Coming this weekend to Portland: A New Definition of a Winning Politics

By Elana Wolowitz of St. Paul, Minnesota. Elana is the communications director for Wellstone Action.

Soundbite politics has long dominated the mainstream media, but it feels like pundits have reached a new level of shrill this primary season. They’d have you believe that polls, ads, and appearances on their shows are what wins elections.

The late Senator Paul Wellstone knew better. Paul first ran for the Senate in 1990, and he did it by using his skills as a community organizer – building relationships and engaging voters in real conversations about their lives, and crisscrossing the state in a beat up green school bus that could barely make it from Mankato to Sleepy Eye without breaking down.

Paul is gone now, and can no longer be the “soul of the Senate”. But way before his historic run for office, he spent many years as a teacher at Carleton College and a community organizer, building power with farmers and low income people in rural Minnesota.

That’s why we created Camp Wellstone. The greatest legacy for Paul is to pass on the skills and tools for grassroots campaigning that he taught us, and to create a critical mass of organizers that believed fundamentally in changing the definition of a winning politics. At the end of the day, the spoils go to the candidate with 50% + 1 vote, but we train candidates and campaign workers that to win as progressives, we need to expand the number of people that are engaged in the political process and work to build the base of engaged supporters, volunteers, and leaders.

It can be hard to tune out the pundits, but we know that voters ultimately respond to a politics of conviction that inspires and challenges them, and offers them an opportunity to be a part of a movement.

Camp Wellstone is coming to Portland with a hands-on training program that provides practical skills in grassroots politics to citizen activists, campaign workers, and candidates for elected office. And we want to see you there.

Friday, February 1st – Sunday, February 3rd
Portland State University
Registration is required – visit or call 651-645-3939.

More details here.

  • LT (unverified)

    "skills as a community organizer – building relationships and engaging voters in real conversations about their lives,"

    That's my kind of politics!

    Building relationships and having conversations with voters about what matters to THEM is SO much more important than all the insider stuff like endorsements, consultants, websites, etc.

    Someone who was my state legislator long before computers and the Internet existed said he was once asked how he happened to win without spending the most money. I forget the exact wording of the answer but it was something like "shoe leather is not very expensive and doesn't have to be listed on a C & E report".

    Even in major elections, the candidate people like will create conversations among friends which consultants, pollsters, pundits etc. may never know about. But the votes gotten by people talking to their friends count just as much as votes won with commercials. Word of mouth is very effective advertising.

    There have been stories of people inspired to support Obama (or whoever) getting in their car and driving to a neighboring state to help their candidate for a few days. Money does not buy that sort of loyalty. Paul Wellstone understood that. There is a great book (I forget the name) telling the story of how he was elected to US Senate the first time--beginning with how and when he first decided to run. A worthwhile book to read.

  • shirley (unverified)

    It's about time that we start reaching out to the young people and let them know about what poltics are all about and at the same time you need to teach them about organzed labor is how they can benfit from it.

  • Marian (unverified)

    Sorry to bring this up, but some of us think Wellstone was murdered. No investigation has taken place concerning the unexplained plane crash that killed him, his wife, and the pilot.

  • Lew Frederick (unverified)
    <h2>A truly outstanding program! I urge anyone, novice or experienced, to attend this program. I especially suggest that those involved in campaigns now, or planning to work for a campaign in the future, sign up today.</h2>
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