Archives for Grassroots

What are you going to do about it?

political activismDo you spend more time than you would like complaining about things going on in government?  That’s not unusual.  In fact, it’s pretty much a prerequisite (or at least a direct symptom) of democracy.

Government is run by imperfect people who represent a lot of other imperfect people with a lot of different philosophies and points of view…and some of them seem to just represent themselves.

Anyone who’s paying attention (which ideally should be everyone) can find something to complain about.  But is that as far as you go?  Or do you ever think about taking action?

Don’t Just Complain

Is “Common Core” being pushed on your (up until now) good school district? Grading standards being dumbed down?  What are you going to do about it?  Have you attended a school board meeting and spoken out?  Carried a crew of other angry parents with you to do the same?

Is your local public school board trying to pass a millage increase, all the while spending record amounts of money on extra layers of educrats?  What are you going to do about it?  Just cuss when you get the tax bill?  How about starting a petition campaign to oppose it?

Is your county about to vote on another wasteful bond referendum?  What are you going to do about it (other than pay for it later)?  Have you written a letter to the editor?  Print it as a flyer and leave it on doors in your neighborhood, or cars in the parking lot at the next council meeting.

Are you tired of so few people who seem to know much of anything about what your local government is doing?  What are you going to do about it?  Start a Facebook page, online newsgroup or a simple website.  Maybe set up an email list and keep people up to date with what’s going on.  Encourage everyone you know to share it with others.

Sick of elected officials who don’t listen, or who make promises but don’t deliver after they’re elected?  What are you going to do about it?  Have you tried to help someone else get elected?  Volunteered or made a contribution? How about talking with others who think like you do and trying to recruit someone to run for office?

Get Involved

The main reason to “do something” is because it’s your responsibility, since you live in a country where you have the right to political activism.  But another reason is because even if you just simply speak up, it lets other people like you know that they’re not alone.  When they see that, they’re more likely to speak up or take action too.

If you don’t “do something”, odds are you’ll have even more to complain about later.  But when you get involved, things change.

Take a moment right now and make a conscious decision to “do something”.  Then make a note so you don’t forget.

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Have any examples of how you were able to get involved that you think would encourage others?  Share it in the comments below.

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”!

Political List Building for Success

political list building

In most any serious political endeavor, one of the first things that you (and those working with you) need to do is to start making lists.

Whether you’re just a budding activist with a burr in your britches about something, or a potential candidate for office, you won’t have much success without knowing who could help out and then making an effort to get them involved.

Remember, politics is all about people. But taken further, successful politics means organizing people…and it’s hard to organize people if you don’t have a good idea “who” to organize, “where” they are, “how” to get in touch with them, “what” they care about and what resources they could bring to the table.

That’s what political list building is for.

Look for people who think like you do. Who’s upset about the things that you are? If you’re running for office (or helping someone), who could support the campaign in any possible way? In election campaigns, this can also help identify the people needed to form an actual “campaign committee” that may be required in your state.

Political List Building Ideas:

  • Family and friends (for obvious reasons)
  • Fellow conservatives who care about your cause or campaign
  • Possible volunteers (who’s willing to work?)
  • Possible donors (who has money and might support the effort?)
  • Grassroots organizers (who is well organized and good with people?)
  • People who have big networks and credibility (who can help you connect with others that you don’t already know?)
  • Business associates (they know your reputation)
  • Church members (a great place to find fellow conservatives)
  • Pastors (they know who the political junkies are in their churches)
  • Social networks (aka, social media friends who can help you get viral exposure)
  • Helpful political officials (past and present…who know they system and are well connected)

These are just some ideas, but you get the picture. As you are listing people, categorize them based on what other types of lists they could eventually be added to. Some people will obviously fit into several categories. Make a note of it.

After you have filled up a few sheets on a legal pad, you can take the next step and organize it on a spreadsheet (maybe even adding a new tab for each list)… eventually adding their contact information to make it easy to import into your own contact lists, an email program or other more sophisticated database (if necessary…but not usually). Spreadsheets are also formats that are easily shared with others that you may be working with.

What you are doing is building your “activism database”. Without fellow activists, you’re just a Lone Ranger. And even he needed Tonto.

Get out a pen and paper and start writing.