Dan Johnson, PANDA founder, talks 2014 and his new activist consultancy, Solutions Institute
I first met Dan Johnson at last year’s PANDA Scranton lecture (People Against the NDAA), courtesy of the Pike County Patriot Connectors group (video here). It was an eye-opening exposé on the statistics and laws surrounding both the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and police militarization, facts hardly reaching the surface in the dominant news media. PANDA provides the public with a framework they can use to invoke change by means of local legislation to effectively repeal the militarized overreach of the federal government into our state, as well as our local communities.
“PANDA had a great year in 2014. We were able to reach — and still are reaching — 500,000 to 2,000,000 people on social media. Our email list doubled. The number of people who are familiar with and understand the NDAA went through the roof. We had several state-level bills introduced, [and] several local-level bills introduced. All in all, for an organization that is only two years old, it was a great year for People Against the NDAA,” says Johnson.
As Johnson explains, if 2014 was a learning year, 2015 will see his organization polished for action. Many people who become aware of, and opposed to, the NDAA had never participated in political activism before. The lessons learned in 2014 will help those newly engaged in the political and policy arenas by providing the tools and information to build their own local coalition to defeat the NDAA. PANDA will help individuals connect the dots, read and review legislation, and the organization will even provide legislation.
PANDA focuses on a singular issue, but Johnson see opportunities to expand its model to other activist issues. His new initiative, Solutions Institute, does just that.
“I lot of what I’ve heard has been ‘I know what I want to do, but I don’t know how to do it.’ This would come from people on a multitude of issues, not just the NDAA. They would basically say ‘I know something is wrong; I want to change this politically in my area.’ ” Johnson says. Whether the matter had to do with drug policy, ordinances, or taxes, the issues ran the political spectrum. He continues, “Well, that how keeps most people from (a) being activists and (b) being successful activists. If you’re in a company, you can hire a consulting firm. If you’re on a football team, you’ve got a coach. If you’re a politician you hire a campaign manager. Activists haven’t had anyone. You’re lucky if you can phone a friend, otherwise Google will be that friend, and good luck if you can find information there. We’re going to teach the process, regardless of our own personal activism. That’s the Solutions Institute.”
The Solutions Institute is hitting the ground running with their online ActCon (Activist Conference) on February 7 from noon to 7:00 p.m. (details and pricing are available on their website, Solutions-Institute.org). The conference is packed with heavy hitters in the both the political activist and independent media communities, including John B. Wells (former host of Coast to Coast AM), Derrick Broze (of the Houston Free Thinkers), and Ben Swann (two-time Emmy award winning journalist).
To learn more or to request the services of the Solutions Institute, visit their website at Solutions-Institute.org. Although they are currently offering their services at no charge, donations are welcomed.
Plato’s Republic contains a passage that is often paraphrased as “the penalty for not participating in politics is to be governed by your inferiors.” If good men and women can’t run for office, then activism for honest government is the next best thing. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman put it, “People in Congress are in a business. They’re trying to buy votes. They’re in the business of competing with one another to get elected. The same congressman will vote for a different thing if he thinks that’s politically profitable. You don’t have to change Congress. People have a great misconception in this way. They think the way you solve things is by electing the right people. It’s nice to elect the right people, but that isn’t the way you solve things. The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right things.” Enter the activist.