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Carpe Diem Culture

This month I thought I’d take a detour from my usual writing on the political “military-industrial complex”. I didn’t feel like doing nuts-and-bolts campaign mechanics either. Something’s been gnawing at the edges of my mind for a time, and I wanted to draw it out. So bear with me please.

Now, it’s certainly no secret that most of us in America these days take for granted that social media is part of the very fabric of our life. Those of us in the conservative grassroots certainly realize and struggle to master the power of this relatively recent technology. The ability to amplify our voice, echo our message, to create our own personal “brand” and manage our image online has been a tremendous boon to the Tea Party movement among many others in the last few years. Not to mention what it’s done for the ties of family or friendship, or even interpersonal relationships (think Match.com).But do we really stop to think about the fundamental changes this new facet of communications has made to who we are at our core?

Plenty has been written about generational and even partisan differences in how people view “new” media: email, social networking platforms, mobile applications. What I wonder about is something a little deeper. I wonder about what living like this—with both the blessings and all the curses of current technology—says about us as individuals, as citizens.

Let’s go back first though to a time before AOL, before Al Gore, maybe before DARPA made the modern internet. About twenty years ago, a sleeper of a movie came out. “Dead Poets Society” was one of Robin Williams’s first dramatic roles, and it starred the formerly manic comedian as a subdued yet inspiring teacher, John Keating. Taking his 1950’s-era New England boarding school students aside one day, he whispers “CARPE DIEM” to them, supposedly in the now-dead voices of their pictured predecessors at the academy for boys.

It was a needed lesson. The once-staid and blazered boys now looked at their existence in a different way. They started to question the same authority they had blindly followed; they peered into the mirror to discover their innermost passions: literature, cigarettes, girls. I doubt that many viewers of this melancholy film remained unaffected by its themes, its effortless joy, or the moral of its story: “seize the day”.

But I eventually stopped taking Mr. Keating’s advice and taking stock, and real life’s fast-forward button got pressed.

Next it’s 1994, the year I sent my first email. It was a tedious thing, filled with the kind of computer jargon and IP addresses only University tech support (or older, longtime CompuServe users) could remember. Then it’s 1997, the year I signed up for my first Hotmail account. This interface is much more human, and I spend a not inconsiderable amount of time trying to come up with a clever “@” handle before finally just using my own full name. The 2000’s come. I learn Outlook at a corporate job. I also create a LinkedIn account, featuring an early resume. MySpace hits even my circle of grown friends, while MeetUp helps get local political volunteers around me organized.

Now it’s 2004, and a certain young Harvard student first sets up a tiny thing called “Facebook”. The phenomenon I previously observed via MySpace (adult friends spending hours on their profiles, uploading photographs, etc.) goes into high-gear once Facebook decides to allow even those without a college email address to join. Overnight, one’s “wall”, “status”, and “feed” are all-important. Somewhere in that same timeframe, an oddity named “Twitter” (basically, texting via computer) comes into being, and now, it seems, the only life worth living is the life displayed.

And that’s what I’m getting at. While I realize full well how many millions of Americans (heck, people everywhere) used to live Thoreau’s ‘lives of quiet desperation’, I fear we’ve gone to the other extreme in today’s society. Aaron Karo (who, ironically, writes an online journal of sorts at www.ruminations.com) talks about this, and how we’ve created a culture of ‘exhibitionists—and not in a good way’.

We’ve opened Pandora’s box (which was actually a jar I’m told). Things like humility, modesty, decorum and a sense of discretion are now unheard of (actually not even understood) by most owners of iPhones. I don’t even need to begin to list the litany of political figures undone by technology (Anthony Weiner, anyone?)

Still, somewhere , way back there…almost a speck now in our civilization’s collective rearview mirror…the life examined (not displayed; there’s a difference—and Socrates knew it), the life of delayed gratification lies. It’s a simpler, more silent approach to be sure: one that doesn’t require the constant blaring of how awesome one’s travels and experiences are. One that rarely invokes the refrain of “best day ever”, typically accompanied by a smartphone-snapped photo.

Somehow we’ve confused the Latin word for ‘seize’ for our word “share”.

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The Greek mathematician Archimedes once said: “Give me a place to stand, and with a long enough lever I will move the whole world,” thus introducing the concept of leverage. This very same principle is at the core of all local politics everywhere. Accordingly, figuring out where the windows of opportunity–those bottlenecks and pressure points–are is half the battle.

And using that most basic of campaign tools—the calendar—allows you to plainly see exactly where and when to intervene within the political process. Campaign cycles rarely change (barring special elections), so with the proper planning, you can leverage even meager resources to the hilt. For instance, making a motivated but small group of conservative activists and voters into the epitome of a primary election turnout machine when most others aren’t paying attention.

Primary Colors

Primaries are the prime example of voter intensity versus voter preference. Never confuse the two. If asked, registered voters may say they prefer the incumbent candidate—but they probably don’t feel that strongly about someone who’s been in office for years. They certainly aren’t likely to turn out and show up at the polling place for them on a nice spring or summer day.

