One of the more interesting phenomenons in the world of politics from the last few years is the community activist.
No, not Community Organizer (that’s a whole other subject for another post), but a community activist.
Republican or Democrat, Community Activists drive me crazy! As a Republican, the Republican Community Activists are the worst.
It’s easy to start out as a Community Activist (CA), in fact very little life experiences are needed. You don’t have to be especially good at Math, English, or Civics… in fact, I would submit that the worse you are at these subjects, the better your chances that you’ll end up in front of the microphone of a radio or TV reporter. This is good for your budding career as a community activist/professional objector/blogger-activist. That media attention feeds the narcissistic aspects of your personality, and once afflicted, the media attention (even if it is just the result of a slow news day) signifies your success.
As your activism grows, you can go from being a background person to being the Mouthpiece (MP) for a particular topic. Blight, taxes, good government, less government, more government, people against government corruption, people who oppose people who are against government corruption, the list is endless. The Mouthpiece role would appear to be a higher realm in the Community Activist’s development. As a budding CA or MP, you will know you’ve achieved this spot when you are the person called by a reporter to rebut the Council or Mayor’s (or other governmental entity/leader’s) newest wrinkle on a particular topic, and you come to realize that you’ve become that person/entity’s situational nemesis – no new bars; let em have bars; economic liberty at all cost – whatever the topic, you’re the guy they come looking for sound from. You oppose elected official XYZ’s plan, you are now the voice against his/her destructive plans in your community.
You’re on the right track, a few mentions here or there in the comments section of the newspaper, a TV interview at the location of community meeting over a particularly sensitive issue, you speculate about the evil intentions of a group of elected officials and wonder how the political machine is going to conspire to keep your message from getting out.
In a case of advanced development, you become part of a network of Professional Objectors (PO’s). As a PO, you go to other areas to lend support for your activism partner’s causes. You help grouse about his/her causes, they come around when you have a topic of interest on the public agenda. Your collective clout just confounds the member(s) of the elected body you are hoping to thwart.
Pretty soon, people start to ask you what ultimately becomes the killing question “when are you going to run for office?….. I know a lot of people would be excited about a candidate like you!” But you, the activist/closet narcissist don’t know how to be part of the system……. However you spend a lot of time thinking about running. You spend a lot of time asking people in your circle of friends if you should think about running…… 50-75 lunches later, you decide “yeah, I’m running”
Kiss of death –
It really is… you see its easy to be the guy objecting. Its easy to say government ought to perform better, and cost less on the taxpayer. Its harder to do the work it takes to make those cuts, deal with the people who will ultimately be in the cross hairs of this needed reform. It’s a hard transition from the complaint line to the results line, and working in the arena of ideas and performance in actually accomplishment is harder than spouting off in the area of theory picking single issues away from the greater whole.
Making that jump seldom works….not to mention the fact that you’ll have to join a class of people you despise, “people who have to rely on donations to get elected.” Oh, your activist friends will need to pony up some money, and if you’re mildly successful, you’ll be pandering to other elected officials for their support. Then there’s the public perception that you might just be some crazed wacko from your PO & MP days… but people don’t vote based on their first instincts.
Most of the CA’s, PO’s, and MP’s aren’t built for the hard work involved in the world of providing constituent services, because they inherently don’t recognize the value of and the amount of time elected officials and their staff spend helping people. Further, most of the CA’s, PO’s, and MR’s don’t understand that when THEY call a particular office of government that has offended them, they are using government resources. Let their calls go unanswered, and then we’re off down another rabbit hole of a rant……
Lacking the basic understanding that most people are at their City Hall or Parish Office for many reasons, most need a service that does not entail an entitlement program is an obstacle they’ll need to learn. People want and use the services of parks, police, safety & permits, code enforcement, and other departments. The fire department staffing doesn’t matter either, till you need them. When you start realizing these truths, you’ll be a more electable candidate. Until you do, there’s a 90% chance of failure.