Political Grassroots

Political Grassroots

political volunteer

Don’t complain, act!

A political volunteer can make a difference in local, state and national politics. How? By getting involved. Grassroots politics can transform yourcity, county, state and federal government.

Texas women in politics, Grassroots Women, proved citizens can be effective as political volunteers in a big way after gaining a political educationin political science 101. Texas Republican women working in and managing political campaigns, political fundraising efforts, and women candidates changed the Texas Republican Party, Texas politics and as a result Texas government. These Texas political women provide a road map for other women, men and young people to become involved in political organization and success.

Grassroots Women: A Memoir of the Texas Republican Party recounts the transformation of Texas to a two-party state by dedicated, hardworking women in politics.

Our Mission: To inspire citizens to create and influence public policy through America’s political grassroots and become political volunteers.

Political Process:

Political education, political science 101, is the foundation for political involvement. Before you can be an effective political or campaign volunteer you need to understand the way the United States government, and your state and local governments work. Then you can identify where you would like to get involved and be a political volunteer.

The Declaration of Independence

Adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence expresses the belief in freedom held by the citizens of the United States. The signers of the declaration agreed that all people have natural rights and freedoms, including individual liberty, which no person or government can take away. In fact, governments can only gain power when individuals consent to be governed.

      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. (from the Declaration of Independence)

The Constitution of the United States of America

By enacting the Constitution of the United States, the citizens consented to the formation of a representative democracy and a federal system of limited central government. The people of the United States share responsibility for good government. The words of the Constitution’s Preamble explain it’s purpose:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Voter responsibilities

The United States is a republic – a democracy in which the people elect representatives to speak for them and a president to be the chief executive officer. Instead of voting for each issue affecting our nation, citizens give their elected representatives the power to evaluate public policy issues and make laws. Therefore, it is the responsibility of citizens to

  • Know who represents them on a national, state, and local level;
  • Evaluate whether or not their elected officials properly and accurately represent their views;
  • Learn about the candidates who may oppose their views; and,
  • Vote for their representatives.

Voting for our representatives is a great privilege and should be taken seriously as the basic duty of citizenship.

Grassroots Women Example
Penny Butler, Houston, Texas
      Good government is less government – letting people find their own way and decide for themselves. People need to go back to their most local community, neighborhood and home-owners associations, and learn what it takes to live with all of their neighbors. Then they should go to the next steps, municipal government, then county government and state government, and, finally, the federal government. Most people don’t even realize that the state government can affect them more than the federal government.

Political parties

A political party is a group that:

  • Adopts and supports a philosophy or an ideology;
  • Organizes interested people involving citizens in the political system; and,
  • Supports candidates for elected office.

Some of the most important purposes of political parties are to administer primary elections and to hold party conventions.

Grassroots Women Example
Ann Lee, Houston, Texas
You’re drawn both to a party and to candidates that seem to reflect your personal philosophy.

Although laws vary in each state, political parties select their candidates for the general election in the primaries. Primaries may be closed, open, or blanket. Most states use a closed primary system in which voters must establish and claim party affiliation before the election. In an open primary, voters may choose to participate in another party’s primary, regardless of their party affiliation. A blanket primary allows voters to vote for candidates from any party, so long as they do not vote for two candidates running for the same office.

Political parties have a pyramidlike organizational structure. The access point to the organization is in the precinct on the date of the primary. Election law varies from state to state, but generally each county or parish is divided into voting precincts. Citizens who vote in a party’s primary also elect precinct and county chairs. These elected officers serve as the party’s county executive committee until the next primary. Voters are also eligible to participate in precinct conventions, which elect delegates to the county convention. County convention delegates then elect delegates to the state convention. State convention delegates elect a chair, vice chair, and district representatives who serve on the state executive committee. Every four years the state convention delegates elect delegates to the national convention and a man and a woman to represent the state on the party’s national committee.

Grassroots Women example
Dolly Madison McKenna, Houston, Texas
What I have seen from my last ten years in politics is that you really have both parties pulling very much farther to the right and to the left in terms of the activists within the organizations. The people who are working in primaries, who are volunteering, and who are choosing the candidates are the ones that are coming from some issue-oriented group. Now, in the Democratic Party, it may be unions or environmental groups. In the Republican Party, it may be the gun people or the anti-abortion people. Those are the ones that have gone out and taught their people how to participate in the political process – they have had training sessions on going to precincts, taking over meetings, organizing ways to get issues on platforms, and that kind of thing. Meanwhile, the average person doesn’t even know that this process exists. If you ask someone down the street where do those delegates to the Republican National Committee come from, they have absolutely no clue. Basically you go to a precinct meeting the night of primary and if you voted in the Republican primary you have the right to go to that meeting.


A political campaign is the effort a candidate makes to win a national, state, or local election. Candidates present themselves to the voters through personal appearances, written appeals, and advertisements hoping to convince the majority of voters that they will best represent the electorate. Campaigns:

  • Attempt to reach as many voters as possible;
  • Identify those voters who support the candidate; and,
  • Get those voters to the polling place on election day to cast their votes.