Therefore primary elections are the perfect place for a competent, conservative group of effectivists to flex their collective muscle. Primaries are a natural entry point for the advancement of the credible candidate of your choice, because the base of a party is always its most philosophically pure and energized. As a result, if you organize them logistically and rely on them properly, you can ensure vital and needed turnout at the ballot box.

Targeting and then getting these core folks out on that second Tuesday in June (or whenever the big day falls) is the key. Relatively low margins here can rock the conventional wisdom of who was “supposed” to win—and put one in the “win” column for you and your group.

Messaging the Masses

Not so in general elections, when registered voters of all parties get to pick and choose who to vote for. The crucial goal that must take place after a primary victory is winning and gaining political power. After all, if your candidate doesn’t actually get sworn in and seated in elective office, your views and agenda can’t ever actually be implemented.

Backing a candidate in a general election race as a political party’s formal nominee changes nothing about who you or your group are at your center. However, it does require different messaging, and a broadening (without forgetting or omitting your core campaign stances or pledges) of your political “brand”. Fiscal conservatives who vote as Independents may not care that your candidate pledged to expand gun rights—but you had better believe they are listening for a declared position on tax increases and bond issues. On the flip side, a single-issue voter from whatever partisan background may not be interested in your candidate’s practical, real-world solution for the privatization of county trash services, but you can bet they are focused like a laser on your commitment to their motivating concern, whether it’s life, taxes or school choice.

The bottom line: it’s all hypothetical unless the person that truly effective activists are backing actually achieves political power. Take stock of the differing electoral scenarios that present themselves, and leverage your support and skills wisely!

State of the Unions

I still remember the smell of that locker room.

Every summer during college, I worked at a plant on an industrial island in the Mississippi River. Corn syrup (the fructose in our soft drinks) was the main product, although we also loaded some impressively big barges with some sort of cattle feed.

Hours were long, days were hot (try working under a giant dryer turbine in July), and we all wore long-sleeves and jeans, plus steel-toed boots and hard hats. And were thrilled to do it.

The college program was a great deal and we knew it. A kid couldn’t make that kind of hourly wage, not anywhere. That’s why we jumped at every chance to work more: 12-hour days, seven days a week. They literally had to make us go home. We were disgusting, ripe messes by the time we got there, but we were happy.

And that was before that first paycheck came. I tore it open in the men’s locker room and couldn’t believe my eyes. It was more money than I’d ever earned in my life. I was grinning like the guy on that Enzyte commercial.

Unfortunately for me, a union employee saw the whole thing. He asked me what I was smiling about, and as only an idiot 19-year-old can, I told him. Bad move.

The next day, our supervisor brought us the news: the union foreman had gotten wind of how much the college kids were making, and from now on, overtime was gone. This in spite of not one single full-time (unionized) employee ever wanting to work more than a “straight eight”.

That was my first experience with unions. They didn’t seem right back then, and they don’t seem right these days. Oh, I know they put into place some needed protections (and things like weekends) way back when, but there had to be a reason even my grandparents and their co-workers at the sewing machine factory wouldn’t have them in their workplace by the 1940s.

Fast-forward to now. We look across the nation’s landscape and see states (if you can even call it one anymore) like California. Once the capitalist miracle of both America and the Pacific Rim, the eighth-largest economy on the planet is now more akin to that of a third-world country. It’s tens of billions of dollars in debt. And owned lock, stock and barrel by Service Employees International Union (SEIU)—the mother of all public (read: government) employee unions.

Move to the Midwest and it’s no better:  the United Auto Workers (UAW) union finally killed the goose that laid the golden eggs in Michigan, and now I guess we’re all part-owners of lovely downtown Detroit, courtesy of those federal government bailouts.

Right next door is ground zero. Wisconsin. Whether it’s the governor’s Budget Repair Bill that finally brought teachers’ unions to task or the average state taxpayer reconsidering public employee unions’ right to collectively bargain in the first place (a “right” that FDR, Samuel Gompers and George Meany—presidents of the U.S., AFL and CIO, respectively—were against, by the way), the state capital of Madison has been white-hot all winter with scheduled votes, a dereliction of duty by Democrat lawmakers, pro-union protests, and anti-union counter-protests.

Three special elections later (failed recalls of a state Supreme Court Justice and Republican legislators—with a recall for Governor Walker still yet in the works), the unions’ back has been broken. Tens upon tens of millions of dollars—much of it from out of state—plus floods of volunteers from nationwide affiliates have all seen their efforts wasted. The country is finally waking up to the fact that a transfusion of socialism into the body politic is simply bad medicine.

Americans just want to work. They understand more government (and more government employee unions along with it) just doesn’t cut it. And they vote with their feet:  moving across the country to get to states and places like Virginia. Texas. Tennessee. Right-to-Work states led by business-friendly elected officials. States that have free markets, and low (or no!) taxes. And jobs. Lots of jobs. Not to mention that certain air they have about them.

