Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Conservative Manifesto

A man is talking to a friend about politics. Both men are fairly conservative. The first man is bemoaning the awful state of the government: runaway entitlements, ethical lapses, wrong-headed policies, and a sense that the governors have contempt for the governed. His friend, the second man, nods in agreement at the indictments the first man rattles off. The discussion turns to an upcoming election. The second man asks his friend "Who did you vote for in the previous election?"

"No one" says the first man, "I don't vote."

We've probably all had some variation of this story happen to us. And anyone who has will readily admit that such an admission elicits a fairly consistent response: we admonish others that voting is critical and both a right and responsibility, and without exercising that right and executing that responsibility, one forfeits his right to complain about our governors and our government. Fulfilling the duties of responsible citizenship is the burden one must bear to have the right to criticize the outcome. This concept goes back to the story of the little red hen which we remember from childhood. Everyone wants to share in the fruits of the labor, yet no one wants to share in the labor.

Across the blogosphere, I hear the same ideas repeated, if only slightly differently. These themes are: the GOP is broken; the Republican party has lost its way; we need a third party; where are our leaders; and what can we do now? While the blogosphere provides a critical service - that is, to say, news and commentary that would otherwise be unavailable via traditional media channels, and a means for like-minded people to connect with each other - it is far too easy to sit, comfortably, at our desks and "write fiery prose" as Mr. Hargis once said, when real change requires real action.

I've tried to share in this space some of the things I've actually done - other than sit at a desk and type. Perhaps other bloggers prefer to maintain some degree of anonymity, and therefore they don't catalogue for their readers the extensive volunteer activities they engage in politically. Perhaps. But I think it is more likely that bloggers like their comfort zone; getting out and working for a candidate involves trudging through eight inches of snow in January (and even falling down a set of icy stairs, as I did two weeks ago), and those things, are, well, just downright work; and in my case, actually very painful.

So I write this today for all of the inactive impassioned out there. You've got great ideas, and I think that's half of the recipe. The other half is you need a kick in the a.. um, pants. No one likes to hear it, but here's my advice, and I guess you could call this my Conservative Manifesto:

Push away from your desk and get up from the computer. Call your county or township GOP organization. Attend every monthly meeting; they're generally once a month and if I can do it given my commitments, anyone can. Volunteer to do things that need to get done: yes, these will likely be quite crappy and may include making phone calls to sell ad space, or volunteering to cover a precinct (and maybe in some cases, two) that aren't being worked. Get to know local candidates, and when you meet a good one, volunteer to stuff envelopes, bags of literature, and walk around (even in eight inches of snow, even if it's 20 degrees) distributing information on their behalf. In short, do what you've been doing online - building relationships and influencing others - with actual, live, person-to-person interactions.

When elections come, figuratively speaking, put your money where your mouth is. Organize like-minded people to walk precincts and make phone calls on behalf of conservative candidates in non-local contests. Hold meet-up groups where people can come together in support of those candidates. In short, take a look at what Ron Paul's people have done, get up off of your backside, and work.

And when elections roll around? You don't have to vote for John McCain; I've already said that I won't. But this won't keep me home. I'll be there voting for the conservatives in other races because they need my - and your - support. I'll be telling this to every single conservative I know who is disillusioned by a McCain candidacy: you still need to get out and vote for Senate, House, and State-wide races. Not liking the guy at the top of the ticket is no excuse for not supporting good people in their races.

In short: if you don't like the status quo, you have to change it. Not third person "you." I actually mean you. Assume that no one else will have the nerve, energy, or right ideas. Then, go do it.

When we've done everything we can do and the party doesn't conform to our vision, values and ideals, then we can declare it broken. Then we can assess what our options are. Then we can talk about creating a third party - Lord knows that's been a topic near and dear to my heart for a long, long time. Any of my co-contributors will vouch for that.

And if we get to that point, and conservatives need to find a new home, we'll have an army of conservative leaders who will have been working for change - not just writing about it - and will be ready to take that bold step into unchartered territory.

I'll close with a story that was shared with me recently. My friend Trevor Morgan shared this, that he had read in the WSJ. It seems that there was some new battery technology that was developed. Not by some scientists working for 3M, but by a guy in his garage. Said fellow was trying to build a better hot-rod, ostensibly to win races and impress girls. On more than one occasion, said fellow burned off the hair on his face working with an arc welder in his garage, but he eventually did it. The point of this story is that real change requires entrepreneurs. Not a scientist sitting in a lab who is concerned about a performance review or his 401(k), but someone who is willing to risk (repeated) visits to the emergency room for burn injuries in pursuit of a goal.

You may get sick walking a precinct in January. You may fall down a set of icy stairs on your back; if you're lucky and careful, probably not. Our Founders were willing to risk it all - everything - in pursuit of their values. If we're not willing to risk anything other than a couple of hours of free time, and only then sit at our computers and write that fiery prose, we're going to get more of the same. Be that entrepreneur who burns off his facial hair, though, and let's see if we can't get control of our party back.


Call Me Mom said...

Well, what can I add to that?

Well Done Mr. Tams.

Michael Tams said...

Thanks, Mom.

victor said...

victor good den it good luck

sharon said...

thanks for sharing....

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