The Problem With Leading…and Following

Note: I started this article four weeks ago. Since then, I was dealing with a family emergency, so I wasn’t able to finish it until now. Imagine my (un)surprise when a month later, it was still timely, because there’s still drama.


As I write this, it’s a day ending in ‘y,’ so there’s drama du jour in the “patriot movement.”  As usual, it’s yet another brouhaha about rumors, feds and schemes. (Kind of sounds like it should be sung like the old Cher song about gypsies and whatnot.)  

Meanwhile, a 2-minute stroll through social media shows that the same people who claim to not want tyranny are desperately searching for a regional/national leader in the movement who will tell them what to do. Such folks completely miss the point.  Contrary to popular opinion, a new George Washington will not rise suddenly from the militia ‘officer cadre,’ fresh from the rank he just gave himself and ready to lead teeming national masses of patriots from his secret bunker in Nebraska known as MiWeCOM.  

Think about it.  On one hand, you have all of these people screaming about freedom and rights and the “soul’s right to breathe,” to steal a line from Good Will Hunting. Those same people, however, are running around following people.  They need the safety of a group doing it all right there with them. They post the memes and run their mouths on various sites, as if by doing so they are both affirming their own worth to the movement and contributing their own noise to the echo chamber.  Neither things really accomplish much, but social media “activism” is still somehow the most-used “tactic” in the movement’s arsenal — and I use the term activism in the loosest of ways. 

It’s a nasty truth, but if people read more, learned more, knew themselves better, they wouldn’t need someone giving them marching orders for activism. They’d already know what to do, and they’d already be doing it.  There wouldn’t be this never-ending cannibalism, because it wouldn’t matter what so-and-so was doing; people would be far too busy taking back their own towns and counties to worry about what Joe Blow in the next state over was doing.  There wouldn’t be this constant need for group validation.  Basically, you’d have a whole bunch of individuals, choosing to segregate and/or coalesce into small, effective local groups of their own choosing by whatever means or criteria they deem necessary, for whatever one-time, short-term, or long-term purposes they decide.  Maybe they do stuff as a group. Maybe they do stuff as individuals. The point is, they don’t need to be told what to do, and they don’t need to have everyone see them do it.

There are groups here and there who are working within their own counties. They’re running for local offices; they’re cleaning up highways; they’re working directly with the community in a host of ways — including forging a professionally courteous relationship with local first responders and law enforcement.  They have learned the single most important thing in a guerrilla-type conflict: Without the support of the people, you will lose. They’re ensuring they have that support.

What does your national group have? Are you seen as morons who call for snacks after ill-advised actions? Are you being completely mocked and not taken seriously by a good portion of the country? Or are you focused on building a reputation of integrity, dependability, and clear-headedness in your own communities and among your own neighbors? While some think that being called “Y’allQaeda” is a badge of honor, it’s actually a pretty decent indicator that you’re failing at the popular support aspect.

Some groups aren’t known as groups at all; they’re just regular folks, contributing in their own ways, under the radar; they’re the ‘go-to’ people for information or resources. They’re the folks who can get you things, or can get a message from one place to another. They’re the ones responsible for a whole bank of cameras suddenly not working, or billboards getting defaced, or posters appearing everywhere.  You don’t see them, and that’s how they like it. You do, however, see the results of their work.

People who need the validation, who are unable to think for themselves, are ripe for the picking because they can be steered and manipulated — it’s that simple.

And what about so many of these leaders? 

There’s always someone who wants to be in charge, who thinks that leadership means taking over wherever they go.  You’ll notice that these people often equate volume with leadership, and there are plenty of people who will follow that, even if a few moments of research and/or critical thinking would dispel their starry-eyed worship of their favorite hero or patron saint of the moment. 