That air with the smell of freedom in it.

What if This Isn’t an Accident?

What if it’s all on purpose?

The country’s biggest talkers have unabashedly taken this question into consideration in recent weeks as the state of our nation’s economy continues to worsen. Even Rush Limbaugh, the most listened-to man in America, argued that an economic collapse or a default on our national debt would be “intentional” on the part of the current administration.

Intentionally destroying the economy? Why would our elected officials intentionally bring economic hardship on their own people? Who in our representative government would do such a terrible thing? We could ponder these matters all day, but these are the wrong questions.

Two weeks ago, the Department of Agriculture announced that more Americans than ever, a whopping 45.8 million, are on food stamps (now known as SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Of all Americans with stomachs, nearly 15 percent can’t fill them without the government, uhh, “supplementing” their “nutrition.” These 46 million recipients are only 67 percent of the number eligible to apply. That means that 22%, over one fifth of all Americans, have been determined to be in need of government-distributed money to put food on their tables. This is a tragic development for sure, as the mere thought of families unable to feed themselves is unsettling in this land of prosperity.

Via the Daily Kos

But take heart! Our beloved government has overcome hunger, so we need not despair over such an abysmal expansion of the welfare state. According to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, food stamps are just another form of “economic stimulus.” Well, that’s one way to describe it.

Normally, we would have let out a despairing sigh as we pointed to these welfare numbers as a sign of a poor economy. But as our elected leaders keep digging a deeper hole, the excuse makers are running out of alternative explanations, and the American people are beginning to wonder: Could this be more than a poor economy? Could this be an engineered trend? What could the engineers possibly stand to gain by impoverishing their own people?

Over 150 years ago, a French aristocrat named Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of the dangers of a “soft despotism.” Even a century and a half ago, after only a few years in the country, a foreigner was able to warn us of the risk of democratic oppression of the masses by their own selfishness. When people allow themselves to be nestled into the coddling arms of their own government, they forfeit their liberty, their treasure, their dignity, and the very self-reliance that makes them human.

Half of all Americans now receive some form of government aid, and the statists are happy to provide it not because they hope to solve problems, but because they hope to solidify and enslave a permanent base by holding dignified citizens ransom for votes. What more Americans are realizing every day is that we do not simply have a bad batch of politicians in Washington who are trying and failing at their jobs. We are not even governed, as many like to think, by a group of self-interested fat cats apathetic toward their own constituents’ needs. Our country is run by a crop of malevolent, power-hungry aristocrats bent on the aggregation of power at the expense of the people’s liberty.

Despite our oft-repeated national credo that “all men are created equal,” there is a ruling class in the United States, and its interests stand diametrically opposed to those of the American people.

As they sit in their smoke-filled room, this ruling class clambers for more “stimulus” (in the form of food stamps and otherwise). They toss us, the American people, onto the poker table like inherently worthless chips to be gambled away for more votes, more influence, more power, as they sip their brandy, puff on their expensive cigars, and project a chorus of belly laughs that lack even the slightest hint of restraint or remorse for their daily betrayal of the very people who empower them.

And why should they feel any lingering regret? As goes the dependence of the populace on the provision of the government, so goes the electoral security of the statist machine. Why not laugh with gusto as votes flow into the ballot box and treasure pours into the coffers? Sure, they have to face themselves in the mirror as one-fifth of their citizens hold out their hands for a “nutrition supplement,” but in return, they are assured that these government-manufactured Dickensian shells of once capable and driven individuals would never bite the hand that feeds them.

So what would you do in their position? More Americans than ever look to the government to put food on their tables every night. Would you solve the problem, or expand the base and your job security by adding more citizens to the government dole?

Our ruling class has run out of excuses for this abuse of power, and the American people have run out of patience. Our Washingtonian leaders can no longer claim to be even remotely interested in real recovery because we now see that they care only about power, gathered and hoarded on the backs of once-dignified citizens. It is clearer than ever that real recovery must come from somewhere else.

American Majority’s Training Bomb, September 17th, 2011

On September 17th, 2011, we will celebrate the 224th anniversary of the signing of our Constitution. It is one of the greatest political documents in history, and has provided us with a roadmap to become the most prosperous and free nation the world has ever seen.

But in 2011, the principles of limited government and individual freedom are in question, and we are at a crossroads: do we go down a path of statism, and abandon the founding vision for this country? Or do we renew those ideals again, and rise to even greater heights of freedom and prosperity? Understanding there is a problem is not enough. Thinking about ideas to solve the problems is not enough. Protesting is not enough.

For us to turn this country around, and have leadership that believes and promotes the right ideas of limited government, free enterprise and fiscal responsibility, the citizens must be equipped with the tools to bring about real change, and then spurred into action. The time to sit and think, or vent, has passed. The time for real action has come.

