in a multi-constituency/multi-issue coalition recognize that they cannot
achieve their program alone; that is why they are part of the coalition.
Indeed, the very notion of a coalition is that different groups join
because they have more to gain by working together than they possible can
achieve working apart. But as different groups, the parts of the coalition
have their own identities, ideas, and interests. These must be recognized,
but a group’s formulation of a particular issue may not be acceptable to
the full coalition and may have to be modified if backing from the full
coalition is to be won.
“Successful coalitions are built on a ‘lowest
significant common denominator’ notion. What constitutes
‘significant’ is a matter for the parties to negotiate among
themselves. If they are aware that there are larger adversaries out there
who will only negotiate if they unite and demonstrate their strength, then
the possibility of arriving at that common denominator is enhanced. When
they lack that awareness, as has been the case with many of the
‘identity groups’ now operating in the U.S. body politic, they miss
the forest for the trees. What one group may consider ‘moral,’ another
group may consider of dubious morality or even immoral. The art of
compromise is required when building coalitions of diverse groups. So is
radical patience – the recognition that once they are in a relationship,
people who differ might change their views of each other.” (p.89)
COMMUNITY ORGANIZER'S TALE by Mike Miller, Berkeley:Heyday Books, 2009.
CSCO believes this is the best book on organizing. Miller has been with
CSCO for many years.
Community Organizing Today