As the Media Director of the SoCal Tax Revolt Coalition, San Diego’s original Tea Party group, I will be the first to admit that citizen activists are doing a lot of soul searching during this holiday season.
After the electoral beating that conservatives took in November and as a result of seeing the leadership of both major parties in Washington refuse to address the fiscal cliff in any meaningful way, there was a broad-ranging discussion among California Tea Party organizers to figure out better approaches in vote-getting for the next statewide elections and which may work in other locales.
The answer is the church.
Not the way that is typically meant, which is a focus on “social issues”. The organizers, mindful of the importance of staying on a fiscal-responsibility/small government message, want to use the connections and outreach of the faith communities to build up a network of future voters.
The focus of this networking will be “economic justice”, to replace the feel good platitudes and redistributionist outcomes of “social justice” dogma.
Eric Eisenhammer, California political activist and Director of Operations of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, noted that the Democratic Party effectively utilizes to not only spread the party’s message but also physically organize voters to get them to the polls. He acknowledges it is a long-term process.
“Where the liberals side has out organized us totally is in the inner city communities,” said Eisenhammer. For example, 52% of that vote went for Proposition 8 [recognizing marriages only between a man and a woman], which means the majority can be persuaded to take support conservative cause or candidate view if we can connect with them. We want to encourage people to reach out to communities, using the programs supported by the area churches, to get acquainted and to build strong relationships. Getting to know and understand conservatives and their approaches by participating in drug programs, tutoring, and other similar activities would be a good place to start.”
Dawn Wildman, President of the SoCal Tax Revolt Coalition, agrees. “The black and Hispanic communities are enveloped by the church. By working with them, we get to highlight the fact that large, statist, bureacracy-bloated programs don’t work…but the churches, supported voluntarily by parishoners and members who aren’t coerced into funding them using the tax code.”
Mark Meckler, noted national Tea Party spokesperson and founder of Citizens for Self Governance, recently attended a dinner at the Acton Institute. The Acton Institute works to promote a free and civil society” characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.” A great deal of their efforts are directed at highlighting the benefits of free market to clergy.
“It’s inspiring to know that the Acton Institute exists and is working to effect cultural change in the clergy surrounding the issue of free markets and free societies,” said Meckler. “The founder of Acton, Father Sirico has written the best book ever on the morality of a free market. His new book, Defending the Free Market; The Moral Case for a Free Economy, presents a clear and convincing case that a free economy promotes charity, selflessness, and kindness and is the surest route to a moral and socially–just society.”
If we can get Americans to appreciate the free markets more than free stuff, that would be the best gift we Tea Partiers can give to the country.