The Walls Have Ears
Ben Woodward
July 31, 2017
The Walls Have Ears
You may be surprised to learn that the number of staff working each day to advance the conservative movement is small. In Washington, D.C., it's a few thousand at most. This is great for your career! Working in the small DC conservative movement, it is easy to get to know the influential players who can support your career advancement. But reputations are made very quickly, and for those less savvy who don't mature quickly, simple mistakes can be destructive. One of the worst mistakes anyone can make in Washington, D.C. is to bad mouth their boss or their organization. You can avoid these three common mistakes. Speaking badly of your employer on social media It is surprising how frequently profe ssionals will speak negatively of their bosses on social media. Remember that not only will this be seen by colleagues, and very likely your employers, but your future employers will read your social media. Ranting about your boss today could risk alienating your potential boss tomorrow. After all, no one wants to hire someone who may badmouth them in future. Speaking badly of your employer during an interview “What did you like least about your last job?” We've all been asked this question during an interview, and I have struggled to answer. By falling into the trap of badmouthing your former boss, you convince the interviewer that they may be the next target of your public scorning or worst case scenario, your last boss may hear about it. Instead, you should answer the question by saying: “While there were many aspects of my previous job which I enjoyed such as…, I would have liked to have had more of an opportunity to… which is why I have applied for this job.” Speaking badly of your employer during networking events We've all been there. It's been a rough day, perhaps you have been frustrated by your supervisor, but there is a time and a place to complain about your work, and it's not at networking events. You run the risk of alienating conservatives who may know your boss. In the worst case scenario, your comments could get back to your employer, and your career will suffer. So what should you do instead? There is a time and a place to address your concerns at work. So instead of complaining about your boss, consider how you can constructively approach the situation. Ask for a private meeting Never criticize your boss in front of colleagues. It will damage their authority in front of the team and is more likely to frustrate them than anything. Have your conversation in private if you believe your boss should be taking a different approach to a project. Know what you want to say Consider writing down your specific concerns and what you want to say in advance. Structure your feedback positively, instead of “I don't agree with your decision…” say “I think we could consider approaching the project this way…” If your boss agrees with you, then great! If not, respect their decision. Ultimately it's their call. Ask a mentor If you find you do need to express serious concerns about your employer, find someone you can trust to give you sound advice and keep it confidential. This person is perhaps a close friend or family member, or another professional who exercises sound judgment. Use them to guide you in your decision making. Know your organization's procedures In the worst case scenario, where you feel mistreated, figure out your organization's formal complaints process and use it. Your relationship with your employers, past and present, can be a positive one if you maintain your professionalism. By keeping your employers on your side, you can rely on strong references, potentially great mentors, and a support base for your career in the conservative movement.
Using Snapchat As An Activist
Stephen Rowe
July 21, 2017
Using Snapchat As An Activist
More than 160 million people check Snapchat every day -- and seven out of 10 of them are under the age of 35. The popular mobile app first became known for users posting videos and pictures that “self-destruct” (disappear) after they're played. But there's more to Snapchat than that. Members of Congress, media companies from the Wall Street Journal to the Food Network, and media personalities like Bret Baier are all on it too. Here's how you can make the most of Snapchat as an activist. #1 Usegeofilters The next time you're thinking of flyers for your event, think of Snapchat geofilters too. Geofilters are custom designs (think stickers) that overlay on Snapchat photos. They're limited to a specific location, known as a “geo-fence.” Example geo-fences may be inside a sports stadium, at a wedding venue, or a political rally or other event. You can create your own on-demand geofilters for any event to help spread your message. When people post a photo or video to Snapchat inside your pre-set geo-fence, they'll see your filter as an option. When they select it, they're sharing their photo or video plus your filter with their friends. Starting at just $5, geofilters are often cheaper than the printing costs of flyers -- and have the potential to reach far more people. That $5 goes far: 20,000 square feet or half the size of an NFL football field. You can use free design programs like Canva to create your custom design. Geofilters must be 1080x1920 pixels and saved as a PNG, a common type of graphics file. It is best to place your filter in the top or bottom quarter of the screen so the filter does not block the original photo. Choose when and where you want your custom design to be active. Then submit your design to Snapchat at least 24 hours in advance. (You can submit your design here.) The next day, you can see data about how your filter performed. #2 Create your story Snapchat lets you create custom stories within a specific location (yes, the geo-fence again). That means that anyone using Snapchat inside the geo-fence can contribute to a group story. You can select friends within your desired location to contribute to your story, or you can set it up so that friends of friends can also join in and see the fun. This all happens free of charge. This means more publicity for your events, conferences, and more. Your next event can be full of attendees sharing their experiences with their friends and on the geofenced story. You can create up to three custom Stories of your own. You can post an unlimited number of times in stories created by others. To make your own custom Story, swipe right on the home screen then click the plus symbol in the top right of your screen. Then select Geofence and pick your desired location. #3 BONUS: Take LI's Online Training: Emerging Social Media Platforms Structured as fun, easy-to-understand introductions, the three days of LI's Emerging Social Media Platforms Workshop will get you up and running on new, popular social media platforms -- including Snapchat. Each day, you will complete "deep dive" into Instagram (Monday), Snapchat (Tuesday), and Facebook Live (Wednesday). You can check out the full agenda – and sign up – here. You will learn: • how to set up your account and choose from the different types of posts for Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook Live; • the meaning common terms and acronyms, so you can maximize your presence; and • lessons learned from how campaigns, media companies, and conservative organizations are using each platform. Register for Emerging Social Media Platforms workshop.
