Avoiding the Death Grip of Grassroots Disillusionment

“In the human desert, where there are so many lambs, be lions!”

Leon Degrelle

At one point or another we have all found ourselves in a position where we say “What’s the point”? or “This won’t change anything”. We try to organize a group and pursue political change and we immediately find obstacles to hurdle whether they be a lack of members, lack of funding, or lack of direction. The advancement of social media has allowed us to have one of the most powerful recruitment tools at our fingertips, but the downside is it has ushered in an age where a lot of people are only looking to appear like they are willing to work towards a cause. This has been called “Slacktivism” and gained widespread popularity during the Kony 2012 campaign. Remember that?—when the world raised concern about Kony kidnapping kids and the Lord’s Resistance Army was the boogeyman of the week only to find out that Kony and the LRA had been dealt with since 2006 and the guy that was the brains behind the activist movement would go on to have a mental breakdown and pound the pavement naked in San Diego. Sorry for the tangent but my point is the disillusionment from starting something is always a possibility. It isn’t unique to just you or me. It happens to everyone because we all feel like we are taking on the world. But this article isn’t just to let you know that we all go through the same thing; it’s to give you sort of a guide on how to start a grassroots movement and hopefully expand it—the hopefully part depending on if you are prepared to fully commit yourself to it.

First things first you want to start local by centering it around close friends and family. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s good to also have an online presence and have people supporting you. But you should always make sure that you have people in your immediate vicinity that can do some heavy lifting and can make a commitment to your shared goals. Gauge local interest. If you must, go from neighborhood to neighborhood, as that is how you will grow. Next see if your community holds local town halls or other meetings where they discuss issues within your community. This will help you get your face and name out there to the general public. Once you have a small group of individuals, keep in mind that it’s better to have a small group of united and coordinated allies than a large and disorganized one, because you never want the biggest obstacle in your path to be yourself. While ideally you want to grow into a large group of constituents, you also want to have certain standards that makes sure everyone within the group is aligned and serious. You don’t want guys that are just looking to hang around, grab drinks and do nothing but cry and moan about how unfair something is. You should make it clear from the start that everyone earns their keep. You also want a solid unified strategy when making political maneuvers. You want a solid core block of people that will rarely concede, or else you might as well just call yourselves Senate/Congressional Republicans. Once you’ve got stable representation in your community, spread to the next and so on while also building up your profile online. Throughout this process you also want to build an identity that makes people gravitate towards you. Is your group meant to represent the everyday working class common man or do you want to appeal to the upper crust of society and corporations (Hey, that’s how some people get to where they are now)? You want to have an identity and a clearly defined goal. Also, and I can’t stress this enough, do not be scared off by membership turnover. We’ve all seen it happen before where members start to disappear or choose to cut ties for whatever reason. This is natural as not everything can be a victory. People will come and go. What is important is how you recover from this; are you going to panic and start questioning yourself or are you going to stay calm, assess the loss and make the proper adjustments. This is important because as the leader of the group people will look to see how you respond to any and every situation.

So finally what I’d like to leave you guys with is an example of a purely grassroots movement: that being New Frontier itself. The members of New Frontier all met online and gravitated towards an individual named Cultured Thug for various personal reasons, but mainly because just like him we grew tired of the obvious corruption and manipulation presented by elected officials within our government. We grew tired of the left/right dichotomy presented to us and our politicians telling us that we should ignore the issues in our country and be more worried about what is going on in another country thousands of miles away, or ignore the constant abuse of the American citizen by corporations who are allowed to sit at the head of the table with the government. We all resonated with his message and organized, writing strategies, bouncing ideas back and forth and meeting regularly not just online but also in person as members took this extra step to build up the relationships we have established since the beginning of this endeavor. We have had people come and go and we thank them for the hours of work and effort they have put in to make this pursuit possible. We also know it would be a great disservice to them and the people who follow us if we let every little setback dishearten us and push us back. With that being said I hope this article resonates with those reading this and remember you only truly lose if you never even try.