How to help political activists, without being a political activist

I know a lot of Keene activists who think of politics as immoral, ineffective, or, worse yet, boring. At the same time, many are generally supportive of libertarian candidates, and would enjoy seeing one win an election.

For those of you who fit this description, you can be much more helpful to political activists than you realize– and without ever getting involved in politics. The help I have in mind is simple and fun, and much more effective than merely voting. In fact, it might be the single most effective way you can help out local liberty-friendly candidates. I’ve been doing it for years, with great success.

What is this wild new form of activism? It’s outreach.

The term “outreach” has been used to describe a variety of activities in the past, but I have a more precise definition in mind.

What is outreach?

Outreach is talking to and making friends with members of the community who are not a part of the libertarian activist network.

How do you perform successful outreach?

Step 1:

Meet people.

The easiest way to meet people is to go to public meetings and events.

First, decide who you want to talk to. Look for groups with similar interests and backgrounds. If you like chess, visit the Knights Chess Club. If you’re a young professional, attend a meeting of the Keene Young Professionals. If you’re a college student, or around the same age, go to some of the many, many events at the college.

Are you an atheist? Try the Unitarian Univeralist church. Religious? Find the church in this area that best fits your beliefs. There are plenty to choose from.

Are you interested in something that the city of Keene is doing? Find the relevant committee and attend their meetings. (City council meetings are pretty dull. Committees are where the action is at. Sometimes.) Are you willing to help out with my liberaltarian project? Go to the city clerk, register as a Democrat, and attend Democratic events. (Find many on the Cheshire County Democrats website. Though watch out for the Friday lunches. Eddie the Grouch might not let you in.) Are you a Ron Paul Republican? Go to local Republican events. Do you think Wallstreet is out of control? Join Occupy Keene. Do you care about the environment? Get involved with the Keene Transition Movement. Do you oppose war? Take part in the weekly anti-war protest peace vigil in Central Square (Saturdays, 11 am to noon).

This is only a sample of the huge variety of events going on in Keene. You can find many more on the Keene Sentinel’s event calendar.

Step 2:

Make friends.

Be polite and respectful. Dress appropriately. Don’t aggressively push your ideology on people (that’s not the point of the outreach).

You don’t have to be outgoing. (I’m certainly not.) Almost always, the group will be happy to have a new member, or the event organizer will be happy to have another attendee, and people will be curious about what brought you to the event. Don’t be shy about mentioning that you are a Free Stater (if you are) or a libertarian.

As long as you’re respectful, making friends is easy and fun. Plus, when you’re finished, you have new friends! (I’m sure we could all use a few more friends.)

Step 3:

You’re done! There is no step 3. It’s that easy.

How does this help political activists?

For better or for worse, when Keene residents think about Free Staters, they usually think about the events in Central Square (420, Topless Tuesdays, illegal dance parties, etc.) and this provokes negative reactions. Anti-libertarian political activists have learned to exploit this by making a big deal about candidates being Free Staters, or even being associated with Free Staters. Voters then react something like this: “Ah, so he’s one of those topless, dancing pot-smokers. I’m not voting for that guy.”

This was done to Andrew Carroll, to great effect. It’s happening to Heika Courser right now. It’s even happening to local candidates in Manchester, though they have a different reputation there. (Link. But see the great reply from the Union Leader’s editorial board.) It’s practically guaranteed to happen to the next person running for office in Keene. This puts libertarian candidates– and even liberty-friendly candidates– at a disadvantage. To put it more bluntly, it sucks.

But what if, instead, voters reacted by thinking, “Oh, Free Stater? Like that respectful young gentlemen I met at the chess club. Those guys are responsible, intelligent people. I think I could vote for someone like that.”

After you perform successful outreach, that’s what will happen. You will have disabled one of the most effective weapons in the political opposition’s arsenal. And those activists running for office will really appreciate it.

Why should you do this?

But you shouldn’t do this just to help political activists. It’s a great idea regardless.