A Blog Can Be Great For Your Career
Ben Woodward
July 2, 2017
A Blog Can Be Great For Your Career
When people think about blogs, they usually dismiss them as a prehistoric way of getting ideas into the public realm. Today many people prefer a 140-character tweet to a well thought out, self-published article that takes a lot of work to compose and publicize. However, when it comes to your career, demonstrating passion for your field is critical. Writing a blog, which is accessible to recruiters, could be what secures your next big opportunity. Here are 5 ways writing a blog can benefit your career. You can establish yourself as a thought leader Recruiters will expect to see that you have knowledge of your field and show an active interest. By writing a blog directly related to the professional area in which you want to progress, you can illustrate your interest and your ability to lead others. By communicating with readers in such a way that offers leadership, you are showing that you are a strong communicator and an innovative thinker. You can reach an audience directly Individuals who have not yet established themselves in their field do not interest most publishers. By writing your own blog, you cut out the intermediary and go directly to your chosen audience. When you write your blog, get your friends to share it, publish it on your social media and in relevant group chats, even tweet it to respected individuals in your field. That way you add validity to your work and show recruiters that readers respect your opinion. You have writing samples to show recruiters Good writers are in high demand, so not only will writing a blog refine your ability, but it will also give you examples of your writing you can show to recruiters. When you build your following and established people share your work, your blog posts gain validity as writing samples in job applications. In addition, by establishing a digital footprint you will have ‘Google Insurance.' This means that when a recruiter Googles your name they will see links to your blog. This shows you are engaged in the current trends of your industry and will significantly improve your likelihood of getting an interview. You can build a community of people interested in your field Building a following among your readers will get you noticed by others in your field. Taking an active role in the discussion will help you make connections. For example, if you are interested in foreign policy, blogging about it, and having your writing shared by those currently working in foreign affairs will get you noticed by potential recruiters. When you write a blog, remember to put links to your social media and personal website so readers and recruiters can find you easily. Your employer may value contributions Many employers in the conservative movement are looking for contributions to their websites and social media. By writing blog pieces you not only help your employer create content for their website and social media, but you also publish pieces through your organization which increases the validity of your writings. Successful workers take initiative. By writing a blog, you show employers you take an active interest in your work. If you have a significant following, use your blog to attract attention to your organization's successes. That way you can assist your employers beyond your day-to-day work. If you are interested in learning more about successful written communications for your career, please register for the Leadership Institute's Written Communications Workshop.
3 Effective Ways to Boost Your Facebook Engagement
Stephen Rowe
June 28, 2017
3 Effective Ways to Boost Your Facebook Engagement
You may notice a pattern every time you scroll your newsfeed. It starts with a relevant update, then an advertisement, and it doesn't take long before a video starts auto-playing. The biggest question on people's minds when they see this pattern is, “How do I get my content to appear first in everyone else's newsfeed?” Here are three things you can start doing now: 1. Go Live Creating a video is one of the quickest ways to grow your online presence and spread your message. Between 2015 and 2016, video consumption on Facebook increased 800% (from 1 billion views to 8 billion views per day). Now that's a big boost. Making things even better, Facebook gives precedence to videos over other pieces of content. Facebook even sends push notifications when friends “go live.” It's very easy to use Facebook live. You just update your status as usual, click “Live Video”, make sure everything is ready in preview, and click “Go Live” (pro tip: get a stabilizer for your iPhone or camera and a microphone for less than $35). Even if you're camera-shy, Facebook Live can still be for you. You can create live Facebook polls very easily with free sites like MyLivePolls. Then ask your audience relevant questions and watch your engagement soar. Video is king. Start using it! 2. Great visuals = Great social media Almost no one will stop scrolling for a huge chunk of text. But an engaging image will get you everywhere! Your Facebook page posts should have high-quality photos. People love great visuals more than they care to read. You don't have to be a design expert to create compelling visual graphics. Check out Canva.com if you are new to the design world. It's a free and simple graphic design tool website. Learn Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator at the Leadership Institute. The next Digital Creative Workshop: Design is just around the corner. 3. Posting frequency “How often should I post on Facebook?” You should post on Facebook as often as you have quality content. Just ensure your posts are spaced out at least an hour. If you have tons of content, then posting up to 15 times per day is a good thing. However, 95% of people don't have the quality content (or time) to post that much. Let your content dictate the frequency of your posting. Do your best to craft a content schedule and make it consistent. The marketplace will let you know if you're posting too much if you're getting poor engagement on your posts. If you're getting a solid number of likes, comments, and shares then try increasing how often you post. 4. BONUS: Check out the Leadership Institute's online Facebook for Activism training! If you liked the tips above, you will love this training. The Leadership Institute's Online Training: Facebook for Activism will show you how to use Facebook to build a movement around the candidate, campaign, or cause you're committed to. You will leave this training with strategies you can use to accomplish your goals, whether it's starting chapters, recruiting volunteers, building your meetings and events, or even just connecting your friends to each other. Specifically, you'll learn: how to prime your Facebook for success to activate people in your online community; best practices to create conten­t that your supporters will respond to and want to share; and a proven, five-step process to build relationships with your supporters. Learn more about Facebook for Activism here. Let me know what you think. Have you used any of the resources/tactics above? Leave a comment below.
