1991 Freedom Activists Directory of anti-communists in the Soviet Empire
Morton C. Blackwell
January 1, 1991
1991 Freedom Activists Directory of anti-communists in the Soviet Empire
It's so like a fairy tale. The evil rulers are overthrown. The people rejoice and pick new rulers of their choice. Prosperity and good feeling then mark a new era of freedom. Unfortunately, actual events seldom end as do so many happy fairy tales. The people of Central and Eastern Europe are unlikely to live happily ever after. Unhappily, I foresee economic and political disaster in these areas, and soon, whether or not the Red Army soldiers all pack up and go home. Download the whole FREEDOM ACTIYISTS DIRECTORY
Another Large Influx of Grassroots Conservatives
Morton C. Blackwell
July 7, 2010
Another Large Influx of Grassroots Conservatives
Among the millions of newly-active grassroots conservatives in politics, thousands of the best are coming to the Leadership Institute to study how to win. Institute staff and volunteer experts are teaching at dozens of Institute political training programs across America, co-sponsored with LI separately by Tea Party Patriots, Tea Party Nation, Americans for Prosperity, Freedom Works, FreedomFest, and many other grassroots-based organizations. In early July, LI launched an online, on-demand, and free offering of twelve activist training lectures for members of Tea Party Patriots, our first major project of this type. See TeaPartyTraining.org. Many people have asked me if I think the remarkable new conservative grassroots activism will continue all the way to the November election. My answer is simple. Yes. Why has this activism developed? Because of citizen rage at the unprecedented number and variety of power grabs by the Obama Administration and the Pelosi/Reid Congress. Our nation has seen nothing like this before, not even during the expansions of government in Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal or Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. Political activism now caused by citizen outrage might decline if the leftist power grabs ceased. But Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are ideologues. Their power grabs will continue through the November elections, so I fully expect the level of conservative outrage and activism to continue and even to grow in intensity. In fact, I expect a lame-duck session of this Congress after the election to continue until the new Congress convenes next January. Nancy Pelosi could probably pass the Communist Manifesto on the floor of the House, so the leftists won't want to waste a minute as long as their congressional majorities last. Another matter I see and hear often these days is the suggestion that all these new town hall and Tea Party folks are so far out of the mainstream of politics that they are somehow incompatible with previously-active conservatives. That's baloney. In different ways, I have taken part in three waves of newly-activated conservatives entering politics. I became politically active during the conservative awakening around Barry Goldwater in the late 1950s and early 1960s. I was a member of the original Steering Committee of National Youth for Goldwater in 1963 and his youngest elected delegate to the 1964 Republican National Convention. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I spent a lot of time helping conservative religious leaders who recruited millions of theologically conservative Americans into politics for the first time. On the White House staff, I served as President Reagan's liaison to the emerging "religious right." Now in 2010, my Leadership Institute staff, faculty, and I are training thousands of newly-activated conservatives who watch horrified as those now in charge of our government try to shred the Constitution, grab all power, permanently destroy all their opponents, and spend our country into bankruptcy. There's a pattern to these three waves. In each case, the left and the mainstream media (not much difference) claimed that the newly active conservatives were ignorant extremists who could not possibly succeed in politics, were incompatible with previously active conservatives, and even were racists. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. New waves of active conservatives nominated Goldwater, nominated and elected Reagan, and appear likely to be decisive in the 2010 elections. Moreover, the new activists don't drop out of politics. Many like me from the Goldwater era are still active. Social-issue conservatives who changed the direction of America in 1980 still work effectively in the public policy process. The process is cumulative. Huge numbers of new activists who get their first taste of politics in conservative grassroots activity in this election cycle will keep fighting for their principles for decades to come. Some will become a new generation of leaders. Then there's the fond hope of the left that their enemies can't possibly work together. We'll see. Centrifugal forces try to pull apart the elements in any coalition. Different elements have different priorities, and some of those priorities sometimes conflict. However, there are centripetal forces which pull people together in politics. When the same organizations and the same leaders work side by side against the same enemies in a long series of election contests and legislative battles, they tend to become comfortable together. They frequently confer, make plans around the same tables, and get to know each other on a first-name basis. They learn which of their allies are trustworthy and come to like them. Before long the leader of one group goes to dinner at the home of the leader of another group. And when he arrives at the front door, the dog there wags its tail rather than barks. Through such processes, movements and normal governing majorities are born. Unity is easier in an embattled minority where survival is at risk. Centrifugal forces grow in strength after a principled minority defeats its opposition. Foolish elements of the new majority, heady with success, may take actions grossly offensive to other groups in their coalition. Power does tend to corrupt, and success stimulates hubris—as Republicans found to their sorrow in the past decade. Conservatives now have it in their power to use the Republican Party to build a stable, governing majority. Content-free Republicans will not be persuaded by sweet reason to change their ways. Nor will many of them change for fear of future defeats by conservatives. Many of the content-free Republican elected public officials and party officials will have to be replaced before that party can be reliable for conservative principles. Republicans made big mistakes in the last decade, particularly regarding big spending and government growth. They'd better not look like Obama-lite after the 2010 elections. If they do, grassroots conservatives will promptly turn against them, producing devastating effects in the 2012 elections. Using the Republican Party as its principal vehicle, resurgent conservatives in 2010 will break the statist consensus in America only if they nominate and elect people who could not have been elected in recent times. That can be achieved only by conservative Republican participation.
The Conservative Organizational Entrepreneur
Morton C. Blackwell
May 10, 1995
The Conservative Organizational Entrepreneur
In 1965, experienced conservative friends much older than I advised me there was no way to earn a living doing what I wanted to do, work full time for conservative principles. Though filled with good intentions, they were wrong. This presentation explains how you can do what I eventually did: create an effective organization for your public policy activities. It describes your options: what kind of activity; what type of group; when to start it; how to structure it; how to staff it; how to fund it; how to help it grow. I also point out mistakes to avoid. Business entrepreneurs make things happen. They create most of the innovations, growth and jobs in the economy. Who makes things happen in public policy? Some people are self-starters who occasionally act independently in politics. They write letters to the editor without being asked. They create homemade signs for candidates of their choice. They call in to talk radio programs to persuade others to support or oppose specific candidates or bills before the Congress or a state legislature. They try hard to teach their children to be good citizens. They spontaneously ask their family and their friends to vote a certain way in a coming election. If enough people acted independently in public policy battles, they could have decisive impact. But few people are self-starters. In politics, nothing moves unless it's pushed. Given time, the outcome of political contests is determined by the number and effectiveness of the activists on the respective sides. Political parties, candidates for election, legislators pushing their policy agendas and journalists with axes to grind are not the only brigades in battles over public policy. Other sources of political communications and political organization are often called "special interests," a pejorative term. So-called "special interests" apply their resources to the public policy process and often make things happen. They come in many categories. Organized labor gets much of its strength from compulsory union dues. Many politically active non-profit groups on the left get their money largely from government bureaucrats in the form of grants from taxes collected from taxpayers under compulsion. Organized crime buys some of its undoubted political clout with money derived from types of extortion like protection rackets and activities such as the fencing of stolen goods. Almost all other politically active groups depend on voluntary contributions, the way things ought to be. While most of us would object to compulsory funding of any political activity, no one should question the legitimacy of public policy activities funded by voluntary contributions. The right of association is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Despite some government-imposed restrictions, Americans are and ought to be free to join together for political purposes and to contribute their time and resources to candidates and causes of their choice. Far more than citizens of any other country, Americans act politically through voluntary, non-partisan private associations. Politically influential private organizations can be liberal or conservative. They can be political action committees, lobby groups, tax-exempt educational groups, professional or trade associations or other types of groups. Some are large; most are small. Many are old; some new ones are created each year. The Organizational Entrepreneur Some well-established, broadly-based membership organizations change leadership frequently through periodic elections. But most politically effective groups in America today are headed by the single individuals who created them or who built them to their current levels of effectiveness. I decided some years ago to call such people organizational entrepreneurs, a useful description of an important category of activists. Organizational entrepreneurs, unlike commercial business entrepreneurs, do not "own" the organizations they head. Most organizations active in politics are incorporated as non-profit groups. By law, ultimate management authority must reside in each group's board of directors. But even though such non-profit groups elect officers through periodic elections by the membership or by a stable board of directors, it's obvious that each is run by a single individual who calls the shots. Reed Larson is the organizational entrepreneur of the National Right to Work Committee. Ed Feulner has that role at the Heritage Foundation, Paul Weyrich at the Free Congress Foundation, Phyllis Schlafly at Eagle Forum, etc. In each case, their organizations are a major part of their lives' work. The groups they head succeed or fail based on their leadership and, for most practical purposes, are their organizations. In many ways, a new organizational entrepreneur is analogous to a business entrepreneur who starts a small business. Like a small business, an organization can sometimes develop into quite a big and powerful institution. Most conservative organizations which gained real clout in the last thirty years are still operating under the same leadership. Phyllis Schlafly is the founder of the Eagle Forum. It is her organization. Reed Larson didn't found the National Right to Work Committee. But he got involved when it was relatively small and built it into a powerhouse. It became his organization. Young conservatives should consider the option of some day becoming organizational entrepreneurs themselves. There are possibilities now; there will be possibilities in the years to come for creating successful public policy groups. Since I moved to the Washington, D.C. area in 1965 to be executive director of the College Republicans, I've known many of the people who have set up and built public policy-related, non-profit organizations. I've observed them and worked closely with many of them. Some fell flat on their faces. Others grew to be enormously effective. As for myself, the principal group of which I am the organizational entrepreneur is the Leadership Institute, which I founded in 1979. I supervise it under the general management of its board of directors. In that sense, and only in that sense, it is my organization. The Institute each year now (2002) trains over 3,000 students and raises over $7 million. Growth is not inevitable, nor is it unlimited. Any organization, no matter how well it is run, tends over time to reach a plateau. In its early years, it might achieve a considerable annual percentage of increase, growth at a rate that cannot be sustained forever. The proliferation of successful conservative organizations is responsible for the growing strength of the conservative movement in the public policy process since the early 1970s. Heads of existing groups often aren't happy when another group is formed to do somewhat similar work. But the creation of multiple groups under different leadership, all active for similar causes, is generally helpful for those causes. Some donors will like the approach of one group better than that of another group which is working for almost exactly the same issues. Some people will like and trust the head of one group better than they will the head of a similar group. Multiple groups with the same or similar messages reinforce each other and make each others' activities more credible in the public policy process. Very rarely are existing groups doing all that can be done for their causes. Often a new group brings novel, useful ideas to the policy battle; competition usually makes everyone more efficient. Creation of more groups active for a cause increases the number of donors and volunteers activated for that cause. Issue Focus Helps Organizational Growth Some of the most important lessons of political activity are counter-intuitive. For example, an organizational entrepreneur should know, although most people would guess otherwise, that a new issue group narrowly focused on a cluster of related issues has more potential for growth than a group concerned about a wide variety of issues. By the way, "single issue group" is usually not a true description. "Focused issue group" is almost always more accurate, as well as being less pejorative. Why does an organization focused on a cluster of related issues have a greater potential for growth in number of members, number of donors and revenue than one with a wide range of policy interests? Think about how you personally react to direct mail you receive from a politically active organization you've never contributed to before. Perhaps you've never heard of the group. You quickly screen the envelope and its contents. If you disagree with almost anything you see, you probably throw away the invitation to join the group or to contribute to it. If I received a letter from a new group which had as its advisory committee Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Charles Schumer, the chances are I'd suspect that group wasn't likely to do much for any conservative cause. As much as I love those two conservatives, Senator Schumer's involvement would raise a big question. The three might have joined to raise funds for some disaster relief effort, but it's unlikely they'd have any common political agenda. If my interest that day was to affect public policy, I'd toss the letter. But a group endorsed only by Sen. Paul and Rep. Jordan, without Sen. Schumer, would surely be attractive to a greater number of conservative activists. As with multiple politicians on a list, so with multiple political issues in an organization. Many people are vigorously in favor of the right to work. Many keenly support the right to keep and bear arms. The National Right to Work Committee (NRTW) has 2.2 million members; the National Rifle Association (NRA) has over 4 million members. But if you created an organization that had, as its two issues, the right to work and the right to keep and bear arms, your new group wouldn't have the potential to grow as large as either NRTW or NRA. Anyone who disagreed with your new group on either one of these issues probably would not be interested in joining. Focus a policy group narrowly if you want to maximize its potential for growth. There are groups which are conservative across the board, on almost every issue. Such groups can serve good purposes and can be useful in forming and coordinating coalitions and movements. But smart people have tried for many years to build mass-based groups which trumpet conservative views in every area of public policy. That doesn't work. The American Conservative Union (ACU) was founded more than 35 years ago. I've been an ACU director for many years. It has done good work. It was intended to be a mass-based group which is conservative on everything. But it never has had a mass-based membership which is conservative on every issue. Through most of its existence, it has been small in terms of budget and in terms of number of members, as compared to some other groups which focus on a cluster of related issues. Your Organization's Mission If you plan one day to become an organizational entrepreneur, try to think like an inventor. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "If a man write a better book, preach a better sermon or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will beat a path to his door." Emerson suffered from a misunderstanding which frequently misleads intellectuals. Being right, in the sense of being correct, doesn't mean you necessarily win. The success of a book, an organization or a mousetrap depends in large part on skillful marketing. But intrinsic merit certainly makes any new project more likely to succeed. Think of an important kind of activity which should be done but is not now being done. Or a kind of activity already being done which you could do better. When I founded the Leadership Institute in 1979, almost every other conservative educational foundation focused on issues and philosophy. That's wonderful work. I wish more of it were done. I benefit greatly from education from such foundations. The Leadership Institute does a little of such work, but education on issues and philosophy is not its primary role. The mission of my foundation is very clear: to locate, recruit, train and place people in the public policy process. Conservatives are more successful as the number and the effectiveness of conservative activists increases across America. Donors understand what I'm doing. They may support several foundations which specialize in issue and policy education, but they clearly see the uniqueness and the importance of the Leadership Institute. I often give my students good books which cover issues and philosophy. I recommend many books and periodicals to them. But I focus on identifying, recruiting, training and placing people. Nobody else was doing just that. There was a market for the product of my new organization. Think of an area of activity where more or better work should be done. Be able to express your group's mission in a short, clear statement. In marketing, this is called finding your niche. It doesn't make much sense for you to try to start a group if there already is a nationwide organization doing a first-class job performing the same mission. It would probably make no sense at all for you to decide, "I'm going to create a rival to the National Right to Work Committee." The National Right to Work Committee does a great job of grassroots lobbying. But there are not many such examples. You might consider a type of activity in which existing groups do things but the demand for that kind of work exceeds the supply. If existing non-profit groups aren't even close to doing all that needs to be done, you might be able to bring extra resources to the policy battle by starting a new group. If your prospective new group's work is to be one of the main projects of your life, and it should be, make sure you have a strong and abiding interest in what it will be doing. Consider also whether or not the problem you plan to address will remain important. When I was a child, even grammar school students went door to door with great enthusiasm to raise money for the March of Dimes. Stopping infantile paralysis, the dreaded polio, was a hot issue because most people knew victims of that disease who died or were crippled. When Dr. Salk and Dr. Sabin discovered vaccines which could prevent polio, the March of Dimes had a problem. A nice problem, but a problem nonetheless. They had completed their well-known mission. Their officers decided to adopt a new mission, fighting birth defects, another good cause but one which has never captured the public imagination as did the fight against polio. However, birth defects will probably never be entirely eliminated, so they'll never have to start from scratch again with a new mission. At a Leadership Institute school many years ago, some students working on an exercise came up with the idea of creating a new, national organization to fight the then-federally-mandated, nationwide traffic speed limit of 55 miles per hour. I commented at the time that such a new group would attract a lot of support because millions of people, especially in the West, were outraged at the mandatory 55 miles per hour national speed limit. But I predicted that such a group wouldn't last long, because, new group or not, public outrage would force a change in the law. Not long later, the law was changed, without the help of the proposed new group. You shouldn't create a group which won't last long if it probably can't make any difference in the course of public policy. Should you create a local, state or national organization? While there are exceptions, such as the growing number of effective, state-based think tanks, most successful groups built by organizational entrepreneurs are national organizations. In a big state, it can be done. Gun Owners of California was a power in California before its head, H. L. "Bill" Richardson, founded Gun Owners of America. His national group quickly grew much larger than his state organization. For most public policy purposes, it's easier to raise money nationally than within a single state. Local and state activity is essential, but a national group can draw resources from all across America, employ competent, full-time staff and focus its major efforts in those locations where it can do the most good. Many national groups establish state groups based largely on volunteer activists. Two merits of such state organizations: It costs less to make things happen at the state level than at the national level; a national group's staff can gain expertise in the dynamics of the political process more quickly in many state efforts than it could by working the same length of time in the relatively fewer and less varied opportunities at the federal level. If you form a group limited to your state, be prepared for your new organization to remain a useful and cherished hobby. Seldom do state groups have enough revenue to provide a living for those who found them; they tend to remain always labors of love which can't afford efficient offices and paid officers or staff. There's nothing wrong with strictly volunteer conservative organizations. They do much good. God bless them; may they multiply. If you have a major donor willing and able to underwrite the major cost of a state organization, that's a different matter. That can work. Categories of Organizations If you decide to become an organizational entrepreneur, you have several different categories of organizations to consider, each with different functions and a different legal status. Among the principal categories are: a political action committee; a lobby, which is described in the Internal Revenue Code as a social welfare organization, a 501(c)(4) group; or a foundation, which is described as a public charity, a 501(c)(3) group. Among foundations, there are various kinds, including: • research foundations, which do research and publish the results • legal defense foundations, which raise public policy issues in the courts • political education groups, which teach people about issues and political philosophy or how to participate successfully in the public policy process Some foundations combine two or more of these activities. Foundations, lobbies and PACs all have their uses. Each can do things the others can't. Foundations can take unlimited contributions, can make unlimited expenditures, can take contributions from individuals, corporations and other foundations and can provide individual and corporate donors tax deductions for their contributions. But foundations may not legally advocate for or against candidates or contribute to election campaigns, must disclose their major contributors and, except for a special category of foundation, may not carry on a substantial part of their activities attempting to influence legislation. Lobbies can take unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations, can make unlimited expenditures to influence legislation and sometimes can keep confidential the identities of their donors. But a lobby may not contribute to candidates for public office at the federal level or in many states. A lobby cannot provide donors with federal income tax deductions for their contributions. A political action committee, at the federal level, may take personal contributions but not corporate contributions. The amount one PAC can accept per year per person is limited by law. And the amount one person can contribute to all federal PACs, all federal candidates and all political parties combined is limited by law. Such a PAC can contribute to federal candidates, but only in amounts limited by law. It can make unlimited independent expenditures for or against a candidate. It can spend money to influence legislation except that it may be required to pay a tax; few PACs lobby. Its donors get no tax deductions, and those who give more than $200 per year must be disclosed in periodic reports to the Federal Election Commission. State laws regarding PACs vary greatly. An organizational entrepreneur needs a good lawyer to sort these matters out and to avoid legal problems. You may have a friend in another group with a legal status analogous to the one you're forming, perhaps focused in another policy area. As a first step, you could go to your friend and ask for copies of that other group's organizational documents. You must create and file articles of incorporation and file an application with the Internal Revenue Service for your chosen tax status. You may wish to apply to the U.S. Postal Service for a reduced-rate, non-profit organization mailing rate. And you may want to have these legal matters handled very quickly. It's easier to do these things if some other group will let you review its organizational documents and the applications it filed with government agencies. Then you can edit them to suit your new organization. In any case, you should consult a good attorney. Don't call some fine friend of yours who has just graduated from law school and say, "I want you to draw up our articles of incorporation, application for IRS tax status, etc." Get an attorney experienced in these matters. Your legal work will probably cost you less in the long run and almost certainly will be done better and more quickly. Three attorneys whom I use frequently and who have wide experience working for conservative, non-profit groups are: Alan Dye, Esq. Webster, Chamberlain and Bean 1747 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20006 phone: 202-785-9500 Cleta Mitchell, Esq. Foley & Lardner, LLP 3000 K Street, NW #500 Washington, D.C. 20007 phone: 202-295-4081 William J. Olson, Esq. 8180 Greensboro Drive, Suite 1070 McLean, VA 22102 phone: 703-356-5070 As you describe your planned activity in your organizing documents and your applications to the I.R.S., word your intended functions broadly enough to avoid future limitations. Several years ago I wanted to raise money through my Leadership Institute for a legal defense for a fellow who had been more than 20 years in Fidel Castro's prisons. Legal defense is a legitimate function of a 501(c)(3) group. My lawyer reviewed our 1979 I.R.S. application. He said I'd better use some other vehicle for that legal defense effort, because our initial I.R.S. application didn't list legal defense as one of the Leadership Institute's intended functions. It hadn't occurred to me back in 1979 that I might want to do that one day. Going beyond what you describe in your group's I.R.S. application risks your tax-exempt status. A good attorney will make sure you don't forget to pay your annual corporate registration fee to the proper state agency and otherwise help keep you out of trouble. When in doubt, get good legal advice. You should get professional help filling out your required I.R.S. returns and state-required reports each year. Even though yours may be a non-profit group and therefore pay no federal taxes, Uncle Sam is watching you. Before they contribute, major donors often will require you to submit to them copies of your tax-status letter from the I.R.S. and your most recent tax return and annual audit. Major donors will feel more comfortable with an audit conducted by a major accounting firm than with an audit conducted by your brother-in-law on whose C.P.A. certification the ink is not yet dry. Many organizational entrepreneurs started successfully with one category of organization, say, a lobby, and over the years created other, related groups such as foundations, a federal PAC and a state PAC. It isn't necessary or necessarily wise to start groups in different categories all at the same time, but it's prudent to think from the start about the possibility of eventually doing so. Paul Weyrich, for example, runs a foundation, a lobby and a political action committee: the Free Congress Foundation; Coalitions for America; and the Free Congress PAC. In Which Category Can You Be Most Effective? Certainly there is room for new groups in all categories. But some types of new groups could have much more impact on the public policy process than others. For day-to-day sheer clout, no category of group is superior to a grassroots lobby. Any lobby can influence legislation. A grassroots lobby can systematically identify and recruit people who agree with it on policy questions, educate those people on their hot-button issues and activate them so they can be most effective. It can survey candidates on its issues, report the survey results to its mass-based membership, and lead its members to thank candidates who are right on its issues and to communicate vigorously with candidates who are not right on its issues. Certainly it's easier to persuade candidates to adopt your position before an election than afterward. A well-run grassroots lobby can force a politician to give them his vote or his seat. Thus, it can help make democracy work. Educated and activated voters can persuade an elected official that there's a close relationship between his legislative votes and his political survival. Politicians pay attention when their personal futures are at stake. Aroused voters can cleanse a legislature in subsequent elections. Running an effective grassroots lobby is the supreme test of skills for an organizational entrepreneur. Few can do it well. But there's more opportunity for major new groups of this type than any other. Conservatives in recent years have neglected political action committees. Some PACs which served conservatives well in the 1970s and early 1980s have disappeared or declined badly. PACs can help recruit candidates and can have disproportionate impact on nomination contests. Political party committees can encourage candidates to run, but their rules usually prevent them from having much impact on who is nominated. You can't elect good candidates unless they are recruited and nominated. It's harder to raise money for PACs than for any other category of group. But a few new, heavyweight conservative PACs could work wonders in the nomination and election process. Mike Farris of Virginia started a conservative PAC, The Madison Project, which uses the same "bundling" process as the liberal PAC, EMILY's List. He gets many donors to agree in advance to write checks to candidates he recommends. Steve Moore's Club for Growth is another good conservative example. Other organizational entrepreneurs could follow this model. Over the past 25 years, foundations have grown in numbers and in resources more than any other category of conservative organization. There are now conservative foundations active in almost every conceivable area of public policy. One of the best known and most effective research foundations, the Heritage Foundation, was created because existing conservative think tanks were not timely in their work. Some were so cautious that they deliberately withheld publication of their research until after the Congress had voted on related legislation. Quick response was the key to Heritage's success. Frankly, many public policy foundations produce more smoke than fire. That is, their achievements can be more apparent than real. If all a foundation does is identify donors who agree with it and distribute to those donors materials which reinforce how right they are, it accomplishes little in the public policy process. Such a foundation might survive and even prosper financially. It might provide a living for its staff. But it doesn't have an effect on public policy proportional to its revenue. It's not a wise investment, although some donors may be persuaded otherwise. To be effective, the organizational entrepreneur of a conservative educational foundation must make sure his organization does well one or both of the following: • communicates a persuasive policy message to people who aren't already committed to its cause • prepares those already committed to its cause to be more effective in the public policy process. And there's an opportunity for a kind of activity in which liberals have been effective but conservative groups have much to learn. Various liberal groups employ thousands of people to go door to door, signing up new members and soliciting donations for a variety of causes. In recent years, dozens of solicitors for liberal foundations, lobbies and PACs have rung doorbells in my neighborhood. This technique works, or it wouldn't be so frequently used by many different liberal groups. The first conservative organizational entrepreneur who studies this door-to-door technology, masters it and employs it will surely be successful. Your Board of Directors For the legal governing board of your new organization, you should have a small, odd number of directors. Each of those directors should be as close as possible to you, the organizational entrepreneur, and as far as possible from each other. Your old college roommate, a successful small businessman who gave you summer jobs in your youth, a conservative pastor in your old hometown, some friend halfway across the country and two or four others similarly chosen could join you on your group's board. All obviously respectable people who share your views, fine people with good ethical standards. But none of them public stars. None of them likely to give you grief as your group becomes active and successful. You don't want to have on your board of directors people who are themselves up to their necks in public policy battles or high-profile people such as elected public officials or heads of other policy organizations. Usually, when you do effective things, you become at least somewhat controversial. Most policy groups have to do some controversial things to generate recognition and donor support. If you have stars on your board, people who don't like what you're doing will put heat on them. If you have a prominent politician on your board, for example, other people may pressure or attack him. He may be prepared to suffer for you. Or he may confront you with two options: "Either stop doing these controversial things, or I'll have to resign." Or a politician may later be involved in a scandal or a new controversy which could result in bad publicity for your group. Surely you don't want problems like these. You don't want your prominent friends to suffer unnecessarily for you. Nor do you want them later to threaten to resign. Just as important, if you work your fingers to the bone for several years and build up a million dollars in revenue and a healthy bank account, you don't want members of your board suddenly to develop a phony "sense of responsibility" and try to divert the group's resources, which they didn't raise, to their own pet projects. I know a number of organizational entrepreneurs who didn't have properly-composed boards. Down the road some of them even had to fight takeover attempts. So I suggest: no public stars or potential rivals on your board. After your group is successful, you might consider expanding your board to include a very few of your long-time, major donors who are closest to you personally. They may then give you useful counsel and perhaps even get other major donors to support your group. What About an Advisory Committee? If you're sure your group is that rare sort which is not going to do things which will become very controversial, then there may be good reason to have some prominent, admired people affiliated in some way with it. The Leadership Institute doesn't issue news releases attacking anybody. In fact, it issues very few news releases at all. It never supports or opposes pending legislation. It is prohibited by law from supporting or opposing