Archives for Grassroots

Are You Building the Political Farm Team?

uncle samMost every professional baseball player that you see has spent time in the minor leagues before they got a chance to play in the big leagues. Nobody lasts forever, and eventually somebody has to move up and take someone else’s place. It’s why teams spend so much time and money recruiting and developing new talent.

It’s called the farm system, and it’s the same way with politics.

Most elected officials have spent time in the political version of the minor leagues – local grassroots organizations, party organizations, civic groups, school boards, etc. Players at this level are usually “recruited” to run for office at higher levels, or to work in campaigns or as government staffers.

While you have surely seen local activists go on to become leaders or even elected officials at various levels, what’s not always evident is the recruiting and training of the volunteers that made their campaigns successful – and the past leaders that recruited them to the cause.

Politicians come and go, but politics is forever.

Think Local

All too often people allow themselves to get distracted by national issues, or what’s going on in Washington, DC and they overlook what’s going on right in their own neighborhood. As a result, they miss opportunities to leverage their activity and have a real impact on things they care about.

The fact is that local politics is the training ground for everything else. It’s the farm system. Practice at this level prepares you for the next. Participation builds the network of conservatives who can collaborate together on a state and national basis. Fundamentals are learned.

The result is that thinking locally serves two purposes: 1) it focuses and leverages attention and resources to have an impact on things that impact where people actually live and 2) it builds a healthy farm team for the conservative movement.

Recruit New Players

Politics is a game of numbers – whoever has the most usually wins. It’s amazing how many people overlook that fundamental point. As a result, one of the most important functions of any grassroots activist is to recruit others to their cause by identifying those who share their beliefs and concerns.

But the job doesn’t end there. It also involves teaching those like-minded citizens how to effectively engage in the political process and remove the mystery that surrounds it for most people. The more knowledge a new recruit has the more confidence they will have, the more likely they will be to actually do something, and the more effective they will become.

As Yoda put it to Luke Skywalker, “Pass on what you have learned”.

Groom New Leadership

This process is even more important for grassroots leaders. You can’t be much of a leader if you don’t recruit…and you can’t be sure that whatever you do will go on without you (because eventually you WILL be gone) if you don’t focus on replacing (or even multiplying) yourself.

There’s an old saying in politics that, “You can’t beat somebody with nobody”. In other words, if you don’t have a candidate, or better yet, a candidate who is viable based on experience, exposure, network and resources, then you you’re probably not going to win. To beat the “somebodies” on a regular basis, you need a deep bench. And you only get that with a good farm team.

That’s why every good leader should work to identify and train the next generation of leadership.

The success of the conservative agenda hangs on bringing new people into the process, and then promoting them up the ladder and grooming new leaders and potential candidates.

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Take a moment right now and make a note of anyone else who needs to get involved with you, or who might have leadership potential. Then make plans to reach out to them soon.

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.

How to Plan Grassroots Organization

grassroots organizationSo just how DO you get started with creating a local grassroots organization?  It’s simple and doesn’t take a lot of time, but action is critical.

We all know the hardest part of “doing” anything is getting started.  Having a plan makes it possible.

Fail to plan, plan to fail

Map out a plan of action that’s appropriate for your neighborhood, precinct or area you want to organize.  Use it to spell out exactly what sort of impact you want to have and what activities you’ll focus on to make it happen…(along with “who” can do “what”, “when”, “where” and “how”, etc).

Keep upcoming events on the political calendar in mind when making these decisions, (such as pending elections, important issues to lobby with local government, Republican Party organizational meetings, etc.).

Evaluate these items in coordination with other like-minded people that you plan to work with.

Three steps to planning grassroots organization

1) Decide “what” you want to accomplish

List the major changes you would like to help make happen in your area.  Why do you want to get involved?  What do you want to change?  Be focused and specific – but realistic.

2) Decide “how” you want to do it

Choose the kind of activities that will help you bring about the changes you listed above.  Play to your strengths and make sure they’re the kind of things you have the resources to accomplish.  Then list the action steps you’ll need to take to complete each activity.

3) Decide “who” else you want to work with

Multiply your efforts by involving and coordinating with others.  Remember, many hands make light work.

Planning in this way gives you a a better shot at creating a grassroots organization that can truly impact the things you care about – and help you avoid getting burned out in the process.

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You can find out much more about political organization in precincts, churches and online in my “Beginner’s Guide to Grassroots Politics“!