Monday, February 4, 2013

On diluting the power of concerned, active and interested citizens


What I just wrote (04 Feb 2013) to yet another upstart "conservative political activist" group on the Internet seeking my support and engagement:


I am certain that your intentions are wonderful, and I hate to be the one to rain on your parade, but I have some questions about where you appear to be headed with all of this.

First, regarding your "Three Core Principles." These principles are so broadly stated as to be open to interpretation in hundreds, if not thousands, of ways. Liberals and progressives could adopt these principles using their interpretations of "appropriate resources and authority," "specials status and privileges" and what it means to be a "shining city upon a hill." In my opinion, your "core principles" are so vague as to be meaningless in any effective political sense.

Second, it should be noted that there are already dozens--even hundreds--of online politically-oriented sites trying to do very nearly the same thing your sites purport to do. The problem is that all of these efforts by hundreds of different organizations tend to dilute, not coalesce, the power of the folks who get involved. Hundreds of organizations, all with good intentions, all vie for the donors' money while each attempts to support its own overhead and technology efforts.

Why do we complain about the inefficiencies of government with dozens, indeed, sometimes hundreds, of overlapping departments, programs and policies, while feeling that if we do the same thing in the not-for-profit world with well-intentioned organizations it is a good thing? It makes no sense.

There exist already a core of fine organizations with relatively long histories that are fighting for a smaller, constitutionally-limited government, sound monetary policy and free markets. Consider the work of organizations such as Mises Institute, Cato Institute, Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), Future of Freedom Foundation (FFF), Heritage Institute, and many more.

Frankly, rather than dilute our efforts and support more and more overlapping efforts--with all their accompanying overhead--I consider it far more effective to consolidate our efforts and become all the MORE effective by coalescing behind a smaller number of organizations that have already proven their sustainability and effectiveness in some measure.

Of course, many new startup organizations will not give in to this plan. Why? Because they consider their mission "too special" to surrender; because, while they agree with 80 or 90 percent of what these well-established organizations stand for, they still want to squabble over the remaining ten or 20 percent; or, to put it frankly, because they got into this whole Internet activist "thing" because they wanted to start an organization that will be a source of income for themselves personally.

I'm sorry I cannot be more supportive. I just hate to see so much time, energy and effort frittered away while the attentions of the sincere citizens are increasingly diffused, rather than increasingly focused. Nothing could make our liberal/progressive friend more pleased than to see our time, energy and money diffused into the ether with little to show for it because every cause wants to fight the battle under their own banner.

Very truly yours,


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