The cost of running for office and the technology used in campaigns varies depending upon the office the candidate is seeking.

Grassroots Women example
State Representative Anna Mowery, Fort Worth
Campaign management was mostly people skills–making people enjoy what they are doing and feel part of the process. What motivates people to really enjoy it is the feeling that they are part of something bigger than they are and that they are going to make a difference. You have to make it fun to come and work for twelve hours.


A candidate for election is a man or woman who meets the national, state,
or local requirements for the office sought and files for candidacy by the
deadlines set by statues.

Grassroots Women example
Polly Sowell, McAllen and Austin, Texas
Of course, you’d look for people qualified for the office. You wanted them to be able to raise money. That was the most difficult thing. You wanted them to be hardworking. You wanted them to be right on the issues, too. You’d take advantage of people’s ego. You’d plant a little seed saying, “John, you know you’d be a great state rep.” Then you’d wait. Then John looks at himself in the mirror in the morning and says, “You know, I might be a good state rep.” Then you’d call again in two or three weeks. You’d get some friends to call and, as one of my friends in politics said, “Three calls and you think it’s a landslide.” We always tried to recruit women because they always do better. Now days they say five percentage points is the advantage that a woman has over a man.

Campaign management

Campaign staffs usually consist of a campaign manager, fundraising director, press director, field organization manager, researcher, scheduler, and volunteer coordinator. A steering committee of community leaders who are vocal supporters of the candidate may be formed. In addition, a finance chairman may organize a finance committee for fundraising purposes.

Grassroots Women example
Gloria Clayton, Dallas, Texas
A kitchen cabinet is the backbone of the campaign. You would have someone in charge of canvassing, getting out your vote, fundraising, mailings, volunteers, and publicity. They are all volunteers. It is six or seven people who meet on a regular basis with the candidate and keep the campaign together and moving forward.
Let me give you an example. A candidate recently ran a television ad for his campaign. I was struck dumb when I saw it. It was so bad. If he had had a kitchen cabinet look at it and advise him, he wouldn’t have run it. He pulled it after one day.
Sometimes the hardest part of the campaign is keeping the candidate out of it. They should be out making speeches, getting their rest, and shaking hands. Let all of the nitty-gritty be done by the volunteers. But they want to get in the act, too. If you can get the candidate out of the way, you can move forward. It is not just my thinking, it is a known fact. They thought it was their campaign.

How Elections Are Run

Election laws vary from state to state and may be researched through each state’s Secretary of State. Party officials prepare for months in advance of the primary and elected officials spend a significant amount of time completing arrangements for the general election. Officials check and double check the ballots, secure polling places, and recruit workers to process voters on election day.

Grassroots Women example
Carole Ragland, League City, Texas
Before an election, (as precinct chair and election judge) I used to have all my workers over and work out a system step by step. I have a reputation for running smooth elections. The process is broken into components with each voter processed at one place. We divide the alphabet up according to what the demand will be with a team of two people at each station. The first takes voters’ identification and looks them up in the book, and the other takes the I. D. and then the voter signs the ballot sheet. The voters don’t get their I. D. back until they sign. We have about 6,500 voters and 800 early voters.


Candidates on the ballot may vary from precinct to precinct depending upon the offices to be filled in the election. As a result, election officials must review the names to ensure that voters are selecting from the proper candidates. Names may be placed on the ballot by meeting the filing requirements, which can include age and residency, or by winning a primary election. Write-in candidates are also permitted in most jurisdictions within limitations.

Grassroots Women example
Ruth McGuckin, Houston, Texas
The hardest thing when I was Republican County Vice Chair besides the financial statement was figuring out which names to put on the primary ballot. It would be the same for every precinct as far as president and vice president and state offices, but then it would start changing from state representatives on down. I don’t think that most people knew anything about that.

Polling places

Voting takes place at a polling place that is easily accessible to citizens residing in the precinct. It is usually a public place such as a school, community center, or government building.

Grassroots Women example
Betty Strohacker, Kerrville, Texas
We got more people to participate in the Republican Party, and actually it was hard to find a place to have a primary election. The only type of building in the whole area of seventy-six square miles was a little one-room schoolhouse. It was built after World War II, probably 1952.
We started having the primary in our living room. An election inspector came out one time. I went out and met him and his wife on the road. I talked to him about what we were doing and the election. He came in, and he approved us and went on his way.

Election workers

Citizens are appointed to serve as the election judge, alternate judge and election clerks ensure the proper administration and integrity of the election in each precinct. Election workers confirm the eligibility of voters based upon the rules of each state and protect the voters’ right to cast a secret ballot. Both judges and clerks commit to these principles prior to the time the polls open by taking an oath.

Grassroots Women example
Winnie Moore, Lubbock, Texas
When people came to vote in the primary we would be sure that they were registered. We told them about the precinct convention, which we held right after the polls closed.

