How to Hold a Tea Party Rally - And Why
Who was that pinhead on GBTV telling Glenn there’s more to being the Tea Party than hanging out at a rally? Does that guy even know what a suburb is? He looked too young to know. He looked like a young political hack. He looks like he hangs out at Appleby’s on Friday nights.
There’s more to the Tea Party than simply getting candidates elected. Getting a candidate elected is pretty useless if he or she isn’t the right candidate. If they’re not on the right side of the issues, all the door-knocking and telephone calls are for nothing. We have to beware of moderate GOP activists looking for cheap labor.
The Tea Party rally organizers didn’t organize those rallies just so they could hang out. The rallies involved some pretty intense work and pretty intense organization. We didn’t invite them, we didn’t go to all that trouble just so they could “vent.” Suburbanites are busy people. They’ve got jobs. They’ve got kids and their kids have zany schedules. They also tend to be young, like Mr. Moderate on Glenn’s show. If they’re going to come out to a rally, we had to give them a pretty good reason for turning out, and that reason was authoritative speakers.
Our particular Tea Party – Morristown – also made sure there were activities for the kids. The first rally also featured music, an opening ceremony with the flag salute, and local speakers in addition to the professional speakers, among whom we featured Andrew Breitbart and Frank Gaffney. We didn’t just fool around.
There was a dispute among the older ralliers and the younger. The older ralliers didn’t like the loud music. They wanted to hear speakers only. When the music went away, so did the younger attendees. Next went the signs. No more signs, the experts declared; signs were bad for our image. Our participants took great pride in their home-made signs. When the signs went away, so did some more of the audience.
Finally, the attendance dipped so low that Morristown finally decided it wasn’t worth their volunteers’ time and effort anymore. So, Morristown didn’t hold anymore rallies. Do tell. Somewhere, the Moderate GOP hacks were congratulating themselves on a job well-done.
We had the same situation occur in one of my former companies. An executive (who was eventually fired) decided to invite an expert to a sales meeting to tell our salespeople everything that was wrong with our company. The company was old, middle-aged. It was on its way out. The next thing you know, the salespeople started bailing.
While this guy was speaking (I was there to take photos), I decided enough was enough and I denounced what he was saying. My boss had to ask me to wait outside. I didn’t blame him. Turned out, the speaker was a fraud, trying to get our best salespeople to go to another company.
It’s funny that a loner like me would be giving advice about organizing an event. But it just so happens that I attended 13 years’ worth of events and knew our event planner. I even interviewed her twice for our company publication. I learned everything about organizing events from her.
The first, most important thing is location, location, location. Now, there’s the location for your event, and there’s the location for planning your event, your command center. You need to find a place to meet to start your planning and you need to assign an organized person to start the organizing. You also need an all-purpose leader to actually run the meeting.
You may think you’re not organized enough, that political rallies are beyond your scope. At least, that’s what political hacks would tell you. Nonsense! If you’ve ever planned a business meeting, a PTA meeting, a wedding, an engagement or anniversary party, a kid’s party, or even a yard sale, you can do this. Morristown did it, successfully, and hundreds, maybe thousands of towns, did it as well in 2009.
Once you’ve got yourselves organized, you need to settle on an outdoor location that will allow you to rally there. You’ll need to set a date (summer is best in the North and Northeast when the chances for good weather are best). The weeks preceding July 4th are the best for the very patriotic Tea Parties. Setting a date depends on getting permission from the location and from the local police. Start early, and tell as few people as possible about your plans before you obtain the permit.
Once you have your date and location, you need to line up the opening speaker and prepare a brief, opening ceremony. For this, you’ll need a podium and electronic sound equipment so the speakers can be heard. This is where you need to start subdividing your main group into committees: Permits, Speakers, Logistics, Equipment, Security, and Insurance.
Security and insurance are vital. Without them, the local authorities will be extremely skeptical about allowing your group to use the public premises. Let’s face it: this is politics and you can depend upon the opposition to show up. The security must be bonded professionals with the proper credentials. However, I would also advise a Tea Party Intervention Squad to peacefully distract the protestors and listen to their complaints quietly and keep them from disrupting your proceedings. Remember: no physical contact or provocation. You’re just having a quiet conversation.
You will also need to set up a committee to have information booths. This committee can work with the equipment committee to provide and erect tents and tables and so forth. Have your various brochures and sign-up sheets ready and make some room for any willing Conservative candidates.
Finally, assign a clean-up committee to leave your park or site as clean, or cleaner, than when you arrive. Tape off any garden areas and if you plant ground flags, for heaven’s sake, make sure you pick them up again. If you hand out American flags to the children, make sure you scour the grounds for them again when the event is over because children have a tendency to toss the flags away.
In your planning meetings, you can expect liberal and moderate moles to appear. You’ll know them immediately by the way they dress and speak. Stick to your principles and don’t let them talk your group into inserting any words like non-partisan into mission statements and other official written information about your group. Keep the word partisan, in all its forms, out of your literature, lest they coopt your mission.
Don’t worry about your image. If someone wants to show up in a colonial costume, welcome them. If someone shows up with an extreme radical sign, surround and shun them, although you can’t remove them. Don’t let the Moderates, Liberals, or the Media define what is considered “radical”. Freedom of speech gives you the right to criticize Obama in his status as president. No one can tell you you can’t carry a sign with his name on it. Don’t let anyone discourage you from doing so.
If you want to see younger people at the rallies, you’re going to have to bring back the music, no matter how annoying it is, older people. We can’t do this alone. Turn off your hearing aids or bring cotton for your ears. If music will stir their enthusiasm for freedom, then turn up the volume, by all means.
Keep the event to a maximum of two hours. That’s about as long as most people are able to stand and the maximum time most people can afford to devote to a public rally. The reason hometown rallies are better is because these are closer to home for most people. All politics are local, the saying goes.
Who knows your community and your neighbors better? You? Or the statistic-quoting pinhead on GBTV (with all due respect to Glenn)? Most people don’t know what’s going on. The only information they get is from the propagandist Media. It’s time to change all that. We made a good start in 2009 and fell off because we listened to the wrong people and our neighbors have now gone back to listening to the wrong people.
Time is running out. Yes, getting good candidates elected is important. But you won’t get any elected if you don’t change and educate people’s minds about the preciousness of freedom and liberty first. You can do this – you must, or the town square will never be a public forum again. The only information you’ll receive is what the government wants you to hear and know.