To that end, American Majority, one of the premier political training institutions in this country, is proud to announce that on September 17th, Constitution Day, it will be conducing the first ever Training Bomb. Tea party members and liberty-minded activists will come together in more than a dozen cities for the largest single-day grassroots training initiative in American history.  For the first time simultaneous sessions across America will be held to educate and mobilize fiscally conservative activists and future leaders.

This is not a rally and it’s not a summit. American Majority’s Training Bomb is a massive effort to equip concerned citizens with the tools necessary to bring about change, from how to run for office, to how to be effectively engaged as an activist online, to even how to works precincts and build muscular grassroots. We know we need to reduce the impact of government on our lives to make America stronger, and there’s no better day than Constitution Day to bring thousands of Americans together to learn how they can ensure we continue to live in a free society.

Both an activist and candidate curriculum will be offered at each location to help the conservative cause organize for victory next year.  Cities where Training Bomb sessions will be held include New York, Chicago, Tulsa, Murfeesboro, Wausau, and Dallas. Additional cities will be announced in the coming days. To organize this nation-wide effort, American Majority is working closely with many of the most effective groups in the nation such as the Cincinnati Tea Party, New York’s Tea Party 365, Dallas Tea Party and Heritage Action for America North Carolina .

American Majority’s Training Bomb on September 17th will not only be the biggest one-day training of conservative activists ever, but American Majority is going to be introducing new lectures, new manuals, and new projects. Help us make the day a success by signing up and spreading the word. Together we can, and will, make the right change happen in this country.

The New Leaders Project Now Over 50% To Goal

We are proud to announce that more than 500 groups have now taken the New Leaders Pledge since the launch of this first-of-its-kind national program late last year. Those local tea party and activist groups have agreed to recruit and train more than 5,000 new potential candidates in advance of the 2011 and 2012 elections. This brings the program more than half way to its goal of engaging 1000 organizations each to recruit 10 new leaders in their local communities to run for state or local office.

American Majority and tea party leaders from across the nation launched the New Leaders Project (NLP) to combine policy, education and grassroots infrastructure in an effort to sustain Tea Party momentum across America. The NLP is helping community leaders identify quality, liberty-minded candidates while fostering a new era of accountability between voters and elected officials.

“This is how we build a farm team for the future,” stated Ned Ryun, President of American Majority. “These new leaders have been identified as people who will be committed to fiscal responsibility, free enterprise and limited government. Thousands of them will now be trained to be effective advocates for the kind of reform that is necessary to save this nation from an unresponsive and unmanageable government we cannot afford.” In addition to the more than 500 groups that have signed the Pledge, more than 500 individuals have already committed to running for office.

To support the groups that take the Pledge and the work of local tea party organizers, American Majority will offer its proven policy, campaign and candidate training to the new leaders. More information about the New Leaders Project can be found at www.NewLeadersProject.org.

“Political parties do little to ensure their candidates, especially incumbents, adhere to fiscally responsible principles,” states Jason Hoyt, founder of the Tea Party of Orlando, FL. “In Florida, we the people will utilize the New Leaders Project to not only ensure we have the right candidates, but that they’re equipped with the tools necessary to win elections.”

This is a crucial time in our nation’s history. We do not have a government that serves the American people and tea party organizers at the local level recognize that,” states Ryun. “Statistics show that the longer a government official remains in office, the more prone they are to grow government. These new leaders will have the tools to break the cycle of incumbency and not only win, but passionately support the solutions we need.”

With the New Leaders Project fast reaching its goal, American Majority and local activist groups are keeping what has become one of the most potent grassroots political forces in American history strong, focused and ready for 2012.

Read the full text of the release here.

 

Today Is An Historic Day In Wisconsin

Today is an historic day in Wisconsin, but you wouldn’t know by the lack of protestors in Madison.  As if all but forgotten, Act 10 (the famous Budget Repair Bill) is officially the law of the land here in the Dairy State.  I find it strangely odd that I am back in Madison on the day it is official, just as I was in Madison the day it was first introduced. Back then, it was cold and snowy, today it is sunny and warm. 

There also seemed to be swarms of protestors back in February, but you won’t find many here today.  A straggler here and there, but not the hundreds and thousands who descended on Madison as if the end of the world was near.  I entered the Capitol without the throngs of people in the rotunda and without people screaming in my ear and have had a peaceful day in this great city. 

So what happened, did people just give up on the protests?  Perhaps not.  Maybe people are realizing Act 10 will help school districts and municipalities.  Kaukauna School District is going to hire teachers.  How is that possible?  The school district finally has the tools they need to make sound fiscal changes.

It doesn’t stop at schools being able to make changes.  In fact, Racine County will now be able to use inmates, at no cost to the taxpayer, to perform maintenance such as mowing the grass along county highways.  Prior to Act 10, the unions had said this was against their county collective bargaining agreements. 

These examples are only the beginning.  School districts, county and city governments are just realizing the benefits they will have in saving money and changing services.  Sure, some folks in the public sector have had to put a little bit more of their paychecks towards funding their own retirement and healthcare as those in the private sector do.  On Sunday, Governor Walker signed into law the budget which cut $3.6 Billion in deficit and will see a $300 million surplus, something the state has not seen in decades.