For one, many people you meet– especially at the more politically-oriented events– are genuinely interesting people. Often, they’ll know a lot of things you don’t– about the intricacies of local politics, about what role various people play in the local political landscape, and about Mayor Dale Pregent’s youth as a troubled drug dealer. (I made the last one up, but you get the point.) This knowledge is handy for all sorts of things.

It’s also a convenient opportunity to evaluate the effect of other forms of activism. You now have easy access to a sample of Keene public opinion. Want to know what people think of the latest high-profile civil disobedience? You can find out pretty quickly.

Lastly, if you do enough successful outreach, you may find that you are in a strong position to run for office yourself, should you change your mind about politics. (How do you think I got dragged into this political stuff? I certainly didn’t move to Keene intending to be a political activist.)

… Make friends, learn things, tap into public opinion, set the stage for your glorious career in politics… sounds great, why haven’t you started yet?

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16 Comments

  1. "Mayor Dale Pregent’s youth as a troubled drug dealer. (I made the last one up, but you get the point.) "

    He has attempted to commit fraud in his private business dealings and most likely has done so successfully in the past, present, and future. I wouldn't buy or sell antiques from him unless you really know what you are doing….and even then why take a risk dealing with a criminal?

  2. did dale pregent really cheat people in antiques ?…

  3. LIBTARDS LIKE polititics. I dont and couldnt see myself running for an elected office of any kind. Except maybe sheriff i think thats an elected office, not sure cause i never voted before. I wanted to run for sheriff because then maybe i could stop enforcement of all the stupid laws. But maybe i couldnt stop enofrcement of those laws either, and then id be part of the problem still. If i couldnt stop enforcement id probably just have to resign

  4. "did dale pregent really cheat people in antiques ?…"

    It seems unlikely to me that someone of his age and experience would suddenly turn into a criminal. Sure it happens…but it is substantially more likely he's been dishonest for decades. Antique dealers are like used car salemen – it is an industry prone to fraudulent people. Also – he ran for political office. I might be wrong but I betcha he has a long history of illegal behavior and probably is using his political office for ill gotten gains.

    I was somewhat hesitant to post anything…but I suppose he can't do anything in retribution against an anonymous poster without drawing attention to the evidence of his criminal actions.

  5. Yeah thanks for the pointless and baseless slandering and labeling of the Mayor -"local resident" – it really goes well with the BLOG.

  6. Your blog post has lots of good suggestions.

    Let's not forget how important the use of accurate language is, though. For example, somehow you thought a " weekly anti-war protest in Central Square" event happens in Keene. No such event happens in Keene. However, there is a weekly peace vigil in Keene. Perhaps that is what you meant to mention 🙂

    Additionally, I noticed that sometimes liberty folks try to help with community events but then don't make very good volunteers. I've also seen well meaning liberty activists attend government meetings in an attempt to get the liberty point of view out there but instead just act like children at the meetings. If you don't feel like you are able to act respectful at a meeting or event, it is OK. Consider using your energy for other causes where your energy may be better directed.

  7. "Yeah thanks for the pointless and baseless slandering and labeling of the Mayor -”local resident” – it really goes well with the BLOG."

    It's not pointless – if you do "outreach" as the blog recommends you'll hear people talking about the local corruption. Nor is it baseless – I saw evidence of a federal crime committed by the Mayor. If you talk to enough residents you'll start hearing about the local politicians and cops and drug dealers and their relationships.

  8. i noticed that there is some kind of ….seeming ly liberty oriented debate at armadillos tomorrow? anyone have any info about this

  9. I'm a Keene native, and yes, local corruption is very rampant. Keene is a dirty, dirty, dirty little town, politically. Back in Prohibition times, Keene was a major warehouse / distributtion center for illegal booze. While I admit that I have no DIRECT evidence of major criminal activity concerning any local officials, we could not, and would not, have the amount of street drugs in Keene, that we do, if we didn't also have crooked local officials. It really is that simple. Thanks to the "War on (some) Drugs(sometimes), we have all across America, 10's of thousands of crooked & corrupt judges, lawyers, cops, & public officials…Thanks, Nixon, you fucking piece of shit…

    As for Mayor Pregent, I have no direct knowledge any wrong-doing on his part. I just think the guy is an incompetent asshole. He's really NOT a good person, IMHO…

  10. Keith-

    Good suggestion, as usual. I'll change it.

