“Tell us what to do!” The retirement-aged lady seated next to me said shouted as the crowd cheered for Senator Ted Cruz during his speech. She was asking for direction and wondering what she should be doing as the energized Senator spoke.
The woman’s words surprised me because I had just spent the last day and a half learning about messaging, online activism, grassroots organizations and politics at the local level. This was at the Americans for Prosperity conferences in Florida in late August. When not sitting in a session listening to panelists, I was networking with other activists like myself from around the country– I was learning a lot, feeling better equipped, and prepared to head back to New Mexico to share the new things I had learned with my fellow political activists.
For me activism has been seeing an opportunity to help and filling in where there is a need– sometimes that means doing things that may not be enjoyable, but somebody must do them! Standing around and asking “what do I do?” while waiting for an answer has never been an option for me.
There are a few things that need to be learned by all who want to be political activists and have an impact– start local and start small, but have high yet reachable goals. I’ve had many great wins working on the local and state level– using both social media and real-life activism.
Beside the suggestion that people start local when getting involved in political activism I have a few recommendations:
1. Get involved in your local county Republican Party. Ask the local party how you can help and see what needs to be done; often you can help host a local meeting of Republicans at your home or volunteer to help at an event or community gathering. Do you see an area where the party is lacking and you can help? ASK leadership if you can assist them! There is always a need for help, just ask what you can do.
As campaign season draws near there will be many opportunities and areas where everyone can help. You’ll have opportunities to help at events, walk in parades, knock on doors, make phone calls, work the polls, write letters to your local newspaper editor and participate in sign-waving parties for candidates.
Not a registered Republican? Find a group in your area that is seeking to further your conservative views, whether it is economic or social issue oriented (think Tea Party, friends of capitalism group, gun club, Right to Life). If you don’t have a group in your area, consider putting one together with some friends and neighbors in your community! Start out simple and build it up.
2. Get involved in the community pushing an issue that matters to YOU. Whether it is opposing a local tax increase, fighting an attack on traditional marriage, educating people on Common Core, defending the second amendment or something else, there are many important things YOU can do to help stop the Left.
Work through your local community organizations (as mentioned above) to set up a forum on the issue to be discussed. Then call your friends and neighbors inviting them to attend the event. Print up flyers and walk through neighborhoods and go door-to-door telling people what you hope to accomplish and why they should join you. This plan has dual purposes: attract more workers and swing voters over to your side!
If the issue you are speaking out on is going to be voted on by the public, register people to vote who will support your cause. If the vote is through your city, county or state government set up groups to email, call and contact these people via social media. In some cases visiting those voting on the issue at their government office is appropriate.
3. Keep your discussion personal. When you have a cause you are fighting for one of the first things to think about is “Why does this issue matter to YOU?” You need a personal reason for pushing an issue in your community. A heart reaches a heart.
Don’t be afraid to tell your story. You should be reaching out to people, not selling a product. Your issue matters because of your kids, grandchildren and neighbors. It affects you and your community. Remember how successful Sandra Fluke was? She had a personal story that, though emotional, was personal and she appeared to believe in it. Fluke believed in birth control and proclaimed that it would be taken away. She convinced others that her story affected them as well. Use your facts, but also use personal stories and perspective to convince others.
4. Give what you can, when you can. Whether you have a full-time job and can only volunteer a few hours a week or are retired and have hours and hours to spend helping, give it your all. I have known people who have only had a small amount of time to spend on a volunteer project, yet they have made a big difference. Using family time on a weekend to complete a project, or taking a day off work on election day to hold out signs or work the polls can be a big help. One election cycle I worked with a man who was seriously ill– he had a very good writing style and began writing articles to a local newspaper to support our candidates. Personally I’ve seen my family postpone vacations to spend time in politics doing things that would make a difference.
5. Use social media and blogs to reach local and state government officials and bypass the Leftist mainstream media.
Maybe the best way to clarify this idea is to explain my journey: I’ve been active on Twitter since July of 2011 supporting candidates and political causes. As I have mentioned above, focusing on local issues is most affective. I began blogging in April of 2012, but by the end of 2012 I was focusing on finding important under-reported stories other bloggers were missing and writing about New Mexico politics I started to get more feedback. The real media emailed me and criticized my work (from their comments it was as if they considered me competition). By the end of session “Politix Fireball” had opposed the gun control legislation, defended Republicans who were bullied by Leftist organizations and worked to keep activists on their toes and contacting our legislators when it was needed. Aside from Twitter and the blogosphere I found Facebook groups were a powerful tool as well. You can quickly get messages out by using them for communication.
At the end of the legislative session the Santa Fe New Mexican’s Julie Ann Grimm included me in an article about social media and the legislative session. In the evening when I reread the article I was disappointed to find that the paragraph in the article mentioning me had been deleted! I confronted Grimm and she admitted that I had been edited out (I had been mentioned in the print edition and online initially), but insisted she was not politically motivated. Oh… and did I mention that the author Grimm has since left the Santa Fe New Mexican and is now editor for the Santa Fe Reporter?
Of course this only increased my interest in focusing my social media time focusing on New Mexico and that path has lead to my involvement today.
6. Multiplication, not addition. Today, one of the biggest things we can do as we do these things is remember that we need to keep our base motivated and geared up. We need to operate along the lines of multiplication, because addition will not help us accomplish our goals. Get people stirred up about issues that will affect them in their community. They in turn will reach out to others and we will soon see a ripple effect.
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In the past I have written about Leftist community organizers on this blog and how they operate. From my observations I think we can learn a lot from the Democrat’s operatives. Getting involved in our communities is important and the successful activists I have visited with in the past several months, both in New Mexico and other states, have agreed with me that becoming “community organizers” of a sort is helpful and important. Of course I oppose the unethical practices of some community organizers but There is still good that can be learned from the community activism work.
It is surprising to see how many people have entered the area of political activism since it hit the news that the IRS was targeting conservative and Tea Party groups. The NSA scandals got the attention of many as well. People who are just getting involved need to get connected with leaders and put to work. Many are upset about current affairs and politics, but simply being angry doesn’t do a thing. They must be recruited and put to work, or there is energy wasted!
“Get action, do things; be sane, don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody: get action.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
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Cross-posted from my blog politicalfireball.wordpress.com