Elected Officials

Voters elect a wide variety of officials on the national, state, and local levels. After victory at the polls, candidates make the transition to elected officials. Campaigning for office is an intense job, but once a person is elected the real job is just beginning.

Grassroots Women example
State Senator Jane Nelson, Flower Mound, Texas
Before I ran for state senate, I was in Austin often because I was on the state board of education. I would come over and watch the legislature if I had some free time. My own senator was an incumbent Democrat, very liberal. He was carrying some workers compensation legislation that I, as a businessperson, knew was detrimental to business. I went to talk with him as a constituent. He didn’t have time to talk to me. He never talked to me. I ran against him because I was so angry that he wouldn’t even take the time to talk to me. Then when I decided to run, I started talking to people and found that more and more people had had that same experience with him and were willing to help me. Looking back, my gosh, I ran against a powerful incumbent with a boatload of money.

Initiating policyNewly elected officials have an opportunity to implement their campaign platform. Depending upon the office held, officials may:

  • Write and pass laws;
  • Change regulations;
  • Make appointments to executive and judicial positions; and,
  • Address constituent needs as they arise.

These activities are not ends in themselves. Laws need proper implementation, oversight, and revision or repeal if they do not serve the intended purposes.

Grassroots Women example
State Representative Mary Denny, Denton, Texas
The first week or two is just so awesome. Truly awesome. Just walking into the state capitol and realizing, my gosh, I have been elected to the legislature. Am I really going to be up for the task? I had some self-doubt and insecurity starting out. It is not the warmest, friendliest place to just go into… Members themselves, because of the very nature of the competitiveness of dealing with legislation, don’t share a lot.

Appointing officials to carry out policy
Administrative boards and commissions implement government policies. Elected officials hire and fire the leaders and members of boards and commissions. In some cases, this may be their greatest power. Conscientious men and women are always needed to be chairs and members.

Grassroots Women example
Debbie Francis, Dallas, Texas
Governor Clements appointed me to the Texas Developmental Disability Board Planning Council. I served, I guess, ten years. I have worked over the years on disability-related issues because our youngest son was in a near-drowning accident when he was almost two. For a number of years, I have also done political work, but I really had somewhat of a more specialized calling. But that’s also taught me a lot about government-state government, federal government, their programs, and how does money really filter down?

Political Participation Ideas

No matter how old you are, it’s easy to be a political volunteer. Money is a precious commodity so political parties and political campaigns always welcome political women, men and young people who want to be involved. Opportunities are available at all levels. These are just a few of the ways you can be a political volunteer.

Register to vote

Exercise your right to vote. Each state has different rules regulating voter registration. Find out the requirements by contacting your state’s Secretary of State. Most states have a website that lists the necessary qualifications. Generally, to be eligible to vote you must:

  • Be a United States Citizen;
  • Be 18 years of age on or before the day of the election;
  • Be a resident of the state in which you vote; and,
  • Not be a convicted felon or found mentally incompetent.

If you are ineligible to vote due to age or citizenship, encourage your family members and friends who are eligible to register and vote.

Grassroots Women example
Ruth Fox, Houston and Austin, Texas
In the early ’70s, we did go door to door. We made a practice of not asking if people were Republican or Democrat. I can remember years afterwards people coming up to me and saying, “I remember you coming to my door and registering me. I said, ‘Well, I’m a Democrat,’ and you said, ‘Well, I don’t really care, I just want to register you to vote.'” That changed their minds. Several people said that to me.

Become an informed voter

Study historical documents-Declaration of Independence,
Constitution, Federalist Papers

The historical documents of the United States provide the foundation for our government. In order to participate in the political process, you need to understand the creation and structure of governmental institutions. The Federalist Papers provide insight into the logic of the framers of the Constitution.

Study the philosophies of political parties

Political parties have track records. Some parties have stated philosophies and all parties have a platform. They can be found on the Internet or are available from party headquarters. Study them and determine which party most closely matches your personal philosophy and viewpoints. Most political parties have extensive websites, which spell out their priorities and current initiatives.

Determine your own personal philosophy

Personal philosophies develop in many different ways. Life experience, influential people (mentors, public figures, friends, and family), religious beliefs, knowledge of our country’s history, understanding of the political parties–all contribute to an individual’s personal philosophy. Your personal philosophy provides the basis from which to measure issues in the public arena.

Grassroots Women example
Billijo Porter, El Paso, Texas
I got involved in Republican politics because I am a conservative and because every vote that any politician does affects my life. I thought it was very important to get people who had integrity and whose political philosophy agreed with mine elected.

Know the positions of elected officials and candidates

Once you develop a personal philosophy and know what issues are important to you, follow the votes your representatives make. If your views are not represented by the votes made in Congress or the state legislature, get involved to elect a representative that better matches your stand on the issues.

Many sources inform citizens of the positions and voting records of elected officials. Excellent nonpartisan resources available on the Internet includeGrassroots.comSpeakOut.comVote-smart.org, andFreedomChannel.com. Thomas’ Roll Call Report, at Roll-call-votes.com, is an excellent source of nonpartisan information with links to websites that represent the ideologies of both the right and the left, conservative and liberal. When researching voting records, keep in mind that not all votes can be confirmed. Recorded votes are roll call votes. Voice votes are not officially on the record.

