Sunday, October 25, 2009

campaign viability: the cost of coaliton-building and casting a wide net

Campaign strategy presents a terrible conundrum: how wide can you cast your net before you start to repel your original campaigners?

Coalition-building is a good-faith attempt to strengthen the movement. Obviously, a minority of people will have limp impact. So here we go, re-framing our issue to appeal to different life perspectives and interests.

The benefit? Bigger numbers, more money, more interest, more impact. The cost? There is potential for the message to become diluted, modified, redirected, or otherwise misrepresented.

Exhibit A: Me.

Yesterday I participated in a Washington DC event for the International Day of Climate Action (I somehow thought this would be bigger and better than VA Power Shift--I was wrong, and sorry). Aside from the fact that I rolled up to extremely disappointing numbers (I'm guessing the thunderstorm was a large deterrent for many), the only speakers that I was able to stomach really angered me.

The first offense was relating the climate and environment to a biblical story. Wherever the delicate line is--appeal to the theists without offending the secular-minded--was definitely crossed.

Aside from pulling the religious card, the next offense is harder to articulate into words. Statements were thrown around such as "love is the solution...blah blah blah...start the revolution." GAG ME.

Yes, my interest in the environment is motivated by a love for life, but ultimately, my goals and passions are pragmatic. I am at this event for a very specific reason--public attention, networking, and political mobility--and I do not appreciate counting rainbows in the sky instead. It gets nothing done (maybe it motivates some?), and it's off-putting to the more goal-oriented, objective participants.

Sorry, love is not the solution. It's offensive to say that people who don't recycle or don't actively try to reduce their waste don't love. Lots of those people even love me.

The solution is recycling, reducing, reusing, eliminating waste, getting organized, and staying organized.

I suppose my main problem with the event is that I felt it was misrepresenting the real goal by dressing it up in some Noah hoo ha and fuddy duddy love junk--both of which are not all-inclusive perspectives. I felt silly being there. That is not why I care about the environment. Those statements do not motivate me. In fact, they prompted my departure. I do not care to participate in things that misrepresent me and my beliefs.

Of course, I suppose casting a wider net may deter original campaigners at some point or another, but if those original campaigners were ever truly dedicated, they are not going to up and leave. Instead, they create their own individual strategies and are more likely to cherry pick and criticize when appropriate.

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