  11. Yes, "SMASH*CAP", the Cheshire County Sheriff is an elected position, and it is very powerful. Currently, we have Richard Foote as C.C.Sheriff. Last Fall, Eli Rivera, a bully-with-a-badge *BAD*COP*, ran against Foote. (Foote really DID*SERVE in Viet Nam, and he's got his head up his ass about the "War on (some) Drugs"(sometimes), but he's worthy of respect. We could do much worse than Foote…)…So Rivera had the backing of the Connecticut money-men("mobsters"), and Rivera took the vote in Keene, but Foote kicked Rivera's ass hard, in the rest of the County. Foote really IS a Repub-tard, but Rivera's little "I'm an Obama Democrat" *CHARADE* didn't fool most of the people who really run things…

    So that's the short skinny on local Sheriffs…WikiPedia has a good article on Sheriffs. Hint-hint. You're welcome…~tKoK.

  12. ***If you know something *SPECIFIC* about any wrongdoing on Mayor Pregents part, let us know. Give us some facts to work with. But, if all you have is rumor, please avoid needless slander. For example, there's a rumor going around for years now, about a certain local cop being a "drug dealer", with cocaine being mentioned most. I know for a fact that this cop doesn't deal cocaine, because I help supply the WEED that he DOES*DEAL……There's no rumor about him being a weed dealer, tho…////….Lots of people have been Mayor of Keene over the years…I have been theKINGofKEENE on here for 3 – 4 years now…You should hear the rumors about *ME*!…HAH!…(…for example, "they" can't explain where I was during 1998-89. They DO know I was living in NC then, but they DON'T know I was living in on-base housing, under a different name, at Fort Bragg…….the thot plickens…~tKoK.

  13. A Local Resident on Thu, 13th Oct 2011 4:36 pm

    “Yeah thanks for the pointless and baseless slandering and labeling of the Mayor -”local resident” – it really goes well with the BLOG.”

    It’s not pointless – if you do “outreach” as the blog recommends you’ll hear people talking about the local corruption. Nor is it baseless – I saw evidence of a federal crime committed by the Mayor. If you talk to enough residents you’ll start hearing about the local politicians and cops and drug dealers and their relationships.

    ————————————————————————————————————

    *WHAT*EVIDENCE* of *WHAT*FEDERAL*CRIME* did you see? If you ain't got facts, you're just blowing smoke out your ass, "A Local Resident"……..

    Here's some *TRUE*FACTS*:

    Bob Chambers & his (at least) 4th wife run the 100Nights Homeless shelter. When he was Marlow Chief of police, Chambers murdered Russell Bean. He was arrested, but not tried for the murder. Why? Why is he running the homeless shelter? That's all true facts. Common Knowledge…What have YOU got, on the Mayor…???…~tKoK.

  14. theKINGofKEENE, just curious about when you were at Fort Bragg; did you travel back through time from 1998 to 1989? Seems like a simple error, but that seems out of character for you KoK…

  15. …& if it wasn't for your *SWEET* flying pussy-cat avatar, I might not be so kind…

    …it was a typo. Duh. Try: 1988-89.

    Jesus fucking h. christ on a popsickle stick, you people are sure some STUPID*MOTHERFUCKERS…

    …that should be more in character for you, "Andrew"…

    ———————————————————————————————

    ****NEWS**FLASH**!*!*!*!*!*!*!*!*!*!*!*!*!*!*!*!*!

    ———————————————————————–

    ****NEWS**FLASH**!*!*!*!*!*!*!……….

    ———————————————————-

    …theKINGofKEENE is **HUMAN**, and thus, imperfect, and capable of making mistakes…………..

    …..that also means never having to say, "I'm sorry", but that's love 4 U…~tKoK.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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