Lessons From a Grassroots Warrior
These are the times that try men's souls: the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country..." Thomas Paine
Sometimes in our lives, we start something new without background or training, but it needs to be done. I recently started teaching myself video editing and will soon learn WordPress for website design. If you know me, these are two things I never thought I would have to learn in my later years. The same applies to running an international and national organization. These were also never on my bucket list. When Blaine Holt and I started Restore Liberty, we first looked for someone doing anything close to what we were doing, and such an organization could not be found.
We plunged into the great unknown with high hopes and big goals and are still swimming.
We have not changed our outlook on life or the fundamentals of the organization in the last three years. We have learned a lot of hard lessons. The point of this article is to share those lessons, but let me start by telling you a little about Restore Liberty and our goals.
- We are a nationwide organization built to revive and restore liberty based on our nation’s original Biblical and constitutional principles.
- We seek to build a coalition using the team of teams (coalition) approach to magnify all organizations that believe in our shared values.
- Though we focus on sheriffs, school boards, and judges, we are engaged in many other efforts. These include foreign land sales, election integrity, libraries, border issues, military readiness, and foreign policy.
- We will never compromise our bedrock principles and values for any person or donation. Many have, and that is one of the lessons to follow.
- We build leadership state by state and county by county. This is for a variety of purposes.
Here are the hard lessons we have learned:
1. Few Strategists. Few strategic minds are engaged in the constitutional movement in the United States. Rather than lengthen this article by trying to define a strategist, I will point you to my Epoch Times article posted HERE. The lack of strategic thinking has consequences as too many organizations focus on only the near term and constant knife fights rather than thinking long term. Both have value, but the lack of strategic thinking means the efforts rarely achieve maximum and long-lasting effects.
2. Lack of Coalition Mindset. Organizations tend to look at others as competition rather than teammates. There are several reasons for this. Some are tied to pride, some to bad leadership. The main reason is financial. This leads to the next lesson.
3. Few Large Donors Willing to Fight. There are very few donors to Constitutional groups. I often say that constitutionally minded people do not fund liberty like marxists fund tyranny. So far that conclusion has held across the country. This is why groups will often look at each other as competition. With so few willing to put their money where their mouth is, it leaves many organizations fighting amongst themselves for precious resources rather than fighting the real enemy, the communist/fascist/socialist ideology in all its forms. There are, admittedly, legitimate reasons for donors’ lack of willingness to engage in the fight to save a country.
a. Paytriots – Fake patriots who prey on emotions or false pretenses are happy to take people’s donations and enrich themselves at the nation's expense. They want your money, and that is what they are fighting for. They are called cheaters and liars.
b. Compromisers – Organizations sacrifice what they claim were core values and rather than stand on real principles, they do and say whatever they must to raise funds. One more recent example of this is HERE. Unfortunately, examples of this are abundant.
c. Key Board Warriors – Donors have figured out that organizations will take credit for things even when they were never involved. Social Media warriors constantly make memes or posts about how they “led the way” to achieve a great outcome even though other organizations did the work. Donors, rather than risk donating to a bad organization, stop helping.
4. Controlled Opposition. The liberty movement is infected with cancers called disruptors or controlled opposition. These people want to get involved with their sole purpose being to destroy your team from the inside. We at Restore Liberty have been blessed to avoid this problem due to our disciplined means of recruiting and vetting people. However, we can never let down our guard or assume that somebody who wants to get involved in our leadership structure is not lying. We only bring on State Directors through the “shoulder tap” method. When people we trust recommend others, we will talk to them about leadership. But blind outreach from someone seeking to serve as a State Director will not work. One result of this process is that developing the team takes a long time, and few have the patience to do it right.
5. Quitting After One Loss. People and organizations quit trying when they lose one political race. If Plan A is to usher someone running for office to victory, then your plan is not sustainable. We have Plans B, C, and D in place to ensure we do not cease our efforts if one of our endorsed candidates does not win. Our plan involves endorsing candidates so we can get to know them and work with them for the long term regardless.
