In political activity, powerful people and institutions are influenced by various factors that lead them to one course of action or another. Since no organization operates in a vacuum, one of the potent tools the right can develop in its arsenal is creative, grassroots activism. Despite having some advocacy groups that organize around traditional conservative principles, one does not get the sense that there is a group of passionate and organized right-wingers that will demonstrate popular support for any number of issues that manifest on an ongoing basis. Even when such grassroots movements do in fact occur, the most radical elements are showcased in the press. If just one offensive picture or incident can be captured, it will be used by ideological opponents to define the broader movement. Not surprisingly, the left is not above manufacturing right wing ‘hate’ when there isn’t enough to go around.
Activists can be agents of social change and at the very least, can remind those in power that there will be well organized pressure against any decision that they take that is against the interest of the activist forces or their ideological allies. Such groups can sway public sentiment and dominate news headlines in many instances. If the issue has established itself in the subconscious of other Americans, these groups can bring these feelings to the forefront and inspire the rest of the ‘silent majority’ to be more expressive and assertive in voicing their own views. Conversely, some activism can be detrimental to the long term interests of the groups protesting. If they are perceived as unduly violent, morally compromised or evoke sufficient antipathy from the wider society, these protest movements can actually backfire.
Saul Alinsky in his famous book ‘Rules for Radicals’ demonstrated the highly useful skill of marshalling the resentments of disparate groups and focusing these pressures towards various ends. Since the status-quo ideas of America are currently in flux, the right should also mobilize its forces to promote and thwart moves of their opponents in concert with their own strategic purposes. These activists may engage in marches, calling campaigns to elected officials, social media action, showing up at opponents’ events, publicly supporting patriotic artists, signing petitions and other actions. In 2014, many on the right effectively expressed their disapproval against Mozilla Firefox alleged firing of Brendan Eich. For a period, there was an ‘uninstall firefox’ movement that animated talk radio listeners. Regardless of one’s position on the redefinition of marriage – a debate effectively ended by the 2015 supreme court decision – it was broadly acknowledged that firing someone for donating to either side was a step too far in marginalizing political expression. We should seek maximum impact on issues that are easy to understand and communicate, may arouse public sentiment to our perspective and can have definable consequences.
Activists may also become involved in counter protests to demonstrate solidarity with an institution or person currently under assault. Any such action should be organized in a sophisticated manner as a haphazard approach may have unintended consequences. Public protests should seek to be non-violent. Police presence should always be sought and precise locations coordinated. Scores of amateur ‘citizen-journalists’ should at all times have cameras and cell phones ready to record any aggressive behavior by attendees. These aggressive people should be actively sought out and reported to authorities. Right wing protests should never be violent and anyone that advocates this should be shunned. It can be reasonably expected that liberal groups will not be this charitable. We should assume that they will act in an unbecoming manner and therefore, we should be immediately prepared to shed the light of day on their behavior. Both professional cameras and any other video recording devices should be on hand at all times to record faces and actions of hostile groups. We should not wait until something happens to start recording. We should assume aggression by the left and have cameras running at all times. These videos can then be used to craft a larger message of left-wing violence among both friendly and unfriendly media outlets, who are always hungry for visual content. It is indispensable that our side be seen as the morally superior of any of the groups – both in message and also in presentation, as this will tend to soften the minds of outside observers to our ideas.
Public protests organizers should possess a series of skills that would ensure an integrated public advocacy experience. The ability to build broad coalitions among groups with compatible objectives, communicate instructions, motivate the participants and organize the event are a must. In addition to this, coordination with law enforcement and sensing and averting potentially dangerous encounters will ensure for relatively safer gatherings. In cases where passions are high, unjustified violence from our side must never be tolerated. Thuggery or harassment from opposing forces should ideally be captured on camera for use in a wider media campaign. This element is very important as it can utilize a protest between a few dozen participants to launch broader television or online coverage – acutely illustrating the violence instigated by our opponents. Any condemning language, behavior and ideas by opponents should be captured on film to enhance this effort.
Protest leaders should also be wary of ‘plants’ instigating trouble while pretending to be supporters. These plants should be sought out and exposed in very public ways. Signs and other material used (for example clothing or accessories with provocative writing) should be meticulously screened for overly or gratuitously offensive material before it can be captured on film. Leaders may also provide suggestions or inspiration for effective slogans and signs. It may be reasonable to cultivate these additional skills among an elite body of trained organizers who may then operate nationally with other groups friendly to our cause. Not only should these services be offered, these leadership teams should persuade the ‘ground forces’ of the need and efficacy of these techniques to further their own aims. A degree of judgement will have to be exercised in these matters as part of the potency of protest lies in spontaneity of action and this should not be overly curbed.
A level headed post-event assessment should be a permanent fixture of all such campaigns. Such points as local and national media coverage, messaging efficacy, event execution, strengths and weaknesses in presentation etc. should be analyzed. The state and nature of opposing protesters should also be meticulously studied. Participants should convey their own experiences and let organizers know if any discernible backlash has occurred. If so, any backlash must be responded to with intense vigor. The distinct message that supporters of our cause will not be marginalized must very widely advertised in order to deter such behavior in the future. All this intelligence should then form the basis of an ongoing effort to amplify our efforts and degrade those of our ideological opponents in the future.