I remember reciting my first speech
Autumn Campbell
May 25, 2017
I remember reciting my first speech
I remember reciting my first speech – “Respect the flag . . . “ – those are the only words I remember, maybe because that's the title. Although I don't remember the words, I do remember the feeling I had as a seven-year-old reciting the poem from memory in front of judges and others I didn't know. I was nervous. I had butterflies. And I knew I didn't want to mess up. I adjusted my sparkly Uncle Sam hat and waited for the judge's nod while my heart seemed to pound out of my chest. I drew a deep breath and began the poem. With shaky hands I held my props and waved my little flag at the appropriate time. And, I made it through. Whew! (Side note: I won at this particular competition. That is my claim to fame.) Maybe you're like me, and just reading about public speaking makes you nervous and sick to your stomach! Well, you're definitely not alone. In fact, public speaking is one of the most common fears. According to Toastmasters, fear of public speaking outranks the fear of death and loneliness! But I have great news! The Leadership Institute's Public Speaking Workshop and Advanced Public Speaking Workshop can help. LI has experienced faculty who can help you hone your speaking skills and give you personal feedback on your speech delivery. So overcome your childhood fear today! Register for the Leadership Institute's Public Speaking Workshop here. Or, register for the Leadership Institute's Advanced Public Speaking Workshop here.
Five things you should do in your first week at a new job
Ben Woodward
May 22, 2017
Five things you should do in your first week at a new job
Starting a new job is among the most daunting experiences in our professional lives. After all, you only get one chance at a first impression. As well as trying to wrap your head around your new responsibilities, learn the office culture, make friends, and demonstrate your ability, you're also trying to keep your feet on the ground and build a successful future for yourself. It is natural to want to keep your head down and not draw attention to yourself, like a mouse among sleeping cats. This is a mistake! Here are five things you should do in your first week: Ask your supervisor (and employees) to lunch By asking your supervisor to lunch, you are showing your new boss that you are confident in your new role and you are serious about learning the ropes. I would advise you to keep this lunch just the two of you if possible, as other employees may dominate the conversation. It is also an effective way to get to know your supervisor on a one-to-one basis, outside of the formal office environment. It is important for them to get to know you. This is your chance to tell them what you want out of this job and where you would like to go in your career. If you're a manager, take your staff out to lunch, either in small groups, or one-to-one if possible. This is your chance to understand what makes these individuals tick, and establish what you expect from them. Introduce yourself to everybody in the office You will be spending lots of time with the people in your department and organization over the next few months and years. So be sure to take some time to introduce yourself to everybody in the kitchens, boardrooms, or even by visiting their workspace. Understanding the office culture is critical to success. You will likely need to collaborate with other departments on a multitude of projects, so make friends with them quickly to establish your relationship. Too many new employees fail to integrate themselves into the social side of a new office and get left out in the cold. Learn about all of the current and upcoming projects Fully brief yourself on all of the current projects in your department. Wherever possible, you should do your research, but do not be afraid to ask smart questions. It is in your colleagues' interests to help you succeed, as your work will affect theirs. Try to establish what other people are working on and where you can be of assistance, but also what scope you have for innovation. Every employer is different; some will let you pursue your projects, whereas others prefer a top-down approach. Learn about the location of your office Being successful at work requires you to be happy in your job, and comfortable in your environment. However moving to a new place, especially if you have moved away from home or college for the first time can make you feel isolated and unsettled. This is not conducive to success in your new job. Ensure that you learn the area quickly. Where are the best restaurants, bars, and coffee shops? What activities are happening locally? With whom in your office do you share hobbies? This will help you to settle quickly into your new environment, and even take the lead in your office's social life. Reconnect with former colleagues It is easy when you start a new job to be swept up in your new professional life. As a keen networker, try to get into the habit of keeping in touch with your old colleagues quickly. You never know when you will need a referral, or when your new job requires a connection from your past. Remember to keep those professional relationships alive.