Grassroots Women example
Carolyn Palmer, San Antonio, Texas
I finally realized that the people in politics make everything go. If you care about something and don’t like the way it is, you need to know who they are and what they stand for. What you read in the paper is not enough. The only way to really find out is to get involved with who is running and learn why they are running and what their background is.

Join an organization that represents your views

Once you understand what issues are important to you, join a local, regional, or national group that organizes and mobilizes citizens to advocate those issues. A wide variety of organizations involved in issues from the economy to education, from civil rights to international policy exist to involve you in working for both good government and the betterment of your community.Grassroots.com is a one-stop, nonpartisan website that lists many of these groups.

Attend precinct conventions

Precinct conventions are the building blocks of political parties. Precinct conventions:

  • Elect delegates to the county convention; and
  • Pass resolutions, which may become part of the party platform, a statement of the party’s philosophy.

Any citizen who votes in a party’s primary is eligible to participate in the party’s precinct convention. You need not be a party activist to attend and vote. Most precinct conventions are held in the polling place the day of the primary election after the polls close. Rules governing precinct conventions vary from state to state, but generally the precinct conventions have two purposes (above). Precinct conventions usually last a few hours.

Volunteer to attend your county convention

Volunteer to be a delegate to the county convention. Delegates to county conventions:

  • Elect delegates to the state convention;
  • Vote on resolutions forwarded from the precinct conventions. Those that pass are sent to the state convention.

Laws vary from state to state, but most county conventions are held several weeks following the primary election. In many cases, the delegates hear speeches from candidates for office. The delegates commit a day or less of their time. Delegates to the state convention perform similar duties, electing representatives to the national convention and members of the state committee. State delegates also approve the state party platform. Those attending the state convention usually commit a weekend of their time.

Consider running for office

Qualified candidates are needed for local offices, such as school board member, city council member, and county commissioner, and for state offices, such as state representative, state senator, judge, and elected executive branch offices.

  • What kinds of experiences are valuable in your career or your volunteer activities?
  • Have you been involved in politics or are you able to gain the support of your political party and influential people within the community?
  • Do you have a network of family and friends that will help you run a campaign?
  • Are you willing to make speeches, which will engender public support?
  • Do you have ideas for improving the quality of life in your community?

You may have just the knowledge, skills, and political viability to serve your community. Check out your community’s elected offices so you will know what is available and appealing to you. Determine the requirements to put your name on the ballot. Your state’s Secretary of State’s website is a good place to begin your research.

Grassroots Women example
Nancy Canion Davis, Galveston County, Texas
We look for people that want the job, number one. Number two, people that have some kind of base in the local community and have a natural constituency that they can appeal to, whether it is the business community or the farming community. Bringing some stranger in doesn’t work, especially in the more rural areas. We looked at philosophy. Did we think they would do what we thought they would do once they got in office? The other very controversial thing we did was we agreed as a district candidate recruitment committee that, even as county chairmen who were to be neutral, we would endorse in the primary if there was any opposition. We wanted to recruit really good candidates. We felt, as Party leaders, if we went to these people and had them put their necks on the line in traditional Democratic areas the least we could do as a Party would be to stand up for them in the primary. We caught a lot of flack for it, but it worked.

Volunteer in campaigns

Successful political campaigns run on volunteer power. Opportunities exist in voter identification, telephone banks, polling and research, logistics, public relations, fundraising, and administration. Would you enjoy:

  • Talking with people about a candidate;
  • Scheduling the candidate’s time;
  • Conducting research on important current issues;
  • Writing press releases and contacting media outlets; or,
  • Helping hold events to raise money for the campaign?

Assess your talents and offer your time to your favorite candidate. Keep in mind that campaigns rely upon volunteers for important positions. If you commit yourself to a job, show up on time and earn the trust of the candidate and campaign management.

Grassroots Women example
Cindy Brockwell, Boerne, Texas
The basics never changed no matter the size of the campaign. With bigger campaigns, the candidates have more money, but your local candidates don’t have the budget to pay a mail house to send out their direct mail pieces. Volunteers do it. It saves the candidate money so they can spend their money on things that you can’t do with volunteers, like newspaper ads.

Shadow an elected official for a day

Students have unique opportunities to learn more about public service. Research your local government and find a position you would like to know about. You may have questions about:

  • Responsibilities of the position;
  • Activities of a typical day; or,
  • Training or experience required for the job.

Seeing the person who currently holds the position in action could answer these questions. Write a letter explaining your educational background, your future interests, and why you want to learn more about the office he or she currently holds. Respectfully ask to shadow him or her for a day and propose a few dates that you are available to do so.