candidates in any election. News media cover what's hot today but are much less interested in what may be important in the future. My foundation gets relatively little news coverage because most of the good it does is in the life-long careers of its graduates and those whom it helps place in policy jobs. My Institute has a bi-partisan Congressional Advisory Committee of about 100 conservative Members of Congress, all stars by definition. If your new group is not going to do much that is controversial, you might create an advisory committee of stars, people whose names on your literature would be of assistance to you. But even under these circumstances, an advisory committee is a little dangerous. There may be people on your advisory committee whom a potential donor strongly dislikes. I've had a few look at our advisory committee list and tell me, "Ah, I know Congressman Jones. He's voted wrong on something very important to me, so you can't expect me to contribute to you." When you put a person on your advisory committee, you inherit his enemies as well as his friends. I use our Congressional Advisory Committee list well in recruiting students for my programs but never in my fundraising letters. If you decide you would benefit from having a star-studded advisory committee, here's the easy way to recruit its members: • Make a list of a hundred or so people you'd like to have on your advisory committee, people whom you believe should be supportive of what you're setting out to do. • Write a nice letter and send it, personalized, to all hundred of them. Explain what you're up to and invite them to join your advisory committee. Enclose a reply form and a stamped, addressed return envelope. Those who say "yes" are your new advisory committee. You may get ten or twenty. It just takes that one mailing, and, boom, you've got it. If everyone on your hundred-piece mailing is someone you'd be happy to have on your advisory committee, the ten or twenty who respond favorably will make a fine list for your literature. I know people starting new groups who have targeted just a handful of stars they wanted on their advisory committees. They've spent many weeks, even months meeting and calling and trying to convince a few specific people to lend their names to new advisory committees. What a waste of time. Prominent Endorsers As I said, if you're going to do controversial things which might give trouble to stars who are working with you and cooperating with you, you shouldn't have a public advisory committee. But there's another good way to get people who are friendly to you to lend their names to your organization. Make a list of many stars whose endorsements would help you in various ways, especially those whom know you personally. Write them nice letters and ask them to write you back letters of endorsement. Some will surely respond as you wish. You can use these letters, or excerpts from them, in your fundraising and promotional literature. They will give you increased credibility. Some may be willing to sign fundraising letters for you. But these endorsers will not have a place on your letterhead. They will have no formal and permanent arrangement with your organization. If for any reason they become uncomfortable with your group, there's nothing for them to resign from. If any one of them gets upset at what you do, all you have to say is, "O.K. I promise I won't use your letter or your quote anymore." When to Start Your Organization For an organizational entrepreneur, a successful start-up is the most difficult thing to do. You might do as I did. Start your group early, perhaps several years before you'll have to pay your salary and maybe even your group's rent with the donations you raise. Operate your group out of your hip pocket, so to speak, while you're employed elsewhere. You don't have to launch your group when you personally must sink or swim depending upon whether or not this month you receive sufficient donations. And surely staff I hire benefit from my long experience as an employee myself in the private sector and in government. I began to hold national leadership schools in 1968, when I worked for the College Republican National Committee. Later I ran training programs through a new political action committee I formed on the side while at the American Enterprise Institute. I founded the Leadership Institute on the side while with conservative direct mail giant Richard Viguerie. Then I went to work for Senator Gordon Humphrey (R-NH). Then for Ronald Reagan at the White House. I suggest you build up your organization to the point where there's sufficient revenue to avoid taking too big a risk as you leap to independence. It was not until 1984, at age 44, after three years on the White House Staff, that I resigned to take my chances as a full time organizational entrepreneur. The Leadership Institute had been in existence for five years. It grew as I operated it on the side while I held other jobs. While building your non-profit group, if you have marketable skills, you might work as a consultant or start a for-profit company selling goods or services. On the other hand, don't start a group until you're ready to do things with it. It costs you money, probably does you no good and could harm your new group's future prospects if it lies dormant for years. One exception might be to create a group, get all your legal documents filed, etc., in anticipation that a particular issue would become hot later. Plan Growth Carefully Here are two common mistakes of people who found organizations: • overestimating what you can do in the first year • underestimating what you can do in the tenth year If you found a new organization, focus narrowly on one thing and do it well. Don't plan in your first year to have lots of conferences, publish two kinds of periodic newsletters, write three books, defeat two bad bills, pass three good bills, beat seventeen bad candidates with seventeen good ones, host five gala dinners, hire a big staff and recruit a dozen fine interns. Focus narrowly on the one thing you've decided is the best project you can do to fulfill the mission you've picked for your organization. Concentrate on that. Become a success. Become known as the source of expertise in that area. That's what the Leadership Institute did. Although my Institute was founded in 1979, I'd been teaching students political leadership skills at the national level since 1968. My new organization did Youth Leadership Schools, and little else, until 1983. I focused on that. Any conservative interested in organizing students soon learned, "If you want to learn how to organize students, you must go to The Leadership Institute's Youth Leadership School." I created the best source of this training. Nobody else taught a school analogous to mine. Its reputation grew. Not until 1983 did I create our Student Publications School. By 1984, when I could devote more time to new projects, I was recognized as an expert in political education and training. Then I began to hold our Capitol Hill Staff Training School. Gradually I expanded my training programs, adding about one new type of program each year. Now my Institute offers 27 different kinds of schools. I slowly but steadily expanded the Institute's staff and services. Our Employment Placement Service, for example, now finds public policy jobs for over 100 people each year, many of them graduates of my training. An organizational entrepreneur should become an expert at something. If possible, the pre-eminent expert. Once you are an expert, you have credentials. People will take you seriously when you undertake something new. But if you try to do too many things at once, you're in trouble. Big trouble. You can't do it all. You simply cannot do well all of the things you might want to do. Focus first on one thing, and do it right. Once you have even a little fame in one area, people will accept you as an authority on other things. O. J. Simpson made his fame as a football player. Then a rental car company paid good money to him to make commercials for it. The car-renting public didn't know about his personal life, just his fame. You can do a lot once you have developed a reputation. But focus first on one thing, and do it well. Add new projects one at a time. Be very cautious about it. This takes a lot of brainwork. Think about what your new project is going to be, how much of your time it will take, who is going to be involved in it, who is your target audience, how you will recruit people for it, how it fits in with your other programs and how you can pay for it. If you carefully think out and implement each step of your growth, you may be pleasantly surprised in your tenth year that the amount and types of good you are doing exceed your most optimistic expectations. Qualifications and Pitfalls A really first-class organizational entrepreneur is: • solid philosophically • technique-oriented • courageous • persistent • free of crippling eccentricities • able to build lasting bonds with donors • prudent about making commitments • scrupulous about keeping commitments • skilled in the use of the English language • good with numbers and in handling money • managerially competent and able to cope gracefully with those less competent • focused on, credentialed in and ambitious to succeed in the organization's area of policy or activity. Some organization heads compensate for weaknesses in some of these characteristics with extra strength in others. By no means does every effective conservative activist have to become an organizational entrepreneur. Every successful group includes deeply committed people of solid competence who can maximize their effectiveness by working for others. There's nothing wrong with that. It's a high calling. Ralph Reed became famous as the omnicompetent executive director of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition. His subordinate role enhanced his personal power to make things happen. Now he's a successful political consultant. If you specially enjoy the details of an area of policy, don't assume that you must go out and form a new group in order to be effective in that area. You might be happier and more influential as a policy analyst, a journalist or a legislative assistant than as a fundraiser and a manager. You may not enjoy spending your time on the many business-related aspects of an organizational entrepreneur's job. Hiring staff can be fun, but letting someone go can be agony. Consider your own strengths and weaknesses. Do you really want to do what a chief executive officer does? Not every organizational entrepreneur is a noble creature. Lord Acton was right about power tending to corrupt. Sometimes power goes to a leader's head, and he becomes insufferable or loses many of the above-listed characteristics which made him successful. Sometimes money is too tempting. It is bad practice, dangerous and wrong for the head of a non-profit group to purchase, for his group, goods and services from for-profit enterprises he owns. But this sometimes happens. I've noticed that non-profit groups managed in this self-dealing fashion either stop doing much good or die as the head of the group gets greedy to put his group's resources into his personal pocket. Your salary level should be set by your board of directors, not by you. It's good practice for your board to form a salary review committee for you from among its members to make periodic suggestions for consideration by the entire board. Your pay should not be toward the high end of the range of salaries paid to heads of non-profit groups of similar size. If you have what it takes to be an organizational entrepreneur, you probably could be successful, and perhaps make more money, as a business entrepreneur. Consider carefully what is important to you. Which activity, business or public policy, will give you the greatest job satisfaction? Either way, you might make a decent living and provide for your family. Either way, your success depends on your efforts. Either way, you could fail. To decide what's right for you, ask yourself in which role you'd be happier as you go to work each day ten or twenty years from now. Be a Good Steward Keep your overhead low, otherwise it can kill you. Pour every cent you can into your program and into recruiting new members and donors so you can become more effective and powerful. Start off with the least expensive things you can function with. Get used furniture. Scrounge furniture from friends and family. If some organization or business closes down or is downsizing, it has old furniture and equipment you might get for little or nothing. Be very cautious when you buy machinery and office equipment. My former employer, Richard Viguerie, says, "If I'm ever reincarnated, I want to come back as a salesman of business equipment to small organizations." I know one national conservative group which purchased an expensive, unnecessary mainframe computer years ago and almost collapsed when it soon couldn't pay its bills. Do first class work, but settle for less than top-of-the-line, new equipment. Beg, borrow, do anything but steal what you need to function. For years I repaired an old impact printer at my Institute with pieces of paper clips and epoxy glue. Ask friends in other organizations if they have any old equipment they no longer use. If you buy any new equipment, don't try to get one piece of machinery which will do everything: type all your letters at record speed, hold all of your data, make copies, send and receive faxes, take messages, make coffee, stuff envelopes, lick stamps and put them on envelopes. Buy separate pieces of equipment. If one piece of equipment breaks down, you don't want to be stopped in every category of activity. That just doesn't make sense. And you'd almost certainly be paying for capabilities you can't fully use. Get individual machines which perform different functions. When you have to upgrade your capability in one area of activity, you won't have to pay as much. Recruit office volunteers if you can. You can keep your overhead down with volunteers or an inexpensive intern program. My Institute still recruits valuable office volunteers. And our intern program is one of the best. As you start hiring staff, I suggest you employ very highly competent, entry-level people, people whom you think have great futures before them. You may not be able to pay them raises big enough to hold them for many years. But, well supervised, they will make your initial program a success. Beware of mistakes which can be made when your well-meaning but inexperienced organization grows faster than do its internal controls, when informal ways of handling money no longer suffice but are still employed. You should develop for your group the right sort of formal procedures to ensure that there can never be any questions about how money is handled, and that employees will not be unnecessarily tempted to do the wrong thing. If you build a successful organization, good stewardship requires that you make provision for succession. Life is uncertain. You may not live long enough to turn your organization over to a person of your choice. You can't run a group from the grave, but you can leave suggestions. Prepare for your directors a letter with your advice regarding the future of the organization. Specifically designate an appropriate successor whom you believe has the right qualities to carry on your work. Ask your directors to give that person the same cooperation and support they gave you. Leave sealed copies of your letter with two or more of your directors. Funding Your Organization There are many different ways you might fund your activities. Among them: • direct mail • grant applications to donor foundations • personal solicitation of major donors • fees charged for products or services • planned giving (wills, trusts and the like) • telemarketing (dialing for dollars) • radio and television appeals • door-to-door solicitation (used often and well by liberal groups) None of these techniques is horribly difficult to learn, but most people have more native ability in some types than in others. Each type of fundraising is a different area of expertise. As in every other area of organization and communication technology, you can learn by personal experience, by observation and by going to occasional training programs. Any group which neglects to train its staff and to prepare its members and donors to be more effective doesn't deserve to succeed. Most groups use direct mail. Some groups go broke using direct mail. The Leadership Institute uses the first five listed types of fundraising. School registration fees amount to less than 2% of our revenues. About 97% of our revenue, including contributions from personal solicitations, planned giving and grant applications, comes from donors who first contributed to my group through direct mail. Most groups raise most of their funds through the mail. Most groups start off by hiring a direct mail consultant. That is not a bad thing, but it can be dangerous. My group has no direct mail consultant because I learned that technology while working for Richard Viguerie for seven years in the 1970s. Have any direct mail contract proposed to your group reviewed by an experienced organizational entrepreneur who has dealt with more than one direct mail consultant. You want a contract which gives you unrestricted use of the list of people who donate to your activities. Some contracts don't. You want a contract which would enable you some day to be independent of the fundraising consultant. Some contracts could have the effect of tying you forever to one consultant, to your disadvantage. You don't want a fundraising contract in which the fundraising consultant gets a fixed percentage of your net money from direct mail. Some contracts specify this. Most people don't understand that even successful "prospect" mailings, mailings which go to people who have never given to your group before, can lose some money. If prospect mailings lose only a little, you can quickly make up that loss with profitable mailings to the new donors on your "house file," the list of your donors. I suggest you plan from the outset for your group to develop over time the capability to take charge of its own fundraising. Conservative groups rarely get grants from the government. Avoid accepting government funds for your operations, even if they are available to you. They create a dangerous dependency and limit your freedom of action. They can depress voluntary donations because donors and potential donors may question your independence and your commitment to conservative principles. I head another foundation, the International Policy Forum, which is now largely dormant. It specialized in international political training. I obtained government money for it for foreign training programs on three occasions through the National Endowment for Democracy. Each time, government regulations and harassment got in the way of doing a good job. Almost all the good that small foundation did was with privately contributed money. You can't save the world if you can't pay the rent. But having the money isn't as important as doing the right job. Your Donors Are Your Constituency Take good care of your donors, and they'll take good care of you. Most privately supported organizations do not do a first-class job of working with their donors. Do all you can to create ways and means to involve