I’ll let you in on a little secret. You ready?
I’m not a “big tent” guy. To me, “big tent” means we’ll keep adding on beliefs (or abandoning them) until no one disagrees with us. In other words, “big tent” means pretending to enjoy the beatings we’re given.
“Big tent” is Republican for “surrender.” It’s not for me.
What is for me is broadening and building the base. Let me explain.
Broadening means getting more people involved. Building means getting the involved to do more. Could it get any simpler?
Actually, it gets more complicated. That’s because we’ve already tapped out our likeliest allies. And we did that in September 2009. By my math, that’s a year and a half since we’ve added new blood to the Tea Party team.
It’s time to start growing again.
In 2009, the first year of the movement, we did two things: we rallied and we demonstrated. These public events attracted the people who a) believe what we believe, and b) know it. They told me at Tea Party after Tea Party, “I’m so glad to know I’m not alone.”
So 2009 was the big coming together. It was all one, long recruitment drive.
Then in 2010, we went into campaign mode. We took the people had and put candidates into offices. All tolled, we elected about 800 Tea Party candidates nationwide. That ain’t bad.
Since the election, we haven’t added to our rosters. In fact, we might have even lost a few.
It’s time to broaden.
How do we broaden with compromising our values?
Simple. We act like normal people for a change. We ditch the tri-cornered hats and the fife and drum corps and the 18th century English. We dress like everyone else, we use modern English with all its ugly colloquialisms, and we smile a lot.
We get happy, because people like being around happy people. (Just don’t be too happy. As George Carlin said, too happy sounds like a mental condition.)
See, we might have attracted everyone who believes what we believe and knows it; we’ve barely made a dent in the millions upon millions of Americans who believe what we believe but don’t know it yet.
This second group–Unknowing Believers–is the largest political group in the country. They love liberty, they hate debt, and they like transparency. They just don’t realize how much they have in common with people of the Tea Party movement.
What they do know is bad for us. Unknowing Believers know that they don’t like our 18th century shenanigans. They want to hang out with normal looking people who talk the way they talk.
As long as we keep imitating John Locke’s prose style, the Unknowing Believers will continue to run away from us.
So here’s your mission. Before Easter, you will:
- Stop wearing tri-cornered hats
- Cancel the fife and drum corps you booked
- Smile at someone who looks like he or she might not be a tea partier
- Strike up a friendly, non-political conversation if that person smiles back
That’s it. Don’t hand her a Constitution. Don’t bad-mouth Obama. Just smile and talk. Exchange emails. Find something in common to bond you.
Eventually, the state of the economy, the national debt, the price of gas, the creepy Big Brotherishness of the Obama administration will come up as your relationship grows.
Until then, just make a friend.