By Phil Fuehrer
For years I have thought that we’ve had a great weakness in the organizational structure of the Independence Party. Recently, I have seen former active party members note their belief in the need for structural change as well. As a party, I believe we’re at an agreement to implement some needed reforms. A major structural change we need is to make the Congressional District (CD) our base party operating unit (BPOU) rather than the legislative district (LD).
I have long noted that “critical mass” is needed for the IP to be effective. It does us no good to have one or two leaders in a smattering of legislative districts, with the LD as our BPOU, if that is all that is there and there is little to no coordination. There is no “critical mass” to get things done under this type of scenario. We can do more and go further when we have a quantity of people who work towards a goal – a critical mass.
The nature of a volunteer organization, like the IP of MN, is that we’ll ebb and flow on the time and energies we have to give to the cause. Throw people’s personal interests and talents/abilities onto that and we need to have 5, 6 or more people pulling, pushing, picking up the ball and working together to move the entire group forward across the spectrum of activities that comprise a political party. You need a quantity of people to cover the necessary skill sets and to continue calling each out on work and tasks – “have you finished the agenda yet?”, “how is the report coming along?”, “do you need help with that event?”, etc., etc. To that end, organizing at the LD, or the Senate District level is folly. We do not have the people, the skills or the critical mass to make it work effectively. And, while those LD leaders do serve on the executive committee of a CD, I believe the natural tendency to be “the boss” as well people’s parochialism shifts their focus to the LD at the expense of the CD. And, with not enough critical mass at the LD level everything “falls apart.”
Our base level of organization (the default) should be at the CD level to assist in preventing the dilution of the talent and people we do have (e.g – help to maintain a critical mass). It is true to say that structure itself will not put bodies in the seats but, our current structure “dilutes” the leadership pool we do have which makes us less effective. I believe shifting over to the CD as our BPOU will make us more effective with the people we have and, that, will allow us to do more, be more effective and, therefore, draw in others and grow.
The State Executive Committee has agreed with me and has passed a resolution to support such a change. Congressional District conventions are underway this month. As we roll this out, and other potential changes, to the CDs we hope to build support for an official vote at our upcoming Central Committee meeting in April. I hope you’ll join us as we continue our journey to revitalizing the Independence Party of Minnesota in 2015.