This was a special one, for several reasons.
First of all, it was a return of sorts to my hometown, on the very station which defined its local conservative radio, WSPD.
Secondly, I had some invaluable help in arranging this one since my friend Bob Densic was the intermediary between myself and their morning host, Fred LeFebvre. Bob put the wheel in motion and I grabbed on for dear life. It was definitely not the longest segment I’ve ever done, but it was the one which most reminded me of my old days doing spots live on the radio here, back when WICO-AM was at 1320 and a talk station. Perhaps it was a little detrimental because Fred and I talked over each other several times, but it was fun for me.
And a third reason was the comment from Bob afterward:
You hit on a point that was a major dividing line with our area Tea Party groups. After the second Obama election we regrouped to discuss what went wrong. We had so much success with the 2010 election. Many of our group wanted to redouble our election efforts…. Focusing on finding and promoting candidates. Myself (Back to Basics) and the leaders of a few other groups wanted to shift focus to educational and outreach programs…. Trying to win the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens.
Many Founders warned that our republic could only survive if the people were moral and well educated. I wonder if those from many, many years ago who took our education away from the churches truly had this long term plan in mind. Now we have a system with millions of “useful lemmings” eager to do the bidding of “the system” without truly knowing the overall goals.
We will not win this battle in the halls of Congress, in the State Houses or even our local city hall and school board. We win this battle over the backyard fence, at the water cooler and the dinner table.
God bless you brother!E-mail from Bob Densic, 8/2/19.
As I went through doing the book, the parallel realization I had with how the TEA Party elected Donald Trump was about how corporate the larger groups trading on the TEA Party name became. Obviously the TEA Party Express was about political candidates from the start, while TEA Party Patriots tried to keep a neutral facade for a few years, but there were countless organizations who would pass their collection plates to the people who made up the TEA Party, including the “scam PACs” I devote a couple pages to in the book. (Look in the chapter “The TEA Party Is Dead.”)
If you check back to the early, early days of the modern conservative movement, you’ll notice that most of its movers and shakers were also thinkers: William F. Buckley was a good example of this. Certainly National Review was created as a means to change hearts and minds, as it was not a moneymaker according to Buckley. Yet the TEA Party tried a different approach: to change the political players by constant fundraising, which only served to disillusion the rank-and-file when nothing really changed (except the bank balances of those who were running the scams.)
Thus, having said what he did and knowing his background, I pressed Bob on another subject I brought up in my book: the belief that governing was really the hard part for the TEA Party. (This is very lightly edited for a few typos and misspellings.)
Let me separate that into two parts. First, the act of governing with conservative principles is not a challenge. It does take twisting the norm on its head a bit. Rather than focus on what “special request” or project someone may ask for, I try to look at a larger perspective of what challenges are rooted in our government that prevent the project or issue being quickly or efficiently solved. It’s a bit like being the 7-Up of politicians…. I am the “un-candidate”. What can I info to make this work.
The second part involves working within the bureaucracy. Government by design, or at least Legislative action is to be slow, deliberative and transparent. It is very frustrating on both extremes to have to go through committees and