activism

The Irrelevance of the "Online Base"

Micah Sifry's response to my post (and Mindy's) on the size of the right online brings forth a basic assumption I'm not so sure is apt anymore -- that there is an "online base" that's distinct from the base offline, and from there, to the electorate at large? A few years ago, I know this was the case. Now, I'm not so sure. 

A few years ago, the mark of an online activist was pretty clear: participation in blogs -- as either a blogger or commenter, or membership in (likely multiple) political email lists and a history of donating and volunteering in response to online appeals. 

The rise of social media and the growing ubiquity of the Web as an entry point for campaigns makes the 'net a singular platform for activism -- online or offline. 

Unsatisfied by the political success of the Tea Party movement more broadly, Micah is greatly interested in what its size is, and specifically, what its size is online

 

Again, I'm sorry, but if you're going to tout the Tea Party movement as the embodiment of a wonderful flowering of grassroots activism on the Right, as both Mindy and Patrick rightfully do, you've got to expect that inquiring minds are going to want to know, well, how big is it? How many people are active in it? And you can't wave your hand and say, well, there are too many groups and none of them really are the hub and therefore it's impossible to say how big. Let's look at the metrics.

In 2008, roughly 13 million people joined Barack Obama's email list. That's also the size of his Facebook fan base today, roughly double its size since the election (a counterpoint, Micah, says, to the right-is-dominating-online argument -- though I'd say it's more indicative of Facebook's growth since Palin -- and others' -- numbers have also at least doubled). 

The number 13 million -- roughly 20 percent of the total votes Obama received -- suggests something that transcends activism as we normally understand it, and specifically online activism (however you define that to be different than regular activism). If all you need to do is hit the "Like" button, is it activism? Or is it something more akin to casting a vote, something roughly 130 million people did in the last election? That shows the "online activism" picture getting muddled. You don't need to be an activist, or even terribly savvy politically or technologically, to make your voice heard online nowadays. The tools have gotten so mainstream, and so easy, that the line between an activist and a supporter is blurring. 

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, we're seeing many candidates whose online fundraising now exceeds their direct mail fundraising. Are these two groups separate and distinct? Has online permanently enlarged the activist pool? Idealistically, we'd like to say yes. But practically speaking, it's probably mostly a matter of grabbing the low-hanging fruit from the offline space who simply find it more convenient to engage online. I would contend that these are no longer two radically different groups of individuals, but the larger base of conservative activists is migrating online. In this way, I don't think you can separate broader political success and enthusiasm from online activism in the way Micah does. 

In 2004, it was easy to have a debate about online activism in a silo. Blogs were relatively small, frequented by at most hundreds of thousands of Americans, and experienced by more only when the media deigned to talk about them. Political blogs were fragmented and difficult to find, not like leaving a stray political comment on someone's Wall or clicking "Like" on a politician because you happen to be on Facebook for two hours a day anyway. 

The nature and scope of online activism has changed dramatically since then, but the outlook of some techno-political pundits who cite Daily Kos uniques as the be-all, end-all of activism has not. We're now at a point where every significant change or insurgent movement in either party is dependent primarily on the mainstream Internet -- Facebook, Twitter, and participation in websites and e-mail lists seeded by offline megaphones like Fox News, MSNBC, and talk radio. The narrowcasting of blogs seems less relevant now, because there are much bigger media and technology players driving people online. This is popularizing online activism and making it indistinguishable from regular activism. 

Sure, there are still plenty of groups that depend primarily on direct mail for their fundraising, but few new groups. Judging from what I've seen this cycle, the Big Shift to online is happening. And just like the early adopter disillusionment that's gripped tools like Twitter and Facebook now that Lady Gaga has taken her place at the head of the table, we're finding that the political Internet isn't just for tech geeks anymore. Lots of regular folks are joining the party. 

 

Tap Creative National Talent

To continue building its infrastructure, the center-right is going to have to start hiring talent from around the country. I understand the value of having most of your human resources in a dynamic, creative cluster like NoVa/DC, but it’s time to tap folks that don’t relish living in Termite Town. Besides, there are creative clusters in other places.

Telecommuters and remote workers aren’t going away any time soon. To remain competitive while extending their national reach, both partisans and non-profits need to think nationally. Virtual workforces are now possible. (Reason Foundation, for example, has people all over the country.) Novel, immersive conferencing environments like Teleplace are getting less expensive and improving collaboration across geographies. There are trade-offs to distributed workforces to be sure, but the costs are going down and the benefits are going up.

