Archives for party activism

Political Parties: How to Get Involved

political partiesAs I’ve mentioned before, getting involved in a political party is one of the best ways to have an impact on the things you care about.  And for conservatives, that means getting involved in the GOP.

However, many people don’t get involved simply because they don’t know much about it, and a lack of information intimidates people.  So, for those who have never been involved, here’s a rundown on pretty much all you need to know and where to begin.

Structure of Political Parties

Political parties are structured in the form of a pyramid, with national elected leaders at the top and the broad base of supporters at the foundation, with several layers in between.  People at each level in turn elect leaders for their own level and delegates to move up and select leaders for the next level.  In the same manner, each level usually adopts its own platform and resolutions on issues that members feel strongly about.  This ultimately culminates at the national conventions once every four years when they select presidential nominees.

Precincts are the most basic units of any political party, and they are organized geographically around the place where you normally go vote.  And because precincts are also the most basic unit in American politics – on which pretty much EVERYTHING else is built – they are the most important.  More importantly, because they’re the smallest units, they’re the ones that YOU and an organized group of fellow conservatives can have the most influence over.

Further up the food chain, county (or sometimes “district”) committees are generally comprised of the elected representatives from each precinct; and each state has a committee and a convention comprised of elected representatives from each county (or “district”).  Each state in turn elects members to a national committee which acts as a board of directors for four years between national conventions.

So, where do you Start?

Generally, all that’s required to become active in a political party’s organization is your willingness to get involved. Depending on the state you live in you may need to make sure you’re registered to vote as a Republican, vote in the party primaries, or attend a precinct organizational meeting, (usually held once every two years in many states).

In short, you need a pulse. Nothing is stopping you.

Local party organizations are usually starved for participation.  In fact, the percentage of your fellow Americans that do so is far less than one percent – which magnifies the influence you can have simply by “showing up”.

Since the Republican Party generally serves as the political vehicle for the conservative movement, as a conservative it’s one of your best tools for impacting the issues you care about.  In the process, you can help get good candidates nominated and elected to office, or possibly even run for something yourself someday (stop laughing!).

With all of this being the case, the first thing you should do is join the local county party in your area.  Go to the meetings.  Volunteer for something.  Find out how to be an official part of your local party precinct organization. And when the time comes, run for a delegate spot to you county convention and/or consider running for a precinct officer position.

Remember, if you don’t get involved, you can’t make a difference…and you won’t have much right to complain.

If you have never been involved and don’t know where to go, just “Google” the Republican Party for your state…then find a link to information about your county/city from the state site.  Look for upcoming meeting dates.  Call someone and tell them you want to get involved.  After they get over the shock, they’ll point you in the right direction.

For those who have been or are involved in the party, feel free to forward this on to someone else that you’ve been trying to get to join you!

Seven Ways to Be Prepared for Effective Party Activism

party activismIf you really want to have an impact on something you stand a much better chance if you’re prepared. The same goes for party activism.

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.