Morton's Daylily Offer to Wednesday Wakeup Club Breakfast Attendees
Morton C. Blackwell
April 3, 2017
Morton's Daylily Offer to Wednesday Wakeup Club Breakfast Attendees
Dear fellow conservative, You may know that I cross breed and raise daylilies and send hundreds of daylily plants each year to Leadership Institute donors who have requested them. Now I have a problem that I ask you to help me solve. Each spring I carefully cross pollinate my most lovely and interesting daylily flowers to produce new varieties. I harvest the mature seeds in August and plant them in trays to grow through the winter in my office windows until all danger of frost is past. Then I plant the seedlings outside in flower beds. A year later, the new plants bloom, and I can give really fine ones to LI donors with descriptions of their flowers. The problem I hope you will help me solve is that last August so many seeds germinated that I have many more seedlings than I have room to plant in my flower beds. I've filled with new seedlings all the available flower beds, and I have hundreds of healthy, extraordinary seedlings that will die if not planted soon. They are extraordinary because each seedling has a complex ancestry from decades of my serious crossbreeding program. Each seedling is a new variety, and I have no idea what colors or flower designs a seedling will produce. Of course, I could just discard all the extra seedlings, but I would really, really hate to do that. Almost all of them will produce very fine flowers, and some of them will be spectacular. Each spring, I go to my flower beds and note the characteristics of my new varieties which bloom for the first time. I can't say that it's as exciting as when I first held in my arms my newborn son and my grandchildren. But it's somewhat analogous. So to keep from destroying these products of my decades of efforts, I'm asking you, if you possibly can, to adopt some of my seedlings. Daylilies are mostly grown outside in yards, but they will do well inside in pots by windows that get plenty of sunshine. Outside they require virtually no care; inside they need only occasional watering when the soil gets dry. Will you adopt some of this year's seedlings? I've personally prepared sealed plastic bags, each containing four seedlings, and written instructions as to how to plant them outside or in pots. They should be taken now and planted as soon as possible. If you have a yard or have friends with yards who will take some, or if perhaps you'll decide to grow them inside in pots, please see my executive assistant, Cathy Graham, after the breakfast. They will be given away in packets of four seedlings each along with planting instructions. Then next year, when the plants first bloom, you or your friends will have the satisfaction of seeing the blooms of your unique, new varieties of daylilies. Above are two of the many different colors and elegant flower designs that my seedlings have produced. Please help some of these seedlings to survive. Cordially, Morton To take advantage of Morton Blackwell's daylily offer, sign up for the April 5, 2017 Wednesday Wakeup Club Breakfast and talk with Cathy Graham after the breakfast.
In Memory of Richard (
Morton C. Blackwell
June 14, 2016
In Memory of Richard ("Rick") E. Hendrix (1957-2016)
With great sadness, I report the passing of a friend, a colleague, a leader in the conservative movement, and a good and humble man. Rick Hendrix passed away yesterday, June 13, at Fairfax INOVA Hospital. He was surrounded by his loving family and friends. Rick worked as a direct mail fundraiser for more than three decades. Most know him as a founding partner of ClearWord Communications Group, a successful and effective high-dollar direct mail agency. For 10 years before that, from 1993 to 2003, Rick ran the direct mail program here at the Leadership Institute. He oversaw a more than tenfold increase in the Institute's donor base. Staff often joked that Rick could write in my voice even better than I could. For the last 23 years, Rick provided the copy for many of the Institute's monthly mailings. His work generated millions of dollars in donations that have made the Institute's many activities possible. Rick volunteered as a lecturer for almost all of the Institute's fundraising schools. Over the years, he taught thousands of conservatives how to build fundraising programs for their organizations. The entire conservative movement and our country benefitted greatly from Rick's generosity in sharing his time and talent. Rick was the director of the Direct Mail Track at Madison Down Under, a fundraising conference sponsored by the Fundraising Institute of Australia, and was a regular speaker at American University's Campaign Management Institute. He was a certified fundraising executive (CFRE) and a member of both the Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He was active in Republican politics in Virginia and served as a member of the Electoral Board in Prince William County. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of my Conservative Leadership PAC. Rick is survived by his wife Taania and their three daughters, Emily, Laura, and Megan. Morton C. Blackwell President Leadership Institute
A Letter from Morton this Memorial Day
Morton C Blackwell
May 30, 2016
A Letter from Morton this Memorial Day
