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Progressives, the season is here for you to get out to your garden centers and buy a packet of seeds for a good cause. There's a new campaign tactic in the effort to overturn the Republican government that requires some personal growth from you, and while it may not be grassroots in a literal sense, it's definitely from the ground up.

Step 1: Clear a small patch of ground, maybe ten feet square. Plant some zucchini seeds there, and give them a good drink of water.

Step 2: Wait until August. This is about the time that the Republicans will be having their national convention to re-appoint George W. Bush as their candidate for president of the United States. Yes, waiting is hard, but there are other things you can do during this time - traditional campaign stuff like volunteering, holding political house parties, and making donations. If you must do something on your Zucchini for Democracy project, make a daily routine out of going outside to look at your little zucchini plants grow, and gently pull a couple of weeds around them. The truth is that zucchini plants pretty much take care of themselves, except in the worst conditions.

Step 3: Eat a couple of zucchini. Making zucchini bread is especially tasty. Zucchini are most palatable when they're about nine inches in length, though they'll get much bigger than that.

Step 4: Right away, go back outside and look at your zucchini plants. You'll see that even more zucchini have grown on your plants, far more than you could ever eat. Pick them anyway, and bring them back inside.

Step 5: Here's where the democracy part comes in. Put a sign out by the side of the road that reads "Free Zucchini" in nice, big lettering. If people around you grow zucchini, you'll see a lot of these signs by the roadside in August. Next, place a basket or box next to the sign and fill it with your extra zucchini. Oh, but that's not all: Zucchini are cylindrical, see, so what you're going to do is print up some very brief information about the anti-Republican candidates that are running for office in your area, running all the way from town council, through your state legislature, to the United States Congress, and up to the presidency. About a quarter of a piece of paper design will probably work well, although a half a page will be necessary for the verbose. Then, staple or tape this information around each piece of zucchini, being careful to leave the zucchini itself unharmed.

When hungry folks around you come to pick up their zucchini, they'll also get a short political message from you - that's why we call this tactic Zucchini for Democracy.

The important thing about this tactic is that you're grabbing people's attention through your generosity, and so you're much more likely to get your message through. Marketing people refer to this kind of thing as a "gimme". They've found that people are much more likely to buy a product or vote for a candidate when they've been given a little something in the name of that product or candidate first.

Yes, now go wash your hands. You probably feel icky just even thinking about using techniques developed by market researchers. Keep in mind that George W. Bush is using his hundreds of millions of dollars to buy extravagant schemes concocted by market researchers. What Bush and the Republicans don't have is any strong, active support from ordinary citizens.

Republicans buy their support through big advertising campaigns that don't do anything for the people who watch them. Democrats earn their support by actually helping folks out. That's what you're doing with your participation in the Zucchini for Democracy project. This August, you'll be giving them some free food along with some food for thought. That's an awful lot better than one of Bush's two-thousand-dollar-per-plate fundraisers, isn't it?

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