them in your program. Thank them and make them feel good about their participation with you. I receive mailed newsletters every day from conservative organizations which have dedicated staff doing good work. Too many of those newsletters brag about all the good things their organizations are doing and are filled with photos of their organizations' heads and top staff. Your newsletter goes to your donors. Don't brag about your activities. You can present the same topics in such a way as to thank your donors for what they have made possible. Be grateful to your donors. Give them credit for what you're doing. They do make it possible. Groups led by organizational entrepreneurs can bond more strongly with their donors than can groups which frequently change leadership. People tend to give to people rather than to organizations. The relationship of a donor to a group may break when the group elects a new leader not familiar to the donor. If you achieve great things in the public policy process, you may be scrutinized by the news media and those who don't like what you are doing. You may be attacked viciously. Don't worry much about criticism. The news media and your opponents are not your constituency. Your primary constituency is your donor base. Being attacked unfairly by liberal media, liberal politicians and liberal organizations can sometimes even help you with your donors. You're fighting their fight with and for them. You can contact them directly and avoid the filters of the liberal media. They may support you more generously because of your enemies' attacks. Operating in a Movement How would your organization fit into the conservative movement? A movement is not an organization. A group run by an organizational entrepreneur is like an army or a private business. In a line organization, the person at the top gives orders to the people down below. The general gives orders to the colonels, who give orders to the lieutenant colonels, and so forth down to the buck privates. If he's wise, an organizational entrepreneur gets much good information and advice from those below him in the structure. And he delegates much authority. But he has the ultimate responsibility. So he gives direction to his group. A movement is a collection of people and organization heads moving in the same direction, each one guided by his own internal compass. You can work closely together with others in a movement. You can cooperate with other people and heads of other groups, even persuade them to adopt your suggested courses of action. But no organizational entrepreneur can give orders to any other. When working in a movement as an organizational entrepreneur, think of ways to help other groups and cooperate with them. But keep the faith with your members and donors; don't divert their resources to activities not related to your group's mission. Would you think that the National Right to Work Committee would have an institutional interest in stopping the Clintons' government health care scheme? On the face of it, no. But it turned out that Hillary's plan had a little plum hidden inside it for organized labor. Her plan specified that any worker's private health plan which provided benefits more generous than the standards set by the government would be taxed, except if that plan had been negotiated through a union contract. This exception, of course, would give an enormous advantage to the labor unions. Your benefits could be taxed if you did not join a union. Coercion to force workers to join unions was precisely what Reed Larson's National Right to Work Committee was organized to fight. So his large, effective organization joined the conservative groups battling against the Clintons' health care power grab. That's a classic example of conservative movement cooperation and success. Don't ask or expect other groups to help your group fight your battles unless you can show how their institutional interests are served. Composition of a Movement Coalitions (or movements) are composed of independent activists and organizations. A coalition which works well and cordially together for a long time may come to consider itself a movement. For a coalition or movement aspiring to be a governing political majority, the greater the number of causes represented by activists in the coalition and the greater the number of well-led organizations working comfortably together, the more effective the coalition will be. But that does not mean that all the activists in each group will agree on the issues important to all other allied groups. Ideally, heads of groups in a coalition will be personally solid on the issues important to the other groups in the coalition. But to be successful, they must focus their separate groups' efforts on activities clearly within their respective missions. It would make no sense, for example, for the National Right to Work Committee to make public pronouncements about child pornography or gun control. Nor should any group in a coalition be out front supporting and building up politicians who are militantly wrong on issues of vital importance to other groups in the coalition. Long-lasting coalitions can include widely disparate groups. President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal coalition included liberal intellectuals, corrupt big city political machines, Southern segregationists, black political groups, Jewish organizations, most American Catholics, almost all Southern Baptists, etc. In any public election, not all the people who vote the same way agree with each other on all major issues. The legislative process and other types of public policy contests work the same way. In her successful battle in opposition to the so-called Equal Rights Amendment, Phyllis Schlafly said something brilliant: "We must be broad-minded enough to allow people to oppose the ERA for the reason of their choice." Here are a very few of the reasons different people worked with Mrs. Schlafly in the fight she led against the Equal Rights Amendment: • Some didn't like the destruction of the state laws with respect to inheritance. • Others didn't like the idea of women in combat, or drafting women. • Others didn't like the idea of giving homosexual marriages the same legal status as marriages between men and women. • Others didn't like the proposed amendment because they saw it as pro-abortion. There are many reasons for people to support or oppose a legislative measure or to vote for or against a candidate. Different organizations can activate, on the same side in a contest, different groups of people, each with a different motivation. Organizations, Movements and Political Parties Most public policy organizations are non-partisan. To be true to the causes for which they are organized, they must be free to help their friends and harass their foes, regardless of party. By law, foundations must be non-partisan. Nevertheless, coalitions and movements often find political parties useful as vehicles for candidates and causes important to them. The receptivity of a political party to new, cause-oriented groups of activists can determine whether that party grows or shrinks. Cause-oriented activists should never forget, however, that a political party includes many people who are involved for reasons that relate little or not at all to policy questions. A political party is not sufficient for a movement. Nor is a movement sufficient for a political party. Some people are in a political party for geographical reasons, others because of family tradition. Some people join a party because they see it as their quickest route to power, prestige or money. You Can Make Things Happen As an organizational entrepreneur, you could become a highly effective activist. Your organization could develop large cadres of effective activists. Then, when opportunities arose in a legislative battle, an election contest, or a public policy battle of any kind, the people whom you have identified and activated would be ready and able to focus their actions intelligently. Over the years, I've given briefings on these topics more than 100 times to people who have come to me hoping to create or improve public policy organizations. Some have had considerable success. I hope this advice, now written down, will be useful to many good people in the future. I conclude by saying I firmly believe that being right in the sense of being correct is not sufficient to win public policy battles. In the long term, the winners in any public policy contest are those who have the greatest number of effective activists on their side. You owe it to your philosophy to study how to win. Then you can make things happen.
Conspiracy Theories
Morton C. Blackwell
October 6, 2015
Conspiracy Theories
No activist can work in the public policy process for long without running across one or more conspiracy theories. Since at least 1960, conspiracy theories which relate to politics have circulated widely. Such theories trap many otherwise smart people into years of inactivity, pessimism, and despair. The phenomenon is so common that it should be understood because it affects so many people who have leadership potential. A conspiracy theory often is presented with a chart or diagram listing many different people and different organizations. Then lines are drawn which link the people and organizations. Common organizational affiliations link different people. Common people link different organizations. The linking lines drawn on a page appear as a sinister and frightening web of organized evil. The late Don Lipsett, secretary of the Philadelphia Society, amassed a collection of such drawings from different sources and called them "termite charts." Small pamphlets, detailed reports, and fat books frequently present conspiracy theories. Sometimes enormous amounts of documentation describe the many different links. In the 1960s, conservatives spent enormous amounts of time documenting the links among different leftists and leftist organizations -- who shared membership in which groups, who signed public statements with whom, who frequently attended the same events. These studies reached the conclusion that there was out there a vast, super-secret, well-placed, fabulously well-funded, centrally organized, enormously powerful, left-wing conspiracy, with tentacles everywhere, capable of defeating the lowliest conservative who dared run for the school board in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma. These presentations usually blamed everything bad in the world, from bad weather to bad breath, on the oh-so-clever, secret manipulations of those who run a described conspiracy. The conspiracy is commonly presented as so powerful as to be virtually irresistible and to be engaged primarily in a mopping-up operation to eliminate the last vestiges of conservative resistance. The major variation among the many such conspiracy theories was the identity of the central structure which ran all the left wing organizations. In one theory, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union ran the whole deadly network. In another it was the Council on Foreign Relations. In another it was a group called the Bilderbergers. Other conspiracy theories, and I'm not kidding, spotlighted as the sinister master of the left-wing conspiracy the Pope, the Jews, the Masonic Order, the Rockefeller family, the AFL-CIO, the Tri-Lateral Commission, the Bavarian Illuminati, or others. Some of these conspiracy theories were so poorly presented and illiterate as to be obviously ludicrous. Others included staggering amounts of careful documentation of the links among the supposed conspirators. Thousands of people who were fully committed to solid conservative principles spent much of their time studying, even memorizing, conspiracy theories. Rather than working to win political battles, they devoted themselves to "proving" conspiracy theories. It's almost impossible to argue successfully with a deep-dyed conspiracy theorist. Those fully convinced of a conspiracy theory take any contradictory information as proof positive of just how clever the masters of the conspiracy are. Many conservatives became so convinced of the overwhelming power and cleverness of one or more of these conspiracies that they sank into despair and virtually ceased political activity. After all, if one is faced with opposition so powerful and so clever that defeat is inevitable, why bother to do anything about it except to complain? On the other hand, many other conservatives increased their activism. Starting about 1972, conservative activists dramatically increased their study of how to win. They created a galaxy of new organizations. They also multiplied many times the members, financial resources, and effectiveness of previously existing organizations. The National Right to Work Committee, for example, grew from 25,000 members in 1972 to 1.7 million members in 1979. As the number and effectiveness of conservative activists grew, it became possible to spin a new sort of conspiracy theory, which is best known today as Hillary Clinton's "vast right-wing conspiracy." Perhaps the first such manifestation was a story in The Washington Post in 1978, which featured a number of conservative leaders and organizations by then described in the media as the New Right. The Post ran the names and photos of Paul Weyrich, Terry Dolan, Richard Viguerie, Howard Phillips, Morton Blackwell, and others, and devoted much space to all the "links" between prominent conservative activists and their organizations. In recent decades, a cottage industry has arisen which spins a variety of conspiracy theories about a vast, super-secret, fabulously well-funded, centrally directed, hugely powerful conservative conspiracy, with tentacles everywhere, capable of defeating the lowliest liberal school board candidate in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma. A shelf of books has been published about alleged right-wing conspiracies, including massive documentation of all the links, down to details of who has lunch with whom. Most authors of these studies present their (different) conclusions as to who is really giving the orders to everyone in the right-wing conspiracy. These books are credible only to those completely ignorant about the conservative movement -- for example, a 1980 book, Thunder on the Right, by conservative turncoat Alan Crawford. The best thing that can be said about Crawford's book is that some pages are without factual errors. Even the most bizarre conspiracy theories convince some people, probably because an organization, where somebody is the boss, is much easier to describe and to understand than is a movement, which includes many independent leaders. Finally, computer technology has enabled anyone to create a unique conspiracy theory, complete with documented links. Anyone can get on the internet and call up www.namebase.org/nbindex.htmll, click on "Proximity Search," and type in the name of any conservative leader or prominent organization. This website, based on immense but unreliable documentation of "links" among conservatives, will create a termite chart in color, with any prominent conservative leader or conservative organization at the very center of the page, complete with dozens or hundreds of lines showing published links to other people and organizations and their links to each other. Wow! Of course, for anyone experienced in or knowledgeable about the modern conservative movement, the idea that a centrally directed, secret conspiracy exists among conservative leaders and organizations is absolutely preposterous. Most conservative organizations are led by fiercely independent organizational entrepreneurs, the men or women who created these groups or built them into effectiveness. Reed Larson of the National Right to Work Committee, Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation, Ed Feulner of Heritage Foundation, Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum and dozens of other prominent and admired conservative leaders would laugh out loud at the suggestion that any of them could give orders to the others. None of them would submit themselves to any political structure which might subject their activities to the direction of any or even all of the others. In sum, there's a conservative movement, not a formal national decision-making structure -- a movement, not an organization. Principled conservatives often move in the same direction, but not because they are under orders to move together. Each principled conservative operates with his or her own compass. Because their principles lead them in the same direction, they often cooperate on a project-by-project basis. In fact, several attempts to put together umbrella groups to control the actions of many conservative groups have failed. And conservatives should be glad those efforts all failed. If all conservative groups were controlled by some central leader or by votes of some board of directors, conservative principles would be much less effective in the public policy process. A movement composed of many different leaders and organizations accomplishes more than any leader could if he controlled them all. Competitors working for the same general purposes innovate. Some groups grow faster than others. Some are better at certain things than others. Some can gain support from donors who wouldn't contribute to some others. And some can decline or even collapse without harming others. Adam Smith's "invisible hand" works as well in the public policy process as it does in a commercial market system. Hillary Clinton would have much less to worry about if conservatives were directed by a vast right-wing conspiracy. Similarly, conservatives should wish that the left were in fact a vast, centralized conspiracy. As a whole, the left is also a movement. If one person or one group gave orders to all left-wing groups, the left would have all the effectiveness of the old Soviet economy. Like the right, the left is stronger because it's de-centralized. When you see detailed articles and elaborately documented books which describe a vast, right-wing conspiracy -- theories which speculate about the powerful, sinister people who supposedly control all conservatives -- rejoice! All that research and study about how often Paul Weyrich has lunch with Ed Feulner wastes liberals' time. Every hour a socialist carefully studies voluminous books which document the conservatives' "links" is an hour squandered by the left. And what is more, to the extent the left believes conservatives are a vast, super-secret, centrally directed, fabulously well-funded conspiracy with tentacles everywhere -- a virtually omnipotent, omniscient, irresistible force -- those liberals, leftists, and socialists will despair and give up the fight. Make no mistake about it, there are some real conspiracies. Terrorists do conspire, but their murderous violence is evidence of their weakness, not of overwhelming strength. And terrorists themselves almost always come to a bad end. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union ran a large, centralized, deadly, and effective conspiracy. But they proved to be not as smart, powerful, or irresistible as some despondent conspiracy theorists claimed. Most conspiracy theories make no more sense than those of crackpot cultist Lyndon LaRouche, who has argued loudly for years that the world trade in illegal drugs is managed by Queen Elizabeth II of England.
