No 69 Posted by fw, September 25, 2010
As in Part 1, the content of this three-part series is an adaptation of Liz Benneian’s presentation, Organize to Win. While some of the wording is different or augmented, I have tried to remain generally true to Liz’s concepts and main ideas.
The previous post, Part 1, presented the 18 essential steps in establishing a citizen advocacy organization that is “Organized to Win”. Continuing with Part 2 of 3 . . .
There has been a steady erosion of democracy at all levels in Canada. Canadians no longer believe that elected officials necessarily act in their (the public’s) best interests, or that decisions are either rational or based on the best available information.
The reality is that self-interest always factors into the political decision-making process. Political expediency looms large. Politicians are risk aversive, wary of alienating local voters. And in this era of globalization, they dare not ignore the call of foreign as well as local lobbyists, power-brokers, developers, big business, and other levels of government, here and abroad. And what politician is not ambitious, jockeying for position and influence in the political hierarchy, with their eye on the next glittering prize?
All too often advocacy groups either don’t understand or simply refuse to accept the role that self-interest plays in the game of power politics. Face it — the power of reason and logic alone is not going to convince politicians to see the error of their ways, agree with you, and immediately change their minds.
This guileless approach never succeeds. It has been played out time and time again in battles over preserving natural spaces, ending the use of cosmetic pesticides and stopping incinerators from being built. Logical arguments fail. What works is wielding power!
Power is not a dirty word. It’s the key to winning battles.
Study and know who has power and how they wield it. Your job — Get Power! Hold Power! Use Power! People Power! Don’t be afraid of this. Power concentrated in the hands of the few is called an ‘oligarchy’. Power concentrated in the hands of the wealthy is called a ‘plutocracy’. Power concentrated directly in the hands of the people, or indirectly through their elected representatives — who, don’t forget, are ultimately accountable to you — is a ‘democracy’.
It’s time to reclaim our diminished democratic rights. It’s time to “Organize to Win”.