I’ve written quite a bit about the importance of getting involved in a political party, and about how parties are organized. But how do you go about trying to be effective over the long haul? What should you do? What should you focus on, and why?
The Boy Scout motto “Be prepared” comes to mind in the sense of being prepared ahead of time for the situations they may face. It’s a good application for party activism.
Here are seven tips for party activism to keep in mind:
1) Attend meetings. Yes, meetings can be boring, but you won’t have much of an organization unless people meet, discuss business and make plans. Be there when they do. In most party organizations, the people who are always there eventually end up in charge of something (for good or ill)!
2) Volunteer. Offer to help out with party functions and volunteer to help candidates with their campaigns. Offer to serve on committees that interest you.
3) Recruit others. The more people you get involved who think like you do, the more effective you can be in the long run, (it’s like a pyramid scheme!). Find other conservatives who want to have an impact. Drag them along. The more the merrier. Teach them what you’ve learned.
4) Cultivate allies. Remember, politics is people, and it’s all about networking. To be more effective, it’s important that you develop relationships with others that will work closely with you and support your objectives.
5) Know the rules. As with most things in life, if you know the rules you’re more likely to be successful. Party rules (and parliamentary procedure) aren’t exactly exciting, but they’re important. Get to know them, at least on a basic level.
6) Watch and learn. Imitation, as they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. Keep an eye on what others are doing, (even your opponents), and learn from it. Adopt what works.
7) Stay focused – and involved. People generally don’t throw rocks at those who aren’t having an impact. Success usually breeds opposition. But when it comes, just remember why you got involved in the first place. Don’t let opponents distract you or run you off. Double your efforts!
For new activists, these simple tips will help you avoid being overwhelmed by something that may be new to you. For those who already are involved, they’re a good guideline to help reorient your mind and your time to the simple things that you can do to be more effective.
Remember, if you really want to have an impact, you need to be prepared.