It’s noon at the Wisconsin State Capitol and there is singing once again.  Only small numbers of folks are here singing and cheering, but large numbers of Wisconsinites will be able to know Wisconsin is back on the right track.

In order to keep the state heading in the right direction, and to help other states who need to go in this direction, we need to find people at all levels of government who are willing to make the tough decisions on keeping taxes down, reducing programs we can’t afford and holding the line on spending.  Keep your eyes and ears open, if you know someone who wants to run for office send them to one of American Majority trainings.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Budget Repair Bill

 

Late yesterday afternoon, the Wisconsin Supreme Court weighed in on the Budget Repair Bill (Act 10) and ruled that it did not violate the Open Meetings Law.  Judge Maryann Sumi’s injunction to Act 10 was voided because she exceeded her authority, “invaded” the Legislature’s constitutional powers and erred in stopping the publication and implementation of the collective bargaining law.

Justice David Prosser, who was recently re-elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court following the drawn out recount that cost the state over $520,000, wrote in his concurring opinion:  “[T]he Circuit Court [Judge Sumi] exceeded its authority in prohibiting publication of the 2011 Wisconsin Act 10.  This is not a close question.”  Now Secretary of State Doug LaFollette, who initially delayed publication after the Budget Repair Bill was passed to allow unions time to pass new contracts, is saying he will wait until June 28 before finally publishing Act 10.

Whenever Act 10 does take effect, local governments will have the tools available to balance their budgets.  The many local jurisdictions that passed new union contracts across the state at the behest of the unions will have those recently passed contracts in place until the contract term expires.  At that point, Act 10 would then apply to those public employees as well.

Since the Left and the unions have successfully gotten so many local governments to pass new union contracts, the savings in many areas will not be realized for a few years.  Members of school boards, city councils, and county boards that hastily passed union contracts need to be held accountable for their actions.

We need a new generation of leadership to step forward and run for local office to challenge the elected officials that kowtow to the unions.  Conservatives and Tea Party members are the logical people to fill this void of leadership.  It is time for local governments to serve the taxpayers.  Our communities need conservatives to step forward and run for local office!

So, You Want to Run for Office…(Part 2)

Last month we talked about the preliminary steps a person should run through if they’re thinking of running for office. (Read the article here.) Now we’ll dig a little deeper and point out some very practical parts of the equation that hit on a personal level. And of course my closing thought from last time bears repeating once more here:

If you’d rather win the philosophical argument about why your political beliefs are the clearly correct ones than actually go out and meet the people who could become your proud supporters, running for office is probably not for you.

However, if rolling up your sleeves and grappling with the real-world (and sometimes small-bore) challenges of governance motivates you, the political process beckons with open arms. Can you solve problems? I don’t mean demagogue—I mean solve. Solutions which can be put forward and implemented with a real consensus are rarely easy, or somebody else in office would’ve already found them.

In other words, are you willing to listen, learn, help and then lead? Push forward when you feel that your ideas are right, even if they are unpopular? And on the flip side, can you admit when you don’t have the answers? Will you be able to break the mold of the politician as performer and sincerely relate to non-political (read=normal) people?

“Normal” people don’t spend all their free time thinking about the fact that federal outlays have doubled every 18 years since 19401. “Normal” people think about a few main, important things. Like making a living. Or raising a family. Things like safety and security. Hours spent stuck in traffic. How they’re going to pay their mortgage. What their most deeply-held, innermost religious convictions are. If you can’t speak to your friends, co-workers, neighbors and fellow citizens about these things your campaign is never even going to get off the ground.

Once you’ve answered these essential questions about yourself, it’s time to make a candid, thorough assessment of both the costs and benefits of a political run. You’ll need to put your life in order. That means checking the togetherness of your family or other relationships in terms of what a campaign will require of them. It also includes a sober look at your personal financial state. And your professional status and reputation.

Here’s a good rule of thumb I learned from a good friend and politico, Angela Faulkner of Gridiron Strategies: when decisions to run are announced, it should always be an “of course” moment for those who hear of it. Anyone who knows you should naturally assume that seeking public office was always going to be an extension of your personality and goals in life. You never want there to be a “What? Really? They’re running?!?” moment that takes place when your news gets out. No one should be surprised or shocked that you are daring to run and alter the status quo.

But run you will, and yes, some folks’ apple carts will be overturned. Because of this, you’ll have to investigate yourself before formally filing as a candidate for office. This means properly and comprehensively vetting yourself. Believe me, the media will if you won’t!

Learn to accept that “if it’s out there, it’s going to come out”, especially in our 24/7, interconnected world of social media, text messages, flip cams and YouTube. Perform a simple Google search of yourself as a starting point—but don’t be afraid to pay for a full background check–just as any opponent would–to see what sort of things (defaults? arrests? divorces? liens?) might be attached to your name.

