Are you a member of Working America? According to an article by author and political analyst Andrew Levison, you are part of the most important political project in America.
Levison writes in the journal The Democratic Strategist that in the age of unlimited corporate spending on elections, it is crucial that pro-worker and progressive organizations built grassroots, face-to-face operations for educating voters, raising awareness of issues, and building community over the long-term. "As a result," he writes, "the most important political initiative in America this year will not be any quickly thrown-together GOTV effort or additional political canvassing funded by liberal donors; it will be the organizing campaign that most faithfully and successfully builds on the traditional, grass-roots trade union model."
He continues: "The organization that is most clearly following this approach is Working America—the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO. As a result, it is, in the long-run, the most potentially game-changing progressive project in America."
It's true: we can't keep up with the unlimited corporate spending on elections. We have about five months left to go until Election Day, and the Super PACs and independent groups have already flooded the airwaves with misinformation. Working America's meticulous, relentless, tested form of door-to-door organizing is the only method that can inoculate voters from the advertising onslaught.
And that door-to-door canvassing is effective because we do it to scale. As Levison points out, we have 10,000 to 20,000 face-to-face conversations per week in twelve cities (soon to be fourteen with the addition of Falls Church, Virginia and St. Louis, Missouri). In 2011, 500,000 Working America members took part in some direct activity, ranging from writing or calling your congressman, submitting a letter to the editor, attending a rally or joining other members at a Community Action Team meeting.
The momentum has affected not just the people we talk to, but our own organizers as well. "The unanticipated outcome that's gotten us so excited is what organizing does not just for the people we sign up but for the people who sign them up," one of our organizers told Levison, "The people in [Working America] get so juiced up by their experiences that it gives us legitimate hope that there are many more people out there who are basically like us, and that the potential for solidarity is far greater than we thought."
In the age of unlimited political contributions by corporations and the wealthy there is simply no alternative. If the appalling social recidivism of the policies and philosophies of this new gilded age are ever to be defeated, they will be defeated by the methods that Working America is pioneering today.