Don’t Let Your Great Ideas Die: Why Innovation Matters in Politics Today

Sleeping GiantsWe have many tools in our “resistance and rebuilding” toolbox. Some are tried and true, such as voting, sharing our opinions with lawmakers, protesting, boycotts, building party infrastructure, recruiting and training candidates for office, etc. All of these are critically important and require that we show up and actively pull the levers of democracy that already exist. However, there is one additional tool that we must not overlook: the power of innovative ideas to alter the landscape.

Innovative ideas, when properly executed, can be one of our best resistance tools, with the potential to create paradigm shifts in the political realm. Innovative ideas are novel, take opponents by surprise and/or provide access points for citizens who may not otherwise have found a way to plug in. Best of all, anyone can dream up one of these catalyzing ideas – while walking the dog, while researching online, chatting at the dinner table, and YES, especially while meeting with your RISING TEAM! At This Land Rising, we want to encourage our Rising Teams to think creatively, and to seize the opportunity to identify and, where possible, act on any great new ideas to shake things up.

What are some examples? We are glad you asked! There are so many, but let’s talk about a couple. In fact, the Republicans have excelled in this area. Most famously, the Tea Party took old civic engagement tactics and weaponized them. The Indivisible Guide is an excellent example of how we can use innovative ideas to inspire mass action. Both have proved to be significant disrupters in the political realm.

One of the more interesting innovations to break onto the scene is the #SleepingGiants campaign. Sleeping Giants was the brainchild of a small group of motivated individuals who noticed that many mainstream corporations were advertising on websites with hateful and offensive content such as Breitbart, sometimes without the company’s own knowledge (since they tended to buy advertising in bulk). As a result, their ads were appearing next to hateful online content, in plain view. And even worse, Breitbart and others derived valuable revenue from these ads.

So, the Sleeping Giants folks set up a campaign on Twitter, encouraging regular, everyday people to snap screenshots whenever they saw a company’s advertisement appearing on the same page as offensive content, and then to tweet the screenshot to the company with a polite note asking them to stop advertising on the site. This simple, well-executed idea has, in the space of just a few months, led to more than 1,400 corporations blocking Breitbart from their ad buys. Even better, Google, a purveyor of bulk ad buys, now appears to be engaging in an overhaul of its advertising policies to better align bulk ad buys with a company’s values, all in response to this type of grassroots pressure.

Not only was this a simple, well-executed idea, but it was also one that required little-to-no expense and little-to-no infrastructure. But it is having a real impact. The key ingredient to success was that the folks who came up with this idea: 1) recognized its power; and 2) proceeded to ACT ON IT. They didn’t let the idea fizzle and die in their heads or in their living rooms.

At This Land Rising, we have faith that YOU will come up with exciting out-of-the-box ideas like this in your Rising Teams. If and when you do, we encourage you to do one of two things: 1) Go for it: Turn the idea into action yourselves, and then brag about it to your This Land Rising peers; or 2) if you think an idea might have traction, but your Rising Team doesn’t have the bandwidth to pursue it, then please feel free to send it along via email to This Land Rising. We have a group of individuals who are committed to reviewing your great ideas, pressure-testing them, and either putting them into action or passing them along to others who can do so.

Together, we will innovate. Together, we will RISE!