Conservative Colloquium

An Intellectual Forum for All Things Conservative

Archive for the ‘Political Activism’ Category

How a Coalition of Conservative Student Groups (Including College Republicans) Should Work

Posted by Tony Listi on July 7, 2011

Many conservative students are involved in partisan groups like the College Republicans and see non-partisan groups as redundant, unnecessary, and unimportant.

But in fact, non-partisan, conservative groups have several advantages over partisan groups:

Principle over Party or Person: Conservative groups are more likely to actually be and stay conservative. Their mission is to stay loyal to timeless, unchanging principles rather than to party platforms that may change over time or to politicians that will sacrifice principles out of fear and self-interest. What is the point of winning if you aren’t going to use your power and influence to promote conservative principles and policies?

Greater Dedication: Because non-partisan groups are explicitly and inherently about principle, the members of those groups are naturally going to be more dedicated. People who are more dedicated to a principled cause itself than to any party or person are the most dedicated people in the world.

Resources Available: The resources available to non-partisan, conservative groups are much greater than those available to partisan groups. There are a wide variety of conservative non-profits like the Leadership Institute that cannot and do not engage in or support partisan politics.

Click here to take a look at all the wonderful benefits that non-partisan student groups recognized by the Leadership Institute can take advantage of! Take notice of the publicity/media relations and fundraising assistance in particular.

Larger Pool for Recruitment and Support: More Americans identify as conservative than with any party affiliation.

But just because non-partisan, conservative groups have these advantages doesn’t mean that partisan groups are unnecessary or do not fulfill a vital role in a conservative coalition of campus groups.

In order to develop as many dedicated and effective young conservative leaders as possible and to win political battles on campus and beyond, a coalition of many conservative groups is necessary.

The more groups on any given campus the better, provided each has an effective leader-organizer. The left has tons of student groups on the typical campus, not just the College Democrats, and they are successful because of it. Conservatives should have just as many groups, if not more.

Specialization is key to movement success:

Quality: Specialized, single-issue groups usually attract and can harness students and non-student supporters with more dedication and enthusiasm.

Leadership Development: More groups means more opportunities for students to take leadership roles and develop as leaders.

Division of Labor: Specialized, single-issue groups can also do more regular, ongoing, and effective outreach and activism on their issue area than a general conservative group which must split its time, resources, and energy among many issues. Why have one group do everything and accomplish little when you can have many groups each focusing on their one issue and accomplish a lot?

Quantity: Specialization also brings more people into the movement overall than would otherwise join with only one general conservative group. It also helps diffuse tension among students on the center-right who don’t agree on every issue.

Here are eight groups that a complete conservative campus coalition would include:

Partisan and non-partisan groups play different activism roles in the campus coalition.

Non-partisan, conservative student groups should focus their activist efforts on the campus, culturally and institutionally, and on Republican primary campaigns and elections. Partisan groups like the College Republicans should focus on general elections, hopefully after a principled conservative has won the Republican nomination. Non-partisan, conservative groups should help conservatives win Republican primaries; College Republicans should then help get those conservative Republicans elected.

The activism of non-partisan, conservative student groups should push the political culture, the collective political conversation on campus, as far to the right as possible. That way the College Republicans can occupy a more middle position on a political spectrum that has been shifted to the right. (Click here to learn more about this strategy called shifting the Overton Window!) College Republicans chapter leaders need to consciously understand this strategy and not join in on the left’s attempts to push back against and discredit this shift. Republicans should not throw conservative movement activists under the bus.

If both partisan and non-partisan groups understand the big picture of the coalition and how their role fits into that big picture, both the conservative movement and the Republican Party on campus will achieve more political victories.

How will this conservative coalition on campus come to be?

The general conservative group should be the foundation of the coalition. It should play a crucial role in establishing and maintaining the campus coalition. This group should become a permanent, established group on campus, serving as a human resources department for the movement on campus:

  • Identifying, recruiting, and training new leaders to start the other coalition groups
  • Educating about and instilling dedication for conservative principles
  • Providing the other coalition member groups with manpower, research, training, and other guidance and assistance
  • Directing the coalition on two crucial, mutually beneficial projects: a campus canvass and a donor/alumni canvass.