Pursue an internship with an elected official

Most federal (or national) level offices in the legislative and executive branches offer fulltime internships. Some interns may be paid while others are volunteers. Many schools award credit for an internship. Research the parts of government that affect the subject in which you are interested. Prepare a resume, which summarizes your interests and qualifications. Pay special attention to your writing, research, communication, and computer skills. You may be interviewed for the internship; be sure to present yourself in a professional manner. Once you have been hired, learn as much as you can about the area and office in which you work and about other public and private groups that affect the policies and issues you are concerned about. By holding an internship you will gain valuable insight and experience.

Attend the meetings of local boards and commissions

The first step toward political activism is informing yourself about the current activities of your local, state, and national governments. State laws differ, but generally local governmental bodies are required to meet and vote in public. Meetings are held on a regular basis usually at least once a month. For example, if you are interested in education, attend the local school board meeting. Become familiar with the issues and concerns of the school district and the ways decisions of other governmental bodies affect schools. The interrelationships between governmental bodies may be an eye-opener. Most citizens do not take this step to understand the challenges of governing on any level. Your knowledge will help you identify better candidates and evaluate their qualifications. You may decide to run for office yourself.

Apply for appointment to local, state, or national boards or commissions

Many important public servants are not elected to office. They are political appointees. These appointees serve on boards and commissions, which exist at local, state, and national levels. The President of the United States appoints the most familiar of these, such as the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the other Cabinet-level positions. There are thousands of appointed positions at all levels of government, both paid and volunteer, which need qualified applicants. A good way to start looking for these positions is to explore the issues you are concerned about. Find out:

  • Who are the decision-makers related to that particular issue?
  • Are they boards or commissions?
  • Most of these boards or commissions have directors or trustees who set policy. How are they appointed?

Another avenue is to contact your local, state, or national elected officials regarding your willingness to serve. Many vacancies develop each year for positions. These openings may not on the surface look like a job for you, but when examined more carefully they may require someone with your special qualifications.

Grassroots Women example
Ruth Schiermeyer, Lubbock, Texas
We had sixty-some appointees from Lubbock County under Governor Clements. It doesn’t just happen. You have to be very proactive. As county chairman, I worked very closely with the chamber of commerce. Every time I had someone that we wanted to have or wanted an appointment, I would call the chamber and get their support and contact our senator and both of our state reps. The chamber organized a committee on political affairs with an appointments subcommittee. They met regularly and looked at all of the appointments that were coming out, and I served on that committee. That helps the governor and the senators or state reps if people are out there actively looking for people that represent the views of the Governor. You know then that his philosophy is being carried through those boards and commissions. If the people being appointed do not represent that philosophy, then the governor is simply a figurehead and has no strength.

Write elected officials

What do you want to accomplish in writing a letter to an elected official? Do you want to:

  • Gain their support for or opposition to a law or regulation?
  • Get help obtaining services from a governmental agency?
  • Learn their position on a particular issue?

Once you have identified the purpose of your communication, you must determine the proper official to write or call. Sites on the Internet explain the executive, legislative, and the judicial branches of government and have contact information. If your concern is a local or state one, learn who is responsible. Your local library is a good place to begin. Information may also be available on the Internet.

Tips for your letter:

  • Be informed about the issue and the position of the official. When writing about legislation, use the correct bill numbers if possible;
  • Be specific and provide as much information as possible about the problem you need a solution for and the way the official can be of help;
  • Be to the point; officials have many demands on them and want to serve all constituents as quickly and efficiently as possible;
  • Be sure to thank the official when your request has been filled.

Grassroots Women example
Debbie Francis, Dallas, Texas
Both elected officials and citizens have a responsibility. I have the responsibility to pick up the phone and call their office and ask the legislative aide who deals with the issue. I have done some of that. They have a responsibility to have a staff that is going to cover all areas of government and be knowledgeable. I will tell you, if there was a book put out that had nothing but one page that said, “You won’t believe, if you will take the time to write or call, the difference you will make” . . . Most of us never write, and most of us never call. We never give any input other than to vote if we vote. Because I’m close to certain legislators or certain other government officials, I know the impact. Officials will tell me they received a letter, and they didn’t know anything about the issue. It may have been one person who wrote, called, or went by the office. They are more moved by that than a lobbyist. It’s just that lobbyists are mostly who they hear from. When an individual does do it, they are very moved because not that many individuals give sincere input on issues.

Attend a public forum
Many elected officials hold public meetings. These provide an opportunity to:

  • Listen to constituents’ concerns;
  • Inform constituents of positions held on current issues; and,
  • Discuss laws under consideration.

Elected officials from president to county sheriff participate in these types of events. Outside organizations such as the Republican Women or the League of Women Voters who are interested in educating the public about candidates and issues may also sponsor forums. This is your chance to ask questions or express an opinion. Listening carefully to the statements and all the answers will help you decide which candidates to support on election day.

Get others involved
Your interest is contagious. Get your family, friends, and neighbors involved in the political process. Invite them to join you when you:

  • Attend forums and campaign rallies;
  • Raise money for candidates or organizations that represent your views;
  • Go to vote on election day;
  • Volunteer to work in campaigns.

