On Confrontational Politics and Acting Professionally
A short, true story about grassroots lobbying, confrontational politics, and acting professionally toward other activists.
About a year ago the state director of a national organization, a personal friend of mine – let’s call him “ST” – asked for my help and expertise in passing a proposed state constitutional amendment called the “Electronic Privacy Amendment” through the Michigan legislature. Usually I don’t engage in legislative fights over ballot proposals or constitutional amendments but this was a big, juicy idea and ST was a close friend of mine – so I agreed to help.
The first problem we encountered was that the State Representative who chaired the House committee that the Electronic Privacy Amendment was sent to was completely opposed to it – he had the worst record on the issues of privacy and government surveillance in both houses of the state legislature. To make matters worse, the committee chair was due to be term-limited out soon – making it more difficult to apply pressure to him.
Luckily, the State Representative in question also was my “pet” politician (my favorite one to mess with). So I called him, mobilized the grassroots in his district to flood his office with calls, publicly smacked him around on a variety of issues including privacy, and I personally made sure that he didn’t get appointed to a six-figure paying job that he had his eye on (long story – I will tell you about that in a future post).
A couple weeks later the Electronic Privacy Amendment was brought up in committee for a vote – and it passed WITH the Chair’s support. So not only did my “pet” politician bring it up for a vote – but he feared what I would do to him next so much that he voted for it himself, despite his five year-long record of pushing anti-privacy surveillance bills that would have been struck down by the Electronic Privacy Amendment.
Naturally, the next step was to ramp up pressure on the state house to pass the proposed constitutional amendment.
At this point, I know my Michigan friends are wondering: what happened to this proposed constitutional amendment? Why did it die?!?
The answer: I stopped working on it and that’s why it died.
Why’d I quit? Well, despite having worked closely with me and knowing my credentials as a solid liberty activist and grassroots organizer, ST decided to go ballistic on me, publicly call me a “statist,” “warmonger,” “jackbooted thug,” and a “bootlicker” on Facebook because… I dared to criticize Putin in several articles I shared on my wall.
I went out of my way several times to point out that I thought the US should do nothing about Putin or Russia – that it was Europe’s problem, not ours. But that didn’t stop the barrage of personal attacks hurled at me or the misrepresentations of my views that he would post on my Facebook statuses.
So I told ST that he owed me a public apology for his sophomoric behavior or else we’d be done as friends and I would never work with him on anything ever again. He promptly blocked me on Facebook and lied about what I wrote to others in our shared circle of liberty activists. I decided not to share this information with anyone besides those who asked me about it because I didn’t want to throw gasoline on the fire. I opted for the high road of letting the stupid drama that he started die down on its own.
But I kept true to my promise and ignored working on the Electronic Privacy Amendment – and because ST is a better keyboard warrior than he is a grassroots organizer, the Electronic Privacy Amendment died in the state house. In short, I decided that I wasn’t going to sanction his rude behavior, insults, and questioning of my commitment to my values, ESPECIALLY when he had relied on my integrity, experience, strategic vision, and grassroots lobbying ability to push for a proposed constitutional amendment that he was largely taking credit for.
I bring this up because lately some people have been acting like this toward me again – and then act offended when I point it out!
I’m being relentlessly attacked by some people because I dare to say that (1) Donald Trump is destroying the Republican establishment (which is a good thing), and (2) on net he really is less worse than the Republican Party’s past couple nominees (Mitt Romney and John McCain).
No, I don’t think Trump is a libertarian. No, I don’t think he’s a peace candidate. No, I don’t believe everything he says (you’d have to uniquely stupid to trust any politician). No, I don’t think that he’d be a great or even a good President. But I also don’t fall for the lies about him being “literally Hitler,” or a fascist, or a leftist, or any of the other ridiculous accusations hurled at him.
Anyway, here’s the point: if you disagree with me, that’s great! I’m open to a respectful debate – but if you misrepresent the facts I will call you out on it (and do so respectfully). There’s no reason to devolve to using personal attacks and insults. I definitely won’t give you a free pass to insult me on my own Facebook wall – and if we’re working together on some activism project, I will not sanction your rude behavior on social media or in real life by continuing to work with you or bending over backwards to please you. If you do insult me, I will let you know what I think of your unprofessional behavior and what that implies about your character (or lack thereof).
We should all strive to treat each other with respect and act professionally towards one another – we’re all fighting against a powerful common enemy (the left, the statist right, the political establishment, etc.) and consequently cannot afford to ruin working relationships over minor disagreements.
Teaching Leaders How to Achieve a Free Society Through Cultural and Political Activism