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Life Arts    H3'ed 6/4/11

Stephen Crockett and the College Student Activist Recruitment Campaign

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My guest today is Stephen Crockett, founder and host of Democratic Talk Radio. Welcome to OpEdNews. You have a new project going on, the College Student Activist Recruitment Campaign. What can you tell us about it?

Crockett on Democracy Talk Radio at WGPA studio; 
photo credit: John Morgan

I own College and have been working in that specialized industry for 30 years. I have been a political activist all my life and was very involved in different types of activism while in college at the University of Maryland. I understand that getting students involved pays huge dividends for decades. For example, my early activism eventually helped create my radio show Democratic Talk Radio, my labor website Mid-Atlantic and my opinion column, Democratic Voices.

Over the years, I realized that progressive and reform movements, organizations and candidates have great appeal to college students but that appeal was not being systematically and professionally tapped on an ongoing basis. We need to recruit these student activists constantly and feed them into our efforts from every campus in America. We need to educate them about our issues, events, actions, volunteer opportunities, internship opportunities and jobs. We hope this effort will go a long way toward meeting those needs.

These students can help with campaigns, lobbying, picketing, building crowds at demonstrations, letter writing campaigns and much, much more in the short term. In the long term, they are the future opinion makers in America. Recruiting them now can help alter the future of America in a very positive, progressive way.

We are going to assemble a database in various ways that will essentially reach most students on basically all of America's campuses. The database will be created from a website that we are developing called Activist The students will provide contact information that can be sorted geographically. Students will have the option of selecting from a large number of areas of interests so the database can identify activists based on their interests. Students will be able to select multiple areas of interest.

Organizations and campaigns will be able to purchase access to the data to help build their organizations or promote their efforts. In some cases, sponsoring organizations or campaigns can have a say in the definition of areas of interest on the site and in the design of the materials and promotional campaigns used to drive students to Activist

My hope is that students will learn about the labor movement and share that knowledge with other students while in college. After graduation, they will continue to share both the knowledge and values we can help them develop in their workplace and communities. The same can be said about the environmental movement, economic justice, student loan reform, civil rights, civil liberties, social justice, anti-poverty efforts, judicial reform, preserving the American middle class, open government, rebuilding American manufacturing, voting rights, tolerance and hundreds of other things that can help make the American Dream a reality.

Large corporations and Right Wing organizations have been very active in curtailing academic freedoms and are financing extensive efforts to promote their dark ideologies on college campuses. They have been doing so for many decades. Sadly, this has tended to help them shift the political discussion and agenda in an increasingly pro-corporate, Right Wing direction over the decades. Right Wing efforts on college campuses have been better funded, more systematic and continuous for many decades than those of progressive, pro-labor and reform organizations. We are planning on being a relatively low-cost but continuous effort to reverse this trend.

This service will not be available to Right Wing organizations or candidates. The effort is a commercial venture but is not just commercially motivated. Societal good is the top priority but our efforts do need to fund themselves. Specific financial details are still being worked out.

Our hope is that is only one of many future efforts at making American colleges and college graduates a growing engine for progressive change. We will hopefully be working with many campaigns and organizations on other customized outreach efforts that will compliment and strengthen this project before the 2012 elections.

Any organizations or campaigns interested in this project can contact Stephen Crockett at 443-907-2367 or collegemarket (at) aol (dot) com. 

I didn't know you went to the University of Maryland! I was on campus this past weekend, visiting my son. I love your idea, Steve; it's long overdue. Progressives definitely need an infrastructure and college students are a logical place to start. While you're at it, add election integrity to that list of issues. The labor focus is especially timely given what is going on in Wisconsin* right now, with their union-busting governor. Have you been able to hook up with the college-aged sector of the protest against Gov. Walker? He's tried to pit one group against another but the public didn't really fall for it. But, despite all the protest,  he has been able to ram through some awful legislation and budget cuts in the meantime.

My early activism at the University of Maryland has stayed with me all my life. I saw real change happen while there and know college students played a huge role in helping create those changes. Sadly, the progress made then has long been under attack by Right Wing forces and large international corporations with no loyalty to the American nation, no respect for democracy or American citizens and no real values but greed.

Not all corporations act this way and very, very few small businesses do - but those that do are growing in number and power. College students can play a big role in forcing abusive corporations to act in a socially responsible manner. They can help our political and economic system change corporate behavior in such a way that societal good will have to taken into account and greed will not totally define corporate values or behaviors

Election integrity certainly should be and will be included in the areas of interest available to student activists on the site. American Democracy and all the other reforms we support depend on clean elections and honest counting of votes. Other related areas of interest that will be listed are campaign finance reform, recall provisions for abusive and corrupt officeholders and citizen referendum provisions to repeal unjust laws.

I really think America works best when it is as democratic (small "d") as possible. I believe in more democracy in government and the workplace. Working family issues are really important to me. Real, effective democracy curbs the top down centralization undermining both our government and our national economy.

One of the reasons that we are not creating a rigid structure for this effort is that our goal is make this entire project a democratically-evolved creation. It should not be viewed as a top down thing that I created but rather as a coalition built and conceived tool to advance all kinds of efforts, organizations and candidates moving generally in the same general progressive direction. I believe it will be much stronger and more effective if it has many creators, partners and guiding hands.

I really believe students can and will get all of these points. In fact, many already do. This effort will help those college students who are already activists become more informed and connected. It will help others become activists.

The student role in the Wisconsin protests is extremely important. These students set a great example for college students everywhere. Personally, I have not been in direct contact with the Wisconsin students but I am aware of some of their activities via the Internet.

I hope someday soon to be directly connected with the Wisconsin college students involved in fighting the abuses of Scott Walker, the Koch brothers and the Tea Party Republicans in the state legislature. They give me great hope for the future.

Our goal is to see the same kind of progressive-youth-senior-labor-reform coalitions built in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Ohio, New Jersey, Tennessee, Texas, Maine and every other state. For many reasons, we should all remember Wisconsin..... and follow their example.  

Agreed.  Not to beat a dead horse, but the many anomalies and problems that have surfaced in the recently completed Wisconsin Supreme Court race recount strongly point to the critical importance of implementing election integrity, without which nothing else with a small d follows. Anything else you'd like to add, Steve, before we wrap this up?

There are always going to be incentives to cheat in election by those representing essentially anti-democratic forces motivated by greed and power-lust. American democracy certainly starts with voting rights, clean elections not controlled by the power of excessive wealth and honest vote counts. Of course, pursuit of the American Dream does not stop there but it does start there! We need to create structures and institutions that defend democracy, empower all our citizens and keep moving us progressively closer to an ever-improving American Dream.

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to reach your readers with information about this potentially valuable outreach, educational and coalition building project. The great strength of the American nation is that ideally we own and run our government instead of it owning and running us. This requires us to get active and stay involved, Any tools that we can create which strengthens our democracy and increases citizen involvement should be strongly embraced.

I encourage everyone to think creatively and act on new ideas that promote this very old idea which is the American Dream... a government for the people, of the people and by the people.

Thanks so much for talking with me, Steve. Good luck with your project! I look forward to seeing it grow and prosper.


Crockett's websites:

*Check out for great coverage on the WI recount.

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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