During my participation in the Healthcare Freedom Movement in California over the past year, I have observed a recurring theme surrounding campaigns carried out by various activists. That theme is the idea that it is better to do something, ANYTHING, rather than pause while carefully selecting what to work on. Activists seem to be completely impulse driven in this regard. The idea of “measure twice, cut once” is straight out the window. The first idea presented is like that irresistible candy or tabloid in the checkout lane, and it must be had right now.
In my opinion, most of this impulse is based on trust in the leaders presenting campaign ideas. Activists ask themselves How can we go wrong with someone we trust? And they ask no further questions. Just jump on the bandwagon and demonize anyone who has any questions or suggestions to stop and think.
We need look no further than the various Healthcare Freedom campaigns of 2015 in California to see how well this approach is working for us.
Our three biggest failures of 2015 can be attributed to our collective failure to ask ourselves one simple question:
Is this an Opposition Strategy?
And speak up about it.
Before I get started here, I want to specifically smash the idea that Opposition Strategies originate only from the Opposition. I am in no way at all suggesting that leaders who proffered the strategies are consciously employed by the opposition. Because that status is irrelevant when the strategy chosen supports the opposition. My only assertion is that all of us, including those leaders, failed to ask “Is this an opposition strategy?”.
What is an Opposition Strategy?
An Opposition Strategy is a strategy that gives aid or assistance to our enemies, those being Pharma, Politicians working against us, the Science Fraud Industrial Complex to name but a few. In essence, proponents of mandated medical procedures and opponents of Healthcare Freedom. This assistance may come as a direct result of either the campaign’s success or failure. Or it may come indirectly, a consequence of the campaign’s very existence or side effects of the campaign.
What are some examples of Opposition Strategies?
The Recall Senator Pan campaign, as it was executed, was a great example of an Opposition Strategy. Due to California Campaign Finance Laws, a PAC established by a politician to defend against a recall can bypass the per-donor contribution limit (currently $4200) and instead, each donor can donate unlimited funds to that PAC.
So the end result of the Recall Pan effort is Senator Pan’s PAC collected over $125,000 to defend against the recall. Since the recall failed to get the requisite signatures to proceed to the ballot, Senator Pan’s PAC gets to pocket that money, and can contribute it later toward his re-election campaign and the re-election campaigns of other SB 277 proponents in our state legislature. He could also return the money, but I have a feeling those donors would rather have him keep it to fund their crusade against Healthcare Freedom.
The fact that this campaign was executed by individuals having no prior experience with recalling a politician also tilts the balance toward it being an opposition strategy. Is recalling Senator Pan inherently a bad idea? With the correct leadership and funding, it likely would have succeeded. A good first step for such a campaign would be to investigate the Senator, build a case against him and seek an indictment for his well-known misdeeds, then file the recall. That’s a campaign that would work.
SB 277 Referendum
The referendum in and of itself was an Opposition Strategy. We’ll skip over the very interesting drama about what is happening to the funds raised to support the SB 277 Referendum for now, and examine the mechanics of how a referendum works.
In California, by law, all of our referendums are “Veto Referendums”. That means, if a given referendum is put on the ballot, it will be an up or down vote by the people of the law itself.
The first problem with the mechanics of a referendum is, if you are in favor of the referendum, you must vote No at the ballot box. Because a Yes vote is a vote in favor of the law. A No vote counts toward vetoing the law. So there is some basic voter education overhead that can be difficult to overcome.
The second problem with the SB 277 Referendum effort, it needed to have tens of millions of dollars to spend on an education campaign to convince voters there is no need for this law, that preserving rights is more important than the occasional contracting of minor diseases they are already scared to death about, and to vote No in November. This of course is a very optimistic view that Pharma would not counter such efforts with ten times as much cash, to scare the shit out of everyone that they and their children will die and die tomorrow unless they vote Yes. And we all know pharma would happily spend that cash. We must be realistic on this point, Prop 37 was defeated by a 3-day campaign that convinced voters that changing the artwork for labels (a routine and ongoing expense in the food industry) would make groceries unaffordable. Imagine the effect of slogans like “Voting NO = DEATH”.
We need to carefully consider our strategies for employing our limited finances and resources in the most realistic and productive way possible. If we do that and lose we will at least know we did not invest time, energy and money into efforts that substantially aid our enemies. Really, they don’t need our help. And we can then dust ourselves off and try again, against an enemy that was not strengthened by our previous effort.
Each of us needs to seek information about any given strategy, and once that is obtained, ask these questions:
- Am I willing to look past the personality of the leader or leaders presenting a campaign idea and think critically about potential outcomes of their idea, both good and bad?
- What are the possible outcomes of this campaign?
- Will any of those outcomes offer substantial aid to the enemy?
- Are the goals of the campaign realistic? Or is this busy work aka force depletion for our movement?
- Is the campaign easily defeated simply by Pharma spending money?
- Are people shouting down others who have legitimate questions about the strategy?
- And, finally: Is this an opposition strategy?
It is better to discard a mediocre idea and reserve our resources for the great idea that will inevitably develop if we are patient and thoughtful enough.