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Our activist boot camp resumed on Sunday, pivoting from policy and media to the building, organizing and campaigning necessary to maintain a successful grassroots network.
FreedomWorks Director of State and Federal Campaigns Brendan Steinhauser introduced the day with his presentation called “Rules for Patriots," an intentional riff on liberal activist Saul Alinsky’s famous handbook on progressive grassroots organizing, Rules for Radicals.
Rules for Patriots is also a pocket primer written by FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe which details the steps necessary for conservative activists to retake the grassroots from the Left. This primer was just one of the many gifts given to boot camp attendees including: Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto, a book by Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe; “Human Action: The Quarterly Newsletter of the FreedomWorks Community”; “Two Years in the Tea Party: A FreedomWorks Retrospective”; numerous educational DVDs; and Tea Party promotional materials.
Rob Jordan, Vice President of State and Federal Campaigns, also spoke about FreedomWorks Political Action Committee and who FreedomWorks PAC will target in the next election. This section gave activists an insider look at the political calculus our PAC uses to decide which establishment candidates we can beat in both parties.
New Media Campaigns Coordinator Kristina Ribali discussed the importance of online activism and building out local networks using FreedomConnector. Emphasizing the decentralized nature of the technology, Ribali encouraged activists to drive the technology at a local level. FreedomConnector was created to mirror the Tea Party movement and thus is bottom-up from the grassroots rather than top-down.
The last section of Sunday’s events was “Campaigning 101”, presented by Campaigns Coordinator David Spielman. Spielman focused on the nuts and bolts of running a campaign, emphasizing the importance of doing neighborhood canvassing walks, sign blitzes and distributing campaign materials. Many had predicted that, while the Tea Party had proven itself to be a formidable protest movement, it could not possibly organize for an election. The 2010 midterms proved that hypothesis wrong, but 2012 presents a set of new challenges for the movement, including its first experience with a presidential election cycle.
On Monday morning, many of our activists in attendance will be speaking with members of the press to explain to them what they learned during the boot camp and what they plan on doing for the movement when they get back home to the grassroots. There have also been rumors of a meeting between our activists and some of the Tea Party-aligned members of Congress.
We will keep you posted as this story develops.