For the budding political activists, here is some sage advice from a new group that we have been following. Remember the expression, “All Politics is Local”.
The vast majority of liberty activists overlook the place where their efforts can have the greatest effect. They often dismiss the place where they can actually start to take control of their own political destinies.
That place is at the local level — be it county, city, or town.
Unfortunately, given the large scope of the liberty movement, far too few have made the commitment to dedicate themselves to the task of building local organization. Those who have developed a concrete plan to seize political power on the local level are few and far between.
For some activists, building a group on the county, city, or town level is a scary proposition as they look at the size of the local population, the embedded establishment politicians, and their local dynamics.
For others, delving into issues like property taxes, land rights, the county budget, tax increment financing and local crony capitalism doesn’t hold the luster of the large national issues. A number of liberty activists simply do not have the commitment and discipline to take on a multi-year project.
But fighting for liberty at the local level is an integral part of the multi-layered process this movement will have to implement in order to start to reclaim our liberty on all levels of government — be it local, state, or national. In reality, for the vast majority of activists, they can have the most effect on the local level.
Long-Term Rewards of Building Local Organization
For liberty activists, there are many concrete long-term accomplishments and rewards that can be achieved by building local organization. Let’s look at a few:
- By acting locally, you can work on the liberty issues that directly affect your area. A rural section of the country may be more focused on land use and restrictions. Urban activists may pursue fighting the real effects of U.N. Agenda 21 or run-amuck regulations on small business.
- It provides opportunities for coalition building. You may be able to work on issues like council members voting to give themselves a raise, or fighting pay-to-play politics on zoning issues with other local watchdog groups.
- You can actually win issue-battles you take on, such as defeating a property tax increase, toll increases, and restrictions on property rights.
- By taking on local issues, members in your group will actually learn how local government works. You will come to learn the real role crony capitalism plays in local development. It provides a good training ground for members who one day may run for office.
- Every local issue battle can be used to list build, and if done properly, can result in new members and opportunities to raise money for your organization.
- By having an established local group, you maintain the ability to harvest from, and provide leadership to, spontaneous political outpourings by your local citizens (i.e. Tea Party, property tax fights, land use restrictions, etc.).
- By taking on local issues, you will find new potential activists. It is then the task of your local organization to develop them into leaders for liberty. You are in a very real sense developing a liberty “farm team” that continually has new leaders in various stages of your pipeline.
- Your local group can provide a focal point for training new activists. This includes training your activists with skills they will need to support liberty candidates when they run for office.
- The activists your group develops will in many cases provide the time, talent, and treasure to help make local liberty candidate campaigns successful.
- Your local group will become your liberty insurance policy, exerting pressure to make sure newly-elected liberty legislators continually vote in the right direction.
- You will find yourself making many new, close friends with whom you will share a common cause and who will work side-by-side with you in battle. They will come to believe in you and you in them.
You Can Provide the Counterweight
One thing missing in American politics, particularly on the local level, is a counterweight to bad political behavior.
Because of a lack of vibrant grassroots organizations, there have simply been no consequences for politicians making bad votes, bad decisions, and providing you with bad governance. By building a vibrant local organization, you suddenly have the counterweight to use against your bad local government.
How often have you addressed a local politician face-to-face about their bad behavior but not had any real mechanisms for inflicting pain on them because of their actions? Do you really think they care that you are personally incensed? How often have you gotten the feeling from your conversation with your elected official that you are not politically respected? Do you want this to stop?
The choice is yours to make.
You can either be a political blogger — having no real effect — or you can start to develop yourself into a refined political weapon. Over time, you can start to gain political power within your county or town as you build your organization and a “farm team” of liberty activists who will run for and gain elected office.
Let’s Play “Whack-a-Mole”
Building local organizations gives you the ability to inflict pain.
By using the successful models taught by the Foundation for Applied Conservative Leadership, you can turn your local political landscape into a “whack-a-mole” game. Politicians will constantly be lashing out, trying to strike you, not knowing which hole your group will emerge from next. It is at that point that politics really becomes an enjoyable endeavor from your side of the fence.
Building local organization will take you from being the victim of your elected officials to putting your political destiny in your own hands. It gives you the ability to be politically feared, and “once you are politically feared, you will be politically respected.”
FACL Senior Evaluator