The white nationalist and Christian nationalist movements are social movements – mobilizations that seek to change American institutions and policies to assert the dominance of whites and Christians over other communities in the country. As such, organized bigots frequently run for office and a number have attained elected office. In addition, racist and other bigoted organizations engage in lobbying and voter mobilization and other actions aimed at shaping public policy in the direction of their particular nationalism.
Whatever your political party affiliation, you can counter organized racism by getting involved and speaking out when racists and other bigots seek to gain a political base of support. Actively oppose policies and groups that seek to push the party in a more racist and bigoted direction, or that do not actively speak out against bigotry.
Research and Document the Bigoted Candidates and Groups Engaged in Policy Campaigns
Documenting a public official’s link to organized racists, or the bigoted nationalism that underlies a group’s efforts to shape public policy can be the first step to undermining their success. Solid information can expose the bigotry promoted by the group and alert the broader community to the threat posed by a racist group, bigoted public official or discriminatory public policy. To find information on the group or event, go to their website, search online for background on them, and contact organizations that specialize in researching organized bigotry.
Get to Know the Law Around Non-Profits and Political Activity
If you are involved in a non-profit, be sure to learn what you can and cannot in the political arena. Protect your non-profit status. There are a number of good sources on this, including the National Council of Non-Profits. If you wish to donate to a political campaign or candidate who opposes bigotry or form a committee to oppose bigoted candidates, you will need to follow applicable state and federal campaign laws.
Reach Out to the Community and Build Coalitions
Once you have done some research, reach out to community groups to let the public official’s link to bigoted groups, or the bigoted group lobbying government officials. If you are involved in a political party, work to make that political party reach out to groups and people in the community targeted by the far right public official, group or policy. Reach out to groups in the community whose values and interests are threatened. Think broadly to engage as many community groups as possible in opposing the official or policy.
Develop a Message the Both Counters and Offers Alternatives
Far right public officials and groups advance their policy goals through expressions bigotry, conspiracy theories, distorted versions of the Constitution and claims to address community issues and concerns. You can undermine their outreach by building messages that (1) counter and discredit their ideas and goals; and (2) offer alternatives that demonstrate the values you and your communities support. In your counter message point out the bigotry and ineffectiveness of what the elected official/far-right group is proposing. Use this part of your message to expose the ideas and background of these groups and their negative impact on the broader community. In your alternative message, point out real solutions to the issues raised – or the lack of a real issue at work in the far right proposal.
Lobby other Elected Officials to Oppose Bigoted Policies and Groups
Reach out to elected officials and encourage them to oppose bigoted policies and speak out against the bigoted public officials or far-right groups. Elected officials are frequently busy, so providing them with quick summaries of bigoted politicians, groups and policies work best. Visit them in person, call on the phone and provide them with brief, one page summaries of the information you want to convey.
Engage the Press
Get your message out through the press. Give the press background information on the public official’s ties to bigoted organizations, the discriminatory nature of their policy proposals or the far right group involved in lobbying. You can do this through a press release, a press conference, writing a guest editorial or organizing letters to the editor. Emphasize both your counter and alternative messages.
Encourage Community Leaders to Speak Out
Reach out to leaders in your community and encourage them to issue public statements condemning the public official or far right group’s actions. This can include religious leaders from all denominations, civic leaders, elected officials, leaders of local unions and businesses or other community groups.
Work in constituencies targeted for recruitment
Far right politicians and groups rely on constituent support to advance their causes. They may try to reach into the community through appealing to frustration, fear and existing bigotry, or claiming to have solutions to community problems. These can include appeals to economic, cultural and political issues. Study the messages being used to recruit and develop counter-messages and alternatives. Take part in community events where targeted constituencies gather. Reach out to leaders in communities targeted for recruitment and encourage them to speak out.
Target your own community for long-term solutions and change
The far right is a political movement and undercutting its efforts also involves working for long-term, community-based alternatives to their vision. Engage in the local political process to address such issues. Every community has ongoing issues of institutional racism, inequality, prejudice and misunderstanding. Organize to address these issues in your community. Get engaged in constituency-based work for racial, economic, gender and environmental justice in your community and address the range of issues that far right groups attempt to exploit.
Attend Public Meetings and Speak Out
Meet bigoted public officials and groups at the level of government they try to effect. Attend public meetings and speak out. Use your lobbying material to distribute one-page background sheets on the far right connections and policy issues being raised. Speak up at these forums and encourage those in your groups to do the same. Be sure also to include your alternative message of a policy that is inclusive and protects civil, human and treaty rights and promotes racial, economic, gender and environmental justice.