Houston, Texas Tea Party
Felicia Winfree Cravens
There's a lot of press chasing the latest doings of the administration, and the vocal opposition to its agenda. You can't turn on the news without seeing a story about the health care debate, or the economy, or Cap and Trade. The debate is a good thing, and people who never cared about such issues before have suddenly found themselves chest-deep in the intricacies of legislation, discussing the Constitution. That renewed interest can never be bad for our republic.
What concerns me is the image portrayed by our opposition.
First, let's think about the goal here. Is the highest goal to keep a given piece of legislation from being passed? If so, then how do we make that happen? The obvious answer is to amass enough public opposition to render it politically impossible for Congress to pass it. This is why the town hall meetings have been so compelling; people are attending these events in unprecedented numbers to make their opinion known, especially on the health care legislation.
Is it having an effect? A little bit. It might result in a watered-down version of what's currently on offer being passed. But make no mistake, unless there's a radical change in the typical congressvarmint's point of view, this bill, in some form, WILL PASS.
So how do you change the view of Congress? My opinion is that you do it by reaching some of their base who do not currently agree with you. That takes many forms, but a good example is Tracy Miller's attempt to explain the health care legislation at an aborted Sheila Jackson Lee town hall. Sheila moved her town hall, and Tracy ended up at the original location. There she met several people who were supporters of the congresswoman, but who didn't know much about what was in the bill. She spent time that evening talking to those people and giving them facts and excerpts from the bill, and found common ground with them. She gave them something that was in short supply from Sheila Jackson Lee - information. That's a valuable outreach effort.
Would Tracy have had that opportunity to reach these SJL supporters had she charged in with her Obama Joker poster held high? I really don't think so. Would they have been receptive to anything she had to say? Probably not. Tracy knows this, and acted accordingly.
We should all take a page from her book, and learn something about image.
When Houston Tea Party Society hosted tea parties, we did our best to encourage people to focus on Congress as their targets. Putting the focus on the newly-elected, highly popular, still-honeymooning president would only serve to make those supporters dig in their heels and root their support even deeper. Congress was (and is) a much smarter target choice, and as Tracy found in an early SJL town hall, rich with material - as when SJL pretended to listen to Tracy's question and talked on her cell phone at the same time. That video landed the congresswoman, and Tracy, on the Fox News Channel.
The point here is that without the distraction of an altered Obama photo, without the distraction of a Sheila Jackson Lee voodoo doll, the story became Sheila Jackson Lee's behavior. Add those distracting elements into the picture, and the media would be reporting on the poster, on the doll. Is that the story we want to tell? Is that the goal; to get a chuckle out of people who agree with us? Or is the larger goal to prevail, to sway more people on the fence to agree with us, to amass the numbers we need to force Congress to abandon their socialist plans?
You can go for the cheap laugh, or you can go for the win. It's up to you. But if you go for the laugh, don't be surprised if we aren't all laughing along. Some of us would like to keep the focus on the issues.