Blue Army: Meet Major General George Stern
George Stern, organizer of Do More Than Vote
This is the young organizer who's been running circles around more established hands when it comes to building new infrastructure to help people at the grassroots of progressive America get active and make a difference together. In a moment, I'm going to let Drinking Liberally co-founder Justin Krebs tell you more about Blue Army Major General George Stern, and I'm going to ask you once again to offer financial support to Do More Than Vote, but first, here's how you can enlist in our Blue Army, whose current mission is to take back our government for the common good on November 7:
- Contact Do More Than Vote and use their easy interface to get connected to the right volunteer organization for you in your area.
- Volunteer to become a poll worker. No bitching about fairness at the polls: become part of the solution. Go here.
- Volunteer for Howard Dean's new army through your local Democratic Party.
- MoveOn has a great online interface that can allow you to phone bank from your home for any race in the country where help is needed. Commandant Markos wrote about it yesterday. It's called Call for Change, and it's fantastic. General Chris Bowers at MyDD has also gone gaga over it, with good reason. Check it out!
- Review any of the many links and options Christy offered a couple of weeks ago. If you can't find something to do from there, you're not looking. No time to waste: pick one of these options to enlist!
Who is this fresh faced George Stern? I'd worked with him online through the Roots Project and DMTV for a while, and then he contacted me to get together while he was in town a couple of weeks ago. We met for coffee to talk about organizing and get to know each other on the weekend after the Mark Foley story broke. To say I felt a bit wary of what others around me might think as I sat my 40 year old ass down to chat with him would be an understatement.
Don't let that fresh face fool you: this young man has intelligence, people smarts and strategic insight on par with the best of the budding new progressive movement. We, as a movement, must encourage and support our talented leaders. In the private sector, I've seen people buy whole companies just to bring one highly talented person into the fold. Let's hear from Justin Krebs:
This is Justin Krebs, co-founder of Drinking Liberally and Laughing Liberally. In a more electioneering role, I'm also a founder of Do More Than Vote. I'd like to tell you about DMTV, about a young man named George who has made it expand across the country, and about how you can help us keep the good work going.
Most progressive activists start out working for nothing. You give your time and all your heart, while paying out of your own pocket for food and transportation. You did it for "the cause."
That's how George Stern began. In 2004, he spent 17 hours a day in the DNC's rapid response office during the Republican Convention. He stayed later than I did each night, and I was the one directing the volunteers. He became an indispensable partner in the team that coordinated thousands of people and dozens of actions during that hot and heated week in August ‘04.
George's volunteer spirit continued when he returned to high school for his junior year where his Democratic Club made 30,000 phone calls that helped Kerry carry the state and elect John Lynch governor. George reminds us that everybody – even a 16-year-old – can do something to affect these races.
Two years later, the guy that proved everyone could "do more" is running "Do More Than Vote," the effort to make it easy for everyone to take easy steps into progressive action, regardless of where they are or how much time they have. We began this project following the Convention in ‘04, helping thousands of New Yorkers find opportunities among the dozens of progressive groups. Now, in over 30 cities, DMTV is a national network…and the scrappy volunteer has become the fulltime, devoted, capable director.
However, this is the point of the story where progressives need to think about movement-building. If George were conservative, he'd have been courted into right-wing clubs, offered stipended fellowships and would be on his way to a career. Too often, though, we progressive expect people to keep working for free…forcing them to take on other fulltime jobs, make politics their hobby, and pushing them out of their rightful roles in our movement.
Do More Than Vote decided to do things differently. George has deferred college and devoted 5 months to DMTV, rather than taking a more lucrative job or leisurely enjoying his post-high school summer. We need to respect talented young people who make this choice – and respecting them means compensating them for their work.
We're not overpaying George – he's not a Washington consultant yet. We're not even making him too comfortable – we want him a little lean and hungry. But we are compensating him for his time and devotion…it's the least we can do.
However, we can't do it alone. DMTV doesn't have funding streams; and we don't ask for donations on our site, because we are encouraging readers to move beyond us to volunteer opportunities. We need your help. Make a small donation to support the work of DMTV – to show that progressives take care of their own – and to thank George and make sure he continues to grow as a participant in our movement.
I could not have said it better. Please talk about any of the great grassroots heroes you may have come across in your travels here in the comment section today. What made them great? How did they inspire you? Also, I'm sure George will be stopping by, so please, thank him for his work. He's quite an impressive young man and he's the model of the netroots activist who, rather than find fault with, complain about or criticize what is, takes the future into his own hands to build what can be.