Whether 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.