground railroad” providing shelter and food for escaped southern slaves on their way north to freedom?†

I believe the time is ripe for the Green Party to develop what I call “minuteman lists” to help support a Green political revolution in America and beyond.

As we prepare for the 2004 elections here in the United States, minuteman lists can help our party muster the grassroots resources necessary to wage breakthrough campaigns for state and federal office.

We have only begun as a party to tap into the significant resources our growing number of supporters possess.

I am not talking so much about the personal resources ó their time, money and skills. I am talking of what may be called local resources ó their homes, offices, storage space, cars, bikes, food, computers, office supplies, etc.

Not everyone has thousands of dollars, or even time, to give, but most have useful local resources of some kind.†

Moreover, people are often quite willing to lend certain resources when they know they will tangibly benefit a cause they support.

I propose mobilizing local resources so that, when the time comes to launch our election campaigns in earnest, we have the housing, work spaces, food, transport, and other resources our campaigns need.†

Some of this mobilization is already occurring, as Green organizers seek temporary housing for campaign workers, but our efforts have not been nearly as systematic or effective as they could be.†

Here in Massachusetts, in Jill Stein’s gubernatorial campaign and my own campaign for state representative, among others in 2002, paid staff who came from other parts of the state or nation struggled to secure cheap housing and meet basic expenses on low budgets.

It is in such situations, sure to recur in 2004 and beyond, that a network of Green minutemen can help significantly. (Such support must, of course, abide by applicable local, state, and/or federal campaign finance laws regarding in-kind donations.)

So, here is the simple proposal: When a Green candidate surfaces, and there is a strong possibility that that candidate will be using traveling campaign staff or volunteers, one or two Green volunteers should set themselves the time-delimited task of developing a minuteman list of local supporters.

The list would specify who is willing to provide certain local resources such as lodging, food or bikes, free or at low cost for part or all of the campaign’s duration.

The list makers might recruit volunteers or student interns to help make the many calls and write the many e-mails necessary to develop the list.

If planned ahead sufficiently, local, state and national Green Party organizations, rather than candidate organizations, should create enduring minuteman lists, starting with supporters in those districts in 2004 where we anticipate having candidates who will draw outside staff and volunteers.

Distinct from voter and volunteer lists, minuteman lists can and should be seen as a new, tangible and potentially quite valuable asset that local, state and national Green Party organizations can offer our candidates.

Many supporters may not be willing to give of their time or money, but they may be willing to lend a bike, computer or bedroom they are not using, especially when they hear that this would be an easy way for them to greatly help the Green Party.

Perhaps best of all, minuteman lists embody the kind of organized, grassroots power we as Greens advocate to challenge the currently dominant, moneyed, professional party organizations that tend to undermine genuine participatory democracy.

Paul Lachelier lives in Somerville, Mass., where he is conducting research for a Ph.D. in political sociology. He ran as the 2002 Green candidate for state representative in Somerville and Cambridge, garnering 37 percent of the vote.

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