Working together, the members of the coalition can help each other identify the hot-button issues of students, donors, alumni, parents, and other supporters and channel them to the appropriate group where they will be most dedicated. Their time, energy, labor, resources, and funds are crucial to real change on a campus and beyond.

This coalition only works when student leaders see the effectiveness of and embrace the necessity of movement politics and coordination. Little, if any, individual group’s self-interest is sacrificed, for the gains more than make up for the investment in teamwork. The coalition also requires leaders to get along with each other and work together even if they don’t agree 100% on all the issues. It will require dedication, but the rewards are immense and enduring!

A few organizational features of this coalition of groups will enable it to operate effectively in practice:

Interlocking Membership/Joint Group Meetings: Initially, if one is starting from scratch, a group of eight or fewer cadre conservatives could each become the leader of one conservative “group” in the coalition and be a member of the other coalition “groups.” These student groups could hold joint meetings to discuss their progress in building up the membership of their individual groups. Each leader could help the others recruit for their groups. Organization building should be the focus of the joint meetings.

Coalition Leaders Meetings: As the membership of each individual group grows, joint meetings should give way to separate meetings for each individual coalition group. The joint group meetings should transform into meetings for just the leaders of the individual coalition groups. Inter-coalition communication and coordination and joint canvass and activism projects should be the focus of these meetings.

To start a non-partisan, conservative group on your campus today, contact your Regional Field Coordinator for advice, assistance, and many kinds of support all along the way.

Advertisements

Posted in Political Activism, Student Activism, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Conservatives Donate Too Much to Think Tanks and Partisan Orgs

Posted by Tony Listi on December 20, 2010

Conservatives will never actually halt and roll back the uninterrupted statist trend over the past century if conservative donors are not funding movement organizations that actually make American culture more conservative, get conservatives elected, and get conservative legislation passed. Think tanks and partisan organizations don’t do any of these things. The organizations that do accomplish these things focus on grassroots organizing, activism, legal action, media & communication, arts & entertainment, and training.

Think tanks don’t win policy battles. Throwing a policy paper at a politician and hoping he will change his mind is insane. Unless the politician is a true believer (and there are many more on the left than on the right) who is willing to lose an election to further an agenda, organized votes and money (or some really bad publicity) are the only thing that will change his mind.

Think tanks are most effective when conservatives are already in power. Then the policy analysis can be used and quoted by conservatives in power to lend an air of scientific accuracy and credibility to policies that common sense, reason, and basic principles already prove to be true. When conservatives are not in power, the policy papers and eggheads of the political right are ignored. These are the facts of history: the Heritage Foundation was riding high in being listened to during the Reagan years, the Gingrich years, and Republican dominance from 2002-2006. But when the Democrats gained power in 2006 and 2008, they couldn’t have cared less what the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, or American Enterprise Institute thought.

The very fact that the Heritage Foundation has now started Heritage Action, a 501(c)4 proves the limits of the think tank.

Partisan organizations are most effective when conservatives are already the Republican Party nominees. Why are conservatives giving so much money to partisan organs when there is no guarantee that the money will actually support conservative candidates (and when in fact the money has gone to RINOs in the past)? Conservatives should focus their money on primaries, and then the Republican hacks will have to follow.

Basically, 501(c)4s, legal foundations, and PACs of various sorts have the potential to make substantial contributions to the conservative movement because they organize votes, money, and/or legal action. 501(c)3s that focus on mass education do not have this potential and are largely useless, despite the media attention they may get or buy. But 501(c)3s that focus on youth culture, youth education, youth politics, and youth training do well. They sow deep and powerful seeds for the future.

