Don’t overlook the bigger and long-term impact of reNEW.mn

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The 2010 DFL Convention in Duluth was the wildest convention we’ve had in a long time, if ever. Not only did we have five great candidates, we had a wildcard thrown into the mix that made everyone nervous:  reNEW.mn


Nobody had ever tried to do anything like this before. They’d gotten 2,000 or more folks out to the precinct caucuses. These folks then helped build reNEW subcaucuses and sent 150 or so delegates to Duluth. Now everybody is talking about what they tried to do.


Some said they’d failed, because they weren’t the kingmaker. That fell to Tom Rukavina. Some say they failed because they couldn’t consolidate their delegates and help a single candidate by voting as a bloc.


I think that this is short-sighted analysis of what reNEW was trying to do.


reNEW (and, for that matter, their parent organization Take Action Minnesota) have never done anything that didn’t fit into a long-term strategy of building the progressive movement’s electoral capabilities. reNEW didn’t do all this just to swing the endorsement to their candidate.


“The reNEW Minnesota campaign has brought a ton of new people, across Minnesota, into the political process,” said Take Action Minnesota Executive Director Dan McGrath. “These people are going to make the difference for Margaret Anderson Kelliher in August and in November and they’re ready to go.”


The bottom line is we need to continuously find new activists who will help elect progressives to office. If the progressive movement stops doing this, we calcify and then we’re toast. reNEW has brought several hundred new activists into the process.


I spoke to a number of them at the convention and they’re excited about getting a progressive Governor regardless of which one of the three reNEW candidates got the DFL endorsem


“We didn’t go to the convention to be liked and maintain the status quo,” said Greta Bergstrom, Communications Director for Take Action. “reNEW went to the convention to change the debate and we succeeded at that.”


We are at the table.


“The DFL endorsement doesn’t decide the primary winner,” continued Bergstrom. “The quality and depth of grassroots involvement does.”


Our progressive agenda was not ignored and will not be ignored. Furthermore, if we can get MAK elected, she’ll have to recognize that the progressive movement played a large role in helping her to win. But it’s not even that … if MAK gets elected, we’ve elected one of us.


I have argued that Keith Ellison and Al Franken are one of us as well. Now that they are in office, they have boldly stood for the values we all hold. When they don’t vote as some progressives want them to, they explain to us why they didn’t. I see MAK governing in the same way.


“TakeAction Minnesota’s reNEW campaign has always taken the longer-term view of this campaign,” said Dan McGrath. “Because the way in which we win the larger war [the general election] is going to determine the quality of change in Minnesota government.”