Power Up for Democracy

13 Oct 2022 9:10 AM | Anonymous

by Lunell Haught, LWVWA President

Our 2022 fundraising campaign is kicking into high gear with a theme of “Double Up/Double Down.” I invite you to join us by watching the video at the end of this article on how to double up and double down on your commitment to the League—as a supporter, as a member, and as a defender of democracy.

This theme of “Double Up/Double Down” didn’t originate in isolation. It was developed in connection with another idea, that of “powering up.” While each has an individual meaning, together, this is a call to action. We are asking you to get ready to invest your time, your money, and your power, in your community, your League, and your country because to make democracy work, power is essential.

Power comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. It can be subtle, like introducing someone to an important official, bringing someone to a group coffee, or supporting someone who has less status within an organization. Other forms of power are much more obvious.

All forms of power are worth considering as you develop your personal and organizational strategy. The list below gives you some ideas of the power you have.

  • Legitimate Power: The formal power arising from a position such as president, coordinator, host, or sponsor.
  • Procedural Power: The control over procedures by which decisions are made. This might include ground rules, Robert's Rules of Order, working agreements, or rules of debate.
  • Mirror or Referent Power: Being connected with powerful people can also make you powerful because you are associated with influencers or leaders and people assume you are part of that group.
  • Intrapersonal Power: The power emanating from the ability to build/facilitate linkage among individuals in a team context. It can provide status and recognition as an important influence.
  • Connecting Power: Power arising from the ability to network people and their issues and ideas.
  • Economic Power: Having (or having access to) financial resources.
  • Political Power: The ability to advance issues in a way that advance the topic at hand or a policy. It includes not only the issue, but the individual(s) advancing the issue.
  • Reward Power: The power to grant or deny resources.
  • Raw Personal Power: Usually associated with your appearance and demeanor. Note that different groups recognize and value different types of personal power. That’s why we have different messengers for different groups and people.
  • Expert Power: Power arising from mastery of a subject area or information about a particular matter. The League is recognized as having expertise on a variety of public issues because we engage in careful and methodical research before taking a position.
  • Symbolic Power: The power to give special status to a person or group through the use of symbols, logos, and or materials. An example would be to sign onto a letter of request or statement.
  • Referent Power: Power arising from others willingly deferring/referring their power to you.
  • Wild Card Power: Luck? Who knows, sometimes you just have it!

There are also forms of power that you must be aware of, even if you wouldn’t use them. Power is a tool that everyone can use, and tools can also be weapons. It is on all of us to make sure that when we use power, we are using forms that build up, rather than tear down.

  • Stealth Power: The ability to use lies or tricks to attain one’s way and avoid social consequence.
  • Coercive Power: The power to force others to do something they typically would not do.
  • Brute Force Power: The power to intimidate and/or assault physically, intellectually, or psychologically.
The next time you think about what kind of impact you can make and what kind of power you have consider these options, and then use your power to double up, and double down on your commitment to the League.

The League of Women Voters of Washington is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization.
The League of Women Voters of Washington Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. LWVWA Education Fund contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law. The League of Women Voters Education Fund does not endorse the contents of any web pages to which it links.

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