Please let me take a moment with you to remember our fallen soldiers and what their sacrifice means on this Memorial Day. Thanks to our armed forces, you and I possess many precious freedoms in America. I've been to dozens of countries around the world. Yes, some of those countries are fairly safe and have modern amenities. But many others are not. Some are crime-ridden or war-torn. And some have a citizenry who have over the years fallen asleep and given away their freedoms to socialist overlords. America has our share of problems. But I've always been grateful to return to a country that beats all the alternatives. The work of the Leadership Institute cannot match the sacrifice of those who fought and died to protect the United States of America and all of us in it. But, by the blessing of God, and with your help, the Leadership Institute will train patriotic conservatives to preserve and advance our nation's founding principles – and make sure those who sacrificed themselves to protect those principles are honored and did not die in vain. Thank you for taking a moment to remember with me. Cordially, Morton C. Blackwell President Leadership Institute
Win America Back – through campaign powerhouses
Morton Blackwell
April 8, 2016
Win America Back – through campaign powerhouses
“I got involved in politics because of Barack Obama's election,” said Matt Krause. “I have four kids. I didn't want to be the generation that didn't leave a better country to my children and grandchildren than those who came before me.” I can't tell you how many times I've heard conservatives tell me a story similar to Matt's. But I'm encouraged more Americans every day wake up to the danger our country faces and take action. Matt Krause took the Leadership Institute's Future Candidate School and won election to the Texas House of Representatives. As a donor, you empower my staff and me to train thousands of conservative candidates and activists like Matt and turn them into campaign powerhouses. Together, you and I – and the conservatives we train – advance our shared conservative principles to win America back. The training for conservatives – and the success – you make possible To win America back from the left, the Leadership Institute will hold numerous comprehensive training schools this year to equip campaigners and candidates for action. For campaigners, the Leadership Institute's Campaign Management School teaches them how to: Create a strategic campaign plan Build a grassroots organization of trained volunteers Plan a get-out-the-vote ground operation Mobilize voters to the polls Win the election “The Leadership Institute is a training ground for the conservative movement,” said Senator Ted Cruz. “In fact, one of the ‘secret weapons' in our upset Senate victory in 2012 was top notch volunteers and staff members trained by Morton Blackwell and the Leadership Institute.” LI does not support or oppose candidates, but once trained, Leadership Institute graduates become hot campaign commodities and work for conservative candidates of their choice at all levels of government – on races for city council all the way up to the White House. In LI's Future Candidate School, aspiring candidates learn how to: Assemble a network of loyal volunteers and campaign staff Get on the election ballot Develop a winning campaign message Handle hostile news media Connect with voters on a personal level Today, 32 Leadership Institute graduates are U.S. Senators and Representatives, 18 hold statewide offices, and 422 serve as state representatives. Leadership Institute graduates hold elective office in all 50 states – thanks to the training you provided them with your support. The Leadership Institute's new Campaign Academy builds on the trainings proved to create winning candidates. LI's Campaign Academy trains everyday Americans from Main Street America – business owners, teachers, doctors, pastors, and hard-working professionals. This new crop of principled conservative candidates, betrayed by establishment leaders, has stepped forward to fight the liberals themselves. Candidates in LI's Campaign Academy learn how to run for elective office and focus on how to build neighborhood teams of volunteers, connect with voters door-to-door and over the phone, research the electorate and opposition candidates, and prepare for media interviews. Everything is on the line in 2016 In the 2016 elections, the stakes are high. America will either continue down the road to socialism – on which there's a point of no return – or, conservatives will steer America back toward freedom and prosperity. With your help, I'm doing everything in my power to build campaign powerhouses to win America back. Since the 2014 elections, my staff has trained 554 conservatives in LI's Future Candidate and Campaign Management Schools, and another 8,201 trained in 256 political training schools. I have four Campaign Academies scheduled in battleground areas this year, with more to come. Let me end with an encouraging word from someone you trained – the second-youngest legislator in America. “The Leadership Institute gave me the tools I needed to beat an experienced liberal Democrat,” said 19-year-old New Hampshire state representative Yvonne Dean-Bailey. “Their training makes young leaders successful in organizing campaigns. I'm so thankful for the donors who helped LI train me to win.”
12 Days of Christmas
Morton Blackwell
December 23, 2015
12 Days of Christmas
Moral outrage is the most powerful motivating force in politics. Every year, counter-culture bullies call for political correctness against celebrations of Christmas. College and university campuses are centers of this persecution. My staff at the Leadership Institute's Campus Reform powerfully satirized many of the actual regulations imposed by colleges as “inclusive holiday” guidelines. Their video, “The 12 Bans of Christmas,” a play on the popular “The 12 Days of Christmas” song, is quite funny, but it exposes outrageous leftist abuses. The list of actual bans includes the name of Jesus, Christmas parties, and even use of the colors red and green. The Leadership Institute fights counter-culture bias like this every day on college campuses. You'll enjoy the video below. See for yourself the out-of-control political correctness on college campuses this Christmas.
