On the road with the candidate

Posted on April 2, 2010. Filed under: Christian American, Political Activism, Politics, Tea Party Movement | Tags: , , |

If I wasn’t spending so much time creating group and event pages on social networking sites, uploading pictures and current news of the candidate I am supporting I might have time to actually write more about said candidate and my experiences with such said candidate’s campaign!  Whew!

Last Saturday I had a rare treat. A glimpse into the life of a  grassroots candidate on his Saturday tour around his congressional district.  At a previous Meet & Greet for this candidate I had flippantly suggested to his communications director that I would love to be a “groupie” for a day.  Now, I say I said this flippantly because if the communications director didn’t bite on it I could save my dignity and say, “but I realize that wouldn’t be possible since I’m just a little rah-rah girl.” 

However, if this said PR guy did bite on it  I would be able to continue my secret wish of seeing first hand the workings of a political campaign.  He bit. I was scheduled to travel with candidate and staff of two.

My day started at 8:30AM when I put a call into the communications director to ask what the days events were and how I should dress appropriately.  We were scheduled inside and outside that day.  I sheepishly asked, “did I wake you up?”  What a silly question.  “No, was the response..My day started three hours ago with email and news alerts. We are jumping in the car now for our two-hour drive to you!”

My first scheduled appearance with the candidate this Saturday was a phone bank I had set up for him.  I was meeting several other volunteers willing to give two hours to work the phones identifying party supporters. If we identified who the voters are that will vote for our candidate without much prodding it will save campaign funds down the road sending mailings.

At 11 o’clock I arrived at the restaurant.  Twelve wonderful servants showed up to make calls, some nervously. At 11:05AM I received a phone call from my candidate that he was getting off the exit.  He was very excited to meet the folks and get us going on making calls.  We all scurried inside awaited his arrival.

Cheerfully, our candidate greeted us with a short synopsis of his platform and some current news related to his campaign.  He explained the phone bank process and his staff distributed the phone bank lists.  He ordered pizza and soda for the volunteers, answered a few questions, thanked everyone for their time and support and then excused himself to his next destination.

Since, this is where I jumped on the campaign express I kissed my kid, handed his baseball stuff to a friend who was taking him home for me, thanked my fellow volunteers for coming, grabbed my bag and steno pad and headed for the car with the candidate and campaign staff.

Now, the phone bank was somewhat in the boonies and the next event was in the boonies in a different part of the district.  The directions acquired by the communications director would have routed us from the opposite direction.  So, my value on this expedition increased immediately as I was able to direct us via back roads to the protest rally we were heading too.

As we pulled up to the rally we could see about 50 patriotic citizens assembled at the gate of a national wildlife preserve. This group had assembled for what they called a “for the birds” protest rally of wasteful spending of taxpayers money. Money going to haul dirt in to cover a runway so the birds would have a nice place to drop their droppings.

The candidate jumped from the car, almost before we came to a complete stop,  ready to engage the fired up crowd.  Later, his communications director would tell him that was the best speech he had heard my candidate give so far.  The mixture of zeal from the assembled “ticked off” citizenry and the crisp outdoor air added to the energy of the moment.

These generous community minded patriots quickly collected almost 900 dollars for the candidate by passing a hat. That is truly grassroots American generosity at its best!

After a quick walk around shaking hands and briefly answering questions we were back in the car. The communications director refocused the candidate.  The drive to the next event was about 40 minutes.  Enough time to go over the candidates presentation to the protestors. I informed this is “Critique of how candidate did” time. 

The consensus was Candidate had missed on two points and these needed correction.  ‘I give you a strong A for this time with the folks,”  communications director said.  “So do I!” chimed in campaign staffer and designated driver. That was real encouragement to candidate.

“Was there a reporter there?” someone asked.

“Yes.” I replied.  “He was standing to my left.”

My Candidate is trying out a new campaign slogan, “Had Enough?”  In earlier interchanges with voters he had received a less than enthusiastic response but, with this group of outdoor protestors he heard a boisterous “Yes!”  “We have had enough!”

“Next,” mumbled the communications director as he thumbed his blackberry, “we must address the question you will be hearing more often,  What is your opinion of the Tea Party movement and especially the claim the Tea Partier’s are racist?”

My ears perked. I was especially interested in this planned response from my candidate considering I am one of those Tea Partier’s.

Candidate didn’t hesitate and stated, “My response is, It’s wonderful more American’s are getting involved in the process. They may be some inappropriate sayings and signs but for the most part Tea Partier’s are great patriotic people and should be encouraged to continue to get active.”

Good answer.  I smiled.  Isn’t that what I’m doing right this very moment by sitting next to someone who could be described as “the nice guy next door” candidate in his less -then- prestigious car driving around a congressional district I didn’t even realize existed a year ago.

After peeling and eating a banana, candidate asked,  “Do we have time to stop on this leg for something to eat?”  “NO,” was the response.

I had stuffed the other half of a cream cheesed bagel into my bag just incase.  I offered it to Candidate.  To my amazement he humbly accepted it and didn’t waste a beat eating it.  We arrived at our destination sooner than planned and made a swing through McDonald’s for cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, and sodas.  I asked, as I unwrapped my sandwich, “is this really chicken?”  I can’t imagine a months long menu of fast food dining!

At senior center voters showed up, paid the entrance fee to hear our candidate and enjoy refreshments.  It was a nice affair with decorated red, white, and blue table, lottery for donated gifts, and generous contributions to the campaign.

Since I knew some of these awesome patriots from earlier jaunts to DC and local rallies and meetings it was a wonderful time of Tea Party networking for me.

After goodbyes  to the senior group and we were back in the car. This car time was the most interesting of the day for me. Early on in the day the communications director informed me that certain things were for “in the car discussion and certain things were Not for out of the car discussion.”  Boy, did I feel important to be “in on” the inside the car discussions!

