Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory
It seemed like the one thousandth call I’d taken from a Tea Party activist attempting our well-known strategy of putting our people in voting seats in our local county and state parties. This activist and his Tea Party cohort had actually had far more success than he fully realized.
In a well known county in Colorado, they had put several Tea Party members in voting seats in their local county party. The new members’ influence and voting power were enough that the old guard party leaders had to resort to extraordinary parliamentary tactics in order to stay in power. My friend felt as if they had lost their bid for power within the party.
I don’t see it that way.
While such parliamentary tactics are deplorable in any organization, my activist friend missed the salient point. He was proposing that they start yet another club, or that they organize within another party to try to mark more immediate, faster progress. He even mentioned the dreaded ‘third party’ idea.
I felt that I had to point out to him that the party has had over 150 years of experience in resisting ‘outside influences’ (and the PC Strategy is not an ‘outside influence’ anyway!), — that his local tea party organizing to exert influence within the party had met with astonishing success for having been underway for less than 2 years.
In less than 2 years, his groups’ organizing had forced party leaders to engage in unsavory tactics just to stay in power. Obviously, the previous power structure was teetering.
I laid it out for him this way: if you start a third party, or start yet another club, succeed in starting a third party, or take over the Libertarian party, what then? You then have the task of advancing that party to become a majority in Congress. Big job. Our mission, after all is to change the way our country is currently governed, and for that, you need to control the government.
The Republicans are already a majority in the US House and with the current scandals issuing from the White House, look more and more likely to form a majority in the US Senate in 2014. In many counties, we’ve made enough progress that true conservatives are either in the majority, or they’ve exerted enough pressure on existing party leaders that they resort to extra-legal tactics to retain party control. In LA county in California, it went far beyond unsavory parliamentary struggles, all the way to superior court decisions.
And yet some of us plan to give up this opportunity to control the party that promises soon to control the country??
Needless to say, my advice to my friend was simple and direct: get still more of your people seated as voting members in your county and state party.
And I repeated to him my assertion that the party has over 150 years of experience in resisting outside influences. For his group’s activism to exert that much influence in only 2 years is simply amazing. Now is not the time to quit and go home.
More events are converging than simply the quiet ascendancy of the tea party within the party, while the party shows some promise to become a majority in both houses of Congress.
Political organizing technology, too, is coming within reach of the smallest county party or Tea Party group. Five years ago I proved that by starting a project called PROCINCT which, offered free to all users, eventually gained wide enough acceptance in the 2008 election season to embrace 10% of the US electorate.
In the interval, the cost of good technology and voter data for precinct walking and phone banking and other advocacy activity/organizing has continued in free fall. That’s 5 years of price reductions and tech improvements in what was already within the reach of any county party. Soon you’ll see a major announcement that puts the best voter data and advocacy tech well within the reach of even the smallest GOP county – and widely usable if that county has just a few volunteers.
We are at the perfect time. County and state parties have just finished their organizing cycles and have elected their new officers. They have just taken a deep breath, taken a look around are becoming fully aware of how many empty voting seats they have on their committees and are looking to fill those seats.
In most locales, it’s almost impossible to deny a vacant voting seat to someone who says they want to occupy that seat. We should be furnishing two potential occupants for every empty seat in all our local parties.
If we do that, then in early 2015, we’ll be swearing in new slates of tea party/912/true conservative state and county party officers at the same time that a new senate majority leader is being sworn in. And we’ll have the tech to keep that majority in place for a long, long time.
Why would we pass on the opportunity to do that?