This site is meant to facilitate the upward flow of information to help our elected officials stay in touch with those they represent. Also as a means to help us (the voters) help our leaders lead.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
What to Do When KronWalled? Smile and Join the Revolution
If you’re like me with very limited resources and yet want to make your presence felt in the election process, remember one thing. All the hoopla and fundraisers and pleas for money; all the junk mail, knocking on doors, parades and everything else connected to political campaigns is about only one thing.
Most people, especially Republicans tend to think that elections are mainly about money. While winning elections especially in a large geographic area takes a lot of money. Never lose sight of the fact that votes are the ultimate goal. If you can get your neighbor or coworker involved in the party by whatever means, you have done far more than donating $25, $50, or $100 to the NRC.
As I’ve learned from my meager existence, a person can trade their time in effect for money. In elections, this is actually a better way to win votes.
Politics is personal, always was and always will be. The more you get personally involved, the more clout your voice will have and the better chance you will have in changing someone’s vote, or at least energizing someone enough to get out and vote who may not of otherwise.
There are a lot of different ways to get involved. Below are pics of a Muskegon County Meeting.
1. Find and attend meeting of your County Party.
I started a couple years ago by finding my local county party and asking what can I do to help? Don’t be discouraged if there is nothing at hand to do, things will come up. Start going to all the meetings. Overcome your shyness. Just insert yourself into the process.
By this I don’t mean you should get on a soap box and rant and rave, I simply mean, show up to the meetings early and help out where needed. Set up chairs, introduce yourself; make the coffee, introduce yourself; ask questions about upcoming events, introduce yourself. Meet the local incumbents and candidates, introduce yourself. Oh and by the way did I say introduce yourself?
Don’t do what I did and start blaming the National then the State then the County party for this lack of things to do. Criticism is necessary as the first step. The main thing is learn how to put that criticism to constructive use by coming up and following through with real solutions.
Take time right now to start learning how your local party works; start finding out who the players are. In this way you can figure out good ways for the party in the future to correct what you see as wrong. Start and never quit coming up with suggestions for things the County Party can do; but be willing to back that up with action. Please understand that if you really want the Party to do something; you will have to do most of the organizing and legwork yourself at least to start. You will be the one that has to generate the enthusiasm for people to volunteer time and or money to get things started. This is no small task and is doomed to fail in most cases. Keep trying.
If you’re a conservative Republican you know the value of failure as a learning experience; a chance to learn how to do it better next time. Make sure there is a next time. Don’t make enemies, make allies, and keep learning. Others will begin to learn that you are serious and out to help the party. The trust needs to be earned.
A word about what I’ve learned about county parties. There are a few leaders that keep the party apparatus alive in off years, with little or no money. Why do they do it? They love the party and its ideals as much or more than you. At least they are putting their time and money where their mouths are. I try to remind myself that they have done all the things I haven’t yet, to help the party. I’m learning to cut them some slack. As I become more involved, I realize that sometimes however one has to take the bull by the horns and organize something oneself if you want it done.
I also have learned that attendance at a County Republican meeting will vary from a few too many. This depends on your County but the attendance does vary nonetheless. The main thing is that there are never enough people to volunteer whenever there is something to do. Be ready. I like to go to another neighboring County Party meeting just to see new faces and get ideas. Everyone is happy to see new faces.
I have come to understand that the Party apparatus at all levels is simply there to help candidates get the votes necessary to win. In the past when the election cycle lasted a few months, the party apparatus would go into hibernation mode the rest of the time. Like it or not the election cycle has grown. Nationally we are seeing Presidential campaigns running nonstop. State wide contested positions like governor and senator and US house starting a year and a half before the election. Even the state house contested seats are already gearing up. The county parties are slowly waking up to the fact.
This means money, make no mistake. A simple parade involves $50-100 just for candy then $10 a tee shirt per crew member and $1-2 for a button; although hopefully they will reuse that shirt and button. In the County races the candidates can go to between 10 + 15 a year; the larger the district the more parades. Candidates especially now are desperate for volunteers to walk in a parade with them. Introduce yourself, ask them if you could march in their next parade and see the smile on their face.
Remember too that at the local level a little money plus passion and a lot of effort goes further than just more money.
2. Research, meet and volunteer for a candidate you like.
During your county meetings elected officials will show up and talk about what they have been doing, get on their mailing list. Don’t forget to introduce yourself. During election years, candidates will start showing up. They are there for one reason, to get your support. Introduce yourself, get on their list too, check out their web sites whether you like them or not; remember you don’t know them yet. The more you know the better choice you’ll make.
You don’t have to know or like a candidate; but how can you really tell if you don’t meet and research them. The internet is a perfect tool to research voting records and positions. Still however there is nothing like personally meeting them. Go to GOP events where candidates are and try to say hi to them at least. Believe me they will notice and go out of their way to return the greeting. Start researching and start narrowing down the field.
Below are some pics of a recent Whitehall parade I walked in. That church band BTW was playing Toby Keith's "Proud to Be An American". Knocked my socks off when I heard that.
Next find time to volunteer for a parade or other things the candidate is involved with. Candidates always want more people in the parades. You get a tee shirt free and all the candy you can eat. Keep your eyes open to find things to do that will make a candidates life easier or at least more productive.