The next time you post a job, open your mind. Your best candidate may be in Silicon Valley, Austin, Texas, or Research Triangle, NC—and may want to stay there. 

Energy at the Edges Moves the Center

I really like and respect Marc Ambinder, but he is just wildly off base here:

But Democrats are beginning to notice that opponents of health care reform have discredited themselves. They ramped up much too quickly. When smaller, conservative groups Astroturfed, they inevitably brought to the meetings the type of Republican activist who was itching for a fight and who would use the format to vent frustrations at President Obama himself. There were plenty of activists who really wanted to know about health care, and some who were probably misinformed -- scared out of their chairs -- to some degree, but the loudest voices tended to be the craziest, the most extreme, the least sensible, and the most easy to mock.

The American people remain anxious and confused about health care reform. That is an underlying reality that Republican activists are so eager to exploit. But doing so required a certain restraint -- and a willingness to traffic in at least approximate truths -- and an ability to make distinctions within their own ranks about which tactics were valid and which tactics were venomous. It also required a sophistication about the media. ...

Remember, the target audience for Republicans is Blue Dog Democrats in Congress. They won't panic unless they perceive organic anxiety.  The White House's goal was to prevent the Blue Dogs from panicking. The swing constituents in these congressional districts aren't angry Republicans, and the Blue Dogs know this.  They're political independents for whom the sanctity of the process is important. These are the type of voters who like President Obama because he appears willing to bring people together even though they don't agree with their policies.

As usual, in a pattern that the left patented during the Bush administration, the organized right lost control of its message. ...

That last sentence is really the nub of the problem with this post, since the organized left kind of had the last laugh at Bush's expense in 2008.

I know what it's like to work in a political operation controlled by the White House. And I can attest to the fact that the Obama people are following the Bush playbook to a T: first, pivot to the scraggly disorganization and off-messageness of the opposition.

This is what "Rush is the leader of the Republican Party" was all about. It was what the strange recycling the birther stuff months after it first surfaced was all about. And it's embodied in the ethos of Marc's post, in which any failure to act within the received boundaries of political discourse is automatically a liability for Republicans and a plus for the Obama White House.

For the Bush Administration in mocking the anti-war movement, and Obama deligitimizing the "mob," what both White Houses missed is that the general public has different sets of expectations for political leaders and opposition movements. Oppositions are supposed to be loud, vocal, off-message, inchoate. The President of the United States is supposed to have his stuff together.

Take as an object lesson the Bush Administration's treatment of the anti-war movement. Early on, they were, in words Marc used, "easy to mock." The conservative media had a field day roasting Susan Sontag, then Michael Moore, then Cindy Sheehan, then John "stuck in Iraq" Kerry. And, at times, this genuinely rallied the base.

However, the left ultimately won the political argument about the war (even if they lost the policy argument) -- despite the ineptitude of their leading voices -- because the ever-increasing chorus of opposition eventually ignited a media backlash against the war. When Bush was at 70%+, his prosecution of the war was first branded "divisive" because something like 500,000 anti-war activists were marching on CNN. And it was a short hop from branding the war "divisive" to branding it a disaster.

Much the same is now happening with health care. The public option is, at the very minimum, now perceived as divisive. As controversial. As anything but the sweetness and light upon which Obama uniquely depended on to govern.

In the long run, the side that most insistently believes in its own arguments usually wins. This neatly sums up the outcome of the 2008 election, and the current state of the health care debate. I don't think every swing voter would categorically embrace everything that's happened at the town hall meetings (on either side), but the fervor of one side over the other sends important signals to unaffiliated voters that the doubts outweigh the reassurances on Obamacare, and to armchair quarterbacks everywhere, that the President is on the defensive and dogged by opposition.

More than that, it sends signals to swing Congressmen. It's not uncommon for members of Congress to freak out when one, maybe two people, pose uncomfortable questions in town hall meetings. Because members tend to self-perceive a bubble around them, they place high value on anecdotal feedback.