Grassroots Women example
Caroline Pierce, Houston, Texas
My main pitch is to just be involved. Our greatest problem in the country today is apathy. Become a better-informed citizen. I have never had a problem getting people to volunteer.

You are a Grassroots Woman

if you want good government.

if you are willing to stand up and be counted.

if you act on your concerns by supporting candidates
who represent your views.

if you discuss your views and candidates you support
with family, friends, and neighbors.




Grassroots Women

The “women whom you will meet in this book…have always been a very powerful force…Their stories are remarkable for their candor, their sense of history, and above all else, their determination to bring two-party politics to the state of Texas. The Bushes are proud to call almost all of them friends. Without them, it’s possible George and I would still be volunteer poll workers in Midland, praying that a fellow Republican will walk through those doors.”

–Barbara Bush, Former First Lady

      “Okay, girls, let’s go save the country,” was Gwen Pharo’s rallying call as she and thousands of ordinary women fought to bring two-party politics to Texas. As the 1950s began, an entrenched and complacent Democratic Party ruled the state, as it had since Reconstruction, without a Republican in sight. By 1998, Republicans occupied every statewide office, with a governor poised to be president of the United States.
This remarkable transformation was the result of the hard work and commitment of women from all corners of Texas-women who believed in the necessity of choice and political competition for responsible and responsive government.
Nearly 250 women, speaking for hundreds of others who worked by their sides, relive the ups and downs of this historic political movement in Grassroots Women. From the precinct conventions and county organizations to the state committees and up to the national arena-as committeewomen, chairwomen, fundraisers, campaign managers and workers, candidates, staff members, and elected officials-their participation in politics and public service gives us a selfless, uncynical model of the power of grassroots organization, volunteerism, and faith in democracy.

“This is grassroots politics at its best, fought from the trenches by the women next door. With great resolve and persistence, they managed to move political decision-making from the smoke filled rooms to the ballot box and in the process brought the two-party system to a fiercely one-party state. Everything good that has happened to Republicans in Texas is a result of the work of these women, and no one should forget it.”
–Mary Matalin, Presidential Advisor and Conservative Commentator

“Women like me enjoy the fruits of the labor of the women you will read about in this book. Their experiences reflect years of work long before Texas could be called a two-party state. They worked for candidates and ran for office when there was little expectation of winning. Today, it’s a different story in Texas, but the grassroots experiences of the women in this book are important lessons for anyone intersted in politics or running for office.”
–Congresswoman Kay Granger

“Motivated by issues women care about–taxes, national defense, good government–these women brought political competition to Texas by building the Republican Party. Here, they finally tell their story of life at the grassroots, a story that is both personal and political, filled with purpose and filled with fun. And in these pages are lessons for all of us–about responsibility, about caring and volunteerism, and about success.”
–Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn

“If we had this book when planning my campaign, we would have run a different race.”
–Loretta Knight, Democratic candidate for West Virginia House of Delegates



Meg McKain Grier has a bachelor’s degree from Muskingum College and a master’s degree in public affairs from George Washington University. She lives in Boerne, Texas, where she is active in the community, serves as precinct chair, participates in county politics, and belongs to the Kendall County Republican Women.

Political Glossary

At-large Election An election in which candidates may live anywhere in the voting jurisdiction and win the election with a majority vote of the jurisdiction’s voters.

Bill A proposed law under consideration by a legislative body.

Ballot Box A secure box at the polling place where voters drop their ballots. The person responsible for counting the votes opens the boxes.

Bureaucracy The ongoing government offices, people, and functions of national, state, and local governments that remain in place despite political leadership changes.

Convention A meeting of the members of one party on a precinct, county, district, state, or national level.

Delegate A voter who represents his or her precinct, county, district, or state at a convention.

Democracy A form of government in which the political power is vested in the people. A pure democracy is one in which voters directly take part in all measures. A representative democracy is one in which voters elect representatives to vote for them.

Down Ballot A place on the ballot closer to the end than to the beginning, where candidates and offices with generally less name recognition than highly visible offices such as president or governor appear.

Electioneering Active campaigning for a candidate.

Executive Branch The branch of government responsible for administering the law.

General Election A national, state, or local election in which qualified voters vote for candidates to fill a variety of offices.

Get Out the Vote The mobilization of voters on election day to get them to the polls to cast their votes.

Grassroots Organization A group of likeminded citizens working in the political system to elect candidates representing their views.

Incumbent Current office holder.

Interest Group A group of individuals or organizations with a viewpoint or agenda that expects to influence public policy in its favor. Interest groups may also spread their views to the general public.

Judicial Branch The branch of government responsible for interpreting the law.

Legislative Branch or Legislature The branch of government responsible for making the law.

Lobbyist A person who discusses issues with representatives of a governmental body for the purpose of influencing a decision to be made. Lobbyists may be paid or volunteer.

Motor Voter The name given to the process of registering to vote when obtaining or renewing a driver’s license.

Nominating Petition A document signed by a number of people in a jurisdiction in order to place a candidate’s name on a ballot.

