A Grassroots Leadership Lecture on a critical and often-overlooked topic: How to hold meetings that engage your members and lead to effective political outcomes.
A lot of groups out there are really just spinning their wheels. Watch this video and see whether your group meets these criteria of successful meetings.
The Michigan Senate Oversight Committee, chaired by Senator Ed McBroom, recently put out a "Report on the November 2020 Election" which among other things called for partisan lunatic Attorney General Dana Nessel to investigate "those who have been utilizing misleading and false information about Antrim County to raise money or publicity for their own ends" in clear reference to attorney Matthew DePerno, whom the report referenced eight times.
Nessel has taken up the offer and now abuses her office with the support of the Senate Oversight Committee.
Rescue Michigan's Adam de Angeli and Shane Trejo discuss the background of the scandal and how grassroots conservatives should respond:
And here's some resolution language discussed in the video that you are free to use:
WHEREAS, American society is structured upon a foundation of God-given, fundamental human rights enshrined and protected by the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Michigan; and
WHEREAS, Among those foundational rights are the right to free speech and the right to counsel. The right of free speech is so fundamental that it is protected by the very First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; the right to counsel is found in the Sixth Amendment and in all legal matters in Michigan in Article I, Section 13 of the State Constitution; and
WHEREAS, The foundational right to free speech was grievously damaged by the 2021 sham impeachment of President Donald J. Trump. In that false impeachment, the President was charged with "incitement of insurrection," a non-existent crime, based on the President calling on supporters to peacefully demonstrate at the Capitol. The President's statements contained no incitement to any illegal activity, and no court of law could possibly find otherwise. Nevertheless, the false impeachment was supported unanimously by Democrat members of Congress, joined by 17 disgraceful Republicans. This politically motivated sham trial legitimized forthcoming assaults on the First Amendment rights of all Americans; and
WHEREAS, The foundational right to counsel was grievously damaged by politically motivated sham complaints filed against attorneys affiliated with President Donald J. Trump's campaign. These grievances led to the "preliminary, emergency" suspension of the law license of former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who has not been given a trial or even an evidentiary hearing. More importantly, meritless complaints calling for disbarment were filed against Michigan attorneys Scott Hagerstrom, Stefanie Junttila, and Greg Rohl by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson; and
WHEREAS, The Michigan Senate Oversight Committee Report on the November 2020 Election, adopted by Senators Ed McBroom, Lana Theis, and John Bizon, despite conceding on Page 24 that the Michigan Court of Claims found that the manner in which absentee ballots – comprising a majority of all ballots cast in that election – were processed in an illegal manner, concluded that "citizens should be confident the results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan"; and
WHEREAS, The Report referenced attorney Matt DePerno by name no less than eight times in its effort to refute allegations made by DePerno and, clearly in reference to DePerno, "strongly recommends citizens use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain"; and
WHEREAS, The Report alleges no facts to support its assertion that DePerno or anyone else pushed any theory "for their own personal gain"; and
WHEREAS, It would be grossly inappropriate under any circumstances for a report prepared by a committee of the Legislature to single out a constituent resident of Michigan for derision; and
WHEREAS, The Report did not stop there, but continued to recommend "the attorney general consider investigating those who have been utilizing misleading and false information about Antrim County to raise money or publicity for their own ends," another clear reference to DePerno; and
WHEREAS, Attorney General Dana Nessel campaigned for office on a bad-faith promise to "sue the Trump Administration all day, every day," and carried out on this promise, using her office for partisan political attacks, including those related to the 2020 election. These attacks included seeking the disbarment of President Trump's attorneys and sending legal threats to journalists exposing "DetroitLeaks" -- a recording of Detroit election officials instructing poll workers to abuse social distancing guidelines to intentionally impede poll challengers. Attorney General Dana Nessel thereby sought to suppress facts exposing a conspiracy to commit serial felonies under MCL 168.734; and
WHEREAS, It is unconscionable that a report prepared by the Legislature would exhort a partisan attorney general with a history of abusing her office for partisan political purposes to investigate and harass a Michigan resident based on wholly unsupported accusations; and
WHEREAS, Attorney General Dana Nessel has agreed to carry out a harassment campaign under false color of an investigation, expressly citing the Oversight Committee's request;
WHEREAS, Senator Ed McBroom cannot be considered a neutral party with respect to DePerno. DePerno was the attorney of record in a lawsuit against the Michigan House of Representatives and then-Representative McBroom. Additionally, at the time the suit was filed, Senators Lana Theis and John Bizon were also members of the House of Representatives; and
WHEREAS, Senator McBroom opted not to recuse himself, not to refrain from personal attacks against personal enemies, and not even to disclose his past adversarial relationship to DePerno; and
WHEREAS, In the broader context of ongoing attacks against the American people’s right to free speech and the right to counsel, the Report bolsters and encourages these attacks in a transparent attempt to intimidate and silence all citizens exposing the misconduct of election officials, challenging the results of the election, and advocating for legal and policy remedies; and
WHEREAS, This Committee finds the Michigan Senate Oversight Committee Report on the November 2020 Election to be the product of gross official misconduct. It is improper that the report isolates an individual to make unsupported allegations that the individual makes claims for personal profit, unconscionable that the report calls upon the Attorney General to harass that individual based on said unsupported allegation, and a compounding breach of ethics for Committee members to fail to disclose their past adversarial legal relationship to the target of these allegations; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, This Committee calls for the resignation of the author of the Michigan Senate Oversight Committee Report on the November 2020 Election: Senator Ed McBroom; and be it further
RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be transmitted to our Republican representatives and senators in the Michigan Legislature, to the Michigan Republican Party, and to local news media.
