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Author: Gary McGath

Building Alliances: Who and How

Achieving liberty is a matter of degrees. We won’t have a utopia tomorrow, however much we want it. What we can do is push back to regain our freedom and to stop attempts to take more of it away. This requires finding allies, even if they don’t agree with us on everything. After all, this is the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance, and we don’t even agree with each other on everything!

This doesn’t mean that everyone who agrees with you is a useful ally. You have to weigh several factors. Some “allies” turn out to be liabilities. Others are valuable, even if you have to fight them tooth and nail on other issues. Here are some questions to ask yourself when trying to decide.

Are they honest? This is essential. Honest people give their reasons for the positions they take, and they believe the arguments which they offer. Someone who uses misinformation to help the cause is a liability. Someone who claims to agree with you just to get your support is a danger. It’s legitimate to adapt your arguments to your audience, but people who change their positions depending on whom they’re talking to don’t deserve your trust.

Are they trying to use you? Of course they are, up to a point. They want your support, just as you want theirs. But if they’re endorsing a position you advocate just to get your support, that’s not a productive alliance. You need allies who sincerely believe in what they say they support. Their reasons might be different from yours, but you need some real common ground.

How do they argue their points? Some people set out to be provocative. Done well, that’s a useful strategy. It gets attention. Done badly, it discredits the position you’re trying to advance. Others are just incoherent or unintentionally antagonistic. You may be able to get them to improve their line of argument, but until they do, they can make your side look foolish.

What other issues do they drag in? Allies will hold positions you don’t like, but the question here is whether they constantly bring them in while working with you. For instance, if someone wants to ally with you on limiting property taxes but regularly says the way to do it is by creating an income tax, that’s not going to be a productive alliance.

How do they reflect on you? You can work with people of many persuasions, but some are so out of bounds that just the fact of working with them means trouble. In those cases, it doesn’t matter how reasonable they seem to be when you talk with them. Avowed Marxists and white supremacists fall into this category.

Every alliance is a two-way street. Other people who share some positions with you are thinking about whether you’d be an asset or a liability. If you think they can be valuable allies, make sure you’re a worthwhile ally for them. Be open about your own views. Be the best advocate you can be. Respect any boundaries you agree to. Then there’s a decent chance your collaboration will be a productive one. You may even win them over to some more of your views.