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Letters on Political Strategy #4

Letters on Political Strategy #4

Strategic Objectives for All Party Groups

Above All, Remember

The Objective of a Political Party is To Elect Its Candidates to Political Office and thereby put its agenda into effect.

To attain this objective, we need to

build a strong party
perform needed housekeeping tasks
create pre-conditions for victory 

Building a strong party is based on core activities such as Outreach, Incitement, Local Activism, and creation of a strong Voter Base.

Housekeeping tasks are activities that don’t actually elect anyone to office, but that must be done in order to have successful election campaigns: Keeping Promises, Information Management, and Fund-Raising.

Pre-conditions for victory are the groups and operations that will get us Money (PACs and friendly fundraising supports), Ideas and Friends (Think Tanks and Special Interest Groups), Press (Friendly Media), People (Candidates and Incumbents), and Patronage (Using Resources to Help Our Friends).

How do we build a strong party?

Outreach puts our ideas before the public. We may use letters to the editor, speakers' bureaus, press releases, or web sites. The Internet is an effective way to mobilize large numbers of people very quickly on issues that they care about. However, 15% America does not use the Internet at all; the Internet cannot replace all other outreach methods.

Incitement is the task of persuading members of our party to stand up by running for office and by offering their time and talent as volunteers. Without volunteers, our party will not go very far.

Local Activism is the basis for political victory. It is local activists who speak to their neighbors, get out the vote, distribute pushcards and lawn signs, and hold placards for their friends, our candidates. It is local campaigns that can involve people, because they are small enough that one person can believe that she personally can make a difference in the campaign.

The Voter Base is people who Vote for your party because there is a a candidate of your party on the ballot. Each of the major parties can win elections because it has a vote base of 40% of the electorate -- people who show up and vote for their party simply because it is their party. The parties also spend money on advertising. That advertising only moves the 10% of the electorate who will consider voting for more than one party. Without a strong voter base on which to build, advertising avails you next to nothing. Building a voter base by regularly running candidates is critical to success. 

What is housekeeping?:

Keeping Promises -- we must perform the deeds that show we are a serious, law- abiding, promise keeping organization: comply with our own by-laws, comply with state and Federal laws and filing requirements, deliver products as promised to the membership [for example, publishing newsletters on the promised regular basis.]

Information is the lamp that leads us through the dark toward victory. We have volunteers, donors, contacts -- we need to keep track of them. We have issues, positions, press releases, and web sites, usefully kept where they can be accessed and examined. There are election laws and filing deadlines; candidates and campaign treasurers need to be reminded of them.

Fundraising is a housekeeping action. It's something that needs to be done. It should use a substantial part of our total time, especially for our elected officials. However, money will not buy us victory. As the Forbes presidential campaign showed, money without solid local organization is basically ineffective. 

What are pre-conditions?

We cannot see the exact path that will give us a victory for your party in our lifetimes. We can, however, identify circumstances that would exist as part of a victorious party machine. We can work to attain those circumstances, as discussed in previous letters.

How do we get from here to there?

The final objective is electing a Majority. It remains worthwhile to emphasize that election campaigns are an effective way to build a stronger party, encourage members of your party to support housekeeping tasks, and create the pre-conditions needed for the future you want. Many people are not interested in donating an evening a month to a talking shop. The same people will donate much more than an evening a month, if they see that their time is being spent in a constructive and effective manner.