Archives for Grassroots

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.

Political Resolutions for Conservatives

resolutions - conservativesSometimes we get so caught up in campaigns or what’s going on in politics at the moment that we lose sight of what’s important and what to do next.  In other words, conservatives need to stay focused in order to be politically successful.

With that in mind, here are some political resolutions for conservatives:

Pick Your Battles

Just as liberals won generations of votes by winning battles over Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, conservatives should focus on big picture battles that result in still more victories in the future because they tilt the playing field more in our favor.

It’s a big country out there, with a big government and a multitude of issues that we can all get sidetracked by.  Conservatives need to focus on issues that unite us – whether social, fiscal, liberty or security related – and that have the possibility of strengthening our position in the future.  But cooperation is the key.  Pick your battles…don’t let them pick you.

Coordinate, Coordinate, Coordinate!

In recent years the conservative movement has grown tremendously.  Many people have gained valuable experience, and new networks and connections between activists have been created.  But what is needed is to leverage that muscle with greater emphasis on sharing information and coordinating activity.

Start a web page listing your endorsements and local candidates’ information and donation links.  Start a listing of key dates and locations for Republican Party meetings in your area.  Add any important details that people need to know about how the party works and what opportunities are available to get involved.  Email it to every conservative you know.  Start an online group (use Google, Yahoo, Ning or Facebook) and coordinate with others to decide who wants (or is willing) to do what.

The bottom line is to leverage our muscle by coordinating and focusing on places where that muscle can be overwhelming and have a long term impact, (especially at the local level).

Don’t Be a Cannibal

No matter who you are for in any given race, don’t “go cannibal” on fellow conservatives over who they support.  You might win for the moment, but you’ll lose productive relationships in the long run.  Every few years campaigns come along like tornadoes and divide so many conservatives against one another and then they’re gone, but many times the personal divisions remain.  We need to make it a mission to avoid that – and call out the campaigns that encourage it for their own interests.

Whoever the Republican nominee is in any election, they will never be perfect and will probably take a lot of “maintenance” from a policy standpoint.  But as a movement, conservatives are much better prepared to deal with such politicians than in years past, so long as we avoid division, coordinate and present a united front – at every level.

Focus on the Republican Party

Ronald Reagan used to say that “personnel is policy”, and it’s no different when it comes to the people who comprise the GOP’s party structure, or those who run and get elected to public office under the Republican banner.

It’s great to have conservatives start their own local groups, protest and be heard, but it’s even better when those same folks also make an effort to influence the Republican Party by joining local precinct organizations, run for precinct office, run for delegate to county (or district) conventions, county office, state delegate spots and so on.  Get involved and volunteer to serve on committees.  Local party organizations are usually borderline desperate for volunteers.  If you’re willing, and you’ve got a pulse, then you’re usually welcome.

The more conservatives who show up, get involved and network with one-another, the fewer problems we will have with the “establishment” when it comes to pushing a conservative agenda.

Get Local

Remember, the presidency isn’t everything, and neither is Congress.  Who do you think ends up running for Congress anyway?  It’s usually the guy (or gal) who has already served on a school board, city or county council.  If you want to have a long-term impact on the upper levels of politics, then you need to have a long-term approach to influencing who’s playing at that level to begin with.  And that means you need to get local.

The local levels are important in their own right, (you pay property taxes, right?), but they also serve as the farm team for the big leagues.  Don’t ignore them.  Plus, races at that level have the benefit of being easier to influence.  A little money and organization in these races goes a long way.

A coordinated effort by conservative activists to let other conservatives know who they have endorsed and where to send money can have a bigger impact on Joe Smith for school board than it ever could on Suzzie Smith for Congress.

Hold them Accountable

Conservatives now have a better understanding of how to take political matters into their own hands.  They have better access to the tools that can connect them with one another, to organize and become more effective – which is exactly why the elites are so concerned.

We need to use those strengths to hold those in elected office accountable for what they do (or don’t do).  Watch them.  Attend meetings.  Meet with them.  Offer to work with them when you can.  Let them know about your concerns (and the concerns of others like yourself).  Let people know what you find out, or what’s going on – and how they can contact them and have an impact.  “Adopt” an elected official and make a project out of them.

Self preservation is an instinct that runs deep – especially for politicians – and conservatives need to take full advantage of it.

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The experience that conservatives have gained, the connections that have been made and the techniques that have been learned can pay big dividends.

Adopt one of these resolutions and get busy!