Don’t just shout, organize

Whoa whoa whoa! Hang on there kid. You look like you’re ready to charge out across no-man’s land and defeat the enemy single handed. It’s a noble mission, but I’m afraid it’s not going to work. What you need is an army.

What you need is an organization.

Organizations are collectives of people joined in carrying out a shared mission. They offer many advantages over individual action, such as pooled resources, knowledge transfer between members, institutional memory, and ability to sustain long-term effort.

What you were about to do, storming off to the enemy front — that’s called a campaign. You can go it alone, but you’ll be more effective if your campaign is backed by a strong organization.

In fact, every brilliant idea you’ve had this past week — the rural outreach program where everybody goes back to Ohio and engages Trump supporters in civil dialogue, the snarky GoFundMe campaign to buy white nationalists their own country, the boot camp on leveraging empathy in arguments with internet trolls, the fundraising drive for the ACLU—those are all campaigns, not organizations. It’s tough to execute a campaign effectively on your own.

And since you don’t have an organization, all those brilliant ideas are today still just ideas. Instead you have reached for the most powerful tool at your disposal: Facebook.

Oh right, I forgot! You do have an organization! You still get those Bernie emails, and you donated to the Sierra Club once. Forgive me.

When are the meetings? Who’s the head of your local chapter? What’s your role?

Let me give you an example of an effective organization that I belonged to once, the Mormon Church. The local chapter is called a ward, which meets weekly. There are two separate outreach programs that send members of the organization to visit every single home in their boundaries once a month. They have a women’s organization, and a men’s organization, and a bevy of youth organizations, each with its own leadership team. They have a service coordinator, and a fellowship coordinator, and a coordinator for the food warehouse and welfare services. In addition to regular dues, they have a fundraising drive every month. They have a global outreach program. Every single member has a job and contributes their time, typically 5 to 20 hours per week.

When the river flooded, how long did it take to organize 400 volunteers filling sandbags? It happened overnight.

Since I engaged in liberal politics, I have never seen anything close to that quality and extent of organizational effectiveness. At times like this, it shows. Our river just flooded and we’re all outside in PJ’s, up to our knees in water, hollering at the wind.

I am not writing to tell you what organization to join, but you absolutely need to join one. You should know your local chapter. You should pay monthly dues. You should attend regular meetings. You should seek out a designated role in the chapter leadership or on a task force or campaign.

I’ve already kept you too long from shouting at your friends on Facebook, and I heard there’s going to be another protest tonight. Fight for the cause. Spread the message. But please, organize.