The Incredible Power of Small Groups in Politics

small groups leverageYou’ve heard the old expression that “two heads are better than one”? Well, it’s true in politics too. In fact, the more like-minded “heads” that you can get together, thinking, planning and working in the same direction, the more leverage and energy you can bring to any project.

Why wouldn’t you try to bring that same strength to bear on political problems (or opportunities)?

If the type of people that we hang out with impacts the course of our personal lives, then it follows that the type of people that we work with to impact the things that we care about influences our chances of political success. Remember, “Irons sharpens iron”.

The Benefits of Small Groups:

  • More skills and resources become available
  • Broader networks of contacts are created
  • Relationships grow stronger
  • Group brain-storming leads to more ideas
  • Action items are developed
  • Group members get encouraged and are held accountable

It’s one thing to have a good group of people that you tend to hang around politically, but it’s another thing to have a specific group of people who come together for a specific purpose.  In other words, it creates leverage.

Why are you together? What does everyone want to accomplish or what do they want to see changed? Does everyone have the same expectations about what kind of time and resources they need to invest in it?

As Solomon put it in Proverbs, “Without counsel purposes are disappointed, but in the multitude of counselors they are established”.

Before You Start a Small Group:

  • Know the purpose – (if everyone’s not on the same page, then there’s no point)
  • Know who you need – (when you know the purpose, it’s easier to figure out “who” you need to recruit…people who are committed to the goal and the idea of having a group)
  • Know what everyone brings to the table – (look for unique benefits…and how they relate to reaching the goals of the group)

Don’t invite everyone just to “build a crowd”. You’ll end up going in ten different directions at once, get nowhere fast and frustrate everyone. The bigger this type of group gets, the more unwieldy it will become. Keep it smaller and more personal. Be selective.

You’re looking for key people who are committed to the cause – all with unity of purpose and clarity about what to do and how to go about it. People with different strengths that benefit the whole. In other words, think of it as a recruiting process for a team.

After You Start a Small Group:

  • Meet Regularly – Not meeting defeats a key reason for having a small group to begin with, so set up a schedule. Maybe you decide to meet for breakfast once a week…or on a certain Saturday every month. Just make sure it’s as often as you need to in order to accomplish your goals, and that it’s something regular (and with time limits) that everyone can plan around.
  • Meet Conveniently – Meet somewhere that allows the group to have the kind of interaction that it needs in order to get things done.
  • Meet with a Purpose – Share information, brainstorm ideas, create projects, make plans and set action items, and hold each other accountable

You’re looking to have regular meetings with a group of people with common goals in order to facilitate organized thought, which leads to thoughtfully organized activity.

If other side projects or even a larger organization is born out of it, fine. In fact that’s part of the point of small groups, to give rise to other projects and opportunities that relate to your goals. But keep the group itself smaller, manageable and focused.

Remember, there really is no replacement for organized, collective thought and action. As Sam Adams put it, “It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority…”

So start a small group and BE that “tireless minority”!

Identifying Conservatives for Action

identifying conservativesWhether we like it or not, few things matter in politics quite as much as numbers. Fortunately for all of us non-math majors out there, it doesn’t involve higher order calculus, but rather the most basic varieties of arithmetic: addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.

When it comes to organizing and being politically effective, the most important elements are addition and multiplication. Addition in the sense of growing your ranks, and multiplication in terms of leveraging your collective impact through organized, coordinated activity.

Of the three essential elements of grassroots politics, (identifying, educating and mobilizing), identifying others comes first for a reason.

1) Find People Who Think Like You Do

You can’t really “organize”, if you’re the only person in the room, which means you have to reach out. If you’re concerned about something, odds are that a lot of other people feel that way too. You’re first job is to find them.

You’ve probably already got a short list in mind of people that you’re around on a regular basis who share the same concerns as you do. Talk to them about “doing something”. Make a list. Send them an email and ask them to reach out to others as well. Go through your church directory or other memberships lists of groups you’re involved with. Ask your friends to do the same.

2) Form a Core Group

Every successful political effort, no matter how large or small, has a “core” group of people driving the train. These are the people who were motivated enough to get the effort started to begin with and have the concern and energy to keep it moving and make sure that it’s more than just a semi-organized gripe session.

From your initial list you should be able to identify a small core group of people to get together with and make some plans. Talk about your common concerns and identify some clear, achievable goals. Then determine who’s willing to do what. Ten people is a great target.

3) Cast a Wider Net

After you’ve got your core group together, your first major project should be (surprise) to identify MORE people.

Start a petition and place it in stores and churches in your area. Start a free online petition and send an email describing the issue and a link to the petition to everyone you know (asking them to forward it on to others too). Let them know that you’re trying to identify people who care about the issue in order to take action. You can also post similar information in online political forums and groups (such as on Google Groups, Yahoo Groups, or sites like Free Republic , etc.).

Remember, it’s all about the numbers. Whether it’s grassroots lobbying or pushing a referendum or a candidate’s campaign, numbers matter.  That means that identifying conservatives matters.

The people are out there. You just need to get started with an organized, intelligent effort to find them.