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Politics the Wellstone Way

How to Elect Progressive Candidates and Win on Issues

2005
Author:

Wellstone Action
Bill Lofy, editor

Politics the Wellstone Way

A comprehensive, step-by-step guide to successful grassroots campaigning and organizing

Politics the Wellstone Way offers a comprehensive set of strategies to help progressives channel energy into winning issue-based and electoral campaigns. From the school board all the way to the White House, Politics the Wellstone Way instructs people on becoming better organizers, candidates, campaign workers, and citizen activists, empowering them to make their voices heard.

Paul Wellstone had a great ability to win by connecting his politics to people in a profound way. Paul can't be replaced, but his formula for success can be passed on to others, and this book does just that. Written by the people who guided his successful campaigns, it is a blueprint for those who are committed to making a difference, taking a stand, and winning.

Walter Mondale

During the past four years, political activism has grown to a level that has not been seen in the United States since the Vietnam War. Tensions over the war in Iraq and the presidential election motivated hundreds of thousands of people on both sides of the political fence to take to the streets. Politics the Wellstone Way offers a comprehensive set of strategies to help progressives channel that energy into winning issue-based and electoral campaigns.

Wellstone Action is a nonprofit organization dedicated to continuing Paul and Sheila Wellstone’s fight for progressive change and economic justice by teaching effective political action skills to people across the country. Politics the Wellstone Way is a workshop in book form, providing the detailed framework needed to jump-start a new generation of activists plus plenty of helpful tools for old pros, including articulating a strong message, base building, field organizing, budgeting, fundraising, scheduling, getting out the vote, and grassroots advocacy and lobbying, illustrated by practical and inspirational examples.

From the school board all the way to the White House, Politics the Wellstone Way instructs people on becoming better organizers, candidates, campaign workers, and citizen activists, empowering them to make their voices heard.

Wellstone Action was established by the Wellstones’ two surviving sons, David and Mark. The main vehicle for this ongoing work is Camp Wellstone, a weekend training program that Wellstone Action leads regularly in locations across the country. Jeff Blodgett, Paul Wellstone’s longtime campaign manager, is the executive director of Wellstone Action. For more information visit www.wellstoneaction.com.

Politics the Wellstone Way

Established by Paul and Sheila Wellstone's two surviving sons, David and Mark, Wellstone Action is a nonprofit organization dedicated to continuing their fight for progressive change and economic justice by teaching effective political action skills to people across the country. The main vehicle for this ongoing work is Camp Wellstone, a weekend training program that Wellstone Action leads regularly in locations across the country. Jeff Blodgett, Paul Wellstone's longtime campaign manager, is the executive director of Wellstone Action. For more information visit www.wellstoneaction.com.

Politics the Wellstone Way

Paul Wellstone had a great ability to win by connecting his politics to people in a profound way. Paul can't be replaced, but his formula for success can be passed on to others, and this book does just that. Written by the people who guided his successful campaigns, it is a blueprint for those who are committed to making a difference, taking a stand, and winning.

Walter Mondale

Paul Wellstone was a great American because he was honest and led with his heart. But he was a successful leader because he knew how to organize, and he showed ordinary citizens that they had the power within themselves to change our country.

Howard Dean

Don't mourn, organize. This book tells you how—and the right way—in that joyous, battling spirit that so distinguished Wellstone's politics.

Molly Ivins

Politics the Wellstone Way will influence a generation of Democrats. For that the country will be grateful.

Senator Bill Bradley

This book is the next best thing to going to a Camp Wellstone if, like me, you are too lazy, or too important.

Al Franken

As an expert organizer, Paul empowered ordinary people to do things they never thought possible, and in turn they work with others to do the same, the Wellstone way. This book is a great tool for progressive-minded people to learn how to take action in their communities and win.

Robert Redford

This is a great book for progressives who want to win without compromising their principles. The pages are filled with smart advice and useful tools from Wellstone's most trusted advisers. Highly recommended for those who are progressive and want to win!

Senator Tom Harkin

Agitation is essential for progressive reform. But agitation without organization equals frustration. In this book, Wellstone Action show you how to combine the two for success.

Jim Hightower

The passion that Senator Wellstone brought to public service is an inspiration to all of us who carry on the cause of progressive politics. Working together, we can bring real change to our country when we reach out to the grassroots by standing up and standing tall for the progressive values we share.

Senator Russ Feingold

I think everyone who ever knew Paul Wellstone had the same reaction to his death, because we know what he would have told us: Don't mourn, organize. This book tells you how to, and the right way—in that joyous, battling spirit that so distinguished Wellstone's politics. I'd just like to add to be sure and have lots of fun doing this work. Fun and laughter will whiten your teeth, clean your breath, and keep you sane. And we'll never save the world without them.

Molly Ivins

For too long, progressive activists have thrown themselves into electoral politics every four years and then going back to whatever they were doing before. Paul Wellstone knew that it is crucial to build a political movement that will endure after particular electoral contests, and that lesson is contained in the pages of this book. Politics the Wellstone Way prepares progressives for the political battles that will determine the future of our country.

Robert Reich

This book distills the lessons of Paul Wellstone's remarkable career. Electoral politics is one path in the massive efforts that will be needed to restore democracy in America, and here is the blueprint for how to do it!

Frances Fox Piven

Paul Wellstone made me believe again that politics and power are good things when you return them back to their roots—the people for whom they are supposed to serve. This book shows you how to do it.

Mee Moua

Senator Paul Wellstone's brilliant legacy as a master grassroots organizer lives on through Wellstone Action! Whether your campaign involves a local initiative or a bid for national office, Politics the Wellstone Way: How to Elect Progressive Candidates and Win on Issues provides a blueprint for victory. It's a must-read for progressive activists.

Donna Brazile

Having worked closely with Wellstone Action to train and mobilize progressives, I know firsthand the value of their work. This book shows how to put together an effective grassroots campaign using the power of volunteers, and it points the way for progressives who want to get to work and win.

Steve Rosenthal

Working people who want to take our country back should read this book first.

Leo Gerard

Paul Wellstone understood that mobilization can match money and that principle overcomes positioning. The ‘Wellstone Way’ is detailed in this terrific book and presents a road map for the next generation of Paul Wellstones—movement progressives who can transform America.

Robert L. Borosage

It's the next-best thing to actually being at Camp Wellstone . . . a must-read for anyone who is committed to positive political and social change for America's working families. . . . A practical guide for changing our country and transforming the powerless into the powerful.

Andy Stern

Politics the Wellstone Way is the politics of hope made practical. It is the politics of organizing for people and by people. It is about how vision and action can help us not only to dream of a better world but to actually build a winning plan to see those dreams come true. In reading and following Politics the Wellstone Way, we help Paul's spirit to keep on.

Heather Booth

The book is a masterpiece, explaining in great detail how ‘regular’ (not necessarily political) people can organize a campaign on behalf of an issue or a candidate. For political junkies of all stripes, it’s the ultimate inside baseball playbook on how to run a campaign. Put another way, if you like politics and want to understand the basic mechanics of campaigns, buy and read this book.

Politics in Minnesota

Politics the Wellstone Way is as practical as the instructions that come with your IKEA bookshelf. There are graphs and models, sample press releases and strategies for recruiting volunteers; it is the embodiment of Wellstone’s ambition.

Minnesota Law & Politics

Politics the Wellstone Way

Contents

About This Book Jeff Blodgett

Introduction: Politics the Wellstone Way

1. Starting Out Right: Preparation and Planning
2. Delivering a Winning Message
3. Base Building
4. Communications
5. Field Organizing and Direct Voter Contact
6. Budget and Fundraising
7. Scheduling for Electoral Campaigns
8. Get Out the Vote (GOTV)
9. Advocacy, Lobbying, and Winning on Issues
10. Sustaining Progressive Change

appendixes

A. “Coordinated Campaign”: Field Plan from the 2002 Minnesota Democratic Party Effort to Reelect Paul Wellstone and Other Democrats
B. Wellstone for Senate 2002 Community of Color Organizing Plan: Minnesota’s Hmong Community
C. Action Planning Template

Acknowledgments
About Paul Wellstone

Index