We collected hundreds of questions from the attendees of our Kick-Off event, and here are the answers to the most frequent questions. We continue to add your questions (and answers) so please check back soon.
- What is the mission of Progressive Massachusetts?
- How is Progressive Massachusetts different from other organizations?
- What is the structure of Progressive Massachusetts?
- How will the organization decide which issues and elections to work on?
- How will Progressive Massachusetts work with other Organizations?
- What is Progressive Massachusetts’ relationship to political parties; especially, the Democratic Party?
What is the mission of Progressive Massachusetts?
Progressive Mass was founded on the following principles:
“Progressive Massachusetts is a statewide, diverse grassroots organization. We organize around progressive issues in Massachusetts, help elect and support progressive candidates for public office who are committed to making a difference on these issues, and hold elected officials accountable to progressive positions and values. Progressive Mass welcomes all Progressives regardless of political affiliation. We will work to further progressive values through issue organizing, electoral organizing, and organization-building and education.”
As Progressive Mass evolves, we will further develop our mission with the input of our members, who will be actively involved in building Progressive Mass through a democratic process.
How is Progressive Massachusetts different from other organizations?
PM is committed to continuous, statewide, progressive organizing so that progressive activists remain effectively engaged between election cycles. We will mobilize member-activists from every part of the state through coordinated issue and electoral campaigns, and will provide the organizing training, policy education and support that are necessary to maintain an effective and sustainable organization. Defining characteristics of PM include:
- Activism in EVERY part of the state, including areas where other organizations do not have presence
- Individual membership, rather than a coalition of organizations
- Diversity of members–ethnic, economic, geographic, range of experience in both electoral and/or issue-based organizing, and level of activism
- Continuous engagement: a home to activists who have emerged for individual campaigns but did not have a source for ongoing engagement.
- Combined Electoral and Issue organizing on a full range of progressive issues
- Democratic process for deciding which issues we will work on
- Independence from established parties or organizations, and ability to choose our agenda and work for specific candidates in contested primaries
- Emphasis on face-to-face organizing, using social media to maximize our impact
- A unified progressive “home” where issue based organizations can join forces with a statewide organization of individuals to increase their impact
PM is a member-based 501 (4) organization, because we believe this is the best way to build long term, sustainable organizing power to influence public policy in Massachusetts. Details about membership will evolve, but at its core it is defined by the active and committed engagement of those who choose to work with Progressive Mass, through local organizing, grassroots activity around issues and elections, and legislative outreach. The goal is to have strong, local grassroots organizations throughout the state, led by local and regional volunteer activists.
The individuals originally involved in the founding of PM decided early on that the organization’s agenda would be driven by its members, through a democratic decision-making process. The details of that process will be determined by our members in the months ahead.
Through an ad hoc Organizing Committee, the founders of PM continue to manage the immediate, day-to-day tasks involved with building the organization, including member outreach and communications. Our unpaid Interim Executive Director handles most administrative tasks and drafts materials and plans for the Organizing Committee’s review and approval. Our goal is to grow membership and membership involvement and, as we do so, to build membership involvement in all decision-making. With member involvement we will create a more permanent, democratic leadership structure that ensures a democratic decision-making process while also making sure PM operates with direction and efficiency. Through significant fundraising, we eventually hope to add the resources of paid organizers and, potentially, other staff.
At our first, statewide organizing meeting, we created an Issues Committee and a Candidate Endorsement Criteria Committee. Participation in both groups is open to all PM members, and a number of members have already committed to participating. If you are interested in serving on either committee, you should contact our Interim Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The work of both of these committees is evolving. As we build active membership, we are looking to engage as many members as possible in deciding what issues and elections we work on, what role we play and how we go about activating our membership.
The Issues Committee has developed a set of values on a wide variety of topics which is posted on our website for comment. In addition, they have worked with several progressive legislators on a Compact for a True Commonwealth that translates these values into broad policy concerns. As the legislative process begins, they will work to identify and shape the bills of interest to progressives that will be filed at the State House. The Issues Committee will develop a process for selecting issues PM might work on (for example, the process might include policy research, conversations with legislators and advocates, assessment of the viability of a campaign, determining what action steps might be involved, etc.), and then will present their recommendations and rationale to the full membership. Going forward, this committee will do the legwork necessary to identify possible campaigns, and the full membership will then determine which campaigns PM will work on.
The Candidate Endorsement Criteria Committee will develop a set of criteria, based on the tenets of Progressive Mass, that will ensure that the organization endorses candidates through a careful process reflective of our values and commitment to electing individuals who will uphold those values. The membership will, ultimately, determine when we will endorse a candidate, but this criteria will be the basis for that process.
PM will make it a priority to coordinate closely with other progressive organizations, in order to maximize the impact of our collective work and to avoid duplicating efforts. We will do this in part by simply staying in continual communication with local and statewide progressive organizations, and will have ongoing conversations with our allies about how best to mobilize our respective memberships to most complement each others’ efforts. We recognize that many of our members are active with other groups and our goal is to unify progressive activists in a way that will extend the capacity of existing organizations. Whether we coordinate with another organization on a specific campaign will be determined through a member-based, democratic process. If we decide to coordinate efforts with other organizations, we will maintain our autonomy, so that we will not be pressured to accept compromises that fall short of our progressive values, and so that we can leverage the experience and local organizing insight of our members.
What is Progressive Massachusetts’ relationship to political parties; especially, the Democratic Party?
Progressive Mass is an independent organization, unaffiliated with any political party. Our accountability is to our progressive values and to the democratic will of our membership. PM welcomes all people in Massachusetts with progressive values, regardless of political affiliation (or the lack of one; e.g., independents/unenrolled voters). This allows PM to work on issues that might not be a focus of the Democratic party, or specific elected officials, or issues on which Democratic officials might not hold a position consistent with progressive values. Because we are not affiliated with the Democratic party, PM is also free to support individual candidates in electoral primaries, including challengers to Democratic incumbents who do not take progressive policy positions. PM could support third-party candidates who meet the endorsement criteria to be established by the Candidate Endorsement Criteria Committee.