In our latest members' email, we encouraged members to sign and send a letter to a state representative encouraging her committee to take up our election integrity legislation.
I received this response from a member:
I'm told that sending form letters is not as effective as doing your own... In the past, these forms are just tossed out... It seems the Pols prefer your own words.... And, it is a form of spam. So, just copy, paste, reword your own way and send off.
She has a kind heart, and I know where she's coming from.
But this is incorrect.
And it's actually one of the big myths in politics, perpetuated by the politicians themselves.
Notice how it benefits politicians for people to think they don't care about "form letters." Many people don't have the time to write a personal letter. Some people aren't confident in their mastery of an issue, or their writing skills in general.
If every constituent had to write a personal letter, politicians would get fewer letters. They like it that way. They don't want to be troubled to respond. They don't want to be "pressured" by the will of their constituents. They want to be on voters' minds as little as possible.
Writing a letter to a politician isn't about changing their minds or pulling their heartstrings. If a politician isn't already motivated to do the right thing, it isn't because he (or she) doesn't know it's the right thing.
Politicians are, with few exceptions, motivated by their own ambitions. Those in tough districts are desperate for re-election. Those who aren't are desperate to make sure they maintain (or reclaim) the majority, and want to lead their caucus or run for higher office.
When a politician receives a "form letter" from 100 constituents, how does that compare to 100 personal letters on the same issue?
It's exactly the same. It's 100 concerned constituents.
Not only does it not matter whether it was a personal letter or a "form letter" -- the form letter is actually more powerful.
Because the "form letter" sent by lots of people is lots of people, with an organization behind them.
An organization with a list.
An organization that might contact that list again, should the politician do the wrong thing.
When politicians get letters from angry voters on any given issue, the most important question to them is: How many people are mad about this?
The "form letter" makes it easier to give them a truer figure.
Sign those petitions, folks. The politicians in Lansing are counting the signatures.
Hundreds of parents showed up to the Vail School Board meeting to demand the board make masks optional. The board didn't want to hear it so they walked out of the meeting before it even began. So the parents, under Robert's Rules of Order, voted in a new school board. Then, the new members voted to end the mask requirement in Vail Schools. The old school board members revealed exactly who they are and that includes GOP LD 10 Chairman, Chris King.
You can watch the full video of the meeting at the link above.
This is not the end of the story, of course. A legal battle will ensue. The cowardly school board members will not relinquish their titles without a fight. But the parents won't back down, either. They need to turn up in even greater numbers next time.
This is the power of people when they organize locally. Every local school board meeting should be like this.
In Rochester Hills, Michigan, the school board is attacking the parents who are exposing their misconduct. The parents are now working to recall four of its members. I hope they succeed. Recalls are extremely difficult in Michigan, but even if they don't get enough signatures, they can grow an organization around this and run candidates in the next cycle.
This is how a movement grows. Get people engaged, and get them involved in a worthwhile political fight.
Defending the rights of children is a very worthwhile fight.
Of the 506 signatures sampled, 434 or 86% were determined to be valid, the bureau said Monday. The result led the staff to estimate about 460,358 signatures of the total 538,345 submitted were valid. Unlock Michigan needed 340,047 signatures to obtain certification.
The Board of State Canvassers will take up the measure on Thursday, April 22.
The opposition group "Keep Michigan Safe" (Keep Whitmer Dictator would be an honest name) whined that the Bureau of Elections report ignored "90% of our many procedural and substantive challenges" and promised to "make our case to the Board of Canvassers and the courts to stop this ill-conceived and irresponsible petition drive."
