If you like ice cream and giving to a cause, but hate constant solicitations for donations, MoveOn.org has a deal for you.  Starting July 4th weekend, Ben & Jerry’s, known for their liberal stance on many issues, has partnered with Move On in a new “stampede.”  It’s a clever fund-raising tool to give donors  a special stamp to mark their money and send political messages one dollar at a time.  It is one of several stamps that sell for $10 normally, or $15 through MoveOn and the Ben & Jerry’s effort ostensibly to “stamp the money out of politics.”

Is it effective?  Maybe. Maybe not.  The stamping in and of itself may not do much to move anyone on or off a position, but the stamp machines do.  Donors tired of never-ending solicitations finally have something tangible for their investment as well as a new project to do while watching TV at night. The Democratic party could well take a lesson.

Instead of incessant weekly calls for money, more money, and a little money yet again, MoveOn has learned from the NPR model and is providing some tangible gifts to encourage fund raising. Just this month, On the Media, a weekly podcast that monitors events, trends and news about the media, offered Brooke Gladstone’s book The Trouble with Reality  in exchange for a $7 a month sustaining donation. The book retails for $6.78 so the trade off is less than one month’s donation for NPR, but definitely incentivizes donations.

In an era when the Jon Ossoff Congressional special election set all-time fund-raising records — $15 million — and still resulted in a loss, one wonders if the Democratic party couldn’t be more creative. Hillary offered magnets, bumper stickers and t-shirts during her run, none of which were inspiring and positioned herself as a weak e-commerce retailer if not a weak candidate.  MoveOn, meanwhile, seems able to create massive weekly and monthly conference calls, organize new backyard BBQ get togethers to create progressive community building during #Resistance Summer, and put Indivisible Guides into local action around the country.  Case in Point: Republican and Democrat representatives increasingly wary of going home to face constituents.

It’s summer and although it’s a good tine to recharge and slow down, there are fun things you can do to keep in the game. Here are a few to consider:

  • Hold Signs.  When at July 4th parades, show your feelings to Senators and local politicians as they walk and drive by. Shake their hands, and tell them what you expect them to do, or just that you’re proud of their votes and stances so far.
  • Download and Discuss.  Check out the ideas checklists at FamiliesUSA.org on action items for protecting family health care around the country.
  • Get Stamping. Join the stampede and order a stamp from the Ben & Jerry’s fundraising effort. Even if you never stamp a single bill, you’ll have participated in helping MoveOn.org be heard.
  • Make Ice Cream. This one’s sad, but t Ben & Jerry’s ice cream has carrageenan in it, an ingredient many clean food advocates consider unsafe. Unfortunately, so does Tom’s of Maine toothpaste.  So if you want to enjoy clean ice cream, the safest bet is to make your own, or follow the Food Babe’s post on healthy ice cream alternatives.
  • Be Independent.  Celebrate the country’s independence with some independent study on U.S. History.  Some studies show only half of all Americans can name the three branches of government and that only a third know who gave the Gettysburg address. Dare yourself and your family to do and be better.  Pick up any book, watch any movie, or buy a graphic novel on U.S. history from any time period. Check out the Timberdoodle.com series for starters.

Have a safe, healthy and interesting July 4th.  We’ve gotten this far as a democratic experiment so there is hope for continued improvements.  Meanwhile, enjoy the fireworks. Wherever you are in the country, they are inspiring.