University of California, Berkeley, law student Chris Busselle, his wife and his longtime friend didn't realize they were catching a tiger by the tail when they brainstormed ways to keep Democratic morale and activism high after President Bush was re-elected and Republican Congressional majorities widened.
They decided to start a Web site, www.thinkblue2008.com, on which they would sell blue rubber bracelets like the popular yellow "Livestrong" bands hawked by cycling champion Lance Armstrong's foundation for cancer patients bearing the next presidential election's date and an admonition to "Think Blue."
The site went live Jan. 1; they made some calls, sent some e-mails. On Monday, they had sold 1,000 bracelets.
"People are responding well, it's been really fun ... it's kind of overwhelming everybody how the word is starting to spread," said Chris Busselle, 28. "We've all been running the show by the seat of our pants."
Well, not quite. They did take the time to register as a Section 527 issue advocacy group, so that their financial doings will be public. The Web site lets buyers decide whether the proceeds of their purchase will be donated to the Democratic National Committee, MoveOn.org or the Red Cross' tsunami relief efforts.
Orders are coming in from around the country and, underwritten by an anonymous donor, Busselle and company are flying to Washington, D.C., next week to pass out 10,000 bracelets at Inauguration Day protests. They want the bracelets to serve as "a call to action to remind that the next election is on this date, and let's pay attention and make things different next time," Busselle said.
College campuses are embracing the bands. Cal Berkeley Democrats president Pamela Bachilla said her group took 500, and will hand them out next week to students who sign a "pledge to fight the right." Stanford Democrats president Marie Jones took 250 for campus distribution next Thursday. "I just think it's a good idea to keep people involved between election cycles," she said.
Pam Allison, 28, an Orange County mother of two, said she saw the Web site and immediately signed on. She said her volunteer work with a school for homeless children has given her new appreciation of poverty, and of the impact President Bush's policies have on the poor. She's sending two bracelets to each state's Democratic party chairperson in hopes of spreading the word. "It's a great way to be visual and spark conversations with people."
Contact Josh Richman at firstname.lastname@example.org.