Well, after twenty years of being an adult conservative, listening to thousands of hours of talk radio, reading countless essays on politics and activism, and putting my Christian conservative worldview in order, I have finally taken action. Yes, of course, I voted before in the general elections and almost every primary for the past 10 years, but that was the extent of my action. Yes, my evangelism and Christian pastoring is part of this work as well, for if I want someone to, for example, value the sanctity of life, holding to a Christian worldview is often a necessary precondition.
But, like most conservatives, I have been busy with the good and normal things of life and have enjoyed some downtime when those good things were covered. I hoped voting for the right people would solve the problems that needed to be solved, so I exchanged my vote for their work. Get this guy or gal in office and we’ll eventually get good judges, the deficit will be brought to heel, and the general feeling that my government does not listen to ordinary people will become a distant memory. Elect the right people and our schools will be safe places for my children and the morally bankruptcy of liberalism will have finally reached its nadir.
But that hasn’t happened. Those tasked with representing me have shown again and again to be weak and ineffective. Conservatives have been bullied and ridiculed to the point of cowardice on moral issues and as reckless as the left is when it comes to spending other people’s money. The single most widespread cause of social unrest - the destruction of currency - is a very real possibility and no one seems to care. None of the virtues of thrift, saving for a rainy day, spending within our means, are even a consideration. Meanwhile, the cultural rot becomes more omnipresent, so I find no relief there. So, yes, the frustrations abound.
Biting the Bullet and Getting Involved
What to do? Well, I can only say what I have done. Perhaps it is an anxious reaction that will not make a difference. (Many people have said as much to me.) Perhaps it is itself a misplaced priority, given other needs at home and in the world. But I decided that I could not just sit by anymore, and that “all politics is local” is a brute fact of life. I overcame the prevailing sentiment that I am only one person as I stubbornly held - and hold - to the belief that if others do what I am doing, we really can make a difference. I wish there was a way to say that that sounded less corny, but there just isn’t. Having influence means building a coalition, and there is no shortcut to doing so.
My first step was signing up as a volunteer through my county’s Republican Party. They make that real easy. That was the first time I ever did that. They put me in touch with my precinct chair who was ready to step down. That was the first time I learned what a precinct chair was and the first time I had ever knowingly talked to one. (This will be a common theme.)
From there, I attended a few meetings and got on some email chains. When one candidate in particular seemed worthy of some time, I signed up on her website to volunteer. That was a first. Through all of this, I got to know some folks and found out that it was a small world. People I knew in one sphere of life were also active in this sphere, but we had just never discussed it before! You know, it’s rude to talk politics and all. But they keyed me in to some important meetings to attend and I spent several hours doing just that.
Eventually I became precinct chair and block-walked for a candidate. That was the first time I ever did that. After a while, I realized that if I spent a little time and money looking for help, I could probably get a lot more accomplished in the future. In other words, I decided that I wanted every potential conservative in my precinct to know they had a precinct chair who welcomed their involvement and invited it.
So I designed and purchased 500 door hangers that I could put on most or all of the houses in my precinct. It will probably take around 10 hours - longer than I thought! - to get them all out, and I have occasional conversations along the way. My hope is that out of those 500 door hangers, there will be 5-10 folks who are open to being more involved and simply looking for someone to make the ask. Time will tell.
If 5-10 folks are willing to get involved, we can spread out block-walking campaigns with a lot less work, get more signs in yards, and have more volunteers at polling locations to make sure there is no funny business on Election Day. If I can’t get 5-10 folks involved, well, at least I will know that there are limits to what I can do in my precinct and I might move my efforts to another area.
This Spring, I attended my first meetings for my senate district and this Summer, I will attend my first state party meeting. (Lucky for me, it is down the street so I don’t have to pay for gas and lodging.) In some states, it is party leadership who votes for primary winners, so there is real political power among precinct chairs. One of my goals in a year or so is to do grassroots work to elect a conservative for our school board spot. Recent elections in Texas give me hope that parents are really paying attention to such elections for the first time.
The Simplest Things can be the Most Effective
Well, there you have it. I would say that I have sacrificed somewhere in the range of $250 and about 20 hours of Netflix time. No great loss. And I have the relief of doing something about the constant angst I have that is the result of people who despise my worldview leading me. That is definitely worth more than $250 and 20 hours.
I write this not to be a great work of art, but because I have written and read enough great pieces of art that accurately describe the situation we are in. This is just an example of what anyone can do - and I do mean anyone - if they want to get involved and start influencing policy. If you want a few pointers along the way, let me know in the comments. I’m happy to help in any way.
Photo Credit- doletoblade.com