But the budgets of think tanks and partisan organizations are much larger than those of the more effective organizations. Here are the annual budgets of various organizations:

Republican National Committee: $320 million (2008, revenue)

Think Tanks
Focus on the Family: $130.3 million (2009, revenue)
Heritage Foundation: $71.6 million (2009, revenue); $63.6 million (2008, revenue)
Hoover Institution: $36.7 million (2006-7, revenue; endowment worth $437 million)
Cato Institute: $20.4 million (FY 2010, revenue); $20.6 (FY 2009, revenue)
American Enterprise Institute: $20.2 million (2008, revenue)
Family Research Council: $12.1 million (2009, revenue)
Media Research Center: $11.3 million (2008, revenue)
Mercatus Center: $7.9 million (2009, revenue)
Acton Institute: $6.2 million (2008, revenue)
Competitive Enterprise Institute: $4.7 million (2009, revenue)
Claremont Institute: $3.3 million (2009, revenue)
Ludwig von Mises Institute: $2.7 million (2008, revenue)
Independent Institute: $1.9 million (2009, revenue)

Effective Organizations
Alliance Defense Fund
: $30.1 million (2009, revenue)
Institute for Justice: $10.2 million (2009, revenue)
Federalist Society: $9.9 million (2009, revenue)
Americans for Prosperity: $7.5 million (2008, revenue)
Leadership Institute: $7.4 million (2009, revenue)
Institute for Humane Studies: $6.8 million (2009, revenue)
FreedomWorks: $4.2 million (2009, revenue)
National Organization for Marriage: $3 million (2009, revenue)
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: $2.8 million (2009, revenue)
National Right to Life Committee: $2.6 million (2009, revenue)

And what do you think the left spends its money on? On organizations that mould young minds and that can get money and votes for liberal politicians. The left didn’t even start funding think tanks until recently. The left doesn’t need think tanks; it has colleges and universities! The left supplements the funding it gets from millionaires and billionaires with taxpayer money and union dues.

Here are the annual budgets of some top leftist organizations:

United Nations: $13.9 billion
National Education Association (NEA): $307 million
Service Employees International Union (SEIU): $300 million
Democratic National Committee: $260.1 million
AFL-CIO: $120 million
Planned Parenthood Federation of America: $106.4 million
ACLU: $73.1 million
Center for American Progress: $27 million ($2.5 million of which is devoted to Campus Progress, a youth outreach arm)
Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN): $25 million
Center for Community Change: $17.7 million
Human Rights Campaign Foundation : $9.6 million
People for the American Way Foundation: $8.3 million
Greenpeace Fund: $7.6 million

There’s a ton of small, left-wing community organizing groups nationwide. They are decentralized, effective, and well funded.

Because the education system is largely monopolized by the state, taxpayers fund the left in our schools from kindergarten through college.

Because the arts & entertainment industry is a profitable enterprise, irresponsible parents and young adults are primarily funding the left in its artistic efforts against traditional moral values.

How do conservatives expect to win eventually when we are outspent and not even spending our own resources wisely?!

Posted in American Culture, Culture War, Elections and Campaigns, Government and Politics, Political Activism, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Culture War as Stigma War

Posted by Tony Listi on August 1, 2010

Tyranny in democratic republics does not proceed in the same way, however. It ignores the body and goes straight for the soul. The master no longer says: You will think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do. You may keep your life, your property, and everything else. But from this day forth you shall be as a stranger among us. You will retain your civic privileges, but they will be of no use to you. For if you seek the votes of your fellow citizens, they will withhold them, and if you seek only their esteem, they will feign to refuse even that. You will remain among men, but you will forfeit your rights to humanity. When you approach your fellow creatures, they will shun you as one who is impure. And even those who believe in your innocence will abandon you, lest they, too, be shunned in turn. Go in peace, I will not take your life, but the life I leave you with is worse than death.
Alexis de Tocqueville

A friend of mine drew my attention to a very important article written by Jeff Schafer at the Alliance Defense Fund. It’s entitled “Stigma and Dogma, Revisited.”

This article re-echoes something that De Tocqueville (quoted above) observed early on about the dangerous tendencies of democratic culture. Stigma and social pressure rule the day in a democracy.

Yet stigma and social pressure were what kept the U.S. conservative and free for so long, esp. with regard to our current social issues. In the early history of America, abortion and deviations from traditional marriage were so powerfully and thoroughly stigmatized that they were not political issues at all. Not so anymore.

