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Working outside of the box is the title of a panel I'm sititng in right now at the blogger conference, Netroots Nation, in Austin. The panel is about how to find and run progressive candidates. It was introduced by Dean Nielsen of Progressive Majority who proclaimed with certainty, twice, that P.M. is the only progressive candidate recruitment and selection organization. The point of this blog is not to call that claim into question, but it is to acknowledge that the candidate recrutiment out of existing youth leaderhsip develpment organizations is a pipeline that needs to be built and brought to scale. Staffing is also important of course- that's why the mission of the Front Line Leaders Academy is to train would be candidates or would be staff of candidate campaigns.
I believe that the Young Elected Officials Network along with YP4 can and should be training people right of college to be candidates or candidate staff. But that might just be me.
This is the question I plan to ask the panelists, and I'd love to hear from the readers on this blog as well:
Do you think it’s important and or valuable to be seriously and aggressively recruiting young people to run for office. Young people are on the frontlines of social change locally- they aren’t waiting for the country to catch up on gay rights; they are getting anti-discrimination policy passed. They aren’t waiting for a democratic senate to recognize the need for a living wage, they are moving their universities to pay workers on campus family wages. They speak in values, they are anti-issue silos and, even among the most marginalized, including American Indian youth, there are many who identify as leaders now. I know that Progressive Majority has YPM, which is not a farm team, it seems but a social network that is trying to get young people to vote. Two questions: Why isn’t YPM about running young candidates and, if the panelists agree that young people should be recruited, what are going to be the main obstacles to their success?