Now, scale this up to the scenes from town hall meetings. What are people who are programmed to overreact to negative feedback from a handful of questioners supposed to do when confronted with hundreds? React the opposite way? Implausible. Even if they believe the bogus astroturf argument, is it not reasonable to believe a seedling of doubt has been sown even in the most partisan Democratic members, that Obamacare is a political dog that's stirred up a hornet's nest. 

More likely than not when September rolls around, the Blue Dogs are going to have a clear message for the White House: "Make this go away."

Advice to Townhall Activists

(An open letter from the Chairman of the RLC to liberty activists attending health care townhall events this month)

I’ve been studying videos of the Townhall protests which have taken place so far, have talked to participants and have been tracking the media coverage and the spin which the left is trying to put on the protests. As a result I have some suggestions for Republican Liberty Caucus activists who attend these events which I hope you will also share with others who go with you.

The line of attack against the protests is to try to discredit them as “astroturf” events sponsored by healthcare lobbyists and organized by national issue advocacy groups like FreedomWorks. They’re also calling grassroots activists “mobs” and “rioters” who are trying to silence debate by intimidation. They’re even suggesting that protesters are being bussed in from other areas in completely staged events. Because it’s what they know and what they have done themselves, they’re assuming that our authentic grassroots protests are as bogus and contrived as the paid picketers sent out by the unions and the fraudulent protest rallies by paid ACORN stooges. At least they think they can make that accusation stick.

There’s almost a month of further opportunities ahead of us as legislators go to their home districts and meet with constituents. Before the left can seize control of the debate and totally distort public perception of our legitimate protests and very real concerns, we need to take some steps to make that more difficult for them and to counter their talking points. So when you go to a townhall meeting -- and I hope every one of you will attend one or more -- keep these five suggestions in mind.

1. Go to expose the truth, not just to protest. There’s a lot more potential to advance our issues if you get to talk and ask questions and give legislators a chance to hang themselves with their answers. Ask them questions and let them know what you want, what you’re worried about and that you will hold them accountable. Just waving signs and shouting slogans will let them paint you as bullies. Some townhall meetings have already been cancelled because of protests, so you have to appear non-threatening. Be nice, but don’t let them get away with anything. Challenge their talking points and spin with the facts. Keep calm and demand answers.

2. Go with questions in mind. Have several thought out in advance so that if someone else asks one you wanted to ask you have a back-up ready. Read the Health Care bill (HR3200 on opencongress.org) and find something in it which bothers you. Preface your question by telling them that you’ve read the bill or most of the bill. Be honest about it and ask them about specifics. Ask them how they plan to pay for the massive cost of the “public option” without raising the deficit as Obama has promised. Will it mean raising taxes? Ask them if you’ll be able to stay with your current doctor or change from one private plan to another under Obamacare. Ask them how they expect private insurers to compete with a tax-subsidized government “public option.” Ask them if they’re going to enroll themselves and their faimily in the new system. Ask about the penalties for small businesses and individuals which want to opt out of the system.

3. Don’t limit your questions to healthcare. Once you have the floor you can’t be brushed off before you can get a question off, so ask about other issues which concern you. Ask about the new Food Safety act (HR2749) and whether it’s a good idea to put control of our food supply under the FDA. Ask them if they are going to support the Federal Reserve Transparency Act (HR1207). Ask them whether they think the “Cash for Clunkers” program (HR2751) is a good idea considering it encourages so many Americans to take on more debt. Ask them if they support the National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act (HR197) and the Citizens Self Defense Act (HR17) which protect the rights of gun owners. Ask them if they support the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act (HR2835). Ask about the cost of “Cap and Trade” (HR2454) and how much it will cost taxpayers and small businesses. Ask if they think that creating special classes of privileged citizens under the Hate Crimes Bill (HR1913) is a good idea. There are lots of good issues to raise and you can find all the bills on opencongress.org. Just make sure you know the issue you’re asking about and don’t let them get away with brushing off your question. If all else fails, just ask them if they’ve actually read the Health Care bill or if they read all the bills they vote on. That seems to throw all of them for a loop.

4. Don’t just hold Democrats accountable. If there are Republican Congressmen or Senators in your area who are holding townhall meetings don’t give them a break. Attend their events and ask them the same questions you would ask the Democrats and ask them clearly if they are going to support or oppose Obamacare. Ask them about other issues as well. Let them know that you don’t want them caving in to the Democrats on these issues and that you support them if they remain true to Republican principles of fiscal responsibility and individual liberty.