A Must Read: Mark Levin’s New Book Plunder and Deceit
Morton Blackwell
July 31, 2015
A Must Read: Mark Levin’s New Book Plunder and Deceit
In politics, it is not enough to know what's right. To succeed, your command of a subject must be so secure that you can persuade people you are right. And then you must activate them. Plunder and Deceit by Mark Levin is a necessary read for anyone who fights against statist power grabs. This new book sets the stage for the 2016 election and beyond. Levin's new book is a wake-up call, especially for young people. He explains the dangers of government and the coming crisis our country faces -- the loss of the greatest republic known to history. Before the 2016 election, educate your friends and family with this book about the growing dangers of big government. Young people must find the personal strength and will to break through the cycle of manipulation, unrelenting emotional overtures, and pressures of groupthink. Parents too often ignore the threats to their children's future. Plunder and Deceit calls for a new civil rights movement to end the exploitation of our children by statist government policies. Levin challenges young people to stand in their own defense so their generation and future generations can live in freedom. Plunder and Deceit will be released on August 4. However, you can pre-order this book today. Pre-order your copy of this must read, Plunder and Deceit by Mark Levin, today. I recommend Plunder and Deceit to every conservative activist and leader. Mark Levin is a nationally syndicated talk-radio host and president of Landmark Legal Foundation. He is the author of Liberty and Tyranny, the 38-week New York Times bestseller which spent three months at #1 and sold more than one million copies. I expect Plunder and Deceit to be widely read and distributed to young conservative activists and their parents. Activism without education in conservative principles is dangerous. Order your copy of Plunder and Deceit today.
Do You Want to be a National Convention Delegate?
Morton Blackwell
April 2, 2015
Do You Want to be a National Convention Delegate?
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 elected 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 19, Steve was elected a Reagan delegate to the 1976 G.O.P. national convention. Four years later, in 1980, Steve 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 with quotas 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 those 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, social media, and press advertising, a great deal of money, and many more people than a convention. But while it helps to be an expert at convention politics and primary election politics, 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 sizable minority of the primary votes may get some of the state's delegate votes. Rules for delegate apportionment for candidates in proportional primary states vary widely. In some primary states, delegates are elected by the party separately from the presidential primary. In these states, delegates are bound by the primary to vote at the national convention for the presidential candidate who wins the state's primary, for one or more ballots or until "released" by the candidate for whom they were obliged to vote. Neither state conventions nor primaries require 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 organize 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 Republican 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. national 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. In 1963, I was one of the original eight members of the Steering Committee of National Youth for Goldwater. 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. 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: Are you committed to our candidate? Are your commitments ever shaken by pressure, threats or bribes? Do you have personal supporters whose help would strengthen our candidate's entire slate of delegates? Will you be a hard-working campaigner for our slate of delegates? Are you sure to attend the national convention? Could you be useful to our candidate in winning more delegates to our side at the national convention? Do you have support and contacts in our candidate's national organization? Is there any likelihood you will say or do something foolish to damage our candidate? Is there anything in your background which would embarrass our candidate? 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. An alternate delegate has all the rights and privileges a delegate has 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 was minor at the national convention in San Francisco. As a volunteer, I stuffed 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 against a 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 our conservative plan was California Governor Ronald Reagan. Since 1972 that delegate allocation plan has withstood liberal challenges in court and at some subsequent G.O.P. national conventions. With few changes, it still is the basis for the allocation of delegates to the national convention. Since 1964, I've participated actively in each of the GOP national conventions, almost always as a delegate or alternate delegate but also, since 1988, as a member from Virginia of my party's national committee. The circumstances back in 1972, when I was not even an alternate delegate, permitted me to have what was probably my biggest impact to date on what went on at a presidential nominating convention. 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 process puts 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 historian 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.
Fearless Journalist Kaitlyn Schallhorn
Morton Blackwell
February 2, 2015
Fearless Journalist Kaitlyn Schallhorn
Drumroll please…..the winner of the Leadership Institute's 2014 employee of the year is Miss Kaitlyn Schallhorn. Kaitlyn Schallhorn joined the Leadership Institute as a Campus Reform (CRO) reporter in February of 2014. One of the first things Kaitlyn wrote for CRO was a 1,500 word exclusive report that uncovered a corrupt Black Panther professor, who was intimidating students, and involved in a graduation scandal that resulted in the resignation of the university's chancellor. But Kaitlyn's crowning achievement has been her tireless work developing and implementing the Campus Reform Campus Correspondent Program. In less than one year, Kaitlyn grew the Campus Correspondent Program from just one to 22 correspondents. The Campus Reform Campus Correspondent Program started with Lauren Cooley, a student at Furman University in South Carolina. While at Furman, Cooley discovered and wrote about the University of South Carolina - Upstate using taxpayer dollars to host a “How to be a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less” symposium. After she broke the story on CampusReform.org, the school was forced to cancel the event. Cooley's victory was just the beginning of the program's success. As the program grew, Samantha Reinis and Miller Thompson, both Clemson University campus correspondents, exposed an offensive mandatory student survey. While the South Carolina school said the survey was to help curtail sexual assaults on campus, the survey asked personally invasive questions about the sex lives of students and faculty on campus. Kaitlyn investigated the information and assisted the students in reporting the facts. Within six hours of the story being published on Campus Reform, Clemson withdrew the mandatory survey. The story was carried by nearly every major news outlet, including The Washington Post, ESPN, and was even featured in the monologue for NBC's Late Night with Seth Meyer, a first for Campus Reform. Because of Kaitlyn's hard work, campus correspondents have been featured on national television programs exposing liberal bias on campus. Lauren Clark, a junior at Arizona State University, has been featured on Fox News and Fox Business; Gabriella Morrongiello, a senior at George Washington University, has appeared on Fox News, One America News Network, and Sun News in Canada. Because of her exceptional work ethic, fearless approach to journalism, and all that the Campus Correspondent Program has accomplished in 2014, I am proud to name Kaitlyn Schallhorn as the 2014 Leadership Institute Employee of the Year.