There are other types of ‘leaders,’ too,  who think that it’s their job to make sure everyone knows that THEY are ditching their job for the day/week/month to go do “patriot stuff,” and that’s what ‘real commitment’ is.  In fact, that type of guy also expects a few other things.  If you’re not as committed as he is (you know, because you decided to go to work that day and provide for your family, for instance), then you should be donating to his cause, because after all, freedom is expensive and the least you can do is support the people who are truly committed.  If he’s really gung-ho, he’ll even make noises about how the movement should be ‘thinned out’ and the people who ‘aren’t committed’ should be ‘kicked out.’ You know, because that’s his call to make, as the SuperGeneral Grand McPoobah of the Liberty Ranger Wolfpack Wild Operator Corps.

It’s all become some popularity contest, where your value to the cause is apparently determined by how long you can get other people to pay your bills for you while you leave your own family, job, and responsibilities in your local area to go ‘protest’ somewhere.    Meanwhile these are often the same folks that ridicule the Left for bussing in protesters to events.  And of course, in all ‘patriot’ activities, pics or it didn’t happen. You can’t get credit for what no one saw, you know.

Let’s extrapolate some of this to a different scenario.  Imagine that you’re a member of a charity group based in the inner city of Chicago. Your focus is caring for the homeless, the sick and hungry.  You have a good number of people, and a lot of donors for the cause. In short, you could get a lot of work done — and you do. You travel all over the place, giving talks and organizing protests about hunger and homelessness.  This morning, in fact, you step over the elderly homeless man who sleeps in your building’s doorway as you look at your phone and make sure you’re checked in for your flight to Denver, where you’re giving a speech about how elder care is failing in America. What’s wrong with this picture?

How much more could you get done if you simply stayed in your own community and LOOKED AROUND?  How much could you accomplish if you stopped looking for someone to hold your hand and lead you to the Promised Land Of Liberty, and just started reading the writings from people who already wrote down exactly how to do it?  How much stronger would we be as a movement if we stopped looking to others for validation and started doing what needs to be done even if no one sees it? 

If you want to truly be self-governed, then lead yourself first. Learn the information you need to know in order to understand BOTH sides of liberty — the duty first, the right second (and for the record, that’s a LOT more information than just the Constitution or Declaration of Independence).  Learn how to think critically, to set emotion and narrative aside to get to the truth — even if it means you need to shift your belief and/or actions. Don’t follow men; if you perform the due diligence of study, you won’t need to.  Mankind is self-interested at best, and straight up evil at worst. 

Your worth to the movement is not based upon how loud you are, how far you’re willing to travel to protest, or how much money you donate to this cause or that cause.  It’s not based on how strongly you defend this person or that person on Facebook, and it’s not found in your tattoos, your bumper stickers, or your memes.  It is, however, found in your ability to understand information, your willingness to seek it, and your desire to use it — regardless of who knows who you are and what you’re doing. 

Some of the people worth most in this movement are acting as individuals, within their own communities. They are also silent….and very, very busy.

5 Replies to “The Problem With Leading…and Following”

  1. Kit, you have summed up pretty nicely some of my core beliefs. If you seek the spotlight, you’re either the wrong person or in the wrong place. Probably the wrong person. True leadership is always set by example, now and forever. Successful leaders never take the reins, they are asked to take the reins.

  2. Thank you, needed that. I also wonder if it is because we have thought so high of ourselves as a society that we have stopped learning and reading the writings of our Founder’s the important papers besides the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

  3. Group activism is crucial because the force of unlawful enforcement is too heavy a burden for individuals to bear.

    I’m not referring to Clean the beach activism, but confronting police and City corruption like in Berkeley & oddly the Handmaid’s-Tale-esque Emeryville , CA (Crooked Officer Brian Head)

    It will NOT be the corrupt authority’s 1st Rodeo to smear individuals… It’s what they do.

    So sure! Go to City council meetings but usually it’s too late.

    1. Where did you get the idea that I was arguing against groups completely? If you have a local group that is taking on local corruption etc., more power to you. I was referring to the national groups that have membership fees and big websites and personalities. The groups that consider someone in another state their “leader,” even though they’ve never actually met, or actually spent enough time together to know each other’s weaknesses and mitigate them.

      It’s not the corrupt authorities’ first rodeo, you’re right. So why keep playing the same old game?

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