Are you following all this? I doubt it. And I couldn’t blame you. Just as we get geared up to tackle something that is coming down the pike, two new ideas come barreling down the road at the American people. How can we keep up with everything Congress and the administration are trying to put into place?
The short answer is that we can’t. There’s a political strategy at play here; set a big fire to distract from a dozen other small fires being set simultaneously. The fire crews may contain the large fire, but the damage from all the small fires mounts up. Translated, that means pushing a big, flashy, attention-getting agenda item while working quietly on a dozen other items under the radar. This almost always succeeds, because like the magician, the political class directs our attention where they want it, while performing unseen sleight of hand.
It’s exceedingly frustrating to mount formidable opposition to one threat, only to turn around and discover that we missed several others. And the very allies we should be able to count on, namely members of Congress that should be alerting us to the fights coming our way, are nearly all silent. We learn of these things chiefly through the non-traditional media, mostly bloggers who, God bless them, get their teeth into an issue and don’t let go until they’ve gotten to the truth.
So what are freedom-loving, liberty-minded, battle-weary people to do?
1. Stay Involved – One of the main reasons the movement for better government has difficulty being taken seriously is a lack of consistency. Old political hands have seen “revolutions” come and go. They have developed a siege mentality; just wait them out – they’ll get bored/tired/frustrated/disgusted/disheartened and give up and go home.
We must continue to work, and work together, over an extended period of time in order to be taken seriously. Then, when The Powers That Be realize that we are not, in fact, going away, we will be able to render their “wait-it-out” methods ineffective.
2. Do More – It’s thrilling to see hundreds of thousands of people descend on Washington D.C. to rally for better government. It’s picturesque, it’s moving, it’s inspiring, it’s great television.
It is not progress.
If your involvement up to now has been merely attending rallies or just launching a fist into the air when a radio host says something inspiring, it isn’t enough. Groups everywhere need volunteers to help lead neighborhood groups, develop voter guides, knock on doors, make phone calls, answer e-mails, maintain websites, perform data entry, research issues, write blogs, attend local government meetings, raise funds, run for office, record town halls, pass out fliers and a hundred other little things. If you aren’t sure what you can do, ask. If you have a talent or skill, volunteer it. You are needed in a hundred different ways beyond the pep rallies.
3. Start Small – If you have trouble following all that’s going on, and you’re feeling overwhelmed, then start with one thing. What’s your most important issue? Is it one of the ones listed above? Is it a local issue? Is it the removal of a certain elected official? The takeover of a local party? Watch-dogging a particular entity?
Whatever your passion, focus on that one thing as much as you can. Find and join organizations that already do battle on that field, or start your own. If you are trying to defeat all the threats that come up at the same time, you’ll overload, and so will all those around you. You’ll give up and go home. See #1.
4. Question Authority – As a ’60s mantra, that worked pretty well. Whatever it might have meant then, it needs to be revived for use in the 21st century.
Here’s why: Depending solely on the party that went along with bailouts and TARP just two years ago when Bush was in office to suddenly experience a revelation, do an about-face, and start defending liberty is a losing proposition. The reality of politics is that first and foremost, these politicians are political animals, and leopards don’t change their spots. A big-government Republican in 2008 is still a big-government Republican in 2010; he just may hide it better in pretty speeches and rousing oratory.
In the short run we may have to put up with some of the perpetrators and repeat offenders in office a little longer. But ultimately, we have to make it extremely painful for a sitting Congressvarmint to return to big-spending ways, and that means running serious primary opponents against them if they fall off the wagon, and moving heaven and earth to get those challengers elected. That will not make your pet varmint happy with you. See Bob Bennett.
Therefore I caution you again, in the strongest terms that I can, to stop worshipping politicians. Stop allowing them to get into office and then forgetting the job of overseeing them. Stop letting them get away with murder. Stop outsourcing your decision-making to a group of power-hungry, ego-driven would-be criminals. We end up with an 11% Congressional Approval Rating and a corresponding 98% re-election rate precisely because too few people are willing to throw their own bum out.
We can only restore sane, Constitutionally-limited government if we’re in this for the long haul. It’s a huge task before us, but it’s doable. After all:
Q: How do you eat an elephant?
A: One bite at a time.
** Felicia Cravens founded the Houston Tea Party Society in February of 2009, and also sits on the board of Katy Tea Party Patriots and Common Sense Texans. She has been a Guest on FOX New’s, The Glenn Beck Show. When not strategizing for tea party events or conducting trainings, she teaches drama in an after school program and enjoys being with her two very understanding daughters and supportive husband. She can be found on Twitter as @somethingfishie.