Caucusing is two weeks way – here’s what you need to know

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Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Minnesotans are well known for doing some things a little differently from much of the rest of the nation; among them are the hot dish tradition, Duck Duck Grey Duck, and the caucus system, which is used by a handful of other states. Every two years, our state’s major political parties use multilevel caucuses and conventions to endorse candidates, shape their platforms, and allow supporters to connect with their like-minded neighbors. This year, precinct caucuses – the first step on the ladder – will take place on February 1st at 7:00 PM.

All Minnesotans who will be eligible voters by the next general election are entitled to caucus for the party that most closely aligns with their values. Doing so is a great way to influence which candidates are endorsed and what policies the parties will pursue. We ask our supporters to caucus to help make sure that our climate and natural world are top of mind for Minnesota’s political leaders. MEP has put together a Caucus Hub for the information you need to participate.

With the ongoing pandemic, it may not be safe for all Minnesotans to participate in person, even with masking. Fortunately, some parties may offer the opportunity to submit a form and platform resolutions by mail or email. As of this writing, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party has announced that local party units – usually the State Senate District or County level – may choose to hold virtual precinct caucuses.

MEP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and does not advocate for participating in any particular party, but we do believe that all parties should hear about environmental concerns from their supporters. That can be accomplished by introducing platform resolutions. Caucus-goers can introduce these resolutions at the precinct level, where they’ll be voted on by fellow attendees from that precinct. If passed, they’ll move up to the next level, usually the Senate District or County Convention, and be voted on again, then up to the Congressional District level, then to the State Convention. Generally speaking, resolutions must have support in multiple places to have a chance at being included in the party’s platform.

The process may seem a little daunting, but you don’t have to be an issue expert to introduce and pass a resolution – just a concerned citizen who cares about your values and can explain why they matter. You don’t even have to write the resolution yourself: MEP has put together a Resolutions Hub for examples of resolutions you can bring to your local precinct or submit online. Submitting a resolution that an organization is promoting gives it the best chance of passing, as it is likely that other precincts in other communities will be passing the same wording.

For example, MEP member Land Stewardship Project is promoting the following resolution:

“The [insert party name here] prioritizes establishing and deeply investing in a comprehensive soil health program to provide accessible, motivating grants and direct payments to farmers to establish and sustain soil-healthy practices; provide education, technical assistance, and research around soil-healthy practices to farmers; and set a statewide goal to reach 5.75 million acres of farmland in soil-healthy practices by 2030, 11.5 million acres by 2035, and 23 million acres by 2040.”

A supporter of this resolution can introduce it at their precinct caucus, where it will be voted on. The introducer can use LSP’s website to learn more about soil health and why it’s important, in case they need to persuade their neighbors to vote for it. If passed, it will then need to get sufficient support at the next level up to continue moving on, and must do so in multiple places.

MEP’s Caucus and Resolution hubs are not intended to be exhaustive, but if you have a resource or a resolution you’d like to share, let us know! MEP believes that the better informed Minnesotans are, the more we take ownership of our democratic process, and the more our leaders hear that our issues are a priority, the better off our climate and environment will be.

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