Member Activity: Organizing
by William S. Hahn, Chief Executive Officer
As we pointed out last month, building local organization is a key responsibility of membership. For instance, it’s one thing for you to contact your elected officials, but it’s entirely another if you can get others to do so, and then they, in turn, get others to act too. The end result, with more people taking action, is a much larger impact than what just one person can generate.
We have many opportunities to build organization. Our materials lend themselves to being easily handed out and then passed around. For example, I recently gave a copy of Art Thompson’s Benedict Biden book to a prospect at church. We’ve had several conversations over the years, and he is like-minded. He so much appreciated the book’s message that he lent it out to several others. The book gets readers to open their eyes to the conspiratorial agenda behind Biden’s bumbling, and helps them to see that the real battle isn’t between Republicans and Democrats.
A scenario such as this opens the door to more contact. For instance, a good follow-up could be hitting the prospects with a one-two punch in the form of the “Back to Basics” pamphlet, which helps to explain constitutional principles, and the “JBS Eagle” pamphlet, which introduces The John Birch Society. These are folks who know there is a problem (although they are more apt to see it as purely political) and are open to solutions. Thus, enter the Congressional Scorecards. Those apt to follow politics are inclined to get involved educating others on the constitutional adherence of their representatives.
The Scorecard reveals the votes on key issues that impact the average American household. Alongside an indication of whether a vote is constitutional is an estimated cost per household for that specific bill.
These Scorecards are available for free at TheFreedomIndex.org. Simply select the scorecard of the congressman you want, then download the file. These can be printed on a home printer or taken to a local printing house for printing.
The function of these Scorecards is to get members of the electorate (i.e., those who vote and those who should be voting — regardless of political affiliation) interested and educated about the voting records of their U.S. representatives and senators. It is also good to share the Scorecards with elected officials, to help them improve their scores. Improving these scores means more constitutional adherence, less taxation, less government, and more liberty and freedom for citizens.
This tool originated in November 1974 as TRIM (Tax Reform IMmediately). Its impact was so great that by 1978, it was being attacked by those who didn’t want to see the voting records exposed. The Democratic National Committee went on a witch hunt and made accusations to the Federal Election Commission, and a TRIM ad hoc committee on Long Island was soon hauled into court on accusations of violating the Federal Election Campaign Act. TRIM won the case, but the tool was eventually mothballed (although members and supporters could still use the Freedom Index to help inform others of their congressmen’s voting records).
We’ve since brought back the main tool of TRIM — the Congressional Scorecards — as a digital download. We’ve even added full-time legislative research staff to work on expanding the scope of these scorecards to include state legislatures. As of the middle of July, staff had completed work on adding state legislators from 18 states. Our web team is feverishly working on getting these added. Perhaps by the time you’re reading this, it may be either just rolling out or close to it. Be sure to check TheFreedomIndex.org for updates.
With the addition of scorecards for state legislators (revealing adherence to the U.S. Constitution, not their respective state constitutions), these are powerful tools for those who will take advantage of them. But let’s not miss the largest opportunity here: building organization.
What made TRIM so successful was the organization built up around it to support the distribution efforts. As Mr. Welch initially reported in the JBS Bulletin, organization for it was based on the Support Your Local Police ad hoc committee. The field staff spent large amounts of time working behind the scenes to get chapter leaders and other volunteer leaders to take a key role in creating a local TRIM committee that included both members and nonmember supporters.
The advantages were enormous. Members could make large inroads with local nonmembers who could be prospects for future membership. Many hands made light work for all, so distribution efforts were widespread, with multiple efforts occurring throughout a single district. Current estimates point to many millions of TRIM Bulletins being distributed. Distribution was not limited to handouts, as the Bulletins were used as newspaper inserts and incorporated into doorbelling and neighborhood canvassing.
Many TRIM committees also hosted TRIM speakers to discuss related issues and motivate attendees to get involved in a local committee. There were lots of options and opportunities to grow the organization, build influence, and create a more educated and informed electorate.
However, due to government regulations, there are certain practices to avoid. We must remember that this is not a political tool. It’s educational. We must never coordinate with any political campaign, party, or candidate. Our goals are different than those involved in partisan politics. The John Birch Society and The New American do not endorse candidates, campaigns, or political parties. Members are free to be as involved as they want to be, but not in the name of the Society.
Organization is what sets us apart from other groups. By building and growing the organization in your area, you help to build an educated electorate capable of placing much influence and pressure on elected officials to obey their constitutional limitations and jettison unconstitutional agencies, programs, and their related costs. We estimate that about 80 percent of the size and cost of the federal government would be cut if the electorate were educated and informed about elected officials obeying the Constitution.
Look for those opportunities to build and grow the organization in your area. Remember, nothing really happens unless you organize it to happen, utilizing the work of many hands. Chapters and ad hoc committees are vital to getting things done.
Thanks for all that you do!