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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Army of Davids or How the Mighty Fall

The Tea Party needs to focus. As always that focus is elections and it is through education that The Tea Party has effected elections. It has made use of the new media and has served as a platform through which conservatives can share and spread knowledge and through which action can be taken.

The Movement is not funded by Big Labor or Big Oil or Big Business or even Big Political Parties; at least not where I hang out. In my neck of the woods for example, we are trying to move our monthly meeting from a place that charges $25 to one where we can assemble for free; nor do we charge for membership or attendance. As “self-organizing” organizations each individual Tea Party group is free to go its own way. With this in mind, the effect we had on the last election was all the more outrageously incomprehensible in its extent when compared to all the high paid pencil pushers and graph makers of normal politics.

Why or how is this, possible? The answer is simple. We gather the people first then organize a plan around their desires. We put the People first. That is the common sense approach we use and the “Political Consultants” don’t, but it’s harder. Implementing a plan is always harder than putting one down on paper. To do that, one has to leave the cubicle in an office building in DC and go to a rotary meeting in some out of the way place nobody ever heard of.

The people that make up the Tea Party are already there at the Rotary, they are its members. The same is true in politics

I’m trying to get our group in Oceana County Mi. to go the way of getting involved in local governments. Others in the Tea Party Movement whom I know and communicate with always give this involvement lip service but for the most part fail to follow up with anything concrete to make it happen. Again, -- it is hard work.

This is a simple common sense attitude, absolutely necessary to have in place if you expect any endeavor to be successful. Rudely put; it’s the People Stupid.

No plan works without recruiting the people to carry it out. As one of my favorite quotes go. “Unless a decision has “degenerated into work” it is not a decision; it is at best a good intention” Peter F Drucker, “The Effective Executive” pp114 Harper Collins paperback edition, 2006.

What caught my attention in that quote was the ironic use of the phrase “Degenerated into work”. Drucker captured the disdain in which planners hold for the actual act of making one of their plans work. Especially implied is the disdain for those doing the work. (Lesser mortals). All planners (myself included) fall into that trap. Simply put the plan becomes more important than those working the plan.

The Tea Parties work when that is understood. When it isn’t they just become another bureaucratic organization. We must beever vigilant in this.

I once sat in on a “strategic planning session” of a large Tea Party trying to become a regional affair covering a larger area and made up of several individual groups. The plan was well thought out and very impressive. There were over 150 positions and volunteer slots that needed to be filled. The meeting lasted a few hours with power point and all. I drove 50 miles to attend. At one point I simply asked how many people actually attended their meetings and they claimed about 50. I didn’t say anymore. But I bemoaned the wasted effort.

I did think and reflect however that the behemoth which we call “the government” got that way out of the best of intentions and was thought out by planners with impeccable credentials.

On paper it was all great. In reality, just like any Ponzi plan they always fail. That is precisely what most of those who gravitate to the Tea Party understand instinctively and the thing they want to change. That is what fires our engines-that is something we need always to keep in mind.

Part of our local group’s mission statement states; “To influence policy and effect the election of government officials…”

I think it time to start to influence local elections. That is where people feel the effects first from the people they elect. The land owner first feels it in the property taxes they pay or the condition of the roads they drive on or the many other services their tax dollars pay for. I will be trying to do this at our next Tea Party meeting. We missed the May 3rd school boards but we could do a lot to get ready for the next ones. This is a trickle up type of thing. As we continually see in the news, real power exerted from the many on the bottom prevails over the dictates from a few at the top.

Some will say that this is the wrong way that we should concentrate on the “Big Races”. I say we can do both, but the system will not be really changed until it is demanded from the Bottom Up. For example the Michigan Secretary of State is more likely to listen to her county clerks who will listen to all their (township, village and city) clerks than they are likely to read a bunch of emails.

George Will wrote the following snippet in the Jewish World Review April 21st. He was talking about local school boards.
Unfortunately, the stubborn fact is that local control means control by the teachers unions. Most school boards are elected, often in stand-alone elections in which turnout is low and the unions' organization prevails. This, Kline says, "is exactly the conversation I'm having with my new members." He notes that in Minnesota, since school board elections were moved to regular election days, some people not supported by the unions have won.

Two keys in Mr. Will’s quote.

One is that by having school board elections in an off year “stand alone” setting there is a low turnout and that the school unions have (at least in the past) easily carried the day. That logic has proved true; however that was before the Tea Party. If the local Tea Partiers can focus and put their full weight behind each individual school board election and run some “good” candidates this perceived negative could be turned into an opportunity.

The second key within the quote also suggests this flaw can be changed by moving the elections to “regular” election days. Before that is tried however we should try to take advantage of this hidden opportunity. We would have the advantage of surprise on our side. If we started to prove successful, the unions might want to move them back to the regular election times for us.

This is something we can do now and at a cost we can afford. Neither is this something school board specific. In the 2012 election there will be a multitude of local positions (township, city, village and county offices) up for grabs.

The time is now, the job is focus.

Regards, Live Dangerously Be A Conservative

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