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Mobilization: How to Put the Roots Back Into Grassroots Activism

Force Multiplier Mobilization Triangle

Have you ever wondered why the Right is seemingly 20 years behind the Left in terms of activism?

Very simply, it is because the Left’s playbooks were, in fact, written decades ago and the Left has had years to practice, adjust, and adapt their tactics.

When speaking to individuals and groups about activism and I reference how the Right is 20 years behind, I am being literal. Here’s why:

It’s been more than 20 years since a handful of other union representatives and I sat in a hotel conference room with one of our union’s emissaries from Washington. It was the year that the CWA was rolling out its new mobilization program.

By the end of the day, the new program had been explained, we had been “trained” as newly-minted “Mobilization Coordinators” and each of us received little lapel pins for our satin jackets. Heady times indeed.

The reason the union was rolling out its mobilization program was a matter of survival for the union. In the late 80s and early 90s, the CWA had been experiencing massive layoffs and plant closures nationwide due to the break-up of the Bell System (ala Jimmy Carter). As the age of the monopoly ended, the CWA needed to change.

Since its inception, the mobilization model was based on the “Mobilization Triangle.”

The triangle symbolizes the three major programs of the union. None can stand alone. If the triangle is broken on any side, sooner or later it will be broken on every side.

To the union, the theory behind the triangle was presented like a three-legged stool: The union could not survive without each of the three sides of the triangle–Organizing (recruitment), Bargaining/Representation, and Political/Community Action–functioning effectively.

The union’s mobilization model was built on a 1:10 ratio–one mobilization coordinator for every ten worksite (or department) coordinators; and each of those ten coordinators responsible for ten members.

If you think about it, this is the essence of Precinct Activism…but in the workplace.

It is this model that was the basic approach for the Power of Five for GOTV.

Additionally, if you’ve read the How to Become a Force Multiplier PowerPoint, you’ll note some similarities in the recommended approaches with the CWA’s Mobilization Manual below.

Although, as a young Mobilization Coordinator, I received the original Mobilization Manual, below is an updated version. I strongly recommend that you read it, digest it and, where appropriate, adopt it and use it for more noble purposes.

While you’ll see that much of this is written for mobilization in the workplace, as you read it, you’ll find that it is easily adaptable to community grassroots activism.

Mobilization Manual of the Communications Workers of America

While the Left has used its playbooks effectively for years on the Right, gotten a President elected and re-elected, it is not too late for the Right to use the some of the same tactics and put the roots back into grassroots activism.
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“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.”
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)

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