5. It’s a small technical point, but vitally important. When you are called on, state your name and where you are from very clearly. This will allow the media to follow up with you afterwards if they want more information and it will make very clear that you are from the congressman’s district or at least his state and have a legitimate reason to be there. Don’t let the media portray you as a shill or an outside agitator. Stand up, be counted and be clearly identified.

Remember to have confidence and not to be be intimidated. These are your representatives. You pay their salary and they should be responsive to your concerns. Be knoeledgable, be polite, make your points and ask your questions clearly and then let them respond. Ask a followup if you can. Their response is likely to do them more harm than anything you say if you can expose them as ill-prepared, ignorant or dismissive. Be informed. Be outspoken. Let them know you hold them accountable.

In Liberty,
Dave Nalle
National Chairman, Republian Liberty Caucus

Is it Time for a New Radicalism?

The folks at ACTIVE have come up with an interesting idea. They're calling for a nationwide strike of citizens against the government, turning the international socialists' tactics against them and possibly launching a movement which will have even more impact than the Tea Parties have had.

At a time when the extreme left has become the establishment, those who support traditional American values of liberty and free enterprise are by default the radicals, just as we were in 1776 when we opposed the tyranny of British rule. I don't agree with all of the beliefs and methods which groups like ACTIVE and the Patriotic Resistence and Bureaucrash advocate, but this idea of adopting the methodology and rhetoric of the radicals of the 60s in the fight against the growing power of the leftist state in America is very appealing.

Back in the early days of the Libertarian Party this is very much the approach which we took. As editor and a columnist for Liberty magazine back in those days I was constantly writing articles which sought to capitalize on the enthusiasm of student radicalism and direct it against the terrible policies of the Carter administration. In the SLS we were borrowing ideas from the SDS which had preceded us by about a decade, and we were drawing on the hardcore anarchism coming out of the anti-government riots and the punk music coming out of England in the late 70s. At the time there was only so far we could go with the idea, because Carter's incompetence made his administration too soft a target and the entire dynamic changed when Reagan came into power and drew a lot of libertarians including myself more into the political mainstream.

The days of Reagan are long over now and the champions of liberty are the underdogs again. This time we have a statist establishment to oppose which is much more powerful and much more dangerous than Jimmy Carter ever dreamed of being. The time really is ripe for a liberty revolution, and the tactics of the revolutionaries of the past are now ours to use. The liberty movement has made a lot of strides in the last couple of years and generated a huge diversity of organizations and issue groups, both inside the Republican party and among independent voters, but it's clear that a lot of these groups are looking for opportunities to take action in more radical and dramatic ways.

The Tea Parties brought a lot of different groups together with a common goal, but their effectiveness is inherently limited and they have been successfully undermined by a media disinformation campaign to portray them as "astroturf" events because of the involvement of Republican party groups and big money advocacy groups like FreedomWorks. As an idea they have also lost momentum from being overused and have pretty much run their course as an effective protest campaign.

Whatever succeeds the Tea Parties needs to go even deeper into the grassroots and nothing could do this more effectively than a protest which is purely based on individual action. Instead of gathering together into a group and marching or rallying, every person can take action on his own, but coordinated on a nationwide basis. That's what makes something like a general strike such an appealing idea. If enough people can be involved to really represent the high level of dissatisfaction in the country, the results could be impressive and impossible to ignore.

The only problem is the timing. I assume that those who have proposed a date of November 4th picked that date because it's the one-year anniversary of the election and because it gives plenty of time to organize a nationwide protest. The problem is that by then it's likely to be too late for even a wildly successful strike to have any impact on the most serious threats from the Obama regime. If we don't stop Obama and Pelosi as quickly as possible we are going to be out of luck. Cap and Trade and ObamaCare will be done deals by November 4th and we'll be well and truly screwed as a nation. These socialist programs will never be reversed once they are implemented, so we need grassroots protest on a huge scale before the end of the Summer.

I love the irony of using classic radical tactics against this government, because the truth is that they may have started out as radicals, but they are now the establishment and we are the radicals. So grab a copy of Rules for Radicals, Steal this Book or Stir it Up and learn the tactics that used to drive our enemies, because they're ours now and it's time to turn the tables on them.

