"A grassroots political movement is one driven by the constituents of a community. The term implies that the genesis of the described political movement is natural yet spontaneous and imposes a dichotomy between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures.In the United States, the first use of the word "grassroots" is thought to have been coined by Senator Albert Jeremiah Beveridge of Indiana, who declared of the Progressives Party in 1912 that: "This party has come from the grass roots. It has grown from the soil of people's hard necessities."Why mention it now? I’ll mention it now as I am reminded by my sore back and butt what a grassroots campaign means.
I stopped by the Fort Bend Democrats Combined Campaign Headquarters in Rosenberg, Texas today after work to drop off some materials. Farhan Shamsi was there with my friend Ann and her dad. They were helping Farhan send out a special mailer that he had prepared for a target population, 1324 Muslim voters in Precinct 3 of Fort Bend County. Ramadan is about to end, and it ends with a big two-day bash called Eid ul-Fitr. In order for the mail to get to their destinations by Monday, they had to go out tonight, so it was stuff and stamp city.
Ann shoved a bunch of envelopes in my face and said “Now that you’re here make yourself useful”. So I started putting little white labels on the return address portion of the envelope. The label contained the words “Eid Mubarak!” which Farhan said meant “Happy Holiday”. I gave my stamped envelopes back to Ann and she put the address label on. Then it eventually received a blue postage stamp. This stamp is being distributed by the US Postal Service in honor of the Muslim holiday. Then Ann and her Dad had to go, but that was OK because Don had come in and he decided to help. I switched over to envelope stuffing and he attached labels.
Farhan said we would probably get real close to the number if we stuffed all of the envelopes in one box of 500, and the stacks we had on the table. So I set off to stuffing. You have to get into a rhythm. The tedium of the job was compensated by the conversation. Farhan and I exchanged stories about our children, Don told us that he had just heard that Dubya was going to come to Fort Bend County to speak at a Get Out the Vote Rally. We wondered where they would hold it as Fort Bend County doesn't have that many large buildings where security could be ensured. The Marriott was suggested and rejected, Safari Texas – big room but too many doors. Finally we decided they were going to hold it in a hanger at the local airport. We were all wondering whether Bush’s sub 40% approval rating would be inherited by the Republican candidates. They sent “Dead Eye” Dick Cheney earlier. Heck, Don said, why not just send Don Rumsfeld out here, too, and really boost the Democratic cause?
Don had to leave, but took the boxes of envelopes that were done, and mailed them. In the meantime, Dave came in and he sat down to attach labels. At a seemingly arbitrary time Farhan said, “let’s just stamp these stuffed envelopes and then see what we have”. So I went back to stamping. Another hour and a half went by. Don came back and retook his seat. Bryan came in and Don called out to him to check for soft Democrats in Pecan Grove. So Bryan went to work on that on the Texas Voter Activation Network. The piles of stuffed envelopes got smaller and smaller, my back was getting stiffer and stiffer. But all of a sudden all 1324 labels had been attached. Farhan looked at the stuffed pile, and counted eleven extras. Not bad.
So it was a good evening for me. Sitting down talking with friends and getting another tedious task out of the way. A true, grassroots, tedious task. Another in the hundreds that will turn Fort Bend County Ann Richards Blue this November.