Everybody wants to be the vanguard

I kibitzed a bit of online spill-over of an argument between anarchists, Occupiers, activists, & sundry interested parties regarding organizing & protesting around the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The discussion was about organizing & activist methodologies & the argument (whose provenance is in dispute) was about “diversity of tactics” which, as far as I can tell, is just spin for “we’ll join y’all if all y’all let us do whatever we want”, which defeats the purpose of organizing in the first place.

I don’t really have any thoughts worth voicing about the specifics of that argument/discussion, but it got me thinking.

One of the things I’ve learned over the past decade I’ve spent involving myself in various civic organizing initiatives is that most people want to do something big and flashy that will get them recognized. Everybody wants to be the vanguard.

I’ve also learned that the vanguard gets wiped out first.

The thing that no one wants to do is the legwork. You can have a badass army, but if you don’t have competent folks bringing bread and cheese and water in on trucks, your soldiers get turned into sausage.

There’s nothing flashy about the work of being a Congress-critter. They’re all sausage-makers. The power lies in the willingness to do the tedious preparation and unsung heavy lifting to achieve your goal, whatever it may be. That’s the way it works with any great process. That’s the great test of commitment. People who show up to do the boring shit are the ones you want around, because they know how to make sausage.

There will be plenty of people coming in to town to protest the 2016 RNC, and even more folks coming to participate in it. The folks in Cleveland preparing to protest might consider (if they haven’t already, like I said, I’m only tangentially aware of their discussion) whether they’d rather be 1 of numerous uncoordinated & questionably trustworthy vanguards, or the unsung ground crew that keeps it all together.