This nation was founded by radicals and it will take a new generation of radicals to reclaim our stolen liberty. Founding radical Sam Adams said: "It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." We are the new irate minority – sons and daughters of liberty like Sam Adams – and a general strike might be just the kind of brushfire we need.

Rapid Right Innovation: Top 20

They’re getting comfortable. As Henke alludes to here, the self-satisfaction that comes with being in control was a primary factor in the waning of GOP power after 2002. The Dems know political power is nothing if not entropic. That’s exactly why the leadership is rushing like hell to do what they can to entrench their power and fundamentally alter the economy (i.e. before things start to burn and the people turn). Having mastered both the blame game and the art of sophistry, they think they’re better and smarter—despite all the linear thinking and pseudo-intellectual fervor. But victory has a half-life.

What is the Right to do? Let the Left languish in their smugness. Let's innovate: 

  1. Get better organized and unified. (Includes networking and collaboration.)
  2. Convert talk radio listeners into givers and doers. (Need help from the jocks.)
  3. Focus on popular messages of freedom, prosperity and suspicion of government.
  4. Create new constituencies resistant to government takeovers of their sector.
  5. Create media markets to further dilute the leftish MSM. Hasten the destruction of print.
  6. Tap, activate and integrate existing grassroots networks while creating new ones.
  7. Use mockery and satire to prick the Obama bubble. “What were we thinking?”
  8. Redirect resources from policy wonks to message-makers, writers and activists.
  9. Find and exploit joints and weak-points. (Attack from the side. A distracting swarm is better than a standing army.)
  10. Develop an “operating system” for distributed activism. “Embrace and extend” the left’s successful methodologies.
  11. Crowdsource investigation of key leaders. Dig Relentlessly.
  12. Use technology as a means to 5 primary ends—registering voters, organizing activists, changing minds, increasing transparency and crowdsourcing ideas.
  13. Make a continuous show out of dissatisfaction. Be creative. Create distractions.
  14. Plan carefully, but execute rapidly. Make media. Explosive media campaigns should make people do a double-take.
  15. Rebrand as a new breed with new ideas. (Use veterans/old guard sparingly.) Think: New Labour circa 1996.
  16. Turn the Left’s apparent strengths (brand, power, media adoration, momentum) into weaknesses, a la Sun Tzu.
  17. Create alternative funding channels, including micro-donations.
  18. Invite in a million ideas and create a filtration mechanism for the best ones.
  19. Take risks with policy messages and critiques. Simple and powerful.
  20. More meme machine, less policy argument. (Emotion, images, stories & sticky sayings.)

When you’re clinging to power and pushing your agenda, it’s hard to keep tabs on the enemy. It’s hard to continue innovating now that your foot-shoulders spend most of their days doe-eyed before O-TV, or making snarky comments on rightwing blogs. In 2008, the Left took all the best aspects of the free market – distributed systems, decentralization, collaboration and voluntary association – and out-organized the Right. Disillusionment with the war and the Obama emotion-bubble helped too. But those will soon fade. It’s time to turn the tables.

To be sure, the Left’s leadership will be busy tearing down what is right and good about the U.S., building up what is wrong and adding to a network of special interests and dependents whom they honestly believe will keep them around forever. They’ll make a good go of it. But take heart: Ireland, New Zealand and Britain all rebounded from the depths of socialism and its crony-capitalist variants. Ireland is now economically freer than the U.S. So is New Zealand. Britain is currently moving right. So there is hope. Let’s start innovating.

Speak out against the spending

The recent explosion in spending is no secret.  The government has already pledged more than $4 trillion in its attempt to solve this economic crisis—more than the cost of World War II. As though that’s not enough, the government has committed to spend trillions more over the next few years, which will bring the grand total to a staggering $12 trillion in new spending. That’s more than 24 times the size of the New Deal. 

But lost in all these colossal figures and vast amounts of debt are the consequences endured by average Americans, both today and especially tomorrow. 

Conservative stewardship outperforms partisan sniping

As there has been a lot of conversation about the framing of conservative messaging and how to deal with with race issues on this site, I thought I'd bring up two articles I wrote for another website today.

The first article deals directly with the first issue I'd like to raise.  A host of elected Republican officials are rightfully calling for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to submit her letter of resignation.  While I'm sure someone has, I've yet to see someone provide a politically viable suggestion to replace the DHS Secretary.

