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This is a concept that has rattled around in the back of my head for a while, a bit formless but I knew it was there and eventually I could share it with you … and then BAM! Bill Hennessey wrote it all out in his blog for me! Thanks Bill, for allowing me to be lazy and draft on your thoughts.
We’ve heard in the past few weeks here in Upstate South Carolina radio host Russ Cassell lament on WORD a few mornings “Where are the tea party rallies? We had huge tea party rallies in 2009 and 2010? Why aren’t there any tea party rallies this year?” and he went on and on about whether the tea party was “over” or “dead”. I called one morning to explain to him that the time for rallies and protests was over, that those events accomplished their purpose of waking up patriots, letting them know they were not alone, and giving them a passion and a purpose but that the work of the tea party now was … TO WORK! The rallies accomplished the purpose of changing the minds of politicians as evidenced by the health care passage in the face of stunning numbers of rallies; the rallies were successful in what they accomplished in empowering the first wave of tea party patriots. Then THOSE PATRIOTS took on the task of changing the politicians, either their minds or their occupations! I gave him some specifics of what the tea parties had been doing for the past year … electing historic numbers of conservatives to office at local, state, and federal level … and quite recently how the South Carolina tea parties worked together to convince 13 GOP Reps in Columbia to take their name off of a Health Exchange Bill that would have served to help implement Obamacare. But Russ just couldn’t wrap his head around those facts, and his parting words to me as he went to break were along the lines of “Well, I guess the Union protesters in Wisconsin have more passion then the tea party does.”
Many of you have heard me express this before, but Hennessey does it really well! Here are a few excerpts from his article … but PLEASE go read the entire thing.
It’s time to start growing again.
In 2009, the first year of the movement, we did two things: we rallied and we demonstrated. These public events attracted the people who a) believe what we believe, and b) know it. They told me at Tea Party after Tea Party, “I’m so glad to know I’m not alone.”
So 2009 was the big coming together. It was all one, long recruitment drive.
Then in 2010, we went into campaign mode. We took the people had and put candidates into offices. All tolled, we elected about 800 Tea Party candidates nationwide. That ain’t bad.
Since the election, we haven’t added to our rosters. In fact, we might have even lost a few.
It’s time to broaden.
See, we might have attracted everyone who believes what we believe and knows it; we’ve barely made a dent in the millions upon millions of Americans who believe what we believe but don’t know it yet.
This second group–Unknowing Believers–is the largest political group in the country. They love liberty, they had debt, and they like transparency. They just don’t realize how much they have in common with people of the Tea Party movement.
This I believe. Those who were open to being impacted by rallies and protests have already joined us. There are many people all around us who did not “wake up” in 2008 and 2009 in the same way/at the same time many of us did, but the alarm clock has begun buzzing incessantly in their ear and we need to make sure that when their eyes open … we are there. Hennessey urges us to make this happen by being positive and focused, having great conversations with anyone around which, because of the times we live in, will naturally evolve to issues of jobs, education, finances, security, and that we can share our enthusiasm for constitutional values and free market solutions as we find things in common with the next wave of the newly awakened patriots. Be ready. Know what you believe and why you believe it. Don’t overwhelm; suggest solutions and give them hope … and a task! Watch them get excited the way you and I got excited when we realized that there WAS something we could do!
Look for the Unknowing Believers, and take every opportunity to find common ground and encourage them.
Cross post from Spartanburg Tea Party