Next it’s time to move from the internal to the external. To build out the structure of your campaign. You’re going to need volunteers—and tons of them. Where will you find these force multipliers, these armies of extra man-hours? Well the old adage of 20% of the people doing 80% of the work holds true here. Look to those individuals who’ve been active parts of other organized groups or who’ve put on successful events to be the nucleus of your team.

Recruit from allies! 2nd Amendment, anti-tax or pro-life groups will each have committed passionate people within their ranks. And don’t forget small business owners in your community. Nobody understands or embodies do-it-yourself success like they do. Convincing them that getting you elected is a desirable outcome could lead not only to warm bodies on your race, but also plenty of in-kind donations of goods and services.

But don’t lose sight of the bigger battle while you’re fleshing out and then actually running your campaign. You’re the general, not a soldier in this fight. Getting confused about who is the candidate and who is the campaign manager2 is the number one mistake new candidates make. Micro-managing (especially tempting today in our real-time data age) day-to-day efforts only keeps a candidate from staying focused on his or her single role: asking for support. Whether it’s volunteers, money or votes, a good candidate will spend almost all of their time asking for more of these, right up to the finish line.

New candidates will always need constant support from trusted advisors, plus that ready-made volunteer base already mentioned above. For further, more advanced training on how to most effectively run for office (e.g., fundraising; new media, etc.), American Majority can come in with its cutting-edge candidate or specialized tracks. But a declared candidate has almost all the responsibility for finding out what it takes to run and then getting it right.

They have to make sure they are continually informed about developing press or blog stories, policy decisions, and social media trends. A strong candidate also always positions himself or herself to be an asset to any and all surrounding local campaigns by “hardwiring” precincts (identifying where and how to harvest votes), conducting voter registration drives, and creating a robust presence online. Think of old-fashioned “slate” cards (combined campaign branding), build momentum where you can and remember that a rising tide lifts all boats.

Lastly, don’t be daunted! This is one of the most exciting political periods in recent American history. The explosion and growth of civic and liberty-minded individuals within the last two years will continue to yield great results across election cycles yet unseen. With the right preparation, you can smoothly enter the political process and make a direct, personal impact—adding to the quality and caliber of candidates serving the body politic for years to come.

1William Voegeli, Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State

2For one of the best pieces on essential roles in a campaign for lower-level office, please see Stephanie Naczelnik’s article: “Running Low Budget Campaigns” (and linked articles within) at http://hubpages.com/hub/Low-Budget-Campaigns

 

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Never Too Early to Think About 2012

Today, the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) announced their estimate of an additional $636 million of revenue over the next three years due to an increase in the LFB’s projection of Wisconsin tax collections.  If liberals were running the show in Madison, we would likely already be hearing how the money should be spent as if the Governor had just found a treasure chest in the Governor’s Mansion basement with $636 million in it.  Unfortunately, that is not how budgets work.  This new projection is based upon stronger than previously expected income tax numbers.  But again it is an estimate that could easily change as it is very difficult to predict future revenues in an uncertain economy.

We also are seeing a debate taking place over the Voter ID bill in the Legislature at the same time the Wisconsin Supreme Court election recount is continuing in only one remaining county and concealed carry legislation is moving forward.  Politics is very fluid and conservatives must remain vigilant at all times because there is more policy to be made and more elections right around the corner.

Several counties are either increasing or decreasing the size of their County Boards.  What a good reminder that we need to have conservatives representing us at all levels of government.  If you don’t have conservatives representing you on your School Board, Village or City Council, County Board, then you should find your own candidates to run against them next spring and fall.

Is it too early to start talking about 2012 Spring and Fall Elections? No.  It’s not.  In fact, the Left has been active in preparing for 2012 already.  Conservatives and Tea Party members need to  go out and find candidates who will represent them at the local levels.  To prepare you and the candidates you identify for 2012, American Majority Wisconsin will be hosting a Candidate/Campaign Manager/Activist Training on June 11 in Oconomowoc. To register or find out more information about this training, visit here:  http://americanmajority.org/events/candidate-and-activist-training-oconomowoc-wi/ .

ANY PREDICTIONS?

Budget Repair Bill: done, but held up in court.  State Supreme Court Race: done, but held up in recount.  Senate recall campaigns: mostly done, but held up with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board verifying signatures.    What is next?  No one can predict.

Who would have predicted our State Capitol being overrun with people sleeping, eating and chanting daily?  Who would have predicted 14 Senators fleeing the state and then 16 recall efforts filed against state Senators?  Who would have predicted a State Supreme Court election that went from a clear declaration of winning with just over a 200 vote margin to a clear need of a recount when that lead changed to the other side with over 7,300 votes?

There are days when I wake up and wonder if I am in a nightmare that I will ever awake from or if this is just a cruel joke.  Voter ID is on tap and is up for a vote next week in Wisconsin, but the question remains as to whether or not this legislation will be able to hold up in court.

