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Old October 11, 2008, 09:34 AM   #1
Bartholomew Roberts
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Influential Special-Interest Groups (example: ABA): Join or Oppose?

During law school, I joined the American Bar Association because their student rates were very favorable (less than $30) and it gave me a tremendous amount of information about the profession I had invested a lot of money in.

The extra information and benefits were more than worth the money I paid them. The downside is that the ABA has basically been hijacked by people who have a more socialized and communitarian view of society than I do and they are using the ABA to forward a lot of those goals. They aren't totally unopposed within the ABA; but they are certainly going to win most of the issues they choose to bring up within that organization.

Despite being a special-interest group, the ABA serves a lot of important functions. It frequently proposes "model" legislation that is adopted by the states. It is influential in developing legal theory and its stamp of approval on federal judges has been an important lever in breaking the logjam of Senate approval on several occasions.

However, soon my student membership expires and the ABA will want real money. While I was a student, I rationalized that the amount of money I sent them was too small to do much damage and it was important to influence the organization towards a stronger individual rights view as well as obtain information. Now, however, I would have to send them some fairly serious dues and I can no longer convince myself that the money is insignificant. It bothers me a lot to send that kind of money to an organization that basically lobbied against us on the Heller decision.

So my question is, is it better to be inside a powerful, influential organization and have some tiny mitigating effect on their policies while at the same time giving them more power and money by virtue of your money and membership; or is it better to stand outside of that organization and have no mitigating effect; but not contribute to its misdeeds either?

For RKBA organizations, I have always argued that it is imperative to be a part of the organization and change what you don't like. Am I a hypocrite if I choose to avoid that here?

It seems that the key factor in either strategy is strength-in-numbers. As an individual, neither strategy will be particularly effective unless I can get like-minded people to join with me; but how do you go about organizing dissatisfied outsiders and convincing them to become a part of the group (or vice versa)?
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Old October 11, 2008, 05:56 PM   #2
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If it were me, I'd not renew my membership and send them a letter explaining why. If enough of their members do just that, then they'll eventually change their policies. If there aren't enough of their members willing to do that, then chances are you wouldn't be able to change much from the inside anyway.
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Old October 11, 2008, 10:22 PM   #3
Bogie
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Join, and work from within...

How the heck do you think our governmental bureaucracies, from schools up, got subverted?

Because there was a serious strategy of "join, become, then change..."
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Old October 12, 2008, 08:59 AM   #4
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In the world I formerly occupied, considerable business was conducted in a golf cart. Those who didn't play golf lost access while the regular golfer had top of mind awareness.

I have no clue what the freight costs. Only you can answer the question. My only advice not ignore the networking aspects of your profession. Relationship largely determine social movements.

Like it or not, relationships drive business.
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Old October 12, 2008, 02:55 PM   #5
TheBluesMan
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Quote:
The downside is that the ________ has basically been hijacked by people who have a more socialized and communitarian view of society than I do and they are using the ________ to forward a lot of those goals. They aren't totally unopposed within the ________; but they are certainly going to win most of the issues they choose to bring up within that organization.
This paragraph could have been written to describe the denomination of my church instead of the ABA. Many individuals and many whole churches have left the denomination because of the socialistic and anti-biblical stance of the leadership. Fortunately, in this church, I can decide where my money goes - I send none to the parent church - all my money stays local.

Perhaps there is a way for you to direct your money toward more libertarian uses within the organization. If I were you, I would pay the money to join, then do what you can to get on a committee that controls some of the $$$. Then you would be in a position to direct not only your money, but that of others as well.
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Old October 21, 2008, 01:17 AM   #6
Socrates
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I think you should read the ABA amicus brief supporting Washington D.C.vs. Heller. It's enough to make you :barf:.

None the less, if you are in law, you need to be in the ABA.