This may sound humbling and it is; that is why the research of candidates is important. To really help a candidate, they must share most of your principles and ideas. You should believe that if elected this candidate will make the system better. It helps if you like the candidate. Remember no one can be everything to everybody nor do we want them to be. We have enough poll driven candidates already. For me the humbling experience itself was helpful.
3. “Party of One”
If you want to make a difference you have to do something. During your “break in” time and as you start to learn how County politics works, you should be thinking of and planning how you can get your friends and neighbors involved also. Rule #1 don’t be pushy.
If I have a neighbor who whenever I meet them rants and raves about how terrible the Dems are, I will stop listening and try to avoid them. I already know how bad their policies are. I want to learn what to do about it.
I judge people by their deeds, and try not to judge them by their words. People judge me that same way.
What deeds can you do? Start with what you already do. If you are in a group or something service oriented, get more involved. It doesn’t take much for people to get the idea that you are Republican. Just slip it into casual conversation. Like if you’re talking about things you did, bring up the GOP event you last went to and leave it at that. The thing is to concentrate on the service itself. That service is the important thing. Just getting people to admit that Republicans believe that too, is something good.
Let people know that not all Republicans are CEOs of Halliburton.
Below are pics of a community garden I helped start with the class of kids that now come once a week as part of their class to our garden. We have two raised beds for them to take care of.
What’s this about a “Party of One”? I went Monday to our County Republican Caucus lunch. A lady big in District and State politics and another big in state and National Party politics were there to let us in on what the state party was doing. She said that the State was coming up with a slogan for this election and it would be along the lines of “Fix Michigan”. She also said they were working on a set of bullet points to go along with that. So far so good. Then the talk turned into ways to get people to vote for our candidates without letting them know we are Republicans.
If you want to get some legal standing with the party, think about becoming a Precinct Delegate. I will post more about that at another time. Basically you get on the primary ballot in the precinct where you live usually there is no competition. Once elected you do what I'm talking about in this post. Get to know your neighborhood and come election help the candidates introduce themselves to your neighbors, and the service things you do there. Also you get to go to state conventions and meet the big shots. Below are a couple pics of the First Congregational Church which serves breakfast every Sat Morning to anyone wanting one. I volunteer for this and brought a candidate along last Sat. who wiped tables clean. I was stuck doing pots and pans.lol. Congregational servered all told a little over 200, a slow day. Usually we serve 3-400. Hey we each got a free breakfast. Enough said.
I don’t know about Mr. Wiser and all the other big shots leading the party, but I am not ashamed of being a Republican. If at this time of economic ruin in Michigan under the Democrat leadership we are ashamed of letting people know that we are Republican, what is wrong with that picture?
Some of our leaders like Boehner in the House along with some local talent like McCotter, are crafting an alternative to the Liberal agenda. An alternative that I am fighting for, an alternative that I am proud to say is a Republican alternative.
The ladies at our caucus, (dare I say Republican Caucus?) went on to talk about the great grass roots movement this would create. I’m kinda curious how this will work.
For now I guess I’m stuck with the “Party of One”. Until I’m reprimanded, I will try to keep calling myself a Republican. Maybe by doing that daring thing I will get motivated to figure out what makes Republicans different than Democrats. Maybe even offer a real choice to the voter.
Like I said earlier, nobody likes to be ranted at so forgive me. Understand, I will keep going to meetings and suggesting things for change, and I will keep introducing myself. I will as I also previously suggested, take the bull by the horns and create what I can on my own, through the auspices of the (fill in the blank) party.
We need to do what we can with what we have to work with in whatever ways and with whatever means we have. If the leadership is embarrassed to call themselves Republican in polite company; then changing leadership will come around soon enough. Getting behind candidates now that aren’t ashamed to call themselves Republican becomes more important.
In the mean time I’m calling myself a proud Republican and will back proud Republicans who aren’t afraid to say so and why, in whatever company I or they may find themselves. Just to prove a point I will always be ready to throw in an explanation of why and what a Republican is.
If you want to “kick the bums out”, start the kicking in our own party, then we may get the where with all and the credibility to kick the others out of the Whitehouse.
All change comes from the bottom up. That is you and me; then our neighbors then our County, State and finally the Nation. We have time before the 2010 elections. Now is the time to start picking candidates that you like and agree with. Back one, go to their fundraisers, parades, get some friends in your group to get together for a “Meet and Greet” so others can meet your candidate.
In other words by getting invested in time or money in the process, you will learn what and how to do what needs to be done.
If you have a few extra dollars, do something for your candidate. I recently found my candidate didn’t have any buttons yet. I went to Shirts n Stuff and had some made. Small price, but everyone in his crew now has buttons to wear at parades and GOP meetings and just every day; sometimes a button is all it takes to start a conversation.
In closing there are countless ways to get involved, but they all hinge on getting up and out the door; being forward enough to say hi to people and volunteering for something. It doesn’t matter what as much as just the act of doing; we learn and become stronger just by the doing.
Some have more time than others, what with work, kids, family, and scraping up a living. Consider this political volunteerism as your donation to the charity for the well being of the Nation. A little study time online and 2-4 hours a month for meetings and a parade or something, anything.
To get something big done, it’s easier for many to do little.
Regards, Live Dangerously Be A Conservative