I've had it in mind to write this for about 8 months now, tonight's the night!
This week I've chatted/communicated directly with a Congressman, a county council member, a handful of state senators and house members about issues, bills, legislation, campaigns, the state of our state and nation. There's no trick to it, you just call, email, or text them. Now, because I am the organizer of the tea party I may be slightly higher on their radar screen, but that's just an advantage in an initial contact. Once you become someone who reaches out to your elected officials ... and if you have dialoging skills (and not just complaining), it's a great partnership.
I get SO tired of people who I've met through the grassroots movement whose first response to anything that an elected official does is to complain about them. Sometimes they don't vote our way, or sponsor or don't sponsor a bill we want, but I confess running through my mind sometimes with these EEYORES (you know Pooh's pal who never saw a situation he couldn't complain about) is ... if YOU could do better why didn't YOU run for office?
And then there's the invective launches. They "always" cave in, they collaborate with tyranny, they shackle our liberties, they ignore the Constitution blah blah blah. REALLY? Every time? Even if you could make a case for that ... what have YOU done about it? Sure you sent them 58 emails about Agenda 21, many containing 20 minute videos, yeah I'm sure they had time to examine them all, and make a living, and raise their families. And despite your best efforts at nagging and complaining THEY don't do what WE want.
You may think that's strange for me to be writing that since the tea party movement has been all about holding feet to fire. And if you've been around this website for a while, I've done plenty of that! But some people want all of the accountability from their elected officials with none of the shared responsibility. And that's my point.
Occasionally I get a vision of some folks who ALWAYS complain and bitch and threaten without getting their own feet wet as similar to the medieval indulgences. I'm sure I'm taking this a bit out of context, call it poetic license! I see us voting politicians into office and once they go off to serve, we dust our hands and say "Well, that's that". As if being involved in the voting process is our payment, our offering of "indulgence" and now it's up to the politician to do the work. And folks like that have a tendency to speak in terms of THEY and WE ... when it really needs to be US working together.
I think I'm particularly invested in writing this blog because this is primary season and 6 weeks from today we vote. I don't have to explain to the regular readers how important these primaries are. The primaries are EVERYTHING. And we have candidates who are walking neighborhoods 6 days a week, meeting voters, asking for votes, getting up to speed on issues, having constructive conversations. And just a handful of people are helping.
That's where I see a clear distinction currently between THEY and WE. THEY are running for office and WE hope they do well, but we're kinda busy. THEY are spending time away from families and WE can't' miss too many dinners or ballgames or book clubs. THEY knew what they were getting into, while WE didn't count on really having to help out that much. And so when THEY are elected you wonder why you don't feel part of the team, why you have a hard time getting hold of them, why you are confused about what exactly is going on in Columbia.
Indulgences and shared responsibility. What would happen, what would the dynamic be if our candidates held us, the electorate as accountable for ensuring that South Carolina is the freest state in the nation as we do them? What would that partnership be like ... if they called and emailed and texted us requesting us to step up and act on issues of liberty? If they had a list of voters they called, urging us to come walk neighborhoods with them during election season? If they had the expectation of partnership of financial responsibility to fund campaigns? If they didn't have to ask for help and money, but we just filled those needs because we look at them as our partners?
Don't send candidates to office as if they are your indulgence, dust off your hands as if your work is done. Be their partners, beginning with their campaigns. This is it. Six weeks.
Thanks to those of you who are calling the candidates asking "what can I do to help you today?"
There need to be more like that.
Cross Post from Spartanburg Tea Party