A Call to Action
The following are 4 steps you to take if you want to be become more involved in returning our country back to its conservative, constitutional roots:
1: Join your local tea party. Involvement with your local tea party is key. If you haven’t already joined your local tea party, and don’t know how to get in touch with them, try this link. http://teapartypatriots.org/. The Wichita Falls Tea Party Patriots can be reached at http://www.wfteaparty.org/.
2: Use the “Contract with the U.S. Constitution”. The “Contract with the U.S. Constitution” is a tool that you (and your local tea party) can use to gauge a currently elected official, or a candidate for public office’s willingness to commit to full adherence to the Constitution of the United States. The Contract is a statement of ten principles upon which the Constitution is based, and is designed to be literally a contract between the elected official/candidate, promising to adhere to those principles so long as he/she is in office. Some politicians may refuse to sign the document, or simply attempt to ignore it. Some will sign it and expect that they can break their commitment when they believe no one is watching. But, hopefully, most will make a real effort to comply with those principles.
Accountability is the key to the Contract. The Contract, even if signed, will not matter unless we hold the politicians accountable for their subsequent actions. Working towards that goal can include the following:
a. Have your local tea party print off a copy of the Contract, and send it to your elected official and candidates for public office. Request that your local tea party chapter mail/email a copy of the Contract to your city, county, state, and federally-elected officials. (Remember that most tea party chapters have highly limited resources at this point… you should plan on really helping with this effort throughout the whole process.) Please remember tea party chapters that share several candidates/officials (typically state/federal officials) may want to meet first with each other to assemble a list of shared candidates/officials and then allocate responsibility among themselves as to which tea party chapter will be responsible for obtaining a Contract signature or refusal. (For a list of tea party chapters, visit http://teapartypatriots.org/ Please note the list may be incomplete.). Note: Along with the Contract, a polite cover letter should be included on your local tea party’s letterhead, asking the official (i) to sign the Contract, (ii) witness the document with two witnesses at the bottom of the document, and then (iii) return the document to the tea party chapter within 30 days. Politely mention that should they have any questions regarding the Contract, they can contact your local tea party (you’ll need to provide a name, phone, and email address for the contact), but that in any event you’ll expect to receive the signed, unaltered document within 30 days or you’ll be forced to presume that they refuse to sign the Contract. We strongly recommend that when the Contract is sent that it is done by certified mail, return receipt requested (ask your Postal Office if you don’t know how) to establish proof that you sent the Contract to the official’s office… otherwise he or she may claim that they didn’t sign the document because they never received it. Make sure that you keep the “green card” from the Postal Service with a copy of the Contract and cover letter so you can have a complete file.
b. Make sure that your tea party chapter follows up with the official/candidate during the 30 day period. Communication from you and/or your tea party chapter should be polite but firm. Keep a log of all attempted and actual communications (emails, phone calls, letters, etc.) with the officials/candidate’s office, include dates, times, etc.
c. Tea Party chapter communicates outcome to all its tea party members. Have your tea party chapter notify (1) your local tea party chapter members, as well as (2) www.HeritageAlliance.com of the outcome. (Notification should include the name of the official/candidate, what office they hold or are seeking, when the Contract was sent, attempts made to have the Contract signed, and any responses received from the official/candidate.) The local tea party chapter should always retain at least a copy of the signed Contract, correspondence, the log (if any), and evidence of receipt by the official/candidate in the form of the certified mail ‘green card’ from the Postal Service. If a signed, unaltered Contract is not received back from the official/candidate after the 30 day period by your local tea party chapter, then that chapter should notify both its members of that fact through its website as well as www.HeritageAlliance.com.
d. Post results on local tea party website. Your local tea party chapter may want to consider posting the results of the Contracts sent to various officials/candidates. And, don’t forget to send a ‘thank you’ letter acknowledging receipt. The letter may also respectfully remind the signing official/candidate that their compliance with the Contract will be monitored, and that their performance in adhering to the principles in the Contract will be shared with all tea party members who will vote accordingly in the next election. We do not suggest any followup communication with officials/candidates who were offered the opportunity to sign the Contract but either declined or neglected the opportunity to do so.
e. Follow up on the signing officials/candidates. We anticipate a number of the signers of the Contract, perhaps even most of them, will be tempted to “fudge” on their commitments to adhere to the 10 principles in the Contract. It will be up to your local tea party to monitor the signing officials/candidates. Just make sure to “follow-through”! Getting a signed Contract is only the beginning. Expect that a number of officials/candidates will need to be “educated” through both your and your tea party’s persistence. If a piece of legislation is voted upon or handled by the official/candidate in a way that you believe violates the Contract, you should report that matter to your tea party chapter so your chapter can appoint a spokesperson to contact that official/candidate on their perceived violation of the Contract. (You can track you state or federal legislator’s voting record on www.HeritageAlliance.com).
It is possible that after speaking with the official/candidate for an explanation of their conduct, you may conclude that their Contract violation was either a matter of ignorance or a difference of opinion. In any event, discussions with the official/candidate, if conducted in a respectful and professional manner, will most likely result in the same official/candidate giving serious second thoughts before they violate the Contract again. However, if there are repeated violations of the Contract, it is suggested that your local tea party chapter coordinate with other tea party chapters that are affected by the official/candidate in question to determine whether all the affected tea parties should consider the official/candidate as insincere. (Great care should be taken to avoid abusive language in reporting the non-compliant conduct, and the conduct and attempts to reconcile with the official/candidate should be reported in purely factual language, with no resorting to personal attacks or name-calling. Take great care to avoid speculating on your website at all costs as to an officials/candidates’ motives and report only verifiable facts which, ultimately, are more powerful than speculation.) We recommend that this step be taken only as a matter of last resort, and only if all reasonable attempts at educating and remediating the official/candidate seem unlikely to result in any material change in conduct.
3: Sign up with HeritageAlliance.com. HeritageAlliance.com is a uniquely-capable website that will allow you to track the actions of both your state and federal legislators, once you sign up. Based upon the registered voting address you provide, the website will determine who your state and federal representatives and senators are, and help you track each of their voting records, as well as give you an easy, quick and painless way to email all of them on any legislation that comes up, voicing your support or opposition to any pending bills. Finally, HeritageAlliance.com has a “Volunteer Ladder” that those who agree with our Contract with the U.S. Constitution can participate in… we strongly encourage you to visit their web site as soon as possible to take advantage of their free services. After identifying others in your precinct who share our values (Step 2 of their Volunteer Ladder), contact them if you want specific suggestions on other ways to multiply your civic influence.
On a final note, AmericanMajority.org is a nonpartisan group whose mission is to train conservatives–whether they want to be better activists or they are interested in running for office. Check their website… they may have training in an area near you. If not, they will be offering training online this fall. Citizens Call To Action