This website exists to arm you to fight death. That is the whole point. To that end, I want to start a new series on tactics that activists can use to fight abortion. So, welcome to the first post in my Anti-Abortion Tactics series. Today, we will look at the Spectrum of Allies.
The Spectrum of Allies
The spectrum of allies is a way of assessing the relationship between your political position and various individuals, groups, or organizations. First, you sort your subjects by how friendly or hostile they are to your cause — the anti-abortion movement, in our case. Then, after you sort the subjects into categories, you can consider ways to shift those subjects toward support for your cause.
I have found this particularly useful in organizing on political legislation, so I will use that as an example. But remember: it is just an example. You can use this tool in many contexts.
Congratulations! End Abortion Now, a group I just made up, has decided to hire you as part of their legislation strategy team. EAN works with law makers to enact real anti-abortion legislation (none of that sissy Republican stuff). Right now, an anti-abortion state senator introduced a bill that would require state attorneys to prosecute abortion as homicide. The bill is in a sub-committee. EAN has asked you to figure out a strategy to get the bill through the sub-committee and onto the floor. Fortunately, you follow this blog and you know how to use the spectrum of allies to analyze and strategize — or at least, you will soon.
The first step is simple. The “spectrum” consists of five categories: open hostility, passive hostility, issue neutral, passive support, and open support. As you can probably tell, each category measures the subject’s hostility toward or support for your cause.
In our EAN example, you go through each senator on the sub-committee and sort them into the appropriate category. I usually use a spreadsheet for this, but you can use anything: a pen and pad, a whiteboard — hell, write their names on slips of paper and drop them in actual buckets. Use whatever helps you evaluate each senator and put them in the category.
One of your targets, Senator Sann, is “pro-life with exceptions.” Is he going to vote for a bill that makes no room for exceptions? You cannot just take politicians at their word — take them at their voting record. (This is one of the reasons I stopped calling myself pro-life.) And even though abortion is a polarizing issue, on every piece of legislation there will likely be neutral or passive individuals.
After some digging, you find out that Senator Sann has consistently voted against significant restrictions on abortion. In fact, after a recent meeting of the sub-committee, he told one of the EAN organizers that he would vote against the measure because he is afraid to expose the state to federal litigation. You decide he fits neatly in the “open hostility” category. Now, it is time for the next step.
The second step is strategic. Once you know each senator’s category, your goal is to move them just one step closer to supporting your position. That means that you want the open opponent to become passive, the passively hostile to become neutral, etc.
The most common mistake people make is trying to turn open enemies into open supporters. That is a noble ultimate goal. But as they say, you eat an elephant one bite at a time. The immediate goal is to shift a person one step toward your position — just one step.
It turns out that Senator Sann is up for re-election this year. Since you live in his district, you reach out to other anti-abortion activists you know and start calling and writing letters to his office. With each call, you emphasize to his staff that Senator Sann should not vote against the bill. You also tell EAN to send fliers to other registered voters in Sann’s district. These fliers emphasize Sann’s public statements about being pro-life and point out that a pro-life person would support the bill. After several weeks of this pressure, you go to Sann’s office and ask him to consider abstaining, instead of voting against the bill.
Of course, Sann may still vote against the bill. Or, he may have a total change of heart and vote for the bill. But the goal of the public scrutiny is to make voting against the bill risky. Then, you provide him a way to avoid that risk.
This is just a brief introduction to one of many tools that you can use for anti-abortion activism. It is not limited to work on legislative campaigns, either. You can use it when deciding who in your school will join your anti-abortion club, or who you might want to invite to an anti-abortion event. But there are two key takeaways. First, figure out where on the spectrum your targets fall. Next, decide on a strategy to shift them one step toward your position. It is a simple tool, but a potent one.
Godspeed. Fight Death.