Winning in the Long Run
There is a great deal more I could tell you.
- Recruiting for your grassroots organization
- Communicating with politicians
- Differences between offensive and defensive legislative tactics
- Choosing a leader who is an elected official (Hint: Be very careful)
- When and how to use the media
- Best practices to raise money for short-term and long-term goals
But what I would like to close with is the importance of taking a long-term approach to fighting for your values.
If you remember from the beginning of this article, I said the good news is the system works. I hope by now you see what I mean. Namely, the politicians are still subservient to the people who elected them... to you and me. However, most of the time, a fight to really make a difference may take years.
This is especially true the further from local politics you get.
It's true home schooling organizers won the battle for home schoolers in the U.S. Congress in just a few weeks as described above. But they had spent years building their organization of home schoolers. More importantly, as I noted, there was little or no opposition to the mobilized home schooling force.
Since then, in fights to pass any kind of school choice - much more, a full tax credit - the results have been very different. In fact, President George W. Bush easily abandoned the conservative opposition to federalized education and passed the No Child Left Behind Act with overwhelming Republican support. The size and effectiveness of the advocates of bigger government schools dwarfs those of us who are committed to school choice.
When you first start out, expect not to be taken seriously; especially if you insist upon principle and refuse to compromise or to be bought off.
The key will be for you and your grassroots activists to aggressively make politicians pay a price for their failure to pay attention to their constituents (you and your group).
Every year, every session of the legislature, you must return pushing for your principles. And every election, you must cause pain to as many politicians as possible; starting with those who claim to support your cause, but vote and act in opposition.
At the same time, you should be continually recruiting more members, raising more money, and expanding the areas in which you are active.
By doing this, you can win in the long run.