“Have you guessed the riddle yet?” the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
“No, I give it up,” Alice replied, “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter.
“Nor I,” said the March Hare.
Alice sighed wearily. “I think you might do something better with the time,” she said, “than wasting it in asking riddles that have no answers.” – Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Some of the nay-sayers who have dismissed the Tea Party movement have accused its participants of wasting time by taking part in what is essentially a futile gesture. Interestingly, these are often the same people who were sympathetic to anti-war and anarchist demonstrators. Some of the Code Pink coddlers make the most vehement denouncements of the Tea party activists. Nyet, comrade!
While the stench of hypocrisy hovers over these critics like two day-old August roadkill, we still need to address their point with an open mind. They might have a point.
The roadway to political decision-making is paved at the ballot box in November, not at a political rally in April. If the passions expressed across the country serve only as a feel-good moment for those attending, then the critics will be proved right. If the Tea Party rallies serve as a springboard for further activities that cause an increase in small-government, pro-conservative voters in November, then the critics will be proved wrong. There is no other real measuring stick than November election results.
Will the activists turn out and bring their like-minded neighbors? If they do so, will they make wise choices? As always, the crucial matter isn’t the will to win; it is the will to prepare to win. Are Tea Party participants willing to prepare to win? Do they understand the energy required to turn out the vote?
The only way the Tea Party activists make a real difference is if they make a commitment to turn out the vote among their family, friends and neighbors. This means that they must also become educated about issues and government and, in turn, educate those they know. If Tea Partiers fail to become educated then they are failing to prepare to win and that failure to prepare to win means they will lose.
The good news is that it is easier than ever to become educated on both issues and political philosophies. It’s simple to go online and check the voting record of your members of Congress. While online, it’s simple to see the deadlines for voter registration. If you are serious about making a difference, then you will obtain this information.
The partial checklist for Tea Party activists:
1. Are you certain that all of your like-minded friends are registered to vote? If not, bring them a voter registration card. Drop by your local Superintendent of Elections and pick up a handful.
2. Are you educated on both the current issues and on the history and law of the federal government? There may be a Tea Party group in your area that has an education program. If there is not, you can become self-educated or begin a group yourself. Many programs are available.
3. Do you read your local newspaper and are you willing to write an occasional letter to the editor expressing your opinion? Hints: When writing stick to one issue at a time. Do not make statements you cannot substantiate. Make positive suggestions rather than just complain. When writing letters or blogging use spellcheck and verify the spelling of proper names.
4. Will you make a personal commitment to visiting the houses in your community and sharing your political beliefs? Hints: The best path to changing peoples’ minds is to listen to them and to be reasonable. Remember you are a guest and if someone does not want to discuss politics then you cannot compel them. A word of advice: it is wise to visit in pairs, not as an individual.
5. Finally, one election does not make a directional change. Are you committed to staying engaged? If you are not then be prepared to lose the gains that are made. Hints: Make contact with other activists. Volunteer to work with the campaign of candidate of your choice to help and to learn how campaigns are run.
These are the minimum requirements, but don’t despair. Use the power of numbers to get all of this done and never turn down a volunteer if they are willing and able. If the Tea Party folks prepare to win in November - remember this is the only measuring stick of success - then the big government folks and the mainstream media will think they have been pulled Through The Looking-Glass.