A Night at the Ball Park

Sometimes things just happen.

As Jim Durbin points out, last night’s St. Louis Tea Party Night at the Ball Game was a total fluke.  A mix-up left us with 46 tickets to last night’s Cardinal’s game against Arizona. (Long story.) But this tea party thing that started over a year ago seems to generate its own publicity.

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But the real story, to me, is what happened last night. Three incidents vindicated the shift toward more community building work, even if that work comes at the expense of big, boisterous rallies.

The Usher

While we were assembling at the Stan Musial statue, a young man in a security guard or usher uniform approached me.  He said, “I just recently figured out what the whole Tea Party movement is about, and I wanted you to know that I support you guys. Thank you for doing this.” 

I told him “thanks,” and introduced myself and handed him a pocket Constitution and Declaration of Independence. He seemed to be in a hurry.  But he’ll be back. 

The Fan

During the top of the ninth, I went over to section 331 to say goodbye to the large crowd there. (The Tea Partyers put me in the overflow seats two sections away from the main group. They know how I get.)  On my way over, another young man stopped and told me he’d been supporting the tea party movement from a distance for a while. He, too , said “thanks” for what we do. I handed him a Constitution and told him to contact us through www.stlouisteaparty.com

The Coverage

Today, news of our accidental BUYcott of the game went viral.  This certainly wasn’t planned.  We didn’t issue a press release about the event. We just wanted to watch baseball with some of the friends we’ve made manning the barricades of freedom since 2009.

The Vindication

I realized a year ago that, without a network of people stronger, smarter, braver, and more energetic than me, I wouldn’t have organized that second tea party. (The first one was testimony to my own ignorance and tendency toward compulsion, and it was successful only because of Dana’s work.)

Well, if I need a strong fabric of people and groups to sustain me, then lots of other people do, too. 

Register for St. Louis Tea Party Thursday Night Throwdown in Ballwin, MO  on Eventbrite

“How many people,” I wondered, “would join us in small groups, at house parties or block parties, even if they’re not comfortable coming out to a protest or rally?”

Through the retail work of meeting one person at a time, we unfurl the blanket of community that Jim Durbin talks about when he writes:

We like hanging out together.  And while there will always be a little political theater when this group gets together, last night was really about getting out to the ballpark with friends, family, and the kids.

We do like hanging out together. We know we’re safe and covered by our friends. We know our friends will keep us in line and steady us when we stumble. Even if they do make us sit two sections away.

So if you haven’t joined our ranks, please do. We hold a little party every Thursday evening at Sky Music Lounge in Ballwin.  We’re working on adding additional locations for weekly get-togethers in South St. Louis City or County, North County, and Mid-County.  We look for new Block Captains who will invest a few dollars and a couple hours in training and Constitutions.  Please contact john.burns@stlouisteaparty.com to become part of the solution to the problem government has left us.

Finally, about our little movement, let me say this.  We never intended to create a new party or some massive blob of angry snarkiness. We just wanted our kids to find an America that’s a little freer, a little stronger, and little more fun than the one we inherited.  That may sound like a grandiose plan, but it’s really the dream of every American man and woman since the Pilgrims formed their little colony in Massachusetts.  If we accomplish that, we’ll have achieved no more than our parents and grandparents did.

Come to think of it, that’s one hell of an ambitious plan.

How to Avoid Overconfidence

Do you worry that conservative grassroots might get overconfident and blow our chance to stop the advance of socialism in America?

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I do.  I am concerned that we keep repeating the same tactics to the same audiences until both the audience and the actors become  . . . well, bored.

When I read stories like this one, that GOP sentiment is at an all-time high, I worry that some on our side might decide they can go back to their regularly scheduled programming. 

We can’t sit back, folks. 

The Block Captain and Liberty Evangelism project is intended to swell our ranks, not get us fired up.  We’re already fired up.  But we need to reach out.