It's one thing to take political swipes at the opposition.  It takes leadership to find a solution which might be acceptable to the Obama administration, Republicans and a general public that is generally more concerned with good government than with the latest political barbs.

My solution to this situation may not be the best one, but at least I've offered a host of reasons as to why Judge Andrew Napolitano could be a very suitable replacement for Janet Napolitano.  The American public has been crying for solutions, not partisan bickering.  The GOP could have easily stepped up to the plate on this one, but didn't.

The other issue I'd like to cover is race. On rare occasions, there is an element of truth to cries from the left about racism on the right.  Most of the time these allegations couldn't be farther from the truth.

However, assuaging one's conscience by casting a vote for Michael Steele and then disregarding the black community for the next several years will not win Republicans votes from the African-American community.  Like any other votes, these have to be earned.

In Alabama, two Republicans are making a difference in the African-American community on a solidly conservative issue: property rights.   If you aren't aware, in the land of Rosa Parks, black people are frequently taken advantage of when it comes to eminent domain abuse.  A few years back, nationally syndicated talk show host Neal Boortz heavily publicized one such case in nearby Alabaster, Alabama.

I'd like to quickly highlight these two Republicans who aren't afraid to step out of their own comfortable communities to help those with fewer political or financial resources.  The first is Alabama State Senator Scott Beason, who will sit on a panel next week at an Alabama Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights panel entitled “Civil Rights Implications of Eminent Domain Policies and Practices in Alabama.” Senator Beason is highly respected throughout the state, and it's easy to see why.

A key driving force behind this panel is Shana Kluck.  Shana is not only a member of the Alabama Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, but she also serves on her state GOP executive committee, is president of the Alabama Republican Assemby and serves as secretary of the Alabama Republican Liberty Caucus.  When she's not busy homeshcooling her four children, consulting on Web 2.0 projects, engaged in Eagle Forum activities, attending various political meetings around the state and working behind the scenes on a variety of conservative and libertarian causes, she is busy helping me on campaigns.

Considering Shana's schedule, very few of us have grounds to offer the excuse that we are too busy to become more involved in the African-American community.

Instead of sitting around complaining about how black people voted in previous election cycles, Senator Beason and Ms. Kluck are taking leadership roles in providing justice for members of the African-American community.

If I may be so bold as to provide two solutions for the conservative movement, they are:

  • Instead of merely attacking the opposition with nuisance fire (appropriately called sniping) to exploit a weak spot in their battle line, maximize your attack by actually providing a viable politcal solution.
  • If you aren't active in your local African-American community, you've no right to complain if you receive very few of their votes on Election Day.

Personal responsibility is a key component of conservativism and just stewardship should be a part of conservative leadership.  Hopefully, Republican Party leaders will take these sorts of messages to heart.  Otherwise, one can expect the GOP to walk through the wilderness for another 38 years.

A sincere warning to big-government Republican politicians

As I've said, before we focus on winning back majority status, the first priority must be reforming the Republican Party. - Jon Henke

Shortly after I wrote this quick piece for the Alabama Republican Liberty Caucus website, I was called by someone in another state who tracked down my cell number from a press release.

I had posted the now-going-viral video below of South Carolina Congressman Gresham Barrett (R) being booed, told to go home, and having people turn their backs on him when he spoke at the Greenville, SC Tea Party.

Calling out a Republican from my state congressional delegation for a bad vote on an amendment to the budget bill was my initial intention, but it's starting to turn into more than this now.

My caller liked the idea so much, he's beginning to quietly organize his folks to show at a scheduled event for one of his local "RINOs in DC."  They plan to boo, turn their backs, and video the entire encounter.  They also plan to quietly alert the media in advance.

From the perspective of someone who helped organize a large 2003 Tea Party event to begin the process to kill Alabama Governor Riley's proposed tax increase, I know how angry fiscal conservatives can feel about folks who have betrayed them.  More recently, we even dissed a Republican Secretary of State who demanded to speak at one of the April 15th Tea Parties I helped organize.

Pondering all of this, I contacted a few Tea Party organizers I'd been in contact with see what they thought of the general idea.

"Hell, yeah!" was the immediate response from one person I've never heard use that word before. 

"We should do it even for one bad floor vote," wrote one organizer about a specific Senator in his state.  "This way, he'll get the message that we'll be watching every minor move he makes."

