The Basics of Birching
by William S. Hahn, Chief Executive Officer
July always holds promise for Birchers and other patriotic supporters. We recognize the courage and resolution it took the Founding Fathers to sever their ties to one form of government and build an entirely different system — all based on a careful study of history employing what works and avoiding what doesn’t.
For the Colonists, there was no concept of “back to the basics.” Succeeding with the experiment of freedom drove them ahead. Mr. Robert Welch faced a similar situation in the 1950s. He studied the problem of the Communist Conspiracy and knew that no existing conservative or anti-communist groups could win against such organized opposition.
Mr. Welch traveled the world to study not only the problem, but also the solution. As the Founding Fathers heavily relied on education, communication, and local organization, Mr. Welch also crafted his solution with those tools. The resulting John Birch Society provides a highly effective model, beginning at the local level. The original structure has not changed, and the responsibilities of members and leaders have only slightly varied over the years. Birchers have one advantage over the Founding Fathers — we can get back to the basics.
What do we ask of members? Can you point to a list of responsibilities? Over the years, we’ve tried to encapsulate these into various handbooks that also include best practices to accomplish those tasks. Realizing these manuals are much longer than the print space we have for this article, let’s boil it down to a few key responsibilities. Remember, your success will be based on what you are willing to put into it.
1. Organize. Your main goal is to create organization in your local area. This is built by creating active chapters of 8-20 members. Each chapter should have a chapter leader, an assistant chapter leader and a secretary/treasurer. Each member needs to be assigned regular duties or responsibilities to report on at every meeting. Chapter reports of activity are particularly helpful in providing accountability for individual members and the chapter as a whole.
2. Educate. Monthly meetings (at minimum) should strategically plan activities designed to help raise awareness among targeted individuals or groups on specific issues as requested in the monthly Bulletin. Chapter activities should be geared toward educating the electorate, and they should use JBS’s educational tools. Brainstorm and limit yourself to no more than three goals (immediate, intermediate, and long range) that the chapter can accomplish. Activities should include literature distribution in local neighborhoods or at community events; scheduling video showings, speaking events, presentations, or webinars to help network with like-minded groups; and meeting with local elected officials or state legislators and their staff members to educate them on the constitutional impact of issues, etc. The sky’s the limit on possible activities (but please avoid partisan politics as part of JBS activities).
Don’t use the chapter meetings merely to educate each other; rather, use them to plan activities. Come to the chapter meetings having already read the Bulletin, armed with creative ideas for action-oriented activities.
3. Recruit. Recruiting is each member’s responsibility. Identify who is in your network or circle of influence that would make a great member. What opinion molder or influencer can your chapter target for membership? This adds that person’s influence and network to the chapter, thus helping build local organization. Group recruiting presentations focused on a common issue (Covid lockdowns, public schools, the Bill of Rights, inflation, government overreach, Agenda 2030, climate change, the Great Reset, government mandates, etc.) can establish common ground about the problem and offer JBS as a solution.
The 100/10/6 Program helps build chapters by locating prospects and regularly engaging them. As the phrase goes, “Use them or lose them.” (For more about the program, go to https://jbs.org/power500/.) Be sure to offer new-member orientation to any new members to help acclimate them to the dynamics, functions, and responsibilities of the chapter. A non-active or low-active chapter will not keep new members for long. If retention is a problem, then reevaluate and ramp up your chapter activities. Remember that education without action leads to frustration.
As suggested last month, our current Basic, Successful, and Top Performance Volunteer Leaders manuals are packed full of additional information and best practices that can help aid and train you in all areas of Birch.
We should keep in mind what sets us apart from other organizations: It’s action, local organization, our field staff, our plethora of tools and resources, and our grasp of the problem and the proper solutions.
Each of us can find many reasons to not get involved or be inadequately involved, including being too busy, being out of our comfort zone, feeling inadequate or insecure, or expecting others to do the Birching while we only pay the dues.
Let me offer a non-JBS example that illustrates the point. Part of my responsibility at a previous place of employment was to represent the company at various construction-industry trade associations. We were not content with only paying dues and letting others work to advance our industry. We knew we would get more out of it by taking an active role in activities (mainly through committee work). We shared our educational methods, which became valuable for the associations and helped propel the industry to improve product quality, update old methods, introduce new products, and attract more workers. The result was competitors partnering with each other to essentially advance the industry while bringing more business to members.
Birching is what you make of it. Do you engage others to help them see the potential of partnering with you?
Given your track record, would the Founding Fathers have approached you to enlist your help in the movement for independence? Would they have asked you to lead a Committee of Correspondence?
While it’s easy to focus on all that’s wrong in the world, think about the uncertainty the Founders faced by fighting a war, setting up a system of government never seen or tried before, and having the courage to go back to the drawing board to rewrite a founding document. We have the luxury of getting back to the basics. Let’s do so, and also recommit to building the local organization that allows other patriots to “partner” with us. Thank you in advance!