Reach to whom?  Well, about twelve percent of us say we’ve participated in a tea party-type event in the past year.  But 58 percent want government to be smaller and less expensive.  We need to make sure that the 46 percent who want smaller government but who are not tea partyers are registered and ready to vote this year.

To do that, we need to get out and meet people. That doesn’t mean reading blogs and talking to other outspoken critics of big government.  That’s entertainment, not action.  Action requires a little bit more of us.  All of us.

When was the last time you handed someone a Constitution and said, “this is a gift. Please read it and decide for yourself whether we’re living into to these documents.” 

Who was the last new voter you registered?

When was the last time you asked a friend or loved one to join you in the Liberty Evangelism program?

I can tell you that it’s been over a week since I handed out a Constitution (except to new Block Captains), and I haven’t handed out a voter registration form in two weeks. I’m behind. (And I need to grab more Constitutions fast.)

There’s a temptation to wait for big rallies. There’s a temptation keep doing the same actions over and over again—writing on facebook, tweeting pithy comments, calling Claire McCaskill’s office. 

Each of these actions is worthy, but they’re not enough. In fact, most of those tactics have lost some value because we’ve done them so often for so long.  I mean, do you really think McCaskill’s office is shocked that so many constituents oppose cap and trade? 

I’m not saying stop calling or writing or rallying.  I’m saying swell our ranks. 

Polls tell us more Americans have decided, “You know what? I can live my life better than Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi can.” Every day our opportunity to create a sea change in history increases. In other words, people have heard and agreed with our message of smaller government, fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, and renewed federalism.

But we will prevail in November only if we convert those frustrated people into passionate voters.

That means we have to engage them, invite them, befriend them, court them, and register them.  Then we have to remind them to vote.  We should identify those who will take the extra step of engaging and recruiting others.

This is how we grow the base.  And we must.

Can you spare two hours this week to talk to the 58 percent who want to vote for smaller, cheaper government

How to Win

repo_door_knock_reposeession_agent_lender.jpg[1] Focus.

There.  That was easy, wasn’t it?

Focus.

Of the thousands of possible activities and initiatives, choose one.

Our goal is affect the outcome of the 2010 elections.  That has not changed since our first tea party in Febuary 2009 with it’s tag line “Repeal the pork . . . or retire!”

They didn’t fix the fiscal problems. We owe it to ourselves to retire them.

But how?

Let’s try this: let’s go out and meet our neighbors and family and friends.  Let’s not talk politics, but possibilities. 

We have a simple plan to visit our neighbors or our friends, hand them the Constitution, and say:

Here.  Please read this.  Read it and think about what’s going in Washington today.  Then decide for yourself whether we’re on the right track or the wrong track.  If you’d like to get involved, my contact information is right there on the cover.

It couldn’t be any simpler.

The pilot project begins this week. 

Why We Must Evangelize Liberty

declaration-of-independence Earlier I linked to Glenn Reynolds’s Examiner column about the hard work that lies ahead for Tea Partyers.  If you haven’t read that piece, do so after reading this.

At Tea Party marches and rallies, we are surrounded by others who understand and cherish liberty.  We know the horrors that occur when a government loses accountability to and, yes, fear of the people they govern.  Such regimes become murderous, intolerant, and repressive. We know that such a regime in North America is just as dangerous as in Southeast Asia or Europe. 

What we often forget is that millions of our fellow Americans don’t understand these things.  Public education, and even many private schools, have filled people’s heads with nonsense. The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers have spent decades removing First Principles from our nation’s classrooms.  They have largely succeeded.

If we are to begin making fundamental changes in America, we must get out and introduce ourselves and our principles to those who have been enslaved by ignorance.  We need to let our neighbors know that we don’t have horns, we’re not out to destroy them, and that our principles will allow them to achieve degrees of prosperity and happiness they never dreamed possible.

When the call comes, please be prepared to assemble your teams and his the streets in your neighborhood.  Help us spread the good news of liberty to your block.  In return, you’ll get the peace of mind of know you emancipated a human being.  You’ll also get a government you desire and deserve.

Not bad for a day’s work, huh?