Groups are all the rage. A lot of people like to identify with some kind of group. It can give them the feeling that they’re “doing something,” or even fill the validation need. That’s not a good or bad thing, it just is.
If you’ve already read about how to recruit, and who not to have, you might be wondering what’s next. You’ve whittled down your existing group to the people you need or created a new, small group of solid folks, and you’re looking for the next step. Well, here it is:
Your group needs a goal.
What do you want? What would you like to accomplish? Now is not the time for some grandiose “liberty” idea. Now is when you decide exactly what your particular group wants to see happen in your local area. Be realistic here; if you choose a goal that is more fantasy than reality you’ll not only fail to achieve it but you’ll get burned out in the process.
Once you have a goal, look at specific, actionable things you can do that will push you toward that goal.
The #1 Thing You Need
Keep in mind that regardless of what your goal or action plan ends up being, if the public will know about your group, then you need the public to support you. There is no shortcut, no way around this. If your group will have a public face, that face better be a positive one — and not just among your echo chamber of like-minded folks, either.
That means two major things: controlling your message, and positioning yourself in a way that even your ideological opponents have to either begrudgingly admit that you’re doing good things, or have to simply not say anything at all about you because there’s nothing they can say. This isn’t a time for screaming that “________ won’t ever support us,” because you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish if you’re going about it the right way. We’ll talk more about the public support in a moment.
Some groups want to “educate the public” about liberty concepts. Comparatively speaking, it’s an easier goal than some. In terms of time and even financial investment, however, it can be pretty intensive. Everything is a trade-off.
There are some groups doing the education thing very well. They teach classes that the public might be interested in, or engage in low-key activities that introduce people to the ideas in a non-challenging way. It’s all about the framing; who can possibly find fault with a family activity that teaches kids situational awareness in preparation for learning the beginnings of self-defense, for instance? Don’t you want your kids to be safe? Think in those terms, and frame your activities in a way that makes it harder for people to complain about them — and that includes any public information or photographs of the event.
Some groups choose to actually foster that public support for the overall cause. This sometimes goes hand-in-hand with the education goal, and can overlap significantly. Sometimes these public-facing groups are fronts for non-public teams working behind the scenes; sometimes the entire group is a public one.
The thing about public support is that you can’t simply cater to those who already support you. There’s this idea that the more notoriety you get, the better. It’s a badge of honor to get mentioned by the SPLC as a hate group or have protesters show up to all of your events. It’s somehow proof that you’re “fighting for liberty” if everyone hates you.
I get it; I used to be one of those people — and I was wrong in terms of the bigger goal. There’s a time and place for that, but if you want to actually get that coveted public support from people other than your sycophants, you’ll need to not be such a lightning rod for negative attention.
In fact, some of your activities might not have a single thing to do with “liberty” or activism at all. Some of the most effective activities don’t.
Let’s look a little closer at that. Here’s a short list of public activities below. As you read this list, set aside the emotion and think like someone in your community.
- Setting up an Adopt-a-Highway program
- Doing a float in a community parade with a message that most people would agree with.
- Starting a food pantry or toy program for needy kids (or volunteering with an existing group already doing it)
- Setting up an effort where you use your bonus hunting tags to donate meat to a local anti-hunger organization, in your group’s name.
- Start a story hour for parents and kids at the local library, where you read something liberty-based and discuss concepts at a kid level in a very light, no-pressure way.
- Organizing an angry rally in which you all show up looking like you spent the night trying to take Fallujah while drunk, and make sure to get some quotes on the local news about how you’re mad as hell and you’re not going to take it anymore.
- Become medical first responders, essentially equating your individual names and reputations with dependability and helping others.
- Showing up en masse at the county fair with your ARs to demonstrate for your right to open carry whatever you want.
- Start a program in which you check on the elderly in your community, maybe mowing lawns and shoveling sidewalks, or even just spending a bit of time offering someone to talk to.
- Volunteering at a local domestic violence shelter or any other effort that protects the vulnerable.
- Setting up some neighborhood classes to help families prepare for a local natural disaster.
Which ones would foster broad-based public support, and which ones would only net you support with your own side while fostering negativity from the uninformed and/or opposition? Keep in mind that the goal in this case is to create a positive association with your group’s name and/or members, even among people who have no real idea what you stand for. (Hint: If you thought #6 and #8 were an awesome idea, you’re missing the point.)
What you want here is community loyalty. They don’t have to be gun owners to support you. They don’t have to subscribe to your politics to see you as good people, and that’s what you want.
Whether you like it or not, having the RIGHT to do something doesn’t mean you should do it, or that it’s always a good idea. Let’s say you are a random American who is undecided about some things but open to conversion one way or the other. You’ve got a bunch of freaks on one side but they’re talking about safe spaces and tolerance and standing up to bullies. On the other side, you’ve got people who are getting together to show up with the biggest rifles they can find and tell everyone how mad they are. Who are you probably going to support?
Sure, reading this from your recliner, you know the truth. You know the deception inherent in the concept of “safe spaces” and all of the pretty language. But it doesn’t matter what you know. It matters how the average person who doesn’t know better perceives it.
If your group goal is fostering public support, then quit pandering to the people who already agree with you, and start reaching out to the people who don’t know you.
There is a large spectrum of things you could be doing in a group, most of which you wouldn’t discuss in this medium. Understand this, however: unless your goal is education, public support, or something related, the public does not need to know about you.
If your goal is primarily tactical, then go do that and shut up about it. If you’re disrupting various other causes or groups, shut up about it. Stop publicly recruiting. If you’re moving supplies or are working on contingency plans for some kind of disaster event, stop advertising. Whatever it is that you’re doing, go do it.
If your non-public group has a public face, facade, or front, then keep your worlds separate. Don’t have your non-public leader also be the guy waving at folks from the parade float. Don’t have your public teams be the ones also trying to run an infiltration of your local Antifa group. In other words, don’t cross your streams.
Putting It All Together
Whatever your group chooses to do, set up the right way, control your message (if there’s a public message at all), and once you’ve decided on a public/non-public face, then stick to that. Structure your activities to stay within that lane. Doing so offers protection and more message control. Think about your actions, think about the fact that if you have a public group, the actions of ALL of your members reflect on you personally and your group/cause.
(By the way, this is why the list of people you don’t want is so important. Do you want to put all of that work into fostering public support only to have Jack get drunk and moon passing cars from the window at Denny’s, or be seen every weekend at the casino, or have the whole town know that he’s having an affair?)
Be smart, be careful, and be clear about what your group wants to do — and then go get it done.