President Reagan on New Year's Day
Morton Blackwell
January 1, 2015
President Reagan on New Year's Day
On January 1, 1982, Ronald Reagan said: “Although I know most of the world celebrates the New Year with us today, I think this holiday is an especially American tradition. Most of us are at home or with our families this morning, getting ready to watch the splendor of parades and excitement of football. Later our families will gather around the dinner table, and we'll pray for guidance and strength in the New Year. Today we take a short and well-earned break from the building and industry and enterprise that make our country strong. We pause to reflect on the values of God and family and freedom that make us great.” Ronald Reagan was a strong president. A man of faith, a man of conservative principles, and a man of action – who loved America and knew what made our country great. I served for three years under President Reagan on his White House Staff. I miss him. But with your help, the Leadership Institute trains students, leaders, and activists who believe in the conservative principles Reagan embraced – and the principles you and I cherish today. Those conservatives you train through the Leadership Institute work to restore our founding principles to America. You equipped them with Institute training, and many of them won elections in 2014. Many Institute graduates prepare now for the crucial 2016 elections. And young conservatives push back and win against the liberals on college campuses nationwide, thanks to you. Thank you for your friendship. With your help, you and I will see more conservatives in the mold of President Reagan rebuild our precious country. Cordially, Morton C. Blackwell
George Washington and the Leadership Institute
Morton Blackwell
November 26, 2014
George Washington and the Leadership Institute
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Our nation's first president issued a proclamation of Thanksgiving on October 3, 1789 “to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many favors of Almighty God ... especially an opportunity to establish a form of government for our safety and happiness.” In his proclamation, George Washington also asked Americans to pray for our government to be “a blessing to all the people by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws.” A fellow Leadership Institute's donor graciously loaned a full-size portrait of George Washington. It stands in the Leadership Institute's headquarters to remind my staff and me about the America our founding fathers built – a country built on prayer, tradition, and hard work. With your help, the Leadership Institute fights to uphold those “wise, just, constitutional” principles – our shared conservative principles – for this generation and those to come. I'm thankful for your friendship and support. Have a blessed Thanksgiving Day. Cordially, Morton C. Blackwell President Leadership Institute
Today, you and I celebrate Veterans Day
Morton Blackwell
November 11, 2014
Today, you and I celebrate Veterans Day
Today, you and I celebrate Veterans Day. All my staff at the Leadership Institute join me in honoring our veterans in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Our nation's armed forces give their blood, toil, tears, and sweat – both in war and peacetime – to keep America free. I count myself blessed to live in a prosperous country defended by the greatest military in the world. And our country still holds a special place in history, despite all that the liberals do to sabotage it. Let me share with you an article about Army veteran and Leadership Institute graduate Larry Provost. Please click here to read how LI donor support trained Larry in our grassroots schools – and helped him flip a Virginia legislative seat from liberal to conservative. That's the kind of victory your support achieves. Our veterans serve to protect our founding principles. And to the Leadership Institute donors, I thank you for your continued support to preserve those principles you and I share. Cordially, Morton C. Blackwell President Leadership Institute
Sutton's Place: Predictions...Plus 10 in the Senate
Steve Sutton
October 29, 2014
Sutton's Place: Predictions...Plus 10 in the Senate
As I write this, there is exactly one week left before the 2014 election. In the spirit of the season, it is time for predictions. Yet rather than make any new predictions, I will simply repeat two predictions about this year's elections, which I made last year (December 2013 to be exact). Ten months ago I made two bold predictions. The first was that no incumbent GOP U.S. Senator would lose his primary. Not one. Not Lindsey Graham…not Lamar Alexander…not Mitch McConnell…not them nor any others. And as it turned out, that prediction came true. So why did I make that prediction? Because campaigns matter. And I didn't see a strong enough infrastructure in place for any conservative to successfully challenge an incumbent U.S. Senator. That includes (but is not limited to) well-prepared/trained candidates, staff, volunteers, organization, and fundraisers. It was my belief that incumbent GOP Senators were not going to be surprised in 2014 like some had been in 2010. In 2012, several GOP incumbents survived because they were ready (i.e. Orrin Hatch), proactive, and aggressive. They showed how to win in the new climate of GOP primaries, and their fellow incumbent Senators saw what they did and learned from their example. Without the element of surprise, conservative candidates were going to have to run better campaigns to succeed. And it just didn't appear to me that they had the resources (or understanding) to do so. My second prediction has yet to occur. I remain optimistic that