6. Politics is Not a Business Plan. Especially if you are focused on having God lead your steps. Wealthy potential donors are successful because they have a good business plan. That is a good thing, and we applaud them for that, but they should not look at a political grassroots-focused group like they do a business startup. Restore Liberty ensures that God is always in the lead, and we will follow in obedience. This often means we cannot always know what is coming and how to respond. Few donors understand how important but different this kind of organization is as a result.
7. Duplication of Efforts. One of the things I hated in the military was anything that duplicated an effort. While growing Restore Liberty over the last three years I have run into several new organizations with language and methods that look like ours. Sometimes, we know people were looking at us and intentionally duplicating what we are doing to reach out to donors or because they thought they could do the same thing better. Most recently I ran into one startup program advertising a “County Guardian” program intended to build leadership in counties across the United States. It looks like Restore Liberty’s County Guardian program. When I contacted that organization to determine their interest in working together, they never responded. Duplicating efforts wastes our most precious resource, people. Then wastes our second most precious - time. When organizations recruit people to what they think are new efforts across the country they remain fractured and ineffective. The leadership team of Restore Liberty will continue to build as we have for years, and we encourage those who seek to start new organizations first spend time surveying the field to ensure they are not just copying someone else. When organizations duplicate intentionally, they are either controlled opposition, self-centered, or looking for a paycheck.
8. Empty Promises. One of the hardest lessons is learning to deal with empty promises. Donors promising large checks disappear after you contact them. New members who initially say they are ready to get to work then also disappear. People with specialized skill sets who promise their time and talents to the cause of liberty but never do anything. Media personalities who say they would love you back on their show but never reach out again. The examples are abundant. I have learned that about ten percent of the promises I receive will be fulfilled. When talking to other dedicated patriot groups around the country, this is a constant refrain. It is why so many of us have had to conclude that apathy will be one key factor in killing this nation.
9. Grifters. People who say they like what you are doing and want to get involved but only want to use your organization to advance something on which they are working.
10. Media is Out of Focus. Our organization has had several opportunities to display our leadership and expertise. Blaine Holt is a contributor to Newsmax. Something that was not on his bucket list when he retired from the Air Force. I have been a guest on many national outlets. There are good media outlets, but most seek celebrities, politicians, or people with shock value. The key is to keep working whether your efforts get any attention or not, for God is always watching and He has the only reward that matters.
Fortunately, not all lessons are negative.
1. Great People. Despite all the issues I have listed when you find the diamond, you find someone who you will quickly call a great friend and sometimes even adopted family. I never intended to do anything after my military retirement like what I am. Still, by building this organization, I have been blessed with meeting and working alongside some of the greatest people I could ever imagine. Do your best to wade through the muck and the mire each day and be prepared to be blessed beyond imagining. Then, stay close to each other no matter what comes.
2. Women Will Save this Nation. Many of our State Directors are women, and they are passionate and fearless. As I travel the country, I see women leading the fight for liberty. Though this fact should challenge men to step up in courage, it is wonderful to see these women in action as they lead and follow with the courage and conviction necessary to make a difference.
3. Great Coalition Members. Just like the great individuals we meet, great organizations, when found, will work alongside and magnify each other’s efforts. We have found some of those organizations. STARRS.US, Act for America, and Take Action USA are examples. See HERE for more.
4. Great Media. They are out there. One America News, Liberty Cowgirl and Powergirl, Newsmax, Let’s Talk America with Dr. Alan Keyes, America Unhinged, CD Media, and Lindell TV. Once you find them, stay with them if they will have you.
5. There is a Christ-Centered Revival Happening. It will never be covered in the mainstream media, but you cannot miss it when you travel the country and talk to people and organizations.
Even the best kind of liberty on earth is temporary compared to the permanent liberty that comes by knowing Jesus Christ as your LORD and Savior. May we all focus on the permanent while also fighting for the temporary. If you want to know more see HERE, HERE, and HERE.
God is working, so do your sacred duty and let God handle the results.
Here’s my story and it will tell you how much I will risk to do the right thing.