Minutes later the candidate was stuffing some campaign papers inside the storage sleeve of the back side of the driver’s seat and pulled up a soft baby neck sleep aid.  The stuffing was oozing out of the torn edge.  “This is my son’s,” he said.  “When we are in the car and he is cranky we give it to him to rest his neck on.”  I responded,  “I think maybe we should get little son of candidate a new one!”   “Yeh,” he chuckled.  Obviously, missing the little guy that snuggled the familiar object.

I pondered what it must be like for a husband and father of such a young child to be away so much. It only served to reinforce my high opinion of this candidate.  He wasn’t in this just to win or for the money and prestige.  That reflective star out the window said, “I’m in this because I’m concerned for the future of my family…of my son.”

Rule # 2 of a campaign groupie: Realize that the amount of time, effort, emotional energy, and physical stamina required to win a campaign is doubled for the candidate.  All the more reason to know what his true motive to win is all about.

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Why is the Tea Party Movement a powerful organic force?

Posted on February 10, 2010. Filed under: Tea Party Movement | Tags: , , , , |

Recently, the Tea Party Nation hosted a Tea Party Convention in Nashville Tennessee, the first of its kind.  From all reports, this convention was hugely successful with the event culminating in an inspiring speech given by former Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin.  Parts of the convention were broadcast on C-SPAN and are now available on YouTube.

In the midst of the media blitz focusing attention on the Tea Party Convention I couldn’t help but notice an underlying tension brewing between Tea Party Nation and other Tea Party organizations.  Since I was not an active member of any of the main Tea Party organizations at their start I found myself confused by the slinging rhetoric. It appeared to me a smear campaign was afoot against the Tea Party Nation which could have crippled the convention.  In the end, it served to provoke many to spend the money and make the trek to Nashville to support the cause.

I do not wish to focus on the tensions between the Tea Party Nation and other larger Tea Party organizations, all of which are attempting to position themselves as the National Tea Party Movement Spokesperson. It is no great surprise to me that this jostling is happening.  As part of the Tea Party movement, attending the 9.12.09 DC Rally where approximately 1.7 million people just showed up to blaze the patriotic trail down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capital lawn, I could see this coming.

It didn’t take long for the mantra  “we don’t really know what we are doing” and “… we have never done anything like this before,” to change to  “…we must get organized…we need someone to lead us.”  Some person, some group, some entity somewhere would most certainly rise to the challenge to attempt to “help” the fledgling and disorganized grassroots of America get organized.

I understand that without leadership people falter but it is a double-edged sword. With organized leadership comes the potential hazard of manipulative control, implied ownership, and loss of spontaneity by those being led.  It can’t be helped.  If we, as the Tea Party Movement find ourselves a LEADER to lead us then we must follow that said leader.

Honestly, I don’t  know if it can even be accomplished. The Tea Party is not a party. It is an ever-growing powerful organic force, should it continue to be life-giving to those that belong to it. It is not so easily defined or harnessed. Therefore, any central leader would have great difficulty taming it.  I believe there are three main components to the Tea Party movement: Passionate, opinionated, and politically uneducated Americans.

First, the Tea Party movement is ruled by passionate people not parties and not politics. Visit any monthly Tea Party Meetup or special event.  If you listen to the folks in attendance you will hear it.   We are proud  to wrap ourselves in our American flag, pledge of allegiance and national anthem. We understand what is at stake and it is not losing Democratic seats or Republican seats…or flipping the whole house in favor of truly conservative candidates.   We are people concerned the American Constitution has been usurped so many times and watered down so much that it is in danger of being declared fatally ill and not worth reviving; better to find a way to allow it to rest quietly in its final days.

As Tea Partier’s we are fiercely passionate about liberty and keeping our individual freedoms. Freedom to speak our viewpoint, freedom to protect our families from any oppressive force, even those that govern us, freedom to make money and provide good things for our families, and the freedom to worship GOD.

Second, Tea Partier’s are highly opinionated people.  Again, visit any Tea Party or 912 group.  Whether we agree or disagree about general issues concerning the movement we know how to express ourselves!  Tea Partier’s are not afraid of sharing their opinions and they are typically very articulate.  Just as there are many varieties of shapes and sizes of the people attending Tea Party events there are just as many opinions on how we should define ourselves as a movement, all based on our personal experiences and perceptions of government.

Because of this independent flair, the Tea Party movement attracts those that live less conventional, status quo lives.  Many tea partier’s are homeschoolers, conspiracy theorists,and marginalized pro-lifers, religious conservatives, independent business owners, and true entrepreneurs.  We have acquired thicker skins as a result of resistance to conformist public opinion. We follow our own convictions.

Third, tea partier’s are, for the most part, basically ignorant of politics. There are those among us that do understand the political landscape and are willing to guide  “newbies” and I thank God for them.  Because, we are convinced our Republic and form of government is the best thing since sliced bread and that our elected representatives would necessarily represent our views, as put forth by our Constitution, we trusted those we sent forth to represent us.  We went on with our lives.  We left politics to the politicians. We voted our concerns and convictions on the appointed days. 

Most American’s receive what little political understanding they have through their favorite US media source whether it is newspaper,magazine, talk radio or TV.  And that is more true today than ever before.  Millions of Tea Party Americans are tuning in daily to the ample offering of conservative talk radio shows and all day Fox News TV reporting. This has pushed us to dig deeper and educate ourselves and pass on this new education to our family and friends. Which in turn compels us to do something we never thought we would…become activists.

The congressman or congresswoman or senator who has overstayed his/her welcome to a local,state or national political office may well view the most dangerous person in America today the passionate, highly opinionated, independent and politically educated Tea Party patriot. A true force to be reckoned with.

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