By: Charles Robertson, co-founder Broward Tea Party
The event was our neighborhood Thanksgiving potluck dinner. After dinner, the conversation turned to the election, the economy, and the Tea Party; it was a typical Liberal versus Conservative conversation. Two of my neighbors recited the standard liberal talking points… no surprise there. What did surprise me were their comments on the Tea Party.
When the conversation was focused on the economy, there was significant agreement on the causes. I made a strong argument that our government’s problem was spending related, not the need to increase tax revenues. That led to my sales talk and explanation on how the Tea Party came to be. I talked about our single-minded commitment to our 3 core values; free markets, constitutionally limited government, and fiscal responsibility. I also made sure to mention that we primarily focused on those issues, not social issues; my friends looked surprised. When I mentioned that our membership included a large percentage of Independents and Libertarians and even a handful of Democrats, the response was total surprise.
What I heard was, “we thought the Tea Party was part of the Republican Party.” They thought they knew what the Tea Party was about. With all the negative press that’s been directed at the Tea Party, that was understandable. Still, this response highlighted what the Tea Party is up against and what needs to be done. While we’ve been selflessly working for candidates, primarily all Republicans, our Tea Party has been neglected. Valuable time and money was spent on campaigns with little to show for it. That effort was understandable and we’ll no doubt continue this for future campaigns, but now is the time to focus on Tea Party team building and image promotion.
My neighbors were in agreement that we need to get our message out. They support our agenda and would be Tea Party supporters if our image was accurately portrayed. After all, who wants to be tied to a bigoted, extremist, homophobic, racist, bomb throwing organization? That’s how we’ve been labeled and even though most people see through this typical Liberal slander, there still remains a mainstream misunderstanding perpetrated by the relentless negative media coverage. So where is the Tea Party counter-attack? I’ve yet to see a Tea Party TV commercial, billboard, or radio ad. With our economy continuing on a downward plunge, more of our neighbors are growing concerned. They’re a step away from getting involved. If the Tea Party had any marketing in place, we’d become a magnet for this growing group of concerned, disgruntled citizens.
If we were able to manage a major marketing campaign, what would we consider a success? For our Broward Tea Party, drawing 200 members to our monthly meetings would more than double our attendance and no doubt, most everyone would consider that successful. I’d consider it a good start. Think about this, every weekend in Broward County in hundreds of churches and synagogues, tens of thousands, perhaps several hundred thousand people attend services. Now I’m certainly not equating religion with fiscal activism but I do find a striking disparity in what people will do for God versus Country. Our country is in peril, and the Tea Party should be the loudest voice, the most visible advocate for the solution. When our government drives our economy over the cliff and everyone is seeking hope, answers, and leadership, the Tea Party needs to be the “lighthouse” that everyone turns to.
In my head, I have a vision of a Tea Party TV ad. The ad opens with vandals emptying a food store followed by scenes of street violence, bread lines, gas prices at $8.00 per gallon, stock market collapse, prices that show hyperinflation, and unemployment at 25% (same as the Great Depression). The commentary would lay out all the destructive results of fiscal irresponsibility then point towards the cause of the problem. The scene would shift to a montage of politicians, leading the viewer to think they’re the problem. The commentator would say, “They’re not the problem, YOU’RE the problem. YOU elected them to fix this, they’ve failed us miserably, and YOU haven’t held them accountable.” The scene would shift to the Broward Tea Party Members speaking in unison, “We’re the solution, we have a plan, but we need YOU!” Perhaps a slogan like, “Put YOU in Charge” or “Fix America Now” would provide a memorable conclusion.
The idea is to urge people to action and position the Tea Party as the leader and source for positive change. Only months ago, many in our ranks were spurred into action with the excitement and possibilities of political change. It’s hard to replicate that excitement. Following our November disappointment, it’s been even harder to motivate others to work as hard for a cause; people support candidates not causes. That would quickly change in a fiscal collapse; which may be imminent. The time to build our “lighthouse” is now. It’s time to dust ourselves off, roll up our sleeves, and work as we did months ago. We need fundraising efforts to fund our ads. We need creative events to draw attention and boost membership. In short, we need to put YOU in charge to fix America now. If we work as hard on building our Tea Party as we did on campaigns, the payoff will be there; we win, no vote count needed!
Please reference Charles’ other blog postings; they can be found under Recent Posts on the left-hand column.
*The Undecided: 10/24/2012; *The Fence-Sitter: 09/24/2012; *The Strong Horse: 07/22/2012; *Selling the Tea Party, Part 2: 04/19/2012; *Selling the Tea Party, Part1: 03/19/2012; *The Action Step: 03/02/2012; *The Coming Storm: 02/10/2012