Friday, September 9, 2011

Five Stages

Political reality seems like an oxymoron. If you think about it, though, it is not such a strange construct. Politicians create their own reality….far from what the rest of us must live. For years I have been an outlier regarding the political class of our nation, states and locales. It’s true that I served in the state legislature back in the ‘80’s, and my experience then plus my observations since have transformed me into a harsh critic of government, elected officials and the bureaucracy.

Despite my frustration and discontent, I did not begin to express my despair with others until 2009. The loosely formed reformists known as the “Tea Party movement” provided an outlet for me to share my perceptions. As a long-time partisan activist, I believed that I had much to share with many who were becoming politically active for the first time in their lives. The challenge is somewhat of a balancing act between sharing cynical political tips that would cause the new people to parrot the career politicians, and giving enough strategic, tactical and communication help to assist their becoming an effective electoral force.

There are five stages in current political involvement that I have identified. There may be more, but I’m rather simplistic and insensitive, thus I tend to overlook subtlety. Just as sobriety may include Twelve Steps and grief has its recognizable stages so does political activism. The Charlie Earl taxonomy for political development begins with Hope, then Surprise, followed by Disbelief, succeeded by Dismay and concluding with either Withdrawal or Frothing Anger.

“Hope springs eternal in the human breast” wrote Alexander Pope, and his observation was general but has direct application to the person who launches into political activity. Our individual egos cause us to believe that our investments of time, talent and funds will make a difference. Some little voice deep within us convinces us that our personal involvement may trigger the tipping point. As we gather together with others who share our dreams for re-establishing the Republic as the Framers designed it, we enjoy palpable energy and power as we unite to reach our goals. After meeting several candidates who tell us that they are totally committed to our viewpoints, we trudge the streets, make the phone calls and campaign furiously for their success.

Once our victorious anointed candidate assumes office we relish the feeling of satisfaction we have because we have done our part to elect a true reformer. Until….that first vote that supports a clearly unconstitutional position. True, it was a vote that the leadership lobbied for, but we believed that OUR committed candidate would hold fast. Our shock became surprise that he had so quickly and so cavalierly discarded those principles that he claimed to share with us. We rationalize it by giving him a pass because he’s a “rookie” in that particular office while deep within we know that he has held other offices before. He is no rookie. He is a career politician.

A short time later our golden boy casts another vote that contradicts the Constitution and declares that he did so “for the good of the country.” That gnawing feeling in the pit of our stomachs following the first vote has exploded into heartburn as we watch in stunned disbelief. OUR candidate does not represent us….except for a few minor votes of no importance. OUR candidate is a big-government statist with an “I-know-best” elitist attitude. He’s the same nice fellow that appeared at our meeting. He has the same smile and friendly attitude he had when out leaders endorsed him. He apparently does NOT have a clear vision of constitutional principles. He is a career politician.

As the legislative session moves on, our “representative” casts several critical votes that increase the size of government, adds additional spending or causes taxes to be higher. Our disbelief morphs into dismay as OUR representative rationalizes each and every irresponsible vote and implies that ‘we the people” do not have the necessary information for such critical decisions. We do know, however, what insolvency is. We do know, however, what large over regulating government is. We do know, however, what business-killing taxation is. We now know what a career politician is.

Now we arrive at the critical junction for a new political activist. One path is strewn with frustration and disillusionment. The newly aware political activist stops attending meetings and rallies. She no longer volunteers for membership drives, issue education forums or candidate assistance. The news from the internet and the television sickens her, and she chooses not to engage in political discussions. The other path is adorned with flaming bushes and cacti. Her anger fuels her energy as she dives into the fray with greater and more forceful resolve than before. She becomes “Wonder Woman for Liberty” and battles every incremental advance of the statist agenda. The wise person joins her, and the fool resists her. In her hands, in her heart lies the future of the Republic. She may not succeed, but she will be a determined advocate for freedom. Clearly the deck is stacked against freedom. The time has come for new cards.

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