Which reminds me: What ever happened to the Attorney General investigating the fake signatures that opposition operatives planted?
Next to boxes of valid petitions, a lone box sits off to the side...
It bears to photo of the left-wing operative that attempted to poison the Unlock Michigan campaign...
On September 28, 2020, sociopath Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that, as usual, her office would be opening a criminal investigation into an organization whose cause she disagrees with.
Unlock Michigan identified the operative that organized the hit job and, after delivering their 537,000 petitions to the Secretary of State, delivered the box of his signatures to the Attorney General.
And that was the last we heard of it.
I doubt we will ever hear about it again.
But it was my privilege to serve as Washtenaw County Coordinator for this great undertaking, and if nobody else leads the call for "Unlock Part 2," to end the governor's last remaining lifeline to dictatorship, the Health Code, count me in.
State Representative John Reilly discusses how an ordinary Joe became a state representative. Before becoming State Rep, his local group took over their township board and put a stop to lots of bad policy.
And then they helped him become their representative for 90 thousand people in the state legislature.
It involved getting like-minded people together and knocking on some doors.
Rep. Reilly is the proof of the power that citizens can have when they organize locally.
Last night, the Washtenaw County Republican Party hosted Ken Matiyow, former campaign manager and legislative staffer for Jack Brandenburg, a former lawmaker who served for 14 years in the Michigan legislature – the fullest term possible under Michigan term limits.
Brandenburg, a Republican, was first elected to the House in a district that hadn't been represented by a Republican since 1942.
Consisting mostly of Saint Clair Shores, the district consistently elected and re-elected left-wing Democrat Sander Levin to Congress, from 1983 until his retirement in 2018, when he was replaced by his son.
Republicans seldom compete in "Democrat strongholds," but Jack Brandenburg was determined, and Ken Matiyow discovered the winning formula.
The major issue that year, according to conventional wisdom, was the Single Business Tax. Knocking on doors, Matiyow was giving the usual pitch, until one day shortly after the NAACP had its convention in Detroit. All of the candidates for governor – Jennifer Granholm, David Bonior, and James Blanchard – attended the event, and each pledged support for "reparations": government quite literally robbing citizens of their money to give to black people, ostensibly to atone for slavery, which was abolished in 1865.
It was probably nothing more than the usual identity-politics pandering that dominates left-wing politics, but Matiyow found it interesting enough that he asked for, and received, Brandenburg's permission to experiment with the issue in his door-to-door work.
The response was stunning: The first day he began discussing the topic with voters, he placed 30 Brandenburg signs in people's yards.
The Brandenburg campaign found a winning issue, and created a campaign piece on the topic. Brandenburg became the first Republican to win the district in 60 years.
There are two lessons here. The obvious lesson is that political consultants are poor judges of winning issues. Consultants routinely advise politicians to avoid the issue of immigration, despite the fact the huge majority of the public opposes it.
Consider the 2014 referendum in Oregon on Measure 88. Oregon is, by all accounts, a left-wing state. Yet when voters were asked to approve the measure to grant driver licenses to illegal aliens, voters rejected the proposal by 2 to 1.
Rejecting giving driver licenses to illegal aliens was more popular in Oregon than legalizing marijuana, the incumbent governor, and the incumbent senator.
Last year, California voters said no to "affirmative action," another proposal to grant special privileges to particular minorities over everyone else, despite the forces supporting the proposal outspending the opposition 14 to 1.
The very issues that the "experts" tell Republican politicians to avoid seem to be the very same issues that actually resonate with voters.
But the more important lesson is to the power of knocking on doors.
But here we see it's also critical for identifying the best issues to campaign on.
When you go out and talk to 30 voters or so, you get valuable insight into what issues really motivate people. You can test an issue out on a small number of people, and see what works.
You'll also likely identify like-minded people worth connecting with and inviting to meetings.
It really is incredibly effective, and often becomes fun once you get over the initial apprehension about doing it.
But as Ken Matiyow noted, too many conservatives are just too chicken to do it.
"We talk a good game at our own events," he noted, "But then we freeze up at the notion of going out and actually advocating for our beliefs with strangers."
This is why conservatives are losing in the long run. We allow the radical left to present their morally obscene ideas as perfectly normal, and ours as "hateful."
Knocking on doors is the best, and possibly the only, way to change this paradigm.
Matiyow made this important the media: all the media combined only reach a few million voters, in a nation of 128 million of them. The huge majority of people aren't watching the media.
