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One of the key challenges for “cutting an issue” is how we frame what the issue is to outside audiences which may be sympathetic to different concerns than we or our group is.

Luckily there are tools to help us decide between better and worse issues.

  1. Result in a Real Improvement in People’s Lives. What really “worth” fighting for is related to the size and established power of the ‘party involved’.  Small change will only matter to a small number of your constituents. What needed is something that will be seen and experienced as a “real improvement” by as many of said constituents as possible, especially people who aren’t yet a part of ‘certain party’.  Such achievements strengthen the resolve of current members while drawing new members in.  In other words, they build POWER that ‘party involved’ can use for even larger campaigns in the future.
  2. Give People a Sense of Their Own Power.  As ‘party involved’, seeking out challenges that stretch the ‘party involved’ as opposed to issues that will be relatively straightforward to win.  Winning campaigns that seem quite challenging can empower ‘party involved’ members and new members for the future.  It gives people a sense of their power.  We want people  to say “wow, that’s amazing that they were able to … do that….”
  3. Be worthwhile. It has to be a change that actually matters to people who are in need.  Otherwise, why bother?
  4. Be winnable. Push for more difficult challenges.  But at the same time don’t push for changes that are so challenging that they are impossible. Again, this is a POWER issue.  If we fight for something unwinnable, we are likely to simply disempower  the constituents and reduce the capacity to fight in the future.   However, it is important to keep a focus on the fact that POWER is the key goal not winning.  There have been cases where organizations fought in campaigns that they knew they would likely lose because, for different reasons, even a loss would build POWER for the long run. There are many things you want to change that we don’t currently have the power to change.
  5. Be Widely Felt. The key issue, here, is the capacity to build POWER, both today and tomorrow.  Pick an issue that affects a broad range of people, or that concerns a broad range of people, because issues like these are likely to bring in the largest number of participants.  Again, this conflict with the “winnable” challenge, among others, since the more broadly felt a problem is, the harder it is likely to be to change it.