The excitement never ends and continues to change on what seems like a daily basis.  Activists need to remain vigilant in watching the constant changes, remain in contact with their elected officials and be equipped to turn their attention to the next ball up in the air.  In the meantime, activists can attend one of our trainings and be equipped prior to the next round of elections in Wisconsin.

Andrew Breitbart’s Righteous Indignation

I recently had the pleasure of having a little chat with Andrew Breitbart about his new book,  Righteous Indignation; Excuse Me While I Save the World! Sadly, since Andrew and I have been in the same place I think exactly three times over the last three years, we did the interview via email. But below is our short discussion, not only about the book, but his thoughts on the tea party movement and other topics:

Ned: What compelled/motivated you to write “Righteous Indignation?

Andrew: The un-ironic answer is that the book tells you why I wrote the book. It is ultimately the story of my awakening, my transformation from being a default cultural liberal in the bluest, most elite part of a blue city in a blue state: Hollywood.  And over the last 15 years, I’ve increased my knowledge of what it means to be a conservative and connected it with my desire to alter the cultural landscape.  When I see a conservative movement that is solely fixated on politics, I realize that I’m in a unique position to inform and to focus on the cultural side of our political problems.  We, as Americans, are not going to win back our country if we don’t take back K-12, the humanities departments, and the graduate schools of our nation’s top higher education institutions.  We’re not going to win if we don’t neutralize the devastating, repetitive attacks on American exceptionalism, capitalism, and Judeo-Christianity from the leftist cynics in Hollywood who are too drugged or ungrateful to understand that they’re helping slowly to rot the greatest country on earth from within.  In short, I wrote this book to do my small part in trying to reclaim this righteous country, and to awaken as many people as I can to join this army.

Ned: When was the “I am going to be a journalist” moment for you?

Andrew: The book delves somewhat tragicomically into the way that my ADD-addled brain works.  And one common thread through my unfocused youth was an obsession with “the news.”  By the age of nine, I was watching every edition of local news through the nightly national news and then the 11 o’clock news, only to be buffered by my father’s subscriptions to the Santa Monica Evening Outlook, the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, and the Los Angeles Times.  That orgy of information now seems quaint compared to the information overflow I received when I logged on to the Internet for the first time.  If I’m Humphrey Bogart in the movie, the Internet was my Lauren Bacall.  Not only did the Internet provide me more immediate news data than I could possibly consume, but it also gave me a mechanism to be a participant and a contributor.  That personal revolution had immense political consequences for me.  It was clear that those who controlled the media were now losing control to highly democratic forces. We the people are now acting as checks and balances to the status quo.  There hasn’t been a moment since 1995 that I haven’t felt the raw excitement that comes from knowing that these are historic and revolutionary times and that the primary battlefront is the media.

Ned: What is the biggest threat to our republic?

Andrew: The barriers to an informed electorate (**cough**ahem**the media**cough**ahem**).  Once the truth is transcendent, if the American people are given a choice between truth and lies, I’ll have faith that they will make the right decisions.

Ned: What one book has influenced you the most?

Andrew: The politically correct answer is Whitaker Chambers’s Witness.  It had the intended effect on me–I’m drawn to apostates’ tales, and that’s what my book ultimately is, the story of how someone who once considered himself a liberal saw the light.  The apostate’s goal is to show those lost in the fog of liberalism the error of their ways.  Two other books blew my mind: One is Tammy Bruce’s The New Thought Police. Her vivid depiction of going from a lesbian National Organization for Women Los Angeles Chapter President and liberal media presence to becoming a conservative rabble-rouser possessed cinematic “reveals” of her recognizing that her peers on the left were steeped in intellectual dishonesty and an ends-justifies-the-means mentality.  Better yet, I’ve read a book that has yet to come out that is the most important book from the most important voice: master-playwright David Mamet.  While perusing Amazon.com for my book, please pre-order The Secret Knowledge, an almost too-good-to-be-true, incisively written evisceration of liberalism and a shockingly powerful defense of conservatism from one of the twentieth century’s most regaled liberal minds.

Ned: Where do you think the tea party movement will be in 5 years?

Andrew: If it’s gone, we’re gone.  The future of this country is the tea party movement.  It must grow.  It must get younger.  It must courageously defy the mainstream media’s admonition to minorities to stay away.  It must grow more diverse, but not in the name of tolerance, not in name of political correctness, not in the name of multiculturalism, but in the name of e pluribus unum.

Ned: What are the three greatest milestones in the life of Andrew Breitbart?

Andrew: Aside from the obvious—meeting my wife, getting married, and having four children—being at Kurt Gibson’s 1988 World Series home run means far, far, far more than it should.  But you have no idea how wonderful that moment was. Meeting Drudge at the beginning of his ascent; and watching the ACORN game-plan play out as devised to force a reluctant political and media class to takeJames O’Keefe and Hannah Giles’s powerful journalistic exposé seriously.

Folks, there you have it. Now go buy a copy of Andrew’s Righteous Indignation.

