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11 July 2005

The Path to Success

Eric Hungerford over at added a must-read to his site for all of us in the pro-Feingold internet community.

It serves as something of a handbook for grassroots organizing. After all, blogging might satisfy our desire to talk about a candidate we like, but it won't mean a thing if the voters don't hear about it themselves. And someone like Senator Russ Feingold, who has enormous cross-over appeal with moderate Democrats, independents, and even some Republicans, won't get the supporters he could get if we only talk about him on liberal and progressive blogs.

For the progressives who are his natural base, in Ann Arbor or Detroit and elsewhere, his name has to get mentioned. Most people don't remember who their own senators are, let alone those from Wisconsin, but the moment a stereotypical Volvo-driving liberal with a rear window full of bumper stickers hears about Feingold, and realizes what a great president he could make, you have yourself a potential volunteer when the race gets going.

And then there are the independents and Republicans.

As I've mentioned in the past, I live in the red part of Michigan. One of many red parts. A lot of the folks around here don't trust the government with their money, have a set of values they cling to, and have the Second Amendment, which they cling to even more. But they're also feeling the effects of the Bush Economy. And they don't want to see our young men and women dying in Iraq.

I just named five areas where Senator Feingold can appeal to Republicans if properly introduced. A deficit hawk who works for campaign finance reform. A man who stands up for certain principles and can be respected, if not always agreed with. A pro-Second Amendment member of the Senate, who respects midwestern sporting traditions. Someone who can offer an alternative to tax cuts and deficit spending. And someone who can bring our servicemen and -women home without "cutting and running."

But before you know it, he'll be a "flip-flopping liberal" if you don't get out there and introduce him to the American people!

At Draft Russ, Eric lays out several ways in which door-to-door campaigning and speaking to groups of people about Senator Feingold can be most effective. Here are a couple key bits from his handbook-- though the whole thing is worth a read!

The Message:
Some ways of talking with people are more productive than others. Discussing the particulars of campaign finance reform laws isn't usually very productive, while outlining the fact that Feingold has been working for years to clean up Washington is.

Consistency is another key aspect. People don't always remember specifics about a candidate anyway, they remember what that candidate is all about. So get down to business and let people know who Russ is as a potential candidate.

What does Russ Feingold stand for? He stands for common sense. If you can get that point across strongly, then you've done what you can.

Recruiting Volunteers:
Putting fliers up with your own personal contact information - phone number, e-mail address, or whatever you feel comfortable posting in public - is a great way to track down elusive but enthusiastic supporters.

Also, before you talk to a crowd of people in any venue, whether it's in a meeting hall or on the street, have some ideas of what you can ask people to do for you. This is critical, because you may very well come across someone who wants to get involved -- but if you don't have any way to engage them soon enough, they may lose interest faster than you can say 'Downing Street Minutes'.
Door-to-Door Campaigning:
Don't be ashamed to ask if this person considers themselves a Democrat or Republican. Another great conversation-starter is to instead ask what issues matter to that person. Find points on which you agree and capitalize where relevant on bringing Feingold into the discussion. You don't want to kill the person with references, but you'll want to be tying their concerns to a Feingold presidency as you go along.
This is how we build a successful foundation for a campaign. This is how a common-sense progressive from Wisconsin can win the Michigan primary, and every other primary in every other state, if we work for it. Door-to-door campaigning may seem too much for this soon-- and maybe it is. But if we really want to make this happen, the planning, if not the campaigning, starts today.


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