it will come true. In December of 2013, I predicted that the GOP would pick-up ten seats in the U.S. Senate. That's a net gain of ten seats. No caveats. No conditions. No equivocation. What was the basis of that prediction? At the time, President Obama's popularity had breached below the 50% favorability threshold that signals trouble. The single most important metric of off-year elections in a President's second term is that President's favorability rating. Over 50% and a President's party does well enough (holds onto seats…limits losses…may even gain here or there). Under 50% and there's trouble brewing. And under 45% means all he's got left is his base…and they are usually not all that enthusiastic, making the election results even worse. And the President's fall in popularity was based upon a lack of trust. Once trust is lost, it is almost impossible to regain. Reagan (after Iran-Contra) and Clinton (after Lewinsky) recovered because they both admitted some level of responsibility. Obama never has (and never will) because to him, his problems are all everyone else's fault. In fact, he just doubles down. In the face of that climate, my belief was that Republicans would run the table and that 2014 would be similar to 2010. And so that's what led to my prediction of a net of 10 seats for the GOP in the U.S. Senate. That will mean no loses (so the GOP will need to retain Kansas, Kentucky, and Georgia). And that means winning North Carolina and New Hampshire. We'll know in a week. But I'll stand by that 2013 prediction and see where the chips fall.
Likely Leftist Messaging
Steve Sutton
October 8, 2014
Likely Leftist Messaging
In case you're still confused or unsure how the left will approach this year's campaigns, here's an insightful article from the LA Times. Economic populism is the polite way the left phrases their campaign of "who to blame." Remember, the left runs their campaigns (not just election campaigns, but public policy "campaigns") on the premise that it's "Us" versus "Them." They define the "Them" and if you're not one of "Them" then you are one of "Us." That's the way to build a winning, majority coalition. They start with who to blame and then pivot to those who are victimized by that group. In this case, blame the rich (and powerful). It's their fault that you are where you are. “They” won't raise the minimum wage. “They” won't pay women equal pay. “They” are uncaring and out of touch and for the rich. Class warfare. Income inequality. Get ready for it. It's coming (it's already here). And remember to deflect it and get back on your message.
Sutton's Place Returns
Steve Sutton
September 24, 2014
Sutton's Place Returns
Labor Day marks the end of summer and the return of many special American traditions...children return to school, the football season begins, leaves change color...and Sutton's Place returns from an extended summer hiatus. The political season is upon us as well. Rather than an occasional commentary every week or two, Sutton's Place will be very active during the next several weeks. So expect to see more frequent observations and opinions (at least through Election Day). Let's start with a discussion of the relatively obscure Democrat primary for Governor in Rhode Island. Who thought RI's Dem primary would hold a valuable lesson for conservatives? Check out this op-ed from the Washington Post. It details the candidacy (and victory) of Gina Raimondo who championed an aggressive restructuring of public sector employee union pensions in RI. You may recall the attempt to recall Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin, an important campaign which drew our attention. But on the same day that recall attempt failed, there were two very important referendums in California that deserved our attention as well. On the ballot for voter approval in two different California cities were initiatives to trim public sector employee union pensions...one in San Diego and another in San Jose. The ballot initiatives passed easily in both cities. San Jose voted overwhelmingly (more than 2/3rds, I believe) for President Obama and has a Democrat mayor (also an Obama supporter). But San Jose voters voted 2/3rds FOR the limits on union pensions. The mayor strongly supported the initiative as well. There are two important reasons that voters support trimming public sector union pensions. One is that public services are being limited/curtailed/cut to pay for generous pensions. Parks are closing, libraries are reducing their hours, and even police and fire protection is being limited. This is why many Democrats/liberals (who believe strongly in greater government services) are voting to limit public sector employee union pensions. The other reason is that in order to continue paying the generous pensions, voters/taxpayers are being asked to raise taxes on people making $45,000 a year to pay for more generous benefits for people making $65,000 a year. In addition to better pension plans (i.e. lifetime defined benefit retirement pensions with COLAs), government union workers also get better health care plans, greater job protections, and higher salaries than non-government workers. That is simply not acceptable to middle America. This is a solid issue to blunt talk of "income inequality". This is income inequality created by government and liberal politicians who pick winners and losers and favor special interests. It puts conservatives (and rational liberals) on the common sense side of fighting for middle America, and reveals the most extreme big-gov't liberals for what they are. It's a great issue to champion. Just be prepared...the unions will hate you. But they already do, don't they?
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