Hard choices...
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Old October 21, 2008, 09:15 AM   #7
buzz_knox
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None the less, if you are in law, you need to be in the ABA.
Not necessarily. I didn't join because I didn't want to be associated with their kind.
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Old October 21, 2008, 10:14 AM   #8
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Tough call, but pretty common with many organizations. I felt this way about the Republican party, until I couldn't take it anymore and parted ways. Now that I've turned 50, I keep getting stuff from the AARP asking me to join. Seems there are significant benefits, but I don't think I can stomach being associated with them. It also doesn't help that Mrs. Grymster takes great delight in handing me the latest correspondence from that "old folks club"!
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Old October 21, 2008, 10:52 AM   #9
raimius
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IF you can become influential enough to sway people who make the decisions, then yes, be a member.

If you will not really have any say, don't support them. (Make it clear why you do not support them.)

The "change from within" strategy only works if you have enough power in the organization to make a change.
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Old October 23, 2008, 12:56 AM   #10
Fremmer
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if you are in law, you need to be in the ABA.
Hogwash. The ABA isn't worth much more than the continuing ed stuff, which anyone can buy. Who wants to be a member of a group of idiots that can't even recognize a fundamental Constitutional Right.

Concentrate your time and resources on your State bar association, which will provide more useful contacts and business than the ABA.

Last edited by Fremmer; October 23, 2008 at 12:57 AM. Reason: who? that? the primary is the group, so it should be that, right?!? Where's the ABA when you need 'em?!?
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Old October 23, 2008, 05:57 PM   #11
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The way I see it, the dues are significant and it gives them capital to spend on the "pet projects" of those pushing sociali change. If enough members get disgusted with the ABA and withdraw, the organization loses a good deal of their income.

The only way you can affect their policies is by joining up and trying to get into a position of influence. But to do that, you'll have to make polite noises to those in charge, and support some of the opposing agenda until you get into a workable position. It might be worth it, if you can stomach it.
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Old October 27, 2008, 04:00 PM   #12
NotJim
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bogie
Join, and work from within...

How the heck do you think our governmental bureaucracies, from schools up, got subverted?

Because there was a serious strategy of "join, become, then change..."
Well said, and absolutely true.

The majority of American institutions of learning became dominated by activists of a generally Socialist persuasion as a result of a concerted, sustained, organized effort that began in the early decades of the 20th century and was never abated.

As unsuccessful as such political thought has proven in the real world (virtually every full-on Socialist regime that has ever existed has been a dismal social, political and economic failure), the momentum of that extended effort influences America at every level to this day.

We should learn from it.

(It's fascinating that liberal political sympathies are largely confined to such institutions, to their current or recent students, to the poor/uneducated and of course to political demagogues. By age 30 or so -- having experienced the real world -- a large proportion of these former liberal inductees routinely switch to more conservative views. It might almost restore one's confidence in humanity.)
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Old November 19, 2008, 03:16 PM   #13
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Were I the OP, I might continue my membership and perhaps try to find other attorneys in the organization who felt as I did; maybe a Lawyers for Guns group would have some influence on the group as a while. You can't be the only lawyer who believes in the 2A ... as for the AARP, I joined because I feel that, like the NRA, there is strength in numbers and there are many issues affecting older Americans that concern me. I recently wrote them a letter criticizing them for a variety of reasons, including their 2A stand, while renewing my membership. Belonging gives you the right to criticize from within instead from the outside.
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Old November 19, 2008, 04:18 PM   #14
maestro pistolero
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If everyone that felt like you failed to renew based on the reasoning you stated, the organization would be monolithically partisan.

If everyone that felt like you renewed based on the reasoning you stated, the organization would be more balanced.

Encourage all of your colleagues to join, even move into positions of leadership. I can't imagine a more effective way to steer the ABA back toward the middle.
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Old November 19, 2008, 09:52 PM   #15
melchloboo
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I choose not to join the ABA. Which has not stopped them from polluting my mailbox with junk and constant appeals.
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