Stigma is the expression of moral outrage. The article reminds me of one of the Leadership Institute’s Laws of the Public Policy Process: “Moral outrage is the most powerful motivating force in politics.”

If conservatives are to take the long-term view of changing the culture in order to win (as the left did over a century ago), we have to be willing to publicly engage in the Stigma War. Big govt., govt. coercion, govt. dependency, promiscuity, sexual perversity, infanticide, etc. must all become shameful, stigmatized things again. Conservatives have to be willing to publicly denounce these things as immoral and shameful.

Why do you think the left likes to engage in name-calling? Racist, sexist, homophobe, bigot, etc. All these epithets are intended to stigmatize conservative views, whether the labels rationally apply or not. And they’ve done a pretty good job of it.

When people evaluate candidates or policies, it is moral factors that determine their choices; it is the elements of shame and guilt that convince people to be politically active and to hold certain political views with intensity.

We need not lose hope completely that the world is doomed to irrationality though. Feelings of guilt, shame, and moral outrage do not spring up spontaneously or irrationally; they are rooted in certain rational, though often false, paradigms and faith systems. The problem with the left is not that they aren’t rational; they are, assuming their faith-based assumptions to be true. It’s the fundamental assumptions about the nature of reality, human nature, and justice that separate us from them. (And these false assumption are inculcated into Americans through the cultural institutions of primary schools, academia, arts & entertainment, churches, and the media.)

We need to bring the reasons for our political faith and assumptions to the surface in the most clear, concise, direct, impactful, and thought-provoking ways possible. And this is where the necessity of activism comes in. And good activism is based on good organizational preparation beforehand that gathers the people and resources to make activism effective.

Moreover, activism should be directed not merely at challenging current leftist stigmas and dogmas but toward recapturing the cultural institutions mentioned above that inculcate these false stigmas and dogmas into American youth (and older).

Posted in Abortion, American Culture, American History, Culture War, Democracy, Education, Government and Politics, Liberalism, Marriage, Moral Philosophy, Political Activism, Political Philosophy, Political Psychoanalysis, Race, Racism, and Affirmative Action, Student Activism, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Why Youth Politics Matters More than the Next Election

Posted by Tony Listi on February 28, 2010

Conservatives of all ages tend to be very short-sighted and ineffective when it comes to political warfare. They put all their energy into electoral and legislative battles but largely ignore the crucial Culture War that CampusReform.org fights daily.

When things get bad politically, conservatives volunteer and work for campaigns, for political parties, and for already elected officials. And when they win an election or legislative battle, they rejoice and go back to their normal lives…until the other side starts winning the elections and policy battles again.

But a battle here or there in itself is meaningless. Who is winning the war? The left is.

Why? Because despite the Reagan Revolution and the consequent short-lived ascendance of the Republican Party, the overall trend in public policy has been toward more government control of the economy and more government-pushed erosion of traditional moral values.

How did this happen? Conservatives have allowed the left to largely dominate the key cultural institutions that shape and determine political outcomes: schools, arts & entertainment industry, churches, and the media.

Create a leftist electorate and leftists will get elected. Simple as that.

While conservatives thought they were turning the tide in the 80s, 90s, and first half of the 00s, leftists had a better long-term strategy, steadily increasing their control over American culture, especially youth culture. All of a sudden, young people helped Barack Obama get elected, not just with their votes but also with the favorable image and winning psychology they provided him.

But which cultural institutions should be a priority for conservatives? The leftist monopoly on the media has been broken. FOX News, talk radio, and the internet have seen to that. Conservatives still do better than leftists among the church-going crowd because of the pro-life and pro-marriage factions of the conservative movement that Reagan and George W. Bush brought on board. But the left has made some gains over time, deceiving many Christians into believing that government can be compassionate and charitable.

But neither the churches nor the media has as great an influence on young Americans as do our schools and the arts & entertainment industry. Teachers unions, liberal professors, Hollywood airheads, musical blowhards, and misguided entertainers promote Big Government and immoral lifestyles among the young.