To wrap this all up, it's better that I don't identify any states or congressional districts already targeted.  This way, every last Republican with a bad fiscal conscience (or desire to be re-elected) who currently holds public office should be having nightmares about who might show at his or her next campaign rally or public speaking event. A healthy dose of paranoia can sometimes be a good thing.

Even little ol' me can turn out a few thousand on fairly short notice in my state.

If you haven't seen the video yet, it's worth your time to watch it.  And if you are a Republican holding public office, think about how embarrassed you will feel losing to some unknown challenger come next primary election night. Only those with guilt in their hearts have to fear being next on the list.  If you think you might be on the list, I'd start with a call to my favorite spin-meister to come up with either the first or the best mea culpa that money can buy.

H/T to the good folks at the John Locke Foundation.

On Tea Parties

lafayette

Wednesday, 15 April 2009.

As Americans, it is our birthright to offer dissent. Our freedom to stand firm and question our government is what continues to make our nation exceptional. The fact I stand – without fear of reprisal - just outside the White House gates to participate in today’s protest is a testament to the power and blessings that we enjoy as Americans.

Our power is guaranteed in our Constitution, which announced to the world that this nation, and its people, which are exceptional – for it is “we the people” who possessed the power to form this “more perfect union.” It was our Founders who first brought about change. This change has been renewed by every American who exercises their power at the ballot box.

In November, our nation chose a new president from two major candidates who promised their own visions of change during these times of economic crisis. Like many Americans, and a majority of my home state, I made my choice for the Republican candidate. A majority of other Americans, including some people attending today’s tea parties, made a different choice.

I mention this because today’s action is not Republican or Democratic. It is not Red or Blue. It is not Conservative, Libertarian or Liberal. It is American. In fact, it is the most American thing any of us can do.

We must challenge our representatives to act on our behalf instead of acting on the behalf of special interests, lobbyists or labor bosses.

We must challenge them to articulate their ideas for fixing our economy and creating jobs.

We must challenge them by demanding details instead of rhetoric and rallies which belong on the campaign trail and not in the halls of government.

Regardless of your politics; regardless of whether you were opposed or supportive of the policies of the last administration; regardless of your opposition or support of the current administration, today is the day that we use our power, stand firm and say to this government: “Enough!”

We say “enough” to runaway spending, “enough” to increasing the deficit.

We say “enough” to increasing taxes, “enough” to policies which steal the future from our children and grandchildren in order to pay back your political allies.

We say “enough” to elected leaders from both parties who choose to be rubber stamps instead of advocates for their constituents.

We say “enough” to those who do not show leadership but instead blame their predecessors for their problems.

We say “enough” to shirking your duties as our elected representatives and ramming through legislation that no one has read.

In the media and on the Internet, there are many who have asked what the point of today’s action is; do we really think we can make a difference?

We can only look to the future for the answer to the latter question, for it is what we do in the days and months to follow – when we become active in our communities – which will determine the level of our success. To the former, we come together to in order engage our leaders and, with our combined power, enable them to once again claim, on our behalf, the mantle of leadership which they have vacated.

Today, we begin to hold this government accountable.

Today, we begin to cast off our common apathy and replace it with action.

Today, we begin to show our fellow Americans that it is acceptable to publicly voice their concerns and opposition to the policies of the current government without fear of the criticisms and accusations offered by the government and its supporters in the public and punditry.

In November, the nation chose “change.” Today, we say “enough.” And to those who choose not to listen to the words we speak today, I have this warning: when it comes time again to “change,” we will likely decide that we’ve had “enough” of you.

<strong>Crossposted at:</strong><strong><a href="http://ryanjames.us/?p=1198" target="_blank">K. Ryan James blog</a><a href="http://thenextright.com/kryanjames/on-tea-parties" target="_blank">The Next Right</a><a href="http://kryanjames.blogtownhall.com/2009/04/15/on_tea_parties.thtml" target="_blank">Townhall</a><a href="http://www.yrnetwork.com/blogs/1255/Kenneth-Ryan-James.aspx#article475" target="_blank">YR Network</a><a href="http://rebuildtheparty.ning.com/profiles/blogs/on-tea-parties" target="_blank">Rebuild the Party</a><a href="http://smartgirlpolitics.ning.com/profiles/blogs/on-tea-parties" target="_blank">Smart Girl Politics</a></strong>

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