Operator's Manual for a Grassroots Political Party

by Jack Alan Brown Jr

"... with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."


Introduction

This manual has been written to assist in the organization of the Constitution Party of Oregon. It is assumed that the reader of this manual will have access to both the platform of the national Constitution Party and The Constitution & Bylaws of the Constitution Party of Oregon, though specific portions will be cited when necessary. Every political party has a platform, bylaws, members, and candidates. The platform is a standard by which to measure candidates that the party may support as well as recruit members for the task of supporting those candidates, while the bylaws structure the efforts that are expended by the members in support of that platform and those candidates. In this manual we will be looking at the process for successfully building and maintaining the party.

Certain additional tools and experience are prerequisite to the implementing of this manual. You must have a well-worn copy of the birth certificate of our nation, the Declaration of Independence. You also must have a frequently-read copy of the Constitution of the United States so that you can evaluate the performance of those who have sworn to uphold it. You must have access to a copy of the Oregon Constitution and be knowledgeable in its contents for the same reason. Above all these things you must have a copy of the Holy Bible, from which our founding fathers deduced the principles of government that they applied in those documents, and be on good speaking terms with the Author. Our cause and our political party cannot succeed without the blessing of God.

This state party was started by people with a common vision expressed by the platform of the national party. They did not want their creation to be highjacked by others of a different philosophy. They wanted it to grow to become a major player in the electoral process with a sizable base of voters registered with them. The constitution and bylaws adopted at their Founding Convention were designed to encourage individual initiative in the growth of the party, while providing stable leadership in its formative stage, so that it would not deviate from the course mapped out by those who gave it its birth.

It is expected that the reader will fit a certain profile: (1) be a God-fearing person, (2) have a profound respect for the tremendous legacy we received from the founding fathers of our nation, (3) have a resolute determination to do what is right without regard for the personal consequences, and (4) recognize that victory is not the ultimate reward for effort expended, but hearing the words "well done, thou good and faithful servant" is. If these things are not true of you, then it is pointless to continue reading this manual.

Our Vision

The Constitution Party of Oregon has a stated purpose for existence. In Article II of our constitution and bylaws it says, "The purpose of the Party shall be to provide all Party members registered to vote in the State of Oregon with a vehicle to achieve three objectives: (1) to create an opportunity to express political hopes and aspirations, (2) to develop a consensus on the proper role and function of government based upon the American Heritage of individual rights and responsibilities under God, and (3) to effectively channel energy into political changes that satisfy those hopes and aspirations and reflect that consensus by electing candidates to public office, passing ballot measures, adopting resolutions, organizing boycotts, etc." Let us now consider these three points in more detail.

The first objective in our purpose for constructing this party relates to the lack of opportunity for personal involvement that people typically feel in the political process. They feel that their voice is not heard, that their vote doesn't matter. This objective applies to those who are already in our party as they relate to those outside the Party. It does not require large numbers of party members to achieve this objective. It will occur at the grassroots level in the Precinct Caucuses. It will also occur at every other level of the party.

The second objective is an inward look, the family, as it were, talking to itself, finding its focus. This will make it possible for us to face the outside world with a united front, with well-thought-through answers to the questions which we will face in the public sector. It will exercise our powers of observation and evaluation in a safe environment, surrounded by our friends and neighbors and those of like mind all over the State of Oregon.

The final objective presupposes the growth of the party in terms of actual voter registration and candidate appeal to at least a plurality and ideally to a majority in the State of Oregon. This is the long term vision of our party, making all the efforts worthwhile.

Let me say here and now, that we will never achieve that growth if we don't think it possible, if we don't work for it, and if we don't take to heart the words of Psalm 127:1, "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain." This verse does not discourage us from building and staying awake. It merely reminds us that those efforts in and of themselves do not bring success. We must be unashamedly Christian in all that we do. Only then can we ask for God to bless the works of our hands, and we must ask Him for that blessing!

"If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" [Psalm 11:3] We have before us the challenge to rebuild the institutions of society before the foundations have been destroyed. It is our sincere hope that all who bow the knee to the Lord Jesus will join us in this effort. No one can be truly free unless they have the Spirit of the Lord and they are subject to the law of liberty.

As we show our concern in the political realm for the God-given rights of all others, we cultivate an evangelical environment. Logically, we will elevate to positions of authority within our party only those who acknowledge, both by lip and manner of life, the sovereignty of the King of Kings, and we will also seek to bring all those with whom we associate into the kingdom that has no end. Our vision extends to eternity.

Recruiting Party Members

Many people are already politically of like mind with us. Our first priority is to find them, recruiting into our ranks those who are willing to work. We can do that by actively challenging people that we know or meet in the course of everyday life to read our platform, to consider its merits, to consider joining us in the work. We can use all manner of attention getting methods to provoke questions, to create occasion for interaction.

Each party member should have a 'calling card' to give each person they meet. It should contain their name, phone number, and other contact information. It should also contain a statement that they are local representatives of our party, and have the State Party contact information. It does not need to be fancy, but it should be professional in appearance.

Another tool in recruitment is the use of a thought provoking button that can be worn everywhere you go. You can use your imagination in its layout, just make sure that it makes people ask you a question that leads to a conversation or at least to giving them a 'calling card.' Each party member should also consider using a bumper sticker to promote the party and its candidates. The best placement is at the bottom of the rear window which is the most visible. It can be taped inside the glass so that it doesn't get dirty or otherwise get defaced and so that it is most easily removed when necessary for any reason.

One should never hesitate to make use of opportunities created by others, either. If you overhear a conversation that indicates a dissatisfaction on the part of one person either with the way government does things or the way society is going in general, make use of that opportunity. If you are timid, ask both of them if they have heard of the Constitution Party. If you are bold, tell both of them that the Constitution Party has a better way of dealing with these things. In either case, give each of them your 'calling card' and ask them to get in touch. Better yet, ask each of them for their card, if they have one, or get their name, address, phone number, or email address. Some people that are reluctant to give out other personal information will give out their email address just to show that they are up-to-date members of society.

Be sure to follow-up. To be well-equipped for follow-up, you should carry voter registration cards to secure the decision of one to become a member of the party. Your prospecting will never bear fruit if you don't follow up. At minimum you must establish a conversational relationship with the prospects you find. Ideally you would invite them to an introductory meeting, preferably in your home or the home of a friend that lives near them, if there is no active organization in their home precinct. The meeting would begin in a businesslike manner with a pledge to the flag and prayer. It would have certain ingredients: a social atmosphere which includes refreshments; a 'testimonial' time for those who have been involved for a while that allows the prospect to identify with someone already a part of the party; and a time of presenting the vision and strategy of the party or an introduction of one or more of its candidates.

The format of the introductory meeting will NOT be to fully educate or convince a newly awakened Constitutional American. Do NOT create an information overload. DO generate enthusiasm and build rapport. The same format will be carried over into the regular Precinct Caucus meetings.

Organizing Party Members

Our second priority is to organize those we recruit into Precinct Caucuses. Recruiting individuals to a cause is effective only if they become part of a team that works together. The benefit of building a network of Precinct Caucuses in your county is that eventually you will have a list of party members in every community or section of larger towns who are holding regular monthly meetings to which you may send prospective party members living in their neighborhoods and candidates for public offices that are seeking their vote and support.

The precincts are the basic unit of all political geography in the State of Oregon. The voter registration lists maintained by each County Clerk are divided up into precinct lists. They are the political subdivisions of a county and they break up voters into groups having small enough numbers for personal contact. The average precinct will have somewhere between five hundred and one thousand voters, though a few will have considerably more or less. When our party membership in a given precinct outgrows a living room, a larger meeting place will have to be secured for its Precinct Caucus meeting.

Under the authority of the Constitution and Bylaws of the Constitution Party of Oregon, the party members in a given precinct are to organize into a caucus. (See Article III, especially Section A.) The organizational meeting of a Precinct Caucus is to be conducted under the supervision of the county party chairman or with previous notice to the State Party Chairman if the precinct is in a county that has no county party chairman. It can be done on the initiative of any party member in any unorganized precinct in any unorganized county if the required notice is first given.

At the organizational meeting the party members in the precinct that show up to a properly announced meeting select a precinct caucus chairman and secretary. Then they determine a regular monthly meeting schedule that they will follow. They also select a delegate to the County Nominating Convention for each fifty party members in the precinct (or major fraction thereof) with a minimum of one delegate, and they select a man and a woman (called precinct committeeman and precinct committeewoman) for each five hundred voters in the precinct (or major fraction thereof), with a minimum of one each, to represent their precinct in the County Central Committee. This is grassroots political action! All decision making bodies of the party are fed from these Precinct Caucuses which are like miniature town hall meetings. This is where the party members get their experience in parliamentary procedure, educate and encourage the party membership in all their recruiting endeavors, and develop house-to-house campaign plans for our party candidates.

A precinct can actually be organized if there are two party members residing in it, one for the Precinct Caucus chairman and one for the Precinct Caucus secretary. One of them will also be a delegate to the County Nominating Convention, and both of them (if one is a man, the other a woman) will serve as precinct committeepersons in the County Central Committee of their county. A county is defined as organized if it has a minimum of three organized Precinct Caucuses. From this you can see that it is possible to organize a county with a minimum of three husbands and their wives if each couple lives in a different precinct. Obviously we will want far more than three couples in a given county, but we have to start somewhere. The place to start is with our neighbors.

Organized Precinct Caucuses can use their monthly meetings as introductory meetings for those being recruited out of unorganized precincts. After three precincts have been organized, they can work together in one of those precincts at a time in door-to-door recruitment drives. They will have a unified command through the organized County Central Committee that they will have formed by electing precinct committeepersons.

Converting Others To Constitutional Principles

It may very well be, as some are convinced, that we are philosophically in a minority at this time. Though we may enjoy some electoral successes in three-way races, we must eventually achieve our third priority: a clear majority of the electorate thinking as we do and acting consistent with that thinking. This cannot be achieved by political sound-bytes. This requires an educational process with a long term commitment and unrelenting effort on our part. It will involve teaching others the history of our nation, pointing out the resultant blessings our nation enjoyed in the past when it was governed according to the principles our Founding Fathers found in the Holy Bible, and comparing that past with the present sorry state of our nation. It will also involve communicating a detailed understanding of our state and national governing documents which have been so sadly ignored by a majority of those who have sworn to uphold them.

In our attempts to 'convert' others to our cause, we should always relate our nation's problems to its failure to be faithful to the Biblical principles that were honored in the past. We should point out that this drift from our moorings has continued unabated under the presidential and gubernatorial administrations of both major political parties, regardless of which political party had a majority in the Congress of the United States or a specific state legislature, and that it has been unimpeded by the courts, regardless of the political affiliation of those who appointed the judges sitting in those courts.

We should hammer home the absolute that this downward spiral is the inevitable legacy of voting for the lesser of two evils, or voting our pocketbooks, instead of voting our consciences. We can, if we wish, document the theory of a group of conspirators seeking to control our nation and merge it into a world order of their own choosing, but we must not lose sight of the fact that the voters of this nation have given their consent to all the unconstitutional programs, policies, and laws that have been adopted, whether by electing or reelecting those who do not honor their oath of office or by not voting at all.

Always remember that many have voted in ignorance, which for them is not an excuse, but does implicate the 'watchman on the wall' that should have been sounding the alarm. It is true that many times there has not been a choice on the ballot worthy of their vote. When we point a finger at them we are also pointing three fingers back at ourselves. Have we spoken out as we should? Have we worked to inform voters regarding their choices and campaigned for good candidates? Have we been willing to run for public office ourselves when there was otherwise no choice worthy of their vote? This brings us to our fourth priority.

Recruiting Party Candidates for Public Office

We must not only gather ourselves together into one big happy family, fully organized, persuading those who differ with us of the error of their way of thinking, we must also provide candidates worthy of our votes.

We must find people of good character; skillful in public speaking; knowledgeable in history, current events, and the inner workings of government; and adequately trained for the actual function of the office sought. They will also have to be in good health, possess stamina to go the extra mile, and be able to lose without giving up. They must be team players, able to cooperate with others, teachable, and possessing a servant spirit. They must be satisfied to assist rather than make the points in the contest. They will need to be God-fearing men who radiate the love of Christ, while being uncompromising in matters of morality. They must have a sound approach to the spending of the people's money. A good description of them would include the qualities Saint Paul spelled out for leadership in the Bible. How they deal with their family would be part of the test to determine if they are qualified to serve the public. Everywhere we go we must be looking for this type of person, encouraging those we find to put their shoulders to the load.

Looking for and selecting candidates involves a process. First we must have a race in mind that needs a candidate. Secondly we must find men qualified for the office as previously detailed. Next we must pick the best one of those who are qualified and willing. It is very much like producing Gideon's army!

Circumventing Reluctant or Rebellious Officials

Until we have made adequate inroads into the State Legislature or the Congress of the United States, there will be times on our road to the recovery of the health of our state and nation that we will have to avail ourselves of other remedies mentioned in our statement of purpose. We can take direct political action by initiating or supporting ballot measures or petitioning for the referral of unacceptable legislation or the recall of unsatisfactory officials. We can also take indirect action, swaying public opinion by adopting resolutions or organizing boycotts.

Developing a network of the like-minded lends itself to a very effective signature-gathering machine and medium of political education. Resolutions adopted by an organization with several hundred thousand members from every walk of life and in every neighborhood of our state would have a significant impact on public opinion and on the opinion of those who represent us in the legislative branch of government. The economic and political effect of a boycott by a group of that size would also be substantial.


For answers to questions not addressed in this manual, contact:

The Constitution Party of Oregon

State Party Chairman Bob Ekstrom, 51163 Bankston Rd, Scappoose OR 97056; (503)543-7312; ekstroms@earthlink.net; www.constitutionpartyoregon.com

State Party Vice-Chairman Jack Alan Brown Jr, 745 NE 12th Street, Grants Pass OR 97526; (541)474-9343; auto_doc@chatlink.com;