We shouldn’t have to wait and hope for sincerely misguided young liberals to grow up to become conservatives. If we take these institutions seriously and meet the challenge of reclaiming them, there will be more cradle-to-grave conservatives and more effective, intense conservative activists generation after generation.

Why are young people crucial to long-term political success?

  • It will take generations to undo what the left has inflicted on us over several generations.
  • They are future candidates, campaign staffers, campaign donors, activists, teachers, professors, artists, actors, musicians, priests, pastors, pundits, and journalists.
  • They can recruit and persuade their peers to join and be active in the conservative movement.
  • The young today become the electorate that decides tomorrow’s elections.
  • They will have children who eventually join the Culture War and the electorate that decides future elections.

Therefore, the most important policy endeavors conservatives can undertake lie in the realm of education, at both the primary and college level.

The left has understood this and is patient, fighting the daily battles always with the long-term cultural objective in mind. If conservatives want their principles to win, they will follow suit, giving priority of time and resources to supporting student activists!

Here’s what you can do to join the ranks in the broader war for the hearts and minds of American youth:

  1. Support the mission of CampusReform.org by getting active in or creating a conservative student group on your campus!
  2. Support CampusReform.org financially! Help fund political training for young conservatives!
  3. Tell all your like-minded friends about CampusReform.org! Spread the word about the crucial importance of youth politics!
  4. Make school choice for parents a top legislative priority in your state!

Posted in American Culture, American History, Art and Creativity, Culture War, Education, Elections and Campaigns, Government and Politics, Hollywood and the Film Industry, Political Activism, Student Activism, The Media, Old and New, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What Your Campus Services Coordinator Can Do For You

Posted by Tony Listi on February 28, 2010

Campus Services Coordinators (CSCs) offer so many benefits and services to students that sometimes it can be hard for students to grasp all of them and take full advantage of CampusReform.org staff and resources. We can turn your student group into an effective political machine.

Here’s what your CSC can offer you:

  1. Understanding: We were in your shoes not very long ago. All of us CSCs recently graduated from college and were politically active as students. We know exactly what it’s like to be frustrated with leftist bias and abuse on campus. But we also know what it takes to fight back successfully!
  2. Expertise: Well-run political campaigns have savvy political consultants, shouldn’t your student group have one too? Each CSC is an expert in political organization and activism, especially at the campus level. Drawing on our experiences in college and our own training through the Leadership Institute, we can help you navigate the stormy political seas of student activism!
  3. Training: Your CSC can set up three different types of youth training for you and your group:
    1. Youth Leadership School: how to run a youth campaign and organize students politically in general
    2. Student Publications Workshop: how to start and run a student publication
    3. Campus Election Workshop: how to win student government elections
  4. Fundraising Assistance: “You can’t save the world if you can’t pay the rent.” To be a successful student group, you’re going to need funding. Some universities may offer funds. Even so, it is important to organize your own independent fundraising operations. Your CSC can help your craft an effective fundraising strategy. We can help you draft an effective direct mail fundraising letter. find potential donors, and provide other assistance for top groups.
  5. Media/Public Relations Assistance: “If the media didn’t cover it, it didn’t happen.” To be a successful group, you need a good PR operation. You have to develop a good message and get it out to your target audience and beyond. Your CSC can help you develop your message, write a press release, and distribute it to the major media outlets in your locality (and state).
  6. Resource Materials: There are tons of resource materials on CampusReform.org. Your CSC can draw your attention to the specific materials you need and can send you supplementary materials.
  7. Other Opportunities: CampusReform.org and other conservative organizations offer many special opportunities throughout the year: special nationwide initiatives, student activism awards, essay scholarships, internship opportunities, etc.

What you can do to help your CSC help you:

  1. Communicate regularly with your CSCs! It’s hard for us to help you if we don’t know what is happening with your group and your campus.
  2. Blog regularly on your campus subsite! In addition to publicizing and permanently recording what’s happening on your campus and your group’s activities, your blog posts are another way to inform CSCs about your situation. We read all the posts from our region.
  3. Report incidents of leftist abuse and bias! We will evaluate the report and help you respond.

Campus Services Coordinators are at your service. Just shoot us a message or give us a call. Together we can take back American campuses from the left!

Posted in Government and Politics, Political Activism, Student Activism, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Motivating Fellow Students to Get Involved Politically and Take Action

Posted by Tony Listi on February 28, 2010

Students are notoriously apathetic. We Campus Services Coordinators experience this a lot and hear it often from student leaders who we assist. But a good leader knows how to inspire and motivate, how to create and develop new leaders. 

There are many ways to recruit and motivate students to be more politically active and become future leaders for your group:

  1. Find their hot button issue! Like most Americans generally, most students are not political junkies with an opinion on everything or strictly philosophically consistent. But many have at least one particular issue that fires them up! Don’t be afraid to ask individual students questions about their background and beliefs. A person may have a hot button issue without even knowing it. Get to know the membership of your group, especially if it is a general conservative group. It’s easy to motivate people when you know what they care about and why. Just press the button and press it in the right way.
  2. Seize the moral high ground and show moral outrage! The left is very good at doing this. They create or find victims of real or perceived injustice and rally students to take action to supposedly set things right. Of course, we know that leftist policies do nothing but create even more victims. Make sure your members especially (as well as everyone else) know who these victims of leftist abuse, bias, and policy are. Challenge your fellow activists to fight on their behalf! As Morton says, “Moral outrage is the most powerful motivating force in politics.” Students will react powerfully to what they perceive as unfair.
  3. Use the left as a foil! Tell your members what the other side is doing and what they are accomplishing. Tell them, “We can’t let them get away with this. If we don’t provide opposition, no one will!” Another way to motivate members is to throw them to the wolves: arrange for them confront the opposition on their own. If they succeed, they will be proud, confident, and eager for the next battle. If they fail, then they will be motivated to learn how to be more effective and knowledgeable.
  4. Create a sense of urgency! You may have found a person’s hot button issue and stirred up moral outrage, but you’re competing with the student’s other responsibilities and interests (e.g. schoolwork, boyfriend/girlfriend, leisure, gym, etc.). If you let them, students will procrastinate doing the necessary legwork and preparation for activism to occur. Emphasize the natural urgency of your situation or create an artificial timetable that will create a sense of urgency. Let your body language and tone of voice communicate urgency!
  5. Teach and train them how! Your membership may be ready to take on the world without delay, but they may quickly become hesistant if they don’t know what to do exactly and how to do it. Provide a plan of action and teach them how to execute their part in it. People feel confident and motivated when they know what they’re doing. Organize and host Leadership Institute trainings on your campus!
  6. Show and tell them the benefits and success stories! Inspiration comes from others doing what was once thought impossible. You must develop a winning psychology among your fellow patriots, and inspiring them with the daring feats of other student activists, past and present, is the way to do it. The Reformer’s Blog and your Campus Services Coordinator are a treasure trove of success stories. Invite your membership to join CampusReform.org! Be sure to explain to your members the many benefits of activism for them and the group in general.
  7. Make your activities fun and creative! The thrill of a good fight for a worthy cause will hopefully be enough for your core membership. But some activism ideas are more entertaining than others (my advice: you can never go wrong with a costume). Satire is a powerful weapon that amuses your side, infuriates and disarms the left, and cuts sharply to the point for those in the mushy middle. Use it whenever possible! Turn more laborious tasks into a competition or host social events after the job is done.
  8. Say thank you! Gratitude and appreciation, both publicly and privately, go a long way to maintaining motivation. Always give credit where credit is due. Reward those who work hard with praise and other creative perks (e.g. dinner or face time with a speaker you are hosting).
  9. Appeal to their self-interest! When all else fails, appeal to students’ interest in fame, fortune, and future opportunities. Some students enjoy attention and being in the media spotlight; let them bask in it without hurting your cause. Some students like material rewards; give them those rewards if they perform and if your budget allows it. Some students need to know how activism will impact their future; tell them that activism leads to a good resume, networkinginternships, summer jobs, and a job after college.

With these tips and insights, you should be able to attract a following and achieve great things on your campus!

Posted in Government and Politics, Political Activism, Student Activism, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »