March 1, 2014

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The Tea Party Is 5 Years Old Today

If you were out on the Arch steps on February 27, 2009, take a moment to consider what’s happened.

** From near-spontaneous reaction to bailouts, corporate takeovers, and profligate government spending emerged the largest and most sustained political movement since the 1960s ** Both the GOP and Democrat Party are minority parties, as independents have surged ** A new generation identifies with libertarian ideals like freedom from government spying, freedom from failed wars on activities war was never meant to stop, insane spending, the opaque and manipulative Federal Reserve, government manipulation of information, IRS abuse of political groups, and Obamacare. ** A massive turnover in the US House of Representatives ** A massive turnover in state legislatures ** Millions of politically dormant citizens are now political activists ** New media stars are born

In 2009 and 2010, America’s left tried to discredit us. Remember? They called us racist haters. The assaulted us at rallies. They sent forth swarms of paid activists to infiltrate our events.

They thought we’d go away. We didn’t.

For your fortitude, I am honoured to know you, to have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with you at Russ Carnahans, at the Fed, at K&N, at SEIU Headquarters, at the Arch, and at Prop C rallies.

You should be proud.

At the same, we have to admit freedom has lost ground.

** Obamacare is still the law ** Barack Obama is still president ** Obama has used executive orders to rule by decree like King George or a banana republic dictator ** The military is being cut to pre-World War II levels ** Red light cameras are going up ** The FCC has plans to place government censors in newsrooms ** The Department of Transportation plans to embed license plate readers in every road ** The IRS continues to harass and bankrupt its political enemies ** The Fed’s balance sheet is bigger than most countries' GDP ** Eric Holder has evaded prison and remains Attorney General ** The GOP is still beholden to the US Chamber of Commerce ** Missouri Republicans continue to push for Medicaid Expansion, prescription drug databases, and even more red light cameras ** Just today, Obama asked the courts to give the NSA even more power to collect your phone records ** The labor force participation rate has fallen to 1970s levels ** More people have given up looking for work than ever before ** And the list goes on

We have a lot of work to do. And, frankly, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Too many times, I’ve taken the short cut when I should I have followed the longer plan. And I’ve put way too much emphasis on electoral politics and too little on personal persuasion.

It’s clear to me, now, that creating personal connections with people is the only way to fight that list of government wrongs. That means breaking away from our comfort zones and talking to people.

To help me overcome my weaknesses, I’ve begun the Center for Self-Governance’s 5-part course. The course helps people like me learn why it’s vital to recognize and use our power as human beings, endowed the ultimate power on earth.

We’re to use that power to train government to do our bidding, not the Chamber of Commerce’s or the NEA’s.

In my two classes, I’ve learned that shouting as politicians might slow America’s journey to perdition, but it won’t stop it. And it won’t win friends.

I’ve learned throwing myself into electoral politics my change the outcome of an election, but it won’t change the trajectory of history.

I’ve learned that political parties have no ideology, unless you consider the naked accumulation of power ideological. So working for a party only feeds the beast.

But I’ve also learned what I must do.

I’ve learned to treat politicians and government representatives as people, created by God, and deserving my respect.

I’ve learned that most politicians holding office have no idea what the right thing is, so they do what keeps them in power. It’s my job to teach them and encourage them.

I’ve learned that who holds office makes less difference than who exercises their power, and I haven’t been exercising my power very often or very effectively.

I’ve learned that I can apply what I already know about persuasion and influence and behavioral psychology to change the way politicians behave.

I’ve learned that I can influence a politician’s long-term behavior only by active listening, developing empathy, building rapport, earning the right to influence, and using that influence to drive behavior change.

To help me get better at exercising the power I already have, tonight I’m celebrating the tea party’s fifth anniversary at Heritage Action Skills Training. I hope you’ll be there, too.

P.S. You have exactly the same amount of power as Barack Obama and I have. We are created equal.

_Note: I wrote this post on 2/26/2014 to publish on 2/27. But I live with rural internet, which isn’t too reliable. I lost service before I could I publish it, so I’m publishing now. _