Do You Want to be a National Convention Delegate?
Morton C. Blackwell
October 6, 2015
Do You Want to be a National Convention Delegate?
Download the PDF Version Here In early 1961 I decided to try to be a Goldwater delegate to the 1964 Republican National Convention. When Barry Goldwater beat the party establishment and won the G.O.P. Presidential nomination, I was his youngest delegate at San Francisco's Cow Palace. And I've been deeply involved in politics ever since. In 1975 I wrote an article for the Young Americans for Freedom magazine New Guard entitled, "So You Want to Go To A Convention?" Oklahoman Steve Antosh read the article and followed my advice. The next year, at age nineteen, Steve was elected a Reagan delegate to the G.O.P. National Convention. Four years later, in 1980, Steve, who was then chairman of Oklahoma State YAF, was the National Director of Youth for Reagan. For you, as for Steve Antosh and for me, conservative activism could be the route to the Big Convention and, perhaps, a career in the public-policy process. Hard Work Pays Off For Conservatives If you're a liberal Democrat, and you're a black lesbian militant with a Spanish surname, the Democrats' convention rules are written for you. If you are a conservative -- Democrat or Republican -- chances are you'll have to work hard to win a seat on your state's national convention delegation. Each state has its own rules for national convention delegate selection. States may and often do change their state laws and party rules between national conventions. Under their national rules and U. S. Supreme Court decisions, state Democratic parties may adopt rules for national convention delegate selection which are inconsistent with state laws. The national Rules of the Republican Party now also provide that state Republican Party rules for national delegate selection prevail over state law on this subject. Most delegates are elected in states with primaries, but primary and convention rules vary greatly from state to state. Learning your state's applicable laws and party rules is a key, first step toward becoming a delegate. If your state is one of the many which have no presidential primary, you may have to mount a major operation to attract people to a caucus or win support from local delegates to a district or state convention. If you already know how to draw a crowd, work a convention, use parliamentary procedure, form alliances, and count votes, you have a head start on the road to the Big Convention. If your state elects delegates in a presidential primary, your problems will be somewhat different. A primary can involve precinct organization, TV, radio, mailings, other advertising, social media, a great deal of money, and many, many more people than a convention. It helps to be an expert at convention politics and primary election politics, but your personal reputation and your candidate preference are likely to prove much more important. Some states have "winner take all" presidential primaries. Other states use proportional representation. Under this system, presidential candidates who get a majority of the primary votes may get only a majority of the state's delegate votes, and candidates who received a sizable minority of the primary votes may get some delegate votes from the state. Rules for delegate apportionment in proportional primary states vary widely. In all states with primaries, delegate votes are bound for one or more ballots to specific candidates at the national convention by state rules, depending on the results of the state primaries. Candidates may “release” delegate votes that were bound to them. In some primary states, delegates are elected by the party separately from the presidential primary. Neither state conventions nor primaries can oblige the delegates to vote a certain way on other issues which may come before the national convention, such as credentials contests, the party platform, or proposed changes in the party's national rules. You can see how important it is to work hard to familiarize yourself with the rules which govern the delegate selection process in your state. In every state, whether delegates are selected by primaries or by conventions, the system is wide open at the bottom. Anyone can be a member of any party and participate in its delegate-selection process. You win if you get the most people to turn out for a primary, a caucus, or a convention. Building Your Base I began in early 1961 to consider the available routes in Louisiana to become a delegate to the 1964 G.O.P. nominating convention. There seemed to be only two sorts of people elected delegates to national conventions: those who had worked long and hard for the party over many years, and those who had contributed substantial sums of money to the party and its candidates. Neither avenue was open to me. I had neither the time nor the funds to qualify. To develop a third route, I settled on youth politics. I helped organize Louisiana State University's YAF chapter in 1961. In 1962 I helped organized L.S.U.'s first College Republican club and was the first elected College Republican state chairman for Louisiana. In 1963 and early 1964, I ran the youth campaign for Charlton Lyons, the G.O.P. candidate for governor of Louisiana. Mr. Lyons won eight, smashing, upset victories in college student mock elections, which raised my credit in the party. Later in the spring of 1964, I was elected state chairman of the Young Republicans. I wore out my old Rambler organizing youth activities across the state. Having worked closely with party leaders in all eight congressional districts, I became one of the handful of Republicans known to virtually every local leader who would be at the state convention. Senior party leaders were comfortable with me. I ran for national delegate with the simple slogan: "Elect one young person." The 1964 Louisiana Republican state convention elected four at-large delegates to the 1964 G.O.P. convention: three well-off, veteran party activists and me. The Team Of course I would never have been a delegate if my presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater, had not been popular in the state party. I ran openly as a Goldwater supporter. This brings me to the central fact for aspirants to delegate slots: In a national presidential nomination contest, each candidate's district and state organizations may run slates of delegate candidates. If you are not slated by a candidate's organization, you are very unlikely to be elected a national delegate at a district or state convention or in a state primary. While occasionally, particularly in a convention state, a party senior statesman can be elected as an uncommitted delegate, newcomer mugwumps (those who sit on the fence with their mug on one side and their "wump" on the other) go nowhere. Why might a candidate's state organization want you on their team? Here are some questions your candidate's organization will consider when you ask to be slated as a delegate or alternate delegate: 1. Are you committed to our candidate? 2. Are your commitments ever shaken by pressure, threats or bribes? 3. Do you have personal supporters whose help would strengthen our candidate's entire slate of delegates? 4. Will you be a hard-working campaigner for our slate? 5. Are you sure to attend the national convention? 6. Will you be useful to our candidate in winning more delegates to our side at the national convention? 7. Do you have support and contacts in our candidate's national organization? 8. Is there any likelihood you will say or do something foolish to damage our candidate? 9. Is there anything in your background which would embarrass our candidate? 10. Do we like you? If you are philosophically sound, technologically proficient, and movement oriented, you should pass muster on all these questions. Being a well-known volunteer leader would increase your chances of being slated by your candidate's organization. Alternatives May Work For You You don't have to be a delegate to go to a presidential nominating convention, of course. An alternate delegate has all the rights and privileges of a delegate except voting. An alternate delegate may have a better time, because at contested conventions delegates are encouraged not to leave the convention floor even during dull speeches. In fact, you do not have to be either a delegate or an alternate delegate to have an impact on the events at a convention. When I was a Goldwater delegate in 1964, my major accomplishment at the national convention in San Francisco was minor, as a volunteer stuffing campaign envelopes for other delegates in the Goldwater mailroom. In 1968, as a Reagan alternate delegate, I was able to help convince a couple of uncommitted delegates to vote for Reagan. At the 1972 G.O.P. convention, I was neither delegate nor alternate. But I worked successfully with the conservative forces fighting the well-organized, well-funded liberal attempt to change the national party rules governing delegate allocation and bonus delegates. A plan I drafted, which came to be known as the California Compromise (or the Briar Patch Plan), was adopted by the 1972 convention after a major, nationally televised, conservative vs. liberal fight. The principal speaker for my plan was California Governor Ronald Reagan. Since 1972, that delegate allocation plan has withstood liberal challenges in court and at all subsequent G.O.P. national conventions. It still governs the allocation of delegates to the convention. The circumstances back in 1972, when I was not even an alternate delegate, permitted me to have my biggest impact to date on what went on at a presidential nominating convention. Since 1964, I've participated actively in each of the GOP national conventions, usually as a delegate or alternate delegate and, since 1988, as a member of my party's national committee. So don't miss a national convention just because you can't be a delegate. Start Now In politics you can start late, but you can never start too early. Maximize your effectiveness by joining your candidate's campaign organization as soon as you can. Call your candidate's office. Sign on early as an activist. The election laws put a premium on volunteer efforts. You should be welcomed with open arms. Your work for your candidate, not whether or not you are a delegate, will determine your position in your candidate's convention organization. The Big Convention comes only once every four years. It's too good an opportunity to miss. If you are serious about becoming a delegate or alternate, you should get a copy of your state party's rules from local or state party officials, or from your candidate's state or national organization. Conservatism is now politically fashionable. But few people will beg you to assume leadership. As author Paul Johnson wrote, leadership, in its essence, is a combination of courage and judgment. If you plan carefully, work hard, and keep alert for good breaks, you may make a difference at a national convention. And you'll learn a lot.
