A quick guide to Obama’s scandalrama

If you feel like you need a program to keep up with the rash of scandals coming out of Washington, you’re not alone.  There’s stifling of political opposition, lying to Congress, intimidation of whistle blowers, lying to the public and a healthy dose of general incompetence.

Suffice it to say that Obama has found his legacy.  He has set the new presidential speed record for achieving lame-duck status, going from inauguration to irrelevance in just four months.  With three major scandals all coming to a boil at the same time, Democrats will be distancing themselves in droves before the dust settles.

The IRS Hokey-Pokey

All of America just found out what many conservative groups have known all along – that the IRS has spent years targeting them in order to minimize how effective they can be.

New information confirms that over a course of three years the IRS singled out groups for abuse if their names or descriptions included certain keywords like “tea party”, “9-12”, “patriot”, “constitution”, “voter fraud”, “government spending”, “limited government” or “Bill of Rights”.

The IRS demanded that such groups turn over more information about their activities, their donors, their websites and social media accounts, even asking questions about the political beliefs of personnel.  Worse, at least one liberal group has admitted that the IRS sent them confidential copies of applications and other documents from thirty-one conservative groups.

Despite initial White House claims that the problem was just a bunch of low-level bureaucrats, we now know that top IRS appointees in Washington knew all about it – including IRS commissioners and chief counsels.

In the end, the abuse affected almost five-hundred conservative groups, with none receiving tax-exempt status for over twenty-seven straight months – time enough to reduce their impact on the 2012 elections.  Meanwhile, liberal groups with words like “progressive” in their titles zipped right through the approval process.

There even seems to be evidence that such government abuse extended to other agencies.  One group that was founded to fight against voter fraud found itself the target of an alphabet soup of government agencies, including a series of FBI inquiries about the group and its founders, ATF demands to see the family’s firearms, surprise audits of the founder’s gun dealership, and an OSHA audit of a family manufacturing business.

There are already calls from Congress for a special prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation, and once such a process gets started it can lead pretty much anywhere.  Just ask Bill Clinton.

The Benghazi Shuffle

Despite months of disinterest by the press, the Obama administration is facing serious questions and a probable congressional select committee over how it dealt with the September 11th attacks on our consulate in Benghazi.

There are three key elements to the scandal:

First, why did our State Department ignore repeated requests for more security from our diplomatic personnel in a place that intelligence agencies had reported as being frequented by terrorists?

Second, when our people were under attack, why didn’t our government begin moving Heaven and earth to help them?  The White House claims there wasn’t time, as it would have taken too long to respond.  But since they didn’t know “when” it would be over, why weren’t assets put in motion and kept in motion until it was?

Third, in the immediate aftermath why did the administration insist that this was just a violent movie review instead of a terrorist attack?  Who whitewashed the official story of any references to terrorists, and why?  (OK, you probably know the answer to that one, but they’ll never admit it.)

The biggest loser in this one is going to be Hillary.  The odds that she will now actually have to fight for the 2016 nomination are increasing by the day.

The Telephone (records) Blues

This is the most recent and, for the press, the most creepy of the scandals.

The Justice Department admitted this week that it grabbed two months worth of phone records for over twenty phone lines used by the Associated Press in the Capitol Building, in addition to the personal phone records of at least five reporters in the process of investigating who leaked a story about a potential terrorist attack back in 2011.

Of course subpoenaing phone records is nothing new, but there are rules and procedures to follow which were ignored, plus two months worth is a rather wide net to cast.  What future sources and whistle blowers are going to be confident that their anonymity will be protected now?  Will they have to return to the days of trench coats and dark parking garages in order to avoid the prying eyes of Big Brother?

This scandal probably has shorter legs than the others, but it has burned a lot of goodwill in what has otherwise been Obama’s steno pool.  Goodwill he will probably need when it comes to how they cover the other scandals.

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The danger for Democrats is that Americans will note that these abuses of government power come courtesy of the same people who keep asking us to trust bigger and bigger government with more and more influence over our lives.