Nonpartisan Election An election in which candidates are not identified by political party.

Party Affiliation The identification of a voter with one of the political parties.

Party Platform A political party’s statement of its positions on public policy issues.

Politics The effort to win and hold control of government. Also the activity of guiding and influencing the formation of public policy.

Polling place Where citizens go to vote.

Precinct Chair A party official elected by the voters in a precinct who is responsible for administering the primary election in the precinct. Additional duties include serving on the county executive committee, encouraging voter registration, and getting out the vote on election day.

Primary An election conducted by a political party to select candidates who will run for office in the general election.

Public Opinion The viewpoints of the general public on an issue of the day.

Public Opinion Poll A survey of public opinion or the opinion of a group, usually privately sponsored. The results may be made known to the public or used confidentially.

Public Policy A formal statement of action by government at any level enacted by the legislative branch or the executive branch through its regulatory authority.

Public Policy Formal action of government at any level as legislated or enacted by the executive branch through its regulatory authority.

Republic A democracy in which the people elect representatives to serve them in government and a chief executive, usually a president, to be the chief of state.

Special Election A nonscheduled election to fill a vacancy in an office occurring between scheduled elections.

Straight Ticket Voting Voting for all the candidates of one party.

Suffrage The right to vote.

Voting Precincts Areas within a county or city in which voting takes place. Citizens usually vote at a polling place in their precinct.

Suggested Reading
There are many books to choose from covering the topics of politics and civic involvement. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

The Federalist Papers
By Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay
This classic of American political theory, first published in 1788, defends the Constitution and explains the complexities of a constitutional government based on the inherent rights of man.

Common Sense
By Thomas Paine
“These are the times that try men’s souls,” begins Thomas Paine’s first Crisis paper, the impassioned pamphlet that helped ignite the American Revolution. Published in Philadelphia in January of 1776, Common Sense sold 150,000 copies almost immediately. A powerful piece of propaganda, it attacked the idea of a hereditary monarchy, dismissed the chance for reconciliation with England, and outlined the economic benefits of independence while espousing equality of rights among citizens. Paine fanned a flame that was already burning, but many historians argue that his work unified dissenting voices and persuaded patriots that the American Revolution was not only necessary, but an epochal step in world history.

The Prince
By Niccolo Machiavelli
When Lorenzo de’ Medici seized control of the Florentine Republic in 1512, he summarily fired the Secretary to the Second Chancery of the Signoria and set in motion a fundamental change in the way we think about politics. The person who held the aforementioned office with the tongue-twisting title was none other than Niccolò Machiavelli, who, suddenly finding himself out of a job after 14 years of patriotic service, followed the career trajectory of many modern politicians into punditry. Unable to become an on-air political analyst for a television network, he only wrote a book. But what a book The Prince is. Its essential contribution to modern political thought lies in Machiavelli’s assertion of the then revolutionary idea that theological and moral imperatives have no place in the political arena. “It must be understood,” Machiavelli avers, “that a prince … cannot observe all of those virtues for which men are reputed good, because it is often necessary to act against mercy, against faith, against humanity, against frankness, against religion, in order to preserve the state.” With just a little imagination, readers can discern parallels between a 16th-century principality and a 20th-century presidency. –Tim Hogan

Democracy in America
by Alexis De Tocqueville, Richard D. Heffner (Editor)
As Alexis de Tocqueville traveled through the young United States, he wrote in his introduction to the first volume of Democracy in America, “the more clearly I saw equality of conditions as the creative element from which each particular fact derived, and all my observations constantly returned to this nodal point.” And there is an abundance of observations to be found here, with chapters that consider everything from “judicial power in the United States and its effect on political society” to “why the Americans erect some pretty monuments and others that are very grand.”
Why does Tocqueville remain one of the most insightful analysts of American society? Certainly there is the comprehensive nature of his project, but one must also take into account the brilliance of his prose, with just the right balance of elegance and clarity. Democracy in America is as accessible to the modern reader as the work of any contemporary journalist, political scientist, or sociologist–and in many cases more so. It is an essential volume for anybody concerned with American history. 

Atlas Shrugged
by Ayn Rand
With this acclaimed work and its immortal query, “Who is John Galt?”, Ayn Rand found the perfect artistic form to express her vision of existence. Atlas Shrugged made Rand not only one of the most popular novelists of the century, but one of its most influential thinkers.
Atlas Shrugged is the astounding story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world–and did. Tremendous in scope, breathtaking in its suspense, Atlas Shrugged stretches the boundaries further than any book you have ever read. It is a mystery, not about the murder of a man’s body, but about the murder–and rebirth–of man’s spirit.
Atlas Shrugged is the “second most influential book for Americans today” after the Bible, according to a joint survey conducted by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club.