How to Stop Them From Stomping Out the Grassroots
Morton C. Blackwell
September 9, 2015
How to Stop Them From Stomping Out the Grassroots
Knowledgeable conservatives, in moments of candor, will admit our grassroots activity is far less today than a dozen years ago. Several causes come initially to mind: We do not have a Ronald Reagan, persuasively reliable on all our issues, around whom to rally. The success of conservative economic policies has brought an unprecedented period of economic prosperity, lessening our fears for the survival of the free enterprise system. The success of conservative policies of peace through strength has helped engender the utter extinction of the Brezhnev Doctrine and hastened the collapse of much of the Soviet empire. Our ancient liberal enemies have ceased to trumpet much of their old ideology and seem to be doing all they can to sound as if they are conservatives on many issues. Most of these causes are the natural results of successful policies of a newly formed, governing majority coalition, signs of the cyclical process familiar in a healthy, two party system. When the threat perception declines, activists tend to lose much of their old enthusiasm. Coalition members tend to start bickering. But these reasons are not sufficient to explain the extent of the current decline in grassroots activism. New governing coalitions in the United States tend to last for a generation or two. Other factors are at work. Today I intend to discuss two other factors, the increasing domination of political consultants and growing failure of conservatives to run candidates. These are factors which affect our opponents as well. But the extent of the damage done to us by these two factors is largely in our power to correct. First let us consider the career path of a successful political consultant. Here is what happens: A smart campaign staffer helps win a high visibility election and decides to become a consultant. The new consultant is soon involved in another win or two and is suddenly able to sell his services to many campaigns. While able to give his few, early clients a great deal of personal time, working through many levels of their campaign organizations, the consultant quickly finds it impossible to give the same type of service to half a dozen candidates simultaneously. Unable now to supervise detailed operations involving many layers of people in many campaigns at once, the consultant directs his client campaigns toward media-intensive, rather than people-intensive activity. Media decisions are few in number. They require skill but little time. The consultant also realizes it is very much in his own financial interest to have as much as possible of his clients' budgets spent on media. Most consultants take a 15% commission (over and above client-paid production costs and his retainer) from media vendors for all placements. The consultant knows he gets no commission for campaign funds spent on people-intensive activity, such as: Precinct organization Voter ID phone banks Voter registration drives Youth effort The election day process to get out the vote With their budgets warped towards media spending, candidates and their in-state organizations are led to measure the progress of their campaigns only in terms of dollars raised and tracking polls. (When I ask a candidate in a close race how he is doing and he answers by first describing his fundraising progress, I know he is in trouble.) In defense of his practices, the consultant develops an outspoken contempt for any proposal, significant campaign expenditures except for paid media. Many of his clients lose due to their failure to organize large numbers of people in their campaigns. But some of his clients do win. These winners are the ones the consultant talks about as he recruits clients in the next election cycle. Having helped several candidates, the consultant is likely to be hired again to run their reelection campaigns. The incumbents have the ability to amass huge campaign funds, often from local donors. Even in the closing days of a reelection campaign where an incumbent is virtually unopposed, the consultant has a strong incentive to urge their incumbent on to raise more and more money. Never mind that conservative candidates in other contests in the area might actually win close contests but for the incumbent's having vacuumed up so much money from available donors. After all, for every additional $100,000 spent on broadcast media, the consultant will pocket a cool $15,000 plus his fees for creating any new commercials. The consultant, now prosperous and enjoying a changed lifestyle, has ready access to and influence with some incumbent officeholders. He decided to branch out into lobbying, where his influence enables him to pull down some really fat fees from major corporations, trade associations and even foreign governments which have major financial interests in the decision of elected and appointed government officials. By now, most of the consultant's income does not come from election campaigns. But he continues to take some candidates as clients, partly to keep his valuable ties with incumbents and partly because there are in each election cycle some rich candidates and others able to raise big war chests, which will be spent largely on campaign media, still a fine source of income for the consultant. Every experienced conservative campaign activist has seen outrageous examples of this behavior. My luncheon for conservative campaign activists has met bi-weekly, without exception, since 1974. I keep close touch with the election process. I'm not raising this as a theoretical problem. Not all successful consultants behave this way. A great many do. But others, particularly those who specialize in one or more aspects of campaign technology such as direct mail, telephone canvassing, coalition building and youth efforts, do not. This growing problem with consultants has many bad effects: The unnecessary losses of many conservative candidates each year The looting of millions of dollars misspent on media The suckering of many right candidates who are falsely led by consultants to believe they can win The increasing perception that campaigning is mostly mudslinging TV commercials Worst of all, the general decline of citizen participation as activists and, often, even as voters in the political process Historically, volunteer participation in elections is the greatest preparation for competent campaign management and good candidates in future elections. That source of new activists and candidates is drying up. Can grassroots activists do anything to limit the damage done by the increasing dominance of campaign consultants? Certainly. One big reason for reliance on campaign consultants is the increasing complexity of modern election technology. But in the years leading up to the election of 1980 conservative organizations ran massive political education and training efforts. Activists were prepared by the thousands. That grassroots infrastructure building should be vigorously resumed. If you are a donor to a conservative organization you should demand that a substantial portion of its budget should be spent on increasing the number and the effectiveness of its activists. If a group fails to do this, give to other groups instead. If you are a donor to a party organization, demand that it spends your money, in part, on a serious program of political education and training. There is hardly any area of political technology which cannot be mastered by a willing local activist. The Republican party was spending a much higher percentage of its revenue on political education and training twenty years ago than it is today. The GOP is giving only peanuts to its volunteer base. Be careful that the training programs actually teach useful skills. Many seminars which purport to teach local activists are taught by consultants not interested in preparing volunteer competitors. Such programs serve only to teach the participants that the consultant knows his topic and is worthy of hire. If you contribute to a candidate, you have the right to demand that his campaign give a healthy budget to people-oriented programs: precinct organizations, women's activities, youth efforts, etc. These activities build grassroots infrastructure like no others. Let us now turn to the problem of the growing failure of conservatives to run candidates. More and more it is proving impossible to recruit conservative candidates against incumbents or even for open seats. Challengers for even local incumbents often cannot be found. The next Congress will have only four Republicans among the ten congressman from my home state of Virginia. But ten years ago we elected nine of the ten. And the lone Democratic congressman was more was more conservative than some of the Republicans. And all six of the Virginia Democratic congressmen are quite liberal by Virginia standards. And, what is worse, far worse, is the dreadful fact that we did not run Republican challengers against any of the five incumbent Democrats. They got off scot free. But don't for a moment think the Democrats gave our five incumbent Republicans a free ride. No, there were Democratic challengers to all five of our congressmen. And the challenger who beat Congressman Stan Parris reportedly raised more money than any other challenger against a Republican incumbent in the United States this year. This problem in my state is typical of the situation in many parts of the country. In fact, there is a fundamental misconception which is shared by many conservatives and many Republican leaders. This political error is not unique to Virginia. It is, I believe, a misunderstanding of how best to build grassroots strength through running candidates. Too many of us think we should run a candidate only when we think there is a good chance we can win the election. And, since nobody believed we could beat any of the five incumbent Virginia Democratic congressmen, nobody ran against any of them. I submit that, in the case of these ten congressional races, the Democrats acted smarter than the Republicans. But not running a candidate often sounds so reasonable, doesn't it? Why spend the time and money it takes to run and almost surely losing race? Why ask a candidate to take on an almost surely losing candidacy? Why embarrass the party or the conservative cause by losing badly? Why take the chance of diverting resources from our candidates elsewhere who have a chance to win? Why anger a safe incumbent opponent? All these sound like pretty good reasons not to challenge apparently safe liberal incumbents, don't they? Many Republican incumbents, in particular, don't want to rile many of their Democratic colleagues by challenging them. And most of those arguments sound just as good as reasons not to run a candidate in an open district where the liberals seem virtually certain to win. Yet those are arguments which ultimately lead to slow growth, no growth and eventual decline of a movement or a political party. If conservatives in Virginia had operated in this fashion for the past 25 years, Republicans would not have won our first U.S. Senate race, the party would not today hold even four congressional districts and the party would not have the record strength it enjoys today in Virginia's General Assembly and in local offices. Take for example my own congressional district, the Tenth. Conservative Republican Frank Wolf was an unknown in 1976 when he first announced against the incumbent liberal Democratic Congressman Joe Fisher. Frank Wolf campaigned hard but lost the nomination to a state legislator, who was then beaten by Congressman Fisher in November. Frank Wolf again took on this seemingly hopeless task in 1978. He was nominated and did better than the state legislator had two years earlier. But Wolf lost again in 1978. Finally, in 1980, frank Wolf won both the nomination and, narrowly, the general election defeating the incumbent who very few people thought was vulnerable four years earlier. The two earlier races had so weakened the liberal Democratic congressman and so strengthened our organization that we were able to take the district. We have been winning it by convincing margins ever since. Think about this seriously. Everyone who knows much about politics knows of many cases where races against supposedly entrenched incumbents weakened the incumbents so they could be defeated in subsequent elections. Isn't that a fair situation? Isn't that a strong, solid reason to run candidates, almost an obligation to run candidates, even when there is thought to be no chance to win in the current election year? The best known political consultants, by the way, usually advise against running candidates who are very unlikely to win. But such candidates provide the big consultants with no revenue, except in case of rich, hopeless candidates. In this latter case, consultants are often willing to take them as clients. Often to "take" them in both senses of the word. Conservatives who know how important it is to build for the future also know how a losing race can soften up an opponent for future defeat, build credibility for our challengers and build strength of our own organizations. These are powerful reasons not to leave vacant places on the ballot. While we know of losing races which made possible later victories, there is another situation which often occurs. Some conservative activists can remember our Virginia United States Senate race in 1972. An unusual congressman from the Eighth District, Bill Scott, made what most so-called "experts" thought was a hopeless race against the supposedly invulnerable incumbent, U.S. Senator Bill Spong. Now not everyone thought the Scott for Senate cause was hopeless. A conservative Republican leader, Richard Obenshain, thought this so-called "impossible" race was actually winnable. So he set out to win with Scott, certainly one of the most difficult candidates our party has fielded in our lifetimes. But Dick Obenshain was a political genius who saw opportunities where others saw only problems. Bill Scott won. Six years later he turned his U.S. Senate seat over to another Republican whom many of us hoped would have been Dick Obenshain. Senator John Warner won very narrowly in 1978, winning again in 1984 by a big margin. This year Democrats did not challenge Sen. Warner, which is great for Republicans and, in my opinion, bad news or Democrats. But we should remember that almost everyone at first thought Bill Scott could not win this seat when he ran for it 13 years ago. Please think about it. How many times have you, yourself, been pleasantly surprised when a race supposedly hopeless for us has resulted in a thrilling conservative victory? Most of our best conservative members of both houses of the Congress first won in just such circumstances. Sometimes the liberal nominee self-destructs unexpectedly. Sometimes our candidate and his campaigns turn out to be much better than we expected. Surely all of us can think of predicted losers who instead became glorious winners. It that not therefore another good reason to run candidates whom we really don't expect to win? Frankly, looking at the ten congressional districts in Virginia today, how the Democrats treated us and how we treated them, it's a scandal that we have left all their incumbents unchallenged. At the congressional level, Virginia has only a one and a half party system in 1990. How about your state? This situation I call a scandal is not to be blamed on any particular party leaders at the local or state levels. The general idea of not challenging supposedly invulnerable incumbents is common almost everywhere in our country. In my home county of Arlington, our party has very often in recent years failed to run candidates against many of the worst liberals in Virginia. There is plenty of blame to go around. And I'll accept my share. What I am proposing today is not recriminations but a badly needed change of policy, a change of our behavior. Let me put it clearly. Not running candidates is almost worse than putting up losing candidates. Sometimes we produce upset victories. Sometimes we build up candidates for future victories. Always we involve new people who can later help us win future victories. Always we force the opposition incumbents to gather and spend for themselves some resources which might otherwise be spent against our conservative candidates elsewhere. Not running candidates is no way to build a movement or party. If one chooses to be active in a party structure, one necessarily must support that party's incumbents except in extraordinary circumstances. But conservatives primarily active outside a party structure are free of most such constraints. In sum, conservatives should run candidates against liberal incumbents and for open seats regardless of whether or not the potential candidates appear to be possible winners. The only two tests should be these: 1. Will the person act responsibility in the campaign? 2. If elected, would the person be a credit to our cause? If a potential candidate passes these two tests, then encourage him or her to run. Do this regardless of whether or not there appears to be a real chance to win the election. You may not happen to find or be able to recruit to run any independently wealthy, thirty-five year old conservative business leaders with degrees in both economics and political science. If not, you might recruit a politically savvy housewife; we have a lot of them across America who would make good candidates. Or run a distinguished retiree. Or even a dedicated and intelligent young person. Each new candidate brings to your cause not only his own time and effort but also the resources and enthusiasm of his own circle of family, friends and supporters. And many people who don't like the liberals are happy we have given them a choice. Of course I don't advocate misleading a potential candidate to think you can provide money or manpower which aren't actually available. Already this happens too often. Give a realistic estimate of this chances of winning. Say what the limits of likely movement resources and party support. The national and state party resources will be and should be focused in the main on candidates with some prospect of election. Curiously, you will find that some people don't mind being run as sacrificial lambs in a good cause. To fill out a Republican ballot, I ran for the state legislature in Louisiana 22 years ago. I was duly sacrificed, but with no lasting ill effects. You will find that some potential candidates will respond to your less than optimistic assessment of their chances by declaring candidacy despite the long odds. Many will convince themselves that they do have a chance. And some may surprise you by actually winning. Look at this from your own experience. Aren't most of the conservative winners you know and almost all of the key workers for conservative winners you know, aren't these people experienced in prior, but losing campaigns? We are trying to build a stable governing majority. Winning today isn't everything. Losing today may open doors to victories tomorrow. Let's fill the ballot where we can.