But if every passionate patriot reached out to just a couple hundred people every few years, we would be winning everywhere.
He noted the incredible political shift that just happened in Ontario, Canada.
For 15 years, the socialist Ontario Liberal Party was the most powerful political party in the province. Prior to 2018 the party won every election since the beginning of the 21st century and governed the province for the previous 15 years.
In 2018, conservative leader Doug Ford ran a Trump-style populist campaign. The socialists lost all but 7 seats in the legislature. It was the worst defeat for a party in provincial history.
40% of Canada's population lives in Ontario. This defeat was the equivalent of New York, California, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Minnesota turning from Democrat to Republican in one election.
It can be done. Socialism, which is the true platform of the Democrat Party, is unpopular on its face when voters understand what policies it actually advocates, and disastrous in its practice.
We can win everything back in 2022.
If – and only if – we find the resolve to get out and knock on doors.
As I said in the first column in this Grassroots Leadership series, the question I get asked more than anything else is, "What can I do?"
People aren't asking for generalities about effective leadership. They're asking for clear instructions.
In the first two columns I discussed what is generally effective (grassroots organizing) and what is not (volunteering on a campaign or trying to educate the public).
Now it's time to get into the nuts and bolts of grassroots leadership.
Maybe you are already involved in a grassroots group and are looking to change its direction. Maybe you run a grassroots group, but are asking "what should we focus on?"
I will cover these in a future column.
In this column, I want to discuss starting from scratch. Let's say you have no local liberty organization, or none you're aware of.
Sadly, this is the case for most people. This is why liberty is losing.
We need local organizations in every city and township. And every city and township has more than enough people to start an effective organization.
Where do you start? The very first step is bringing people together.
You Need To Organize A Meeting
Not online. In the real world.
There are three huge problems with meeting online.
The first is that all politics is local, and by meeting online, you're already tempting yourself to bring in people that don't live anywhere near you.
The group you want to create will be going out into the real world, to bring more people together and to create political impact in your area. This isn't going to work if your group members are far-flung and aren't going to be able to work together in the real world.
Second, online meetings are hugely dysfunctional by their nature. Any meeting with a substantial number of people is going to have a substantial number of technical difficulties. You'll also have problems with people being inattentive and minding what's going on around them instead of paying attention to the business of the group. You will have problems with group organization. Either a group leader will control who can speak and who is muted, which can often put off participants, or it becomes a free-for-all where people talk over each other and nobody can hear anything.
Third, meeting online will never have the human component of bringing people together to talk and socialize, and this is a critical component, especially if you're getting people together for the first time.
Local political groups die when members don't feel like they're forming a community. The social aspect of a meeting is critical.
When every real-world meeting ends, people hang out and chat. This is how relationships are formed. This is often when, after someone at the meeting announces he or she wants to do something, another person or more volunteer to help. Before the evil lockdowns, people would often migrate to a restaurant to discuss matters further, and begin laying plans.
When an online meeting ends, everyone is immediately cut off. There is no immediate follow-up in a more relaxed setting.
Online meetings do not work, period.
If you have the technology and want to offer an online alternative for your meetings, where people can "watch" the real-life meeting from home and possibly comment over a PA system, that's fine.
But you cannot rely on an online format. It will not be successful.
You need a real-world location.
Getting People Together
Before we discuss when and where to meet, let's first discuss how the heck you find like-minded people to invite, because this will actually make these other tasks much easier.
Finding a good meeting location is difficult in these times. Normal places like restaurants and public buildings are shut down. If you can first find people with a desire to get together and meet, there's a likelihood one of them has a heated pole barn or an office, or knows someone with a suitable meeting space.
How are you going to find like-minded citizens to invite to your meeting?
It is time to take your very first step. It is time to create your list.
The list is the backbone of every effective political organization. Whether it's a township group or a presidential campaign, the list is the foundation.
Be organized and create a spreadsheet (or a database, if you know how). I'll discuss list-building in more depth in a future column, but for now, just create columns for first name, last name, email, phone, address, and city. (Make sure you put first and last names into separate columns. Trust me; you'll regret it if you only use one column for name.)
The first people is to add like-minded people you know personally that live in your city or township, or close enough to be worth inviting. Hopefully, you have at least a few people you can think of. These are your friends, coworkers, and fellow church-goers. Even if you have no particular relationship with them, if you know they share your politics, put them on the list.
Your objective is to build the biggest list you can.
Now it's time to find some new people.
It isn't as hard as you might think.
Take a look around your neighborhood. Depending on where you live, you might just walk, or it might be easier to drive.
