Peddling their patented cookies, they knock on your door. They roam aisles in your church. Their parents, passing around order forms at work, nervously warn against “angering the coven.” It’s chilling.
The other day I saw two Girl Scouts working a table outside Sam’s Club, and they were twins! "Dear Lord," I thought, "they’re dividing now…like cells!" Wielding a well-rehearsed blend of “cute” and “forlorn,” these two preyed on our sympathies:
“Not today? That’s okay…I’m too young to have feelings.”
“I try not to think of food. That makes it hurt more.”
“My sister says I’m bad at selling cookies. Is she right? (Back of hand to foreheard) Have I no future?”
One of them sang assorted tunes from “Annie.”
The final straw came later that night, when my wife and I awoke to a thunderstorm outside our window. Flickering and flashing, the lightning revealed these very same twins at the base of our bed. Their hair was unkempt; their skin, a grayish hue—reminiscent of “The Grudge.” Thinking fast, Cori offered them a soul—mine—while also buying four boxes. Lightning flashed again, and they were gone, leaving nothing but the cookies and a confused husband who felt strangely empty inside.
The Value of a Brand
Okay, maybe I exaggerate. In truth, Girl Scouts needn’t work hard, because the product (aided by their vexing cuteness) sells itself. Ever had the Samoas? Sometimes, Cori won’t even wait to get the box open. Leaving shredded packaging and crumbs all over the floor, she roars skyward like a lion over a fallen gazelle. I myself am partial to the Thin Mints, as these are especially good when covered several inches deep in whipped cream. Mmmmmm… After a couple boxes, Cori will find me on the couch, face smeared with minty cream, saying, “Oh Thin Mints, you’re the only ones who understand me…sssshhhh, the adult must not hear us…sssshhhh…”
So, what comes to mind when you hear, “Girl Scouts?” Cookies, cookies, cookies! Do the girls also learn life lessons through team-building activities? Who knows? Who cares?! All we know is the kids are adorable and the cookies are yummy. One more thing: These cookies are fairly unique. Samoas go with Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts go with Samoas. You want Samoas? Find a Girl Scout.
That, my friends, is the power of a brand.
The Conservative Brand
We in the Liberty Movement could learn a thing or two from Girl Scouts. Do we have a product? Absolutely. It’s “Liberty.” And yet, whatever our label—Tea Party, Republican, Christian Right, Libertarian, etc.—people don’t think “Liberty” when we come to mind. They think “selfish.” They think “paranoid.” They think “aloof, disinterested, and removed from the harsh realities of life.” Some even think “bigoted.”
There’s a reason for this. All those words convey a clear perception: That our greatest concern is keeping others away from our stuff. Is this perception correct? Yes, actually, and I don’t blame us—not after decades of watching our liberties eroded. Think about it. A sudden absence of liberals would bring skyrocketing prosperity, freedom, and security, but instead we’re being bulldozed. No wonder we view Liberty as something more to be protected than offered. It’s under siege.
But we’ve allowed this to damage our sales pitch. Look back at those Girl Scouts, and you’ll see they are selling cookies to us, not demanding cookies for themselves. This is a critical difference.
Selling Liberty...The Girl Scouts Way
So what can we learn from Girl Scouts about selling Liberty?
1. Focus on unleashing others, not protecting ourselves. Demanding Liberty more than offering it, we’re perceived as selfish and exclusive. So try offering instead:
- Why do I defend gun rights? To keep your children as safe as possible. You disagree? Fine, but let’s talk statistics, because the numbers show my right to carry increases your kids’ right to prosper. I don’t emotionally need to carry a gun, but your kids need a country where good people are armed. This isn’t about agenda; it’s about safety.
- Why do I oppose a higher minimum wage? So your kids can reach the first rungs on the ladder of opportunity. By making first-timers more expensive to hire, we force employers to hire fewer first-timers—cutting the lowest rungs off the ladder. We shouldn’t fear opportunity. We should fear a ladder that’s out of reach. Leaving those rungs in place, we let first-timers learn with real-world choices, all the while earning with merit.
See the difference? “Offering” makes Liberty our brand—and it’s a brand the Left can’t duplicate. Why? Because they only redistribute Liberty, giving to one person from the funds or freedoms of another. That’s not liberating; it’s stealing. Thinking back on the Girl Scouts, they never sell you someone else’s cookies. They sell you your own cookies.
Want your own Liberty? Find a Conservative. Want someone else’s? Find a thug.
2. Commit to being there with them—in whatever community. I’ve achieved a lot, but it brings me no joy compared to seeing some kid succeed at…anything. I feel the same watching a new assistant manager reach a sales goal, or a writer pen her first article. Suddenly, I feel alive.
Amidst lost liberties, we sometimes forget the joy of American achievement. I know I do. As liberals crush opportunity, I’m tempted to retreat, putting whole communities at arms’ length. What a waste. It’s time we rediscovered the thrill of seeing others break free from limits, whether imposed by self or government. We need to be there. Girl Scouts are in our communities, not jetted in for a conference. And just like those delicious cookies, Liberty tastes best when shared.
3. Most importantly, we must let them choose their own Liberty. What if a Girl Scout criticized our choice of cookies? I would be miffed. My wife would be homicidal. Affecting no one but me, my choice of Thin Mints is sacred—not to be disturbed.
Likewise, as long as someone’s Liberty doesn’t harm someone else’s—a simple standard—then it shouldn’t matter if I don’t like their choice. Yes, we’ll sometimes disagree on “harm.” For instance, I think people become instant threats to society with hard drugs like meth or cocaine, so I would ban those “cookies.” I also feel abortion is one person’s choice removing another’s—but many people disagree. That’s fine. Starting with one standard doesn’t eliminate all disagreements, but it eliminates a lot of them—and when people see we don’t want our Liberty disrupting theirs, they’ll work harder to keep theirs from disrupting ours.
So everyone has their own cookies. Kind of puts the “free” back in free enterprise, doesn’t it?
They'll Think Of Us
Can we Conservatives make Liberty our brand? Of course; it’s not like anyone else is using it. It’s amazing how we can be the only ones offering these cookies, yet still fail to sell them! We need to learn from the Girl Scouts. Let’s offer cookies more and demand them less. Let’s show people we’re staying, not just making a quick sell to get what we want. And finally, let’s let people choose their own cookies. After all, “Don’t Tread On Me” really means, “Don’t Tread On Anyone.”
Thankfully, we don’t have to wear the Girl Scouts’ outfits (though I’ll try anything once), and we’ve no hope of being that adorable (though I’ll try anything once). But if we sell like Girl Scouts, anytime Americans think of Liberty, they’ll think of us.
Got it? Good. The next time you see Girl Scouts with a cookie table, tell them, “I’ve learned much from you, oh wise ones. I’ll take five boxes.”
Just steer clear of twins.