Life of the Party
Morton C. Blackwell
October 6, 2015
Life of the Party
What follows is advice for conservatives of whatever party. Here is how you can be a party leader, even if you're starting from scratch: 1. Volunteer to work in the election campaigns of your party's nominees. Under-promise and over-perform. 2. Donate to your party's good candidates. Financial contributions put you on the political map. Attend party fundraising events. Give to your state and local party committees. 3. Then attend party committee meetings. There you will get to know the existing party activists and leaders. And they will get to know you. If your local party committee has a vacancy, accept it if offered. But modestly keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut as you learn the ropes. Most such meetings are not very exciting. Always take with you something to read or write during the less interesting parts of party meetings. 4. If you are not familiar with the organizational structure and rules of your party, get copies of the state and local party committee rules. Study them and the applicable rules of procedure, usually Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised. 5. Participate in some party auxiliary group activities: youth groups, women's groups, etc. If there is none in your area, volunteer to start one. 6. In most areas there is a fairly rapid turnover of party officers. Don't push yourself for party office. If you do good work in the local party, others probably will ask you to take on some responsibilities. Accept these tasks. Perform them well. Soon you may be drafted into local party committee office. But you don't have to hold a party office to play a leading role from time to time in a party committee. 7. In some areas, local party committees are moribund or dead. The party officers may be unsatisfactory for a variety of reasons. They may be lazy. They may be incompetent. They may be fine people burned out from years of good work. They be hanging on to power for its own sake. They may be actively hostile to your conservative principles. If party leaders are unsatisfactory, you should work to see that they are reformed or replaced. 8. Build strong working ties with any other conservatives you meet in party activities. 9. Build strong working ties with leaders of conservative non-party activity in your community, such as: Taxpayer associations Veterans groups Ethnic organizations Right to work groups Right to keep and bear arms groups Civic associations Church groups Traditional values groups concerned about such issues as abortion, drugs, education, pornography, etc. 10. Make contacts with national conservative groups to locate and involve their local activists in your party. 11. Learn the principles of effective direct mail and start to assemble lists of addresses and phone numbers of local conservative activists and donors. 12. Party committees often have influence in the election of candidates for public office, but in some cases they also have decisive power over the rules and therefore the outcomes of the nomination contests. Find out the role of your state and local party committees in the nomination process and the schedule of their required activities before upcoming elections. 13. Party committees must renew themselves periodically, usually in two-year or four-year cycles. New party committees may be elected by primaries, conventions, or mass meetings. Newly elected committees usually elect their new party officers. Local party units usually send delegates to state party conventions. Sometimes, membership on party committees and delegate slots to party conventions are available just by filing properly for openings. Find out how these processes work in your party. Among the things you'll need to know: When are the next party primaries or conventions? What party offices are to be filled and for what public offices are party nominees to be chosen? What are the deadlines for filing, dates of conventions and dates of primaries? And how does one file? 14. Because all local party committee elections and party primaries are open at the bottom, whoever gets the most people to participate wins. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to organize a sufficient number of conservatives to win primaries, conventions and party committee elections. It is simple but not easy. 15. Sometimes local party committees fail to run candidates for public offices. This is almost always a bad practice. A major party should run candidates for every available office, whether or not there seems to be a good chance to win. If there appears to be no strong candidate available, run someone who would act responsibly as a candidate and who, if elected, would do a good job. Those are the only requirements. Run a candidate even if the other party has an "invulnerable" incumbent, even if your candidate is unknown, even if your candidate can't raise enough money to make a serious race. That's how to build a strong and useful party over time. 16. A leader is someone who has a following, someone with influence over others. Review your list of conservative leaders you now know in your area, those active in your party and those who should become active. 17. Invite several of the key conservative leaders from your local area to a confidential meeting, perhaps one evening at your home, to discuss the future of your local party. Serve simple refreshments. Points to be discussed at this meeting should include: The effectiveness of the local party committee and its officers. The strength of conservatives compared with non-conservatives on the party committee and among the committee's officers. The schedule and process by which the party committee renews itself and elects new officers. The schedule and process by which delegates are chosen by the local party to any party conventions at the local, congressional district and state or national levels. Upcoming opportunities for the party to nominate candidates for public office. The feasibility of increasing conservative strength on the local party committee, among party officials, at party conventions and in the nomination process for public offices. 18. If there is general agreement at your meeting that conservatives should work together to increase their strength in party activities, ask those present for suggestions of other local conservative leaders who should be invited to a follow-up meeting, also confidential. The second meeting should be held in a different location, to make clear that this is a coalition, not just your personal project. But you or someone else reliable should do the inviting. 19. The second meeting should also be informal. Pass around a sign-in sheet to get names, addresses and phone numbers of all present. Later, get copies of the list to all present. Begin with a review of the discussion at the first meeting. The new people will probably have new information to share. Then discuss what should be the group's goals. Among the possibilities: Get more conservatives on the party committee. Elect conservatives to party offices. Elect conservative delegates to party conventions. Nominate conservatives for upcoming general elections. Assist conservative elected officials. 20. The number of subsequent meetings will depend on how long you have before the local party renews itself by selecting new party committee members or elects officers or when the next primary election or party convention is. At each meeting, ask for suggestions of other leaders who should be invited. Keep in mind, though, that all those invited should be trustworthy, principled people who have political or financial resources. Invite new participants by consensus of current participants. Focus on honorable people who, if they choose to do so, can make things happen. For these meetings, you want leaders. Regardless of their individual interests, all those you invite should be willing to work with economic conservatives and with social-issue conservatives. 21. At the third meeting or at a later meeting, discuss how the group will make its decisions. Then the group should select a person or a sub-committee to draft simple, written rules of procedure by which the coalition can decide whom to support for party committee membership, party committee office, party convention delegate or party nomination for public office. Your opportunities will vary with your local circumstances. For example, in some areas the party committee is huge and almost anyone wishing to serve on it can do so. In other areas, the party committee is small and elections to it usually well-contested. 22. At the fourth meeting or at a later meeting adopt the rules, by a majority vote, by which your coalition will make its decisions about whom to endorse and support. Generally, the rules will include a secret ballot, with a runoff if no one gets the majority required for endorsement by your coalition. To receive the coalition's support, anyone must agree in advance to be a candidate and to accept your support. Most important, the rules should require that all who participate in your coalition's balloting meeting must solemnly promise to work hard to elect to party position, or to nominate for public office, all those who win the majority vote in your endorsement meeting. At this time, set the date of your decision-making meeting and agree, unanimously if you can, on the exact list of those who will be invited. 23. Your coalition's decision-making meeting (balloting) should be a month or more before the filing deadline for the upcoming party convention or party primary. Start the meeting by having everyone present pledge to support vigorously everyone the coalition decides to back. If more than one kind of party office, delegate or party nomination are at stake, conduct votes on each kind of position. Brief "nominating" speeches are a good idea, because not all those present will know enough about your potential candidates to make informed decisions. At the close of this meeting, remind everyone that all have committed to work hard for the success of your coalition's candidates. 24. At the same, decision-making meeting, organize your effort to make sure your endorsed candidates win. Here are appropriate items to decide or plan for: Pick a descriptive, simple name for your ad hoc coalition, something like: Conservative Leadership Coalition, Conservative Unity Ticket or 201_ Action Team. Appoint a finance chairman and a finance committee. Take up a collection at the meeting to start your coalition's campaign fund. Everyone present should contribute. Raise additional funds as needed, by direct mail to likely donors, by phone and by personal visits. You might decide to schedule one or more fundraising events. Set up a temporary bank account to receive contributions to pay for mailings, literature production and other predictable costs such as convention activities. If party nominations for public office are at stake, make sure you comply with applicable financial reporting laws. By phone or mail, recruit a distinguished list of endorsers for your coalition. Consider those who participated in your meeting plus other party activists, party donors, public officials and well known leaders of community activities. People like to be asked. The endorsers can be listed on your coalition letterhead or on your printed literature. Generate a mailing to likely participants in your upcoming party primary, local party election caucus or party convention. Introduce your ticket. Explain why it's important your candidates win. Ask for support. People do like to be asked. Be specific in your letter about when and where to vote, etc. Include filing forms if applicable, and make sure they are filed on time. Enclose a return envelope and a reply card or a reply form by which people can pledge their political support and make a financial contribution. Some members of your coalition should have mailing lists and email lists. Leaders should send special, personal letters to their lists, urging participation in the convention, caucus, mass meeting or primary in which the party will pick its leaders or nominees. These letters and emails should ask for support for your whole ticket. Don't worry about duplication of effort. People respond best if asked in more than one way. Have lists of possible supporters called and asked to vote for your ticket in the election meeting, convention or party primary. As your mailings, phone calls, and emails create a list of those pledged to support your coalition, make careful plans to remind supporters by phone the day before the election meeting or primary. Arrange car pools and whatever else is necessary to make sure everyone gets to where you want them when you want them there. In a convention or a primary you must make sure all your identified supporters actually vote and that the vote counting is honest. Whether the voting will be by paper ballot or voting machine, make sure your side is represented in the set up of the voting, certification of voters' eligibility and the counting of the ballots. Unfortunately, no party is entirely free of people willing to cheat if you let them do so. If the voting will be done at a convention, your coalition must designate a floor leader. All delegates who support your coalition should follow this person's instructions during the convention. Positioned beside the floor leader should be your floor parliamentarian, someone who can give advice on procedural matters. For a big convention, make large, colored signs to let your supporters know whether to vote yes or no on complex procedural motions. Signs would include your coalition's name. They could read "Action Team -- YES" and "Action Team -- NO." In a big convention, you also will find that ward, area or county sub-leaders are necessary. Their job is to get their delegates to the convention, keep them posted about what's happening and lead them when it's time to vote. Designate someone to be your coalition's vote counter. From the beginning of the process of filing of delegates, this person will keep and constantly update a careful estimation of how many delegate votes your side has, how many are for your opposition and how many are unknown or genuinely undecided. The night before the convention and during it, your vote counter will be very busy. He will give you guidance on when and what you can win. No later than the night before a convention, gather the leaders of your floor organization to discuss what must be done during the convention. Efficient organizers write out in great detail an expected "script" for a coming convention. The script is a step-by-step description of the anticipated meeting or convention events, detailing who will do what and in what order, from the opening gavel to the final adjournment. It includes what the convention officers will do, what you expect your opposition to do and what your team plans to do. If the opposition tries any surprises, your floor leader must be ready to respond appropriately. Your supporters follow his lead. If you arrive at a convention with more support than your opposition, you should win. If your opponents try dirty tricks with credentials certification or the meeting's rules, be prepared to make a steal more expensive than it's worth to them. People without strongly held political philosophy often lack ethics as well. If they think you'll meekly accept their cheating, they'll cheat. If they know cheating would embarrass them within the party, in the news media and in the courts, they may decide not to cheat. Cheaters hesitate if they know you have perseverance, good lawyers, good news media contacts, communications skills and ties with high-ranking party officials and public officeholders. Most dirty tricks can't stand the light of public exposure. 25. Win or lose, be polite. That's not always easy. Never lose your temper if you lose or swagger if you win. 26. If you win, remember that winning politics involves addition and multiplication on your side, not subtraction and division. You may have the opportunity to organize a nominated candidate's general election campaign or to set up the executive committee and appoint officers of your party committee. In either case, involve some people who are part of, or friendly to, the side you just defeated. Don't turn over to them the power you just won. That would be foolish. But you should, by your appointments and in other ways, let everyone know you are willing to work with others, even former foes, who are willing to work with you for the party and its candidates. 27. When beaten by conservatives in party contests, liberals often try to shut off the finances to party committees and to conservative candidates. Therefore, it's a good idea for your new party leaders and your new party nominees to forestall this if possible by quickly announcing prestigious finance committees which include some unexpected names. These committees should also quickly develop a base of direct mail donors, which will sustain them if liberals get some big donors to stop giving. Sometimes those you defeat may stay active only to gripe and make life miserable for you. Keep building and ignore their antics as much as you can. In the long run they will be self-destructive. In volunteer politics, a builder can build faster than a destroyer can destroy. Win or lose, keep building. 