The Children’s Book of America
by William J. Bennett (Editor), Michael Hague (Illustrator)
Where did America come from? What does it mean to be an American? What makes America great? No volume will provide more compelling and inspiring answers to our children’s questions than William Bennett and Michael Hague’s marvelous new treasury, The Children’s Book of America. Filled with history and folktales, songs and poems, heroes and everyday Americans, this indispensable book is a classic collection of great Americana, accompanied by wonderful paintings that bring to life in rich detail the story of our nation’s heritage.
Like its bestselling predecessors, The Children’s Book of Virtues and The Children’s Book of Heroes, this beautifully illustrated collaboration will provide children with a marvelous introduction to such virtues as compassion, perseverance, ingenuity, and hard work. As William Bennett and Michael Hague show, these traits have shaped American history and lie at the heart of our national character.
Martin Luther King has a dream — and racial justice in America will never be the same. Walt Whitman listens — and weaves poetry from the lilting music of Americans at their labors. A great Indian chief mourns — and the path to his wife’s side opens up the Grand Canyon.
From tales of national heroes like Abigail Adams and Robert E. Lee, to stories of adventure and ingenuity such as Lewis and Clark’s explorations and Thomas Edison’s inventions, to songs and poems about American life like “Home on the Range” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” The Children’s Book of America is a marvelous celebration of our nation’s history and spirit for the youngest Americans.


Grassroots.com, Inc., a non-partisan technology and services company, provides Internet-based communications and mobilization products serving the political marketplace.

Speakout.com. You and countless other Americans can now participate in online polls, send messages to elected officials, and sign petitions to help those in need.

Vote-Smart.org. Praised by the New York Times, CNN, PBS and virtually every other major media outlet as the most trusted and comprehensive source for information on candidates and issues.

FreedomChannel.com is a free, nonpartisan site that introduces video-on-demand into American politics. This site offers voters and the media the first-ever one-stop shop for the video views of candidates and issue groups.

Roll Call Report Syndicate is the leading news organization in providing congressional voting reports to U.S. newspapers and online services. The purpose is to help constituents track their federal lawmakers’ most basic democratic duty — casting votes — and hold them accountable for the stands they take.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Grass roots (disambiguation).
It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Grassroots democracy . (DiscussProposed since June 2010.

grassroots movement (often referenced in the context of a political movement) is one driven by the politics of a community. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it are natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures. Grassroots movements are often at the local level, as many volunteers in the community give their time to support the local party, which can lead to helping the national party. For instance, a grassroots movement can lead to significant voter registration for a political party, which in turn helps the state and national parties.




Grassroots movements organize and lobby through procedures including:

  • hosting house meetings or parties
  • having larger meetings—AGMs
  • putting up posters
  • talking with pedestrians on the street (often involving informational clipboards)
  • gathering signatures for petitions
  • mobilizing letter-writing, phone-calling, and emailing campaigns
  • setting up information tables
  • raising money from many small donors for political advertising or campaigns
  • organizing large demonstrations
  • asking individuals to submit opinions to media outlets and government officials
  • holding get out the vote activities, which include the practices of reminding people to vote and transporting them to polling places.
  • using online social networks to organize virtual communities


The earliest origins of the use of “grass roots” as a political metaphor are obscure. In the United States, an early use of the phrase “grassroots and boots” was thought to have been coined by Senator Albert Jeremiah Beveridge of Indiana, who said of the Progressive Party in 1912, “This party has come from the grass roots. It has grown from the soil of people’s hard necessities.”[1] In a 1907 newspaper article about Ed Perry, vice-chairman of the Oklahoma state committee, the phrase was used as follows: “In regard to his political views Mr. Perry has issued the following terse platform: ‘I am for a square deal, grass root representation, for keeping close to the people, against ring rule and for fair treatment.'”[2] A 1903 news article on a campaign for possible Theodore Roosevelt running mate Eli Torrance quotes a Kansas political organizer as saying: “Roosevelt and Torrance clubs will be organized in every locality. We will begin at the grass roots.”[3]


HOW TO: Launch a grassroots political campaign using social media


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    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View
    landscapes without doing the necessary grassroots politicalorganizing first. Some have ended up not only with failed campaigns, but have invigorated and 

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    Exploring the Grassroots Political Perspective: Opportunities and 


    File Format: Microsoft Powerpoint – Quick View
    Exploring the Grassroots Political Perspective. Nicholas Perry. Citizen Outreach Canvass Director. Grassroots Campaigns Inc. Outline 

  3. WETHEPEOPLE TAR – A true, Non-Partisan,grassroots Political 

    www.nowpublic.com/…/wethepeople-tar-true-non-partisan-grassroo – Cached

    6 Jul 2011 – WETHEPEOPLE TAR – A true, Non-Partisan,grassroots Political Group.

    1. How the grassroots works

      www.renewamerica.com/grassroots.htm – Cached

      How the grassroots works. Any political strategy that depends on broad grassroots support for its success needs to be based on a sound understanding of how 

    2. What’s Become of Obama’s Grassroots PoliticalMovement? | The 

      www.thenation.com/…/whats-become-obamas-grassrootspolitical-m… – Cached

      19 Oct 2010 – A top former Obama adviser explains how the president moved from a transformational leader to a transactional one.

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