Get a map and survey your neighborhood, including all of the side streets and cul de sacs. You're almost certain to find people who still have Trump signs or flags in their yards. You'll see "Don't Tread On Me" flags.
But don't just look for the telltale signs.
As you go from house to house, notice how many homes' appearances tell a story.
Children's toys in the yard tell you the family has young children or grandchildren. Signs for so-and-so and the sports team tells you they have middle or high school children at home.
You'll see fishing boats, sports cars, religious symbols, and all kinds of other clues to the family's lifestyle.
Some communities are more outgoing than others. If you come up with little information, try again at another time on another day. You'll see different cars with different bumper stickers. You'll see open garages that were closed before.
You'll learn something. And you will find some households that practically scream "Trump supporter."
Write down those addresses. Put them on your list.
And then you must do what is extremely hard to do for the first time: knock on their doors.
If the house is obviously a Republican household, you might say:
"Hey, I like your yard sign. I'm Adam; I live around the corner. I'm a Trump supporter too. I'm looking to get some neighbors together and start a group. Something that's part social club, part trying to figure out what we can do to help people see what's going on."
I know how hard it is to talk to strangers for the first time. Start with these houses, where it's very likely you're talking to a friend. But if the person at the door gives you a cold "no thanks", you just have to accept that some people are like that, and move on to the next door.
Summoning the nerve to knock on the first door is the hardest step. With every door, it gets easier.
Depending on your community, you might come up with other creative ways to find people to invite to your meeting.
I recently chatted with a business owner whose business has a high percentage of Trump supporters. I recommended this process, until I remembered he lives in Ann Arbor, a city dominated by Marxists where conservatives live in fear of expressing their opinions. He would be unlikely to find anyone with a Trump sign in the yard.
But having made the recommendation, it suddenly occurred to him:
"I get lots of Trump supporters in here every day! I'll just start up a list!" He whipped out a pad and wrote at the top: "MAGA Supporter Group Sign Up!"
In the past four years, the guy never thought to build a list of Trump supporters. In two weeks he will have dozens of people's phone numbers and emails.
In a normal world, a restaurant, library, or town hall would be suitable, but in this postmodern hellscape, you'll have to be more creative.
You may find a church willing to host your group. You should certainly ask.
You may find somebody with an office or other space they will allow you to use. If they offer you the space, you need to make sure they understand and accept the risk, because you cannot allow them to cancel after you begin promoting your meeting.
If you promote the meeting in a public way, it may draw the attention of the left-wing mob. If your host is sensitive to public pressure, he might cancel your meeting. (It won't help him; the mob only reacts to placation with increased hostility. But he won't know that.)
On the other hand, if you only invite people to the meeting that you know you can trust, negative publicity is very unlikely. And if the host is a MAGA supporter, he may not care what the left says or does about it.
But before you choose a meeting location on private property, you need to make sure the host understands the risks and is willing to take them.
In the non-winter seasons, a park may suffice as a meeting location. You can probably use a pavilion without a reservation, as very few people are using them these days anyway.
Finally, you might have a meeting at someone's home, if it meets all the proper considerations. First, it must have enough space. Second, the host must be comfortable with bringing in strangers. Some people have enough space and amenities to host a meeting in the garage or pole barn
Whatever you come up with, it has to be something, and you may have to settle for the best option among those with shortcomings.
But find a meeting place, you must.
Time and Format
Next you must set a date and time. I recommend a weeknight, 2 to 3 weeks in the future. You need to give yourself time to invite people.
As I will discuss the next column, regular meetings should be only one hour in duration. But the first meeting may need to be a little longer.
Your first meeting is going to be mostly about people getting to know each other a little. You'll want to allow everyone a few minutes to introduce themselves. Your first meeting might go 90 minutes, or even two hours. But it shouldn't be longer than that.
Any weeknight is fine, even Fridays, since people aren't going out these days. Start sometime between 6:30 and 8:00pm.
Preparing For The Meeting
Once you have a time and location, begin to invite people.
Don't just kick out an email. Call people to follow up. Get their commitment to attend.
Make sure you create a sign-in sheet. I recommend making a sheet in "landscape" orientation (11 inches wide on the page) with little gray squares instead of blank lines to encourage people to write neatly. Include fields for name, email, phone number, and zip code.
You'll want a clipboard and pens for the sign-in sheet. Make sure the host puts out chairs. I don't recommend serving food, because it is distracting, but offering water or coffee is a nice touch.
Now you have everything you need to organize your first meeting.
What are you going to do at your meeting? Stay tuned for my next column.