28. If you lose, don't be discouraged. Winston Churchill started out as a soldier and became a politician. He noted much later that in his "former profession one could die but once, but that in politics one can die many times." And still come back to win. 29. If you win a party nomination contest, run the general election campaign in a way that increases the number and effectiveness of your party's activists. Run a people-oriented campaign. Campaign consultants often try to spend all the candidate's money on ads in print or broadcast media. Don't let them do it. 30. If you win control of a party committee, run it in such a way as to increase the number and effectiveness of your party's activists. Hold your own political education and training programs. And send local activists to training programs offered by party groups, non-party activist groups and educational foundations at the local, state and national levels. Have good social events. Winning gets easier with experience. But no political victory is permanent. Repeat the above 30-step process in each election cycle, from the beginning. Coalitions will vary over time. Some people drop out; others will sell out. Activate new people. Succession is a problem in any political system. If you are an elected officeholder or if you are one of those in a conservative majority of a party committee, you should nevertheless plan succession for fellow conservatives in the same open way. Expand the leadership. It's tempting to try to hand-pick your successors, but you'd lose the major benefits of coalition support and set yourself up for an accusation of machine politics. Organize your coalition anew before each potential major conflict. After you win, be prepared for more challenges. It is easier to win an election than to govern well. Some of your problems will come from within your own party. At the dawn of the era of political parties, Edmund Burke defined a political party as "a body of men united for promoting by their joint endeavors the national interest upon some particular principle in which they are all agreed." But in practice, as Burke himself discovered, serious people often disagree about which principles should unite their party. Some partisans reject principles almost entirely. Nevertheless, British parties and most political parties around the world have unitary structure, party discipline and at least a superficial resemblance to Burke's description. A U.S. political party doesn't. What we call a party today in the United States is clearly a different thing. Our two major parties have no unitary structure. Each has a proliferation of official, independent committees. No national party committee can direct state parties or has authority over the operations of all national groups which bear the same party name. Similarly, the state party committees generally have no control over their candidates' campaign committees, state party legislative caucus campaign committees, local party committees or party auxiliary groups. A national or state party committee cannot even revoke a person's party membership. In those states without official party registration, it's difficult or impossible to say who is or isn't a party member. By law, you are what you say you are. What's a U.S. political party for? Here are some of the many different purposes I have heard mentioned: To recruit candidates To run candidates' campaigns To win elections To advance a specific political philosophy To serve elected public officials of the party To provide an organizational structure for citizens to participate in the political process To pass or defeat certain legislative proposals To get political jobs for party members To provide a social outlet for people who can't find any better way to meet new people To advance the financial interest of participants To conduct class warfare To assemble coalitions of interests for the purpose of governing Many of these are legitimate functions of a party. In practice, any of these purposes may conflict with other functions. Long affiliation with a party is usually necessary for successful American political leaders. The few major exceptions in our history are when military heroes have been elected to office after demonstrating their leadership skills in battle. Even so, among our military-hero presidents, only George Washington was elected without first affiliating with a party. Some leaders of non-partisan groups greatly influence elections and the legislative process. But they are forced to work through parties to get their favorites nominated. Often they must work with party leaders in legislative bodies to pass or defeat specific bills. Politicians neglect party ties at their peril. In 1976 President Gerald Ford picked Sen. Bob Dole as his running mate and dropped Vice President Nelson Rockefeller from the national party ticket. A reporter then asked Vice President Rockefeller, now that it was unlikely he would ever achieve his ambition to be President, if there were things he wished he had done differently. The Vice President answered to this effect: "Yes, I spent my adult life preparing myself to be President, but I neglected to prepare myself to be nominated." Most people do not participate in parties. They don't even vote in party primaries, much less serve as party convention delegates or as members of party committees. Yet most of the political power in America is channelled through political parties. Like it or not, parties are necessary. To pretend they don't exist or don't matter is to limit or destroy our political effectiveness. Because our major parties are composed of disparate elements and have few and weak mechanisms to enforce party unity on any topic, they seldom reach unanimity on anything. It's no more realistic to expect to find unanimity of opinion within a party than it is to find a winning majority of the voters who agree on every issue. Many people with strong preferences about specific issues and with firm beliefs about the proper role of government do work in parties. Such people, men and women with political convictions, often comprise a majority of the party activists. But they always encounter inside a party others with different policy preferences. They also find themselves working with different kinds of people who have no strong political convictions at all. These include: People who seek power for its own sake. People for whom the party is a social outlet. People for whom the party is merely a family tradition. People who are looking for a political job. People who are active as a favor to their friends. People whose only political principle is to seek consensus. People for whom party participation is merely fulfillment of a civic obligation. Parties, like coalitions of voters on election day, are uneasy alliances. Nevertheless, parties and winning coalitions of voters tend to be stable for extended periods of time. A new, normal winning majority in presidential elections is formed no more than a couple of times each century in America. The Presidential election majority which won consecutive landslide victories in 1980, 1984 and 1988 may reassemble in future presidential elections. I believe it will, as it did in congressional elections across America in 1994. But that's an open question. I wish more citizens were politically active. But since relatively few people choose to participate in party activity, those who do participate have a disproportionate share in our politics and government. In a practical sense, they are the political leaders of our country. If you're not one of them, you have to influence them to accomplish much in the area of public policy. Election laws and party rules vary from state to state and within each state. Veteran party activists understand the applicable procedures and use their knowledge to maximize their own power. Party leaders in the United States, in contrast to party leaders in other countries, have little direct contrl over party activists. Indeed, party leaders must depend on the voluntary cooperation of others. Our party structures are wide open at the bottom. Power in a party goes to those who recruit and lead others. Anyone can be a party activist. With a little effort and the resulting experience, almost anyone can be a party leader. Why not you?
People, Parties, and Power
Morton C. Blackwell
October 6, 2015
People, Parties, and Power
In my years of political activity beginning in 1960, I have found no shortage of conservatives willing to tell the political parties what they should do. But I have noticed a great shortage of conservatives willing to take the time, spend the money and pay the political price necessary to achieve and hold power in a political party. Unless more conservatives accept the responsibility of political participation inside the parties, thirty years from now conservatives will still be complaining that the parties fail to do what they ought to do. Only a tiny fraction of Americans participate in party activities. There is a great turnover of participants and leadership. In the business world, corporate leadership tends to last for decades; labor union leadership tends to last for life. Some years ago I looked up the tenure of all the Republican Party state chairmen in the United States. The average state party chairman had held that post for about eighteen months! I believe it is the same among the Democrats. State law and party rules determine state and local party structure. And no two states are exactly alike in party organization. But in almost every city and county in America, there are many vacancies in official party committees. The same is true in unofficial party structures, including the party's auxiliary organizations. Many, if not most, of the un-glamorous jobs in party committees and organizations go begging. In states where local party committees include representatives from each precinct, there are invariably vacancies on the official city and county party committees. Most localities do not have Women's Republican clubs or Young Republican clubs. Most colleges do not have College Republican clubs. Most high schools do not have Teenage Republican clubs or adults willing to serve as advisors to Teenage Republican clubs. Most campaigns do not have precinct leaders in every precinct. The same holds true in the Democratic Party. And all party committees, campaign organizations and auxiliary organizations have jobs left undone because of a lack of volunteers. A newcomer who says "I am here to tell you what to do" is viewed with suspicion and even fear. But a newcomer who says "I am here to help you. Tell me how I can help" is greeted cordially and usually given things to do. After one election cycle of constructive volunteer activity, the newcomer becomes a veteran, respected by the old-timers. After two or three election cycles, the newcomer has become an old-timer. In this context, something President George H.W. Bush said is particularly valuable: "Eighty percent of success is just being there." Unfortunately, much of what is said and done at party committee meetings at every level, including even National Committee meetings, is uninteresting, even boring. To succeed inside a political party, one must cultivate the ability to sit still and remain polite when foolish people speak nonsense. An open structure gives access to the foolish as well as to the wise. Wise people inside a party must cultivate a high level of patience. They must allow for human frailty in others and strive to appear to suffer most fools gladly. Like many other conservatives, I have come to realize that the time spent sitting through dull parts of meetings is the price one pays to be there to take part when the really important decisions are made every now and then. A principled conservative who wishes to succeed within a party should heed the following ten points: 1. Make yourself useful to the party's candidates and the activities of party organizations. Choose carefully what you agree to do, and then do it well. 2. Rise slowly. Don't put yourself forward for every available position of leadership. If you display competence in your party or campaign activities, other people will soon enough be ready to ask you, even urge you, to seek higher posts. Remember, there is always a big turnover. People without persistence drop out. Many vacancies open up. Even those party activists who have no particular political philosophy still like to win. If you become valuable to the party and a reliable asset to its candidates, even political opportunists will come to tolerate you and your commitment to principles. 3. Build a secure home base. It is not necessary that you and your allies now control the local or state party for you to become effective in the long run. What is necessary is that you cultivate allies who will reliably work together for your conservative principles. The Lone Ranger was never a successful politician. 4. Don't try to solve all the problems you see in a party committee or in a campaign organization. People resent a know-it-all. Pick and choose the matters in which you become involved. Sometimes it is better to let others learn by their own experience than by your advice. 5. Politics is of the heart as well as of the mind. Many people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. It is possible often to say unpleasant things pleasantly. Too often our politically wounded are left to bleed to death. Be compassionate and show it. 6. Study how to win. Being right in the sense of being correct is not sufficient to win. Political technology determines political success. Learn how to organize and how to communicate. Most political technology is philosophically neutral. You owe it to your philosophy to study how to win. 7. Expand the leadership. Do your best to locate, recruit, train, and place other conservatives in the political process. Attrition of leadership is more severe in party organizations than in almost any other activity. Phyllis Schlafly says, with some justice, that county party chairman is the worst job in politics. Many people burn out quickly. As you build the size of your base of effective activists, it is natural that your own position within the party will gradually improve. 8. Study the rules of procedure. Or find someone of like mind who is or will become expert on the rules. One of the reasons for conservative successes within the Republican Party is that many conservatives in that party have taken the time to master the rules of procedure. Beyond a mastery of the rules comes an understanding of meeting dynamics. Meeting dynamics are best learned by long experience at political meetings. 9. In volunteer politics, a builder can build faster than a destroyer can destroy. If you achieve anything in politics, you will have enemies, some of whom will delight in attacking your every flaw, real or imagined. Do not spend much time replying to such criticism. On the average, it takes less time for you to recruit a new activist than it does for your enemies to persuade one of your recruits that you are a bad person. Over time, you get stronger and your enemies do not. 10. Don't make the perfect the enemy of the good. I'm not perfect. You're not perfect. No candidate is perfect. No party committee is perfect. If you can't cope with anything less than perfection, you will never achieve anything worthwhile. You would be like the pastor who was so concerned with heavenly things that he was no earthly good. Perfection is unattainable on this earth, but it is a useful guide to the direction we should go. One can use a good compass for a lifetime without expecting ever to get to the North Pole. In the United States, a political party is not easily defined. Power is more diffuse in American political parties than in government. After all, it is possible for government to make a decision binding on everyone. There is no mechanism for doing that in our political parties. Each party committee is a separate opportunity for conservative activists. The giant Senatorial and Congressional party committees of both major parties are entirely independent of the Republican and Democratic national committees, which themselves are the creations of the state parties and their national conventions. A party national committee has almost no supervisory role over the state parties, which, in turn, dare not interfere much in the local party organizations. Party committees exist independently. Taken together, they raise and spend hundreds of millions of dollars, and each can have a major role in the selection of candidates at a specific level of government. Major party fundraising is much easier than other political fundraising. It's like having a limited license to print money. A party has meaning only to the extent that people's actions give it meaning. It is a vehicle for political action. As leaders of the conservative movement realize, parties alone are not sufficient to preserve our hard-won freedoms. Candidates, once nominated, run their own campaigns, sometimes with and sometimes without much help from party committees. And support of various types from many, many non-party organizations is required for victory. But while parties are not sufficient, they are necessary. If conservatives fail to engage in party activities, then party committees at every level will be run by people who do not share conservative views -- that is, by opportunists and liberals. Conservatives should never lose sight of the difference between power and influence. Power is the ability to make things happen. Influence is the ability to have one's views at least taken into account by those who have power. To people motivated by political philosophy, influence is not enough. Just as conservatives should work to get fellow conservatives into positions of governmental power, they have an obligation to be active themselves in the party structures. There is too much power there for it to be abandoned. Conservative organizations have many millions of members and supporters who, if led by their leadership, would be interested in participating in party activity. Finally, conservatives who absolutely, positively cannot sit through long, tedious political party meetings have an obligation to find and to support financially fellow conservatives with cast-iron behinds, people willing and able to do the partisan jobs which must be done. As few as fifty thousand conservatives, newly determined to become party activists could, in four years or less, make a national party as reliably conservative as the Democratic Party is today reliably liberal. With this influx of new participants, that party would elect a lot of its candidates.
Political Management of the Bureaucracy - A Guide to Reform and Control
Donald J. Devine
July 14, 2017
Political Management of the Bureaucracy - A Guide to Reform and Control
<< Download the full PDF here >> Dear Fellow Conservative, I have arranged to have published for you a particularly timely book, chocked full of interesting and valuable information for anyone who wants reform in the federal government's personnel process and wants to learn how to shrink the bloated federal bureaucracy. The book is free for you. All you have to do is click on this link. Or buy it on Amazon by clicking here. Yes, I know that many of us (including me) prefer to read physical books, but I knew that more people would read it online right now if I could distribute it for free. Those who wish to have a hard copy will soon be able to buy the book on Amazon. Here's what my friend and colleague, Joe Morris, an Assistant Attorney General in the Reagan Administration, says about the book I'm giving you for free: "Donald Devine's Political Management of the Bureaucracy: A Guide to Reform and Control will be an evergreen book. It will be a classic in the library of conservative public administration and should be in the orientation packet given to each of the planners, transition team members, and political appointees of every future new conservative administration." -- Joseph A. Morris, former Assistant Attorney General of the United States under President Reagan Please see the Introduction I wrote at the beginning of this edition of Don Devine's book. Most conservatives know that government hiring, whether of political appointees or Civil Service employees, has long been a tragic mess. Dr. Donald J. Devine, who served as Director of the Office of Personnel Management in Ronald Reagans' first term, grappled with these problems at the highest level. He accomplished a lot where others have failed miserably. In this book he shares his experiences and points out how conservatives can achieve real reforms. You probably know other conservatives who share an interest in reforming and shrinking the federal bureaucracy. If so, please forward to them my free offer of this unique and powerful book. Cordially, Morton Blackwell President The Leadership Institute