 

Enough Already!

 

The Wisconsin Supreme Court Recount began today in county courthouses across the state.  With Justice David Prosser having a 7,316 vote lead over Challenger Joanne Kloppenburg, many are curious what will happen through this process.

This morning, I observed the Recount Canvass in Ozaukee County to get a feel for what the next few weeks will be like.  There were eleven paid poll workers doing various jobs to confirm the vote totals from the election were accurate.  The recount is a very mundane and painstakingly time consuming process.  For instance, the poll list reconciliation workers counted through the number of people who were given a voting number on Election Day for each city. They tallied up the numbers, which took roughly 25 minutes for the village of Fredonia that had 761 votes cast. When the number was off by 1 voter, they had to go through the poll list again in more detail so the numbers would match.

Poll List Reconciliation Process

This recount is just another example of a waste of taxpayers’ money.  Since November’s election, we have seen liberals waste our hard earned money time and time again.  After the liberal controlled Legislature and former- Governor ran up a massive $3.6 Billion Deficit, the liberals tried to ram through public sector union contracts in the December Lame Duck Session, when they even sprung an Assemblyman from jail.  When Governor Walker introduced the Budget Repair Bill, much attention focused on the waste of taxpayer money to pay for extravagant benefits for many public sector employees.   The leftists protested in the Capitol building for weeks on end, destroying government property and causing extra security costs that our tax dollars will have to pay for.  Fourteen State Senators fled the state to avoid a vote on the Budget Repair Bill, yet were paid for not doing their job.  Many liberal controlled local governments have rammed through union contracts that are favorable to the unions and rip off the Wisconsin taxpayer.  Now, we taxpayers, have to pay for a frivolous recount.  Enough already!

If you think the liberals are wasting our taxpayer dollars, then you should do something about. Contact your elected officials and tell them to stop wasting your money.  Better yet, step up and run for local or state office.  We need conservatives to run against taxpayer wasting liberals and win in order to stop the wasteful spending.  American Majority’s candidate training will help prepare you for your campaign.  If you step up and communicate your views or run for office, you will be able to stop this waste of taxpayer money.

Game Over, Birfers

The President has released his long-form birth certificate, proving that he was, in fact, born in Hawaii as he has consistently said. You can find the (.pdf) here, and the press secretary’s statement here.

It was just a matter of time until this came out. For an explanation of the political expediency of releasing the certificate today, I point you to Erick Erickson at RedState.

This development, of course, means that thousands (and maybe millions) or birfers, including the ever-incendiary Donald Trump, must find a new pastime. As AM President Ned Ryun made clear last year, American Majority does not welcome or encourage discussion of the birth certificate issue (now non-issue). It is, and always has been, a waste of time, resources, and brainpower for otherwise clever and thoughtful would-be activists.

Now, thanks to the president (and I say that without sarcasm), thousands of former birfers can fully devote their efforts to recruiting, supporting, and electing conservative candidates at the local and state levels without concern for conspiracy theories or far-flung scenarios of the president’s birth.

Former birfers, welcome back. Let’s get to work.

The Top 10 Things I Miss About Nancy Pelosi Being Speaker of the House

With the current budget battle raging in Washington, many members of Congress have commented over the last several weeks (with all civility, of course) about how they should be fixing the problems facing our country.

The media has (fortunately or unfortunately) given ample time for many on both sides of the aisle to put in their two cents, and as crazy as it sounds, our representatives have not disappointed.

I, however, was especially pleased to see former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, have her time in the sun to tell us how horrible conservative members of Congress are.

Nancy Pelosi

Goodness, how I have missed you, Nancy.

As a matter of fact, her recent time in the spotlight reminded me about just how much I have missed her being Speaker of the House.  I even put together a list:

The Top 10 Things I Miss About Nancy Pelosi Being Speaker of the House

10. The historical transparency of Congress during her time as Speaker.

Oh, wait a minute.

9. The new tone of civility and honesty she helped create within Washington.

Okay, that didn’t happen either.

8. The way she “drained the swamp” of rampant corruption in Congress – especially within her own party.

Just kidding about that one, too.

7. Her beady eyes, maybe?

(No link provided…Thankfully)

6. Her unbelievable talent of winning Blink-Offs against Dick Cheney during State of the Union speeches?

No, really. Here’s the video proof.

5. How about the fiscal discipline and responsibility she oversaw?

Hahahah. Good one.

4. But, seriously, who suggested I cover this topic?

3. Ah, how about the patience and restraint she showed as she led the Healthcare battle even when she didn’t actually know what was in the bill?

What am I saying? This is just getting silly.

2. Um, the way she used children and the elderly to score political points?

Oh, never mind. She is STILL doing that.

1. Is there really anything I miss about her not being Speaker of the House?

Well, I do miss her having to say stuff like this after she lost the speakership.

That has to count for something, right?

What about you?  Anything you miss about Nancy Pelosi being speaker of the House?

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