Today's sessions at the Americans For Prosperity Defending the American Dream Summit start with grassroots training.
AFP's RightOnLine is offering an Internet Activism Training and I'll be joining that session for the last hour to participate in a panel discussion.
The Leadership Institute has a session called Grassroots on the Ground.
I'm in Grassroots Training, hosted by Chris Faulkner and Austin James of American Majority, but only because I've already attended training sessions offered by the other two groups.
Faulkner started with the premise that those of us who are here and participating in these types of events are not normal - we pay attention to all kinds of things that others don't...
He's also proud of his state of Indiana, also not normal, in that it has a huge budget surplus at a time when other states, especially the surrounding ones of Ohio, Michigan and Illinois, are in serious economic trouble.
My notes from from his comments:
How grassroots movements work:
* understanding how they work and how they're organized helps us to take better advantage of them. Understanding the components of a movement is critical.
* MoveOn.org is a good example of a successful movement. It was started by two professors from Berkeley to 'move' past the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton and his sexual misconduct. But they've been able to take the original intent and morph it into a host of other issues. (The 'IT')
* In the subsequent campaign, Howard Dean was on the only candidate to oppose the war, and he thus, became the 'HOST' for the Moveon.org crowd with a new issue that resonated.
* Then there are the 'EVANGELISTS' - those who help to share the message or points. He referenced the book, "The Tipping Point," and the TV show "I Love Lucy" (which was watched by 33% of American households with TVs at the time - most watched show ever). These people help make the message 'go viral.'
* One-on-one messaging is the most effective way to communicate - we turn to people within our circle for their opinion and perspective...because we trust them.
* Then there is the 'MEDIUM' - the way in which the message is communicated. The internet has changed the way we expect to communicate, in addition to the time in which we expect a response. With all the various ways to organize and talk to others, we now have the opportunity to find the other 3 people in the world who like to dress up like Star Trek characters and sing operas...
* 'Crowds' rely upon the evangelists to tell them what to think and feel about issues. People, whether we like it or not, are influenced by the people around them. So with the movements, there is usually a crowd of people who have been influenced by their friends - the 'tipping point' of the change/issue being promoted by the movement...
* Some discussions about Ron Paul's campaign - his 'it' was the appeal to freedom, the 'leave me alone' crowd. However, he wasn't a good candidate and didn't get a fair hearing from the press, so his campaign was doomed, but we're seeing much of his influence and perspective in today's tea parties and 9/12 efforts.
* While Howard Dean wasn't able to move his supporters past the primary, Barack Obama's campaign offered the movement another 'host' - a better communicator and a better candidate. Obama's first support came from white liberals, not the African-American communities.
* While the left found the 'perfect' host for their movement in Obama, the right (those Ron Paul supporters and others whose focus is liberty and fiscal conservatism) are still looking for their 'perfect' host and that person is not yet identified...
* The tea parties have no host - they are anomaly in the movement organization, though they have yet to establish themselves as a long-term sustainable effort. Perhaps they will be able to sustain themselves without a host which will make them very unique - and maybe even 'change' the movement process.
* Election discussions - the Obama campaign got into the lead and didn't screw it up. He didn't run a 'great' campaign, so much as he didn't make any major mistakes and he had the mainstream medium to help protect him. But he did raise money from nearly three million donors. His supporters weren't just 'involved,' they were 'committed.' Donations gauge the intensity of support for an issue/candidate/movement.
* Urged people to not just attend meetings, but also to give - to have 'skin in the game.'