A big flashy kick-off that draws a lot of press is the easy part. Bringing an organization together and doing the work necessary to accomplish your goals calls for a lot of work from a lot of people–a very different proposition.
No Labels, the bipartisan, political middle-focused advocacy group took care of the easy part on Dec. 13 with their launch in New York City. It was appropriate then that the topic of the group’s weekly conference call on Monday was the No Labels post-launch strategy for 2011.
In the simplest terms, in the words of Nancy Jacobson, a founding leader and moderator on the call, “We’re going to be spending 2011 building this organization.” That will consist of setting up local groups in each of the 435 U.S. Congressional districts, as well as building teams in the 17 states that have open primaries.
In open primary states, voters can vote for candidates of any party without needing to be a member of that party. State with open primaries are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
“We at NL want to be involved in those primaries,” said Jacobson. Typically in primaries, she explained, “The extremes show up to vote and pick their candidate, but typically others that may be a little more centrist in their point of view don’t get involved. We want to start educating people to get involved and start picking candidates in the primaries. We don’t know exactly what states we’ll get involved in, we want to get your input as this goes on, but we definitely want to be active in those states where independents can vote in those primaries. This is going to be a work in progress, we’re going to want to hear from you, if anybody lives in those states and has ideas of those candidates. We’ll probably support three or four on the Republican side and the Democratic side and do it equally.”
The local district Meet-Ups, according to communications specialist Andrei Cherny, will be central to what the organizaton does. No Labels is using the Meet-Up social networking site to organize the district groups, with local proponents stepping forward to initiate the process. Monthly Meet-Ups are to be scheduled the 13th of each month.
The organization, and Cherny specifically, will be providing organizers with talking points and background on what is currently happening in Congress. In the Meet-Ups, he said, members will be “getting together, and showing to all these doubters, whether they’re in the partisan press or TV or talk radio or even in politics, that we really can start having these kind of discussions.”
The group intends to monitor all members of Congress to identify “who’s really trying to solve problems and move forward, who are the people trying to put up the roadblocks.” Everyone signed up will also receive a weekly email update on what happens each week.
Kiki McLean, a founding leader, summed up the organization’s future saying that what comes next “is really in the hands of everyone who was with us in New York and folks who are on this call. This is where we really begin to help put rubber to the road and I can’t tell you how much your involvement and ownership of this means. It’s really the difference between a real grassroots movement and a one-day press conference. And I think we all know our experience in New York was no one-day press conference. It is the kick-off to a truly grassroots effort. They’re talking about us, let’s answer them, and let’s answer them with action.”