 

Why Conservatives Should Organize in Churches

ducks 2It’s hard to imagine conservatives being more successful in politics without being joined by even MORE conservatives at the ballot box.

That means that in order to win we have to do more to identify, educate and mobilize others who think like we do.  The question is what’s the most effective way to go about finding them?

One of the answers to that question is to look in the churches.

Focusing on organizing in churches offers a great way for conservatives to leverage their time and existing relationships to have a great impact on the things they care about.

Churches are where the conservatives are

If you want to shoot ducks, you hunt where the ducks are.  It’s the same principle with politics and organization.

The statistics don’t lie. Conservatives are more likely to attend church than liberals. Very conservative individuals attend more frequently.  If you want to look at it from a partisan standpoint, all you need to know is that Romney beat Obama by 20 points among those who attend church at least once a week.

Again, it’s a matter of hunting where the ducks are.  There are hundreds of thousands of churches all across the country that bring their members together every Sunday, and they can have a tremendous impact when they are informed and motivated.

Sadly, people in most churches are little better than others when it comes to the basics of citizenship, such as registering and actually voting on Election Day.  On average, only about half are actually registered to vote, and about half of those will cast a ballot in most elections.

That is not a recipe for conservative political success.

Tremendous latent potential

Given that the average race is usually won or lost by about five percent, the possibilities are obvious. Just imagine the impact if every church in your community had a contact person who worked to register and inform their fellow members and get them involved in the local political system. What kind of difference do you think that would make?

Simply put, more organization in churches means more victories for the conservative movement.

The goal is not to make churches into an annex of a political party, but rather to educate and encourage conservatives in those churches who share your values to become better citizens and advocates for their values in the public arena.

Remember, politics is all about math, and our job is to focus on addition and multiplication. That means getting more conservatives involved.

Churches are full of them.

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(You can find tips like this and much more in my “Grassroots 101: Grassroots Training Series)

Five Tools for Conservative Grassroots Organization

grassroots organizationGrassroots organizing is no different than pretty much anything else in life.  If you’re serious about doing anything, you need to make sure you have the right tools to get the job done.

Here’s a handy list of five of the most basic tools you should have at your disposal if you’re going to try and build a grassroots organization at the precinct level that can truly have an impact on the things you care about.

1) A list of all registered voters in your precinct

It’s hard to identify and organize if you don’t know who the registered voters are, (or aren’t), and in order to do that you need a recent copy of the voter registration list for your precinct (or whichever precinct you’re working in).

You can get this from your local election (or voter registration) board.

2) “Prospect” lists

Just like in sales, you make your job of finding the people you’re looking for easier if you have a “warm” list of prospects.

Conservative issue petitions, surveys or membership lists from conservative churches make great “prospect” list for potential conservative activists and voters.  They will make it easier for you to identify registered (and unregistered) conservatives by cross-referencing them with voter registration lists.

The result is that you know who lives in which precincts, and who is registered to vote and you could possibly approach about getting involved in your efforts.  You also find out who isn’t registered, so you can get them registered in the future.

3) Blank voter registration forms

Call your local voter registration office and get copies of your state’s voter registration form, (you may even be able to download it online, depending on where you live). You want enough copies for all of those unregistered conservatives you identified from your “prospect” lists.

If people aren’t registered, they can’t vote.  And if they don’t vote, they don’t count.

4) A map of the precinct

Having a map makes it easier to get an idea of who is where and how to get to them. You should be able to get this from your local planning commission or voter registration office, (or if not, they will probably know where you can).  Try to get one with street lines and names overlaid on it, to make it easier for you to use.

Remember, precincts are the building blocks of all other election districts, so you want to make sure your efforts revolve around individual precincts.

5) A political events calendar

Identifying conservatives and organizing them is one thing, but it is also important to keep them informed.  Set up a calendar to keep track of the dates of party primaries, general elections, special elections, school board, local council elections and meetings, as well as local political party meetings.

Let your people know what’s going on and how they can get involved.

Bottom line: do the basics

This is just a basic list, but that’s the point.  It’s “basic”.  Don’t get too distracted by anything that would keep you from focusing on the basics until you get them done.

(Find out more about grassroots organization in my training series!)

Organizing precincts with precinct captains

precinct captainsAs I have mentioned before, the best way to impact politics is to organize at the precinct level.  And the best way to organize is to put someone in charge.

When it comes to organizing in precincts, that means “precinct captains”.

So what is a precinct captain?  Put simply, a precinct captain is someone who serves as a point of contact between the people in their local neighborhood and outside conservative political groups and activities.

By distributing petitions, getting political information to conservative neighbors, making get-out-the-vote phone calls on or before an Election Day, a precinct captain can mobilize a large bloc of people to influence political and legislative activities.

It is also important to understand that many of the activities of a precinct captain are seasonal.  Depending on what elections are approaching or what’s happening in Congress, your state legislature or local council, your focus and activity levels will vary, but there are some primary goals.

The primary goals of precinct captains

1: Identify Ten Conservative Activists

This is probably the most important job of any precinct captain, because in order to put the meat on the bones of any organization, you need people, and that means identifying others who are willing to help.  Try to identify at least ten.  These will be the people who are the most interested in what you are doing.

The goal is to be able to quickly line up volunteers when a major project comes up and help is needed.  Keep in mind that different people enjoy doing different things.  Make note of what they’re willing to do and use them accordingly.  There will be many different things to do and plenty of work to go around.

2: Identify Other Conservative Voters

Now that a core group of activists has been identified, what should they do? Identify fellow conservatives.  A good goal is to find enough conservative voters to equal 10% of the total number of registered voters in any given precinct.  This is plain, old-fashioned voter identification.

There are any number of ways to go about it, from using issues surveys, petitions, church directories, etc., and cross-referencing that information with voter registration lists.

3: Educate and Mobilize Identified Voters

Once a list of identified conservatives has been put together, the next step is to educate them and get them involved.  This can include distributing voter education materials to them on candidates or ballot issues, making sure that they actually vote on Election Day, or encouraging them to lobby the local school board, council or state legislature on some key issue.

It’s also important to encourage them to get involved in their local Republican Party.  The more solid conservatives we have in GOP grassroots and leadership positions, the better for the conservative movement as a whole.

4: Stay Informed

Finally, a precinct captain’s job is to keep up to date on current and future projects, activities and opportunities for activism – and pass the information on to others.

When you’ve got this kind of organization on a precinct by precinct basis, then you’ve got an infrastructure that can be activated and have an impact on the things you care about when it counts!

(Find out more about precinct captains and local organization in general in my Grassroots Training Series!)

Why Conservatives Should Focus on Precinct Organization

precinct organizationIt’s a truism in politics to say that “all politics is local”, but truisms are truisms because they’re usually true. In this case it’s right on the money.

The precinct is the most “local” unit in American politics.

If you’re not familiar with it, put simply, a “precinct” is essentially your neighborhood. It’s a geographic area with specific boundaries, (usually defined by your state), that surrounds the place where you go to vote. The name of your precinct is listed on your voter registration card.

There are more than 203,000 precincts in the United States, each with an average of about 1,000 registered voters. Politically, they represent the building blocks of the entire American political and electoral system. Every political district in America, (whether school board, local council, state legislature or congress) is just a different combination of different precincts.

They are the pieces to the American political jigsaw puzzle.

Politics (and political power) is all about people

In American politics power flows from the bottom (the precinct level) up, because precincts are where the people are.

Bottom line? If you’re organized in the precincts you can have an influence on multiple elections at all levels.

It also helps in grassroots lobbying campaigns, since most incumbent politicians are interested in getting re-elected – and people who are organized in the precincts tend to get their attention.

Good grassroots organization emphasizes the important role that precincts play by focusing on individuals who are willing to identify, educate and organize others in their own neighborhoods. That goes for campaigns, grassroots lobbying efforts and gaining influence in the Republican Party.

No matter what issue you have a problem with, or what aspect of politics you’re interested in, having an impact at the precinct level means being able to have an impact further up the political food chain.

You could say it’s a case of “think globally, act locally”.

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Have other ideas or thoughts? Share them in the comments section below.