We need more people. Not just a few more. We need a lot more people—and we need them organized at the scale of corporate and right-wing power. In the next 10 to 20 years, with emerging technologies, a clear plan, and leadership, we can have local self-organized progressive neighborhood Dream Teams in all of the 200,000 precincts in the United States. Not only that, we can also have affinity-based Dream Teams: knitting-circle Dream Teams, transgender Christian basketball Dream Teams, divorced dads with kids Dream Teams, you name it.
Welcome to Organizing 3.0—21st-century style.
Local Dream Teams in 200,000 precincts is the “moon shot” of our generation. It might sound impossible. But if we’re not serious about organizing at this scale, there is no way we’re ever going to win on climate, economic fairness, campaign finance, or other issues. Any political strategy that doesn’t include this level of organized people power is the political equivalent of fantasy football. It feels warm and fuzzy to daydream about, but it’s a nonstarter in the real world.
The Obama campaign’s neighborhood teams are an early prototype of the Dream Teams model. The next historical step is to build independent progressive neighborhood teams that are about more than just politics. Of course, Dream Teams will register and get out the vote when it’s election time. But that’s only one-quarter of what they will do. During the other three-quarters of the year, they will focus on local and national issues, community, culture, and building local economies. We need an updated organizing model that meets people where they’re at and rejuvenates them between election cycles.
New technologies will revolutionize our capacity to self-organize. Cutting-edge groups like the New Organizing Institute and Engage Network are experimenting with scalable self-organizing models, as are established groups like the Center for Community Change and MoveOn.org.
Keep in mind, we’re not the only ones trying to organize 200,000 precincts. Ralph Reed recently called for ten volunteers to self-organize every precinct in America. It’s crazy that no one on our side is even talking about organizing at that magnitude. That’s because we think that for everything we do, we need a grant from a foundation. Rick Warren built his 20,000-person “megachurch” from scratch without a single grant. Why? Not by organizing around issues. He did it by creating a beloved community with a narrative, which is what humans hunger for. Put another way: We need to grow a new movement culture, with DNA so irresistible that people want to self-organize it in every corner of our country.