POP-UP GROUPS FIX OUR BROKEN POLITICS
Pop-up groups also known as grassroots groups are showing up in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina. Women from the ages of 30 to 70 are saying Enough is Enough to current politics. They are organizing at the local level and running for political office.
The media outlets have just recently mentioned this new energy not in the rural or urban areas but in suburbs of Middle America. Since the election of Trump, women new to politics are forming groups. This is no leftist Tea Party or a repeat of Sanders versus Clinton. This is a new movement.
The women are mainly college-educated white women in suburbs who are alarmed by the current state of politics. They are changing the way politics is done. This is not a national movement, following one well-known leader. This is decentralized and face-to-face.
Local women have used tools from Indivisible, Action Together, Women’s March and other movements but they pick and choose what tools work for them. Their political action is designed for their own locality.
The new pop-up groups were identified by two professors. Lara Putnam from the U. of Pittsburgh surveyed women in southwestern Pennsylvania. Theda Skocpol, Harvard University political scientist, made field trips to eight non-big-city counties in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. In each place both women found newly formed citizen groups spurred to action by the November 2016 election results.
“These local stories have been similar across the country. Often employed or retired from teaching, business, nonprofits or government social service posts, these organizers already knew how to put out messages and share information. Word spread through churches, unions, PTAs and local good government groups.”
The women met face to face and then put their energy into tasks, phoning, gathering petitions and sending out newsletters. They work across partisan lines. Professors Lara Putnam and Theda Skocpol sees these groups as an inflection point, a shift in long-standing trends. They see this action as rebuilding structures of political life.
As you probably heard from the results of recent spring elections, the women ran for office and won. They ran for offices which had no Democratic candidates in previous years. They got into 2017 and 2018 elections and have set goals for the next two years as well. They ran for school board, city council and county boards.
Here are some samples of how the established political party leaders can work with the new pop-up groups. The following tools can strengthen their new local political action:
- Provide basic access…share best practices on how to do voter-registration drives, deep canvassing and get-out-the-vote activities.
- Share low-cost joint access…Umbrella groups at the regional and state levels are working on providing such resources to the newly formed local groups.
- Create channels for egos as a way to deal with tensions that come with multiple Democrats running for offices.
- Raise and spend money in innovative ways…paid professional organizers could work as liaisons between grassroots groups and electoral campaigns.
Professors Lara Putnam and Theda Skocpol see this movement as an unstoppable transformation. “It seems likely that the pop-up leaders and grassroots groups of 2017 will, by 2019, have repopulated the local layer of the Democratic Party in much of the country…..It will look like retired librarians rolling their eyes at the present state of affairs, and then taking charge.”
In some places the changes will come smoothly. In other place, the change will come through conflict. The final result will be slightly more “progressive and much more female Democratic Party leadership across much of America.”
“Everywhere, the renovated party locals will be passionate about procedural democracy: determined to fight gerrymandering, regulate campaign activities and finance, and expand and guarantee voting rights for all.”
Source: “Middle America Reboots Democracy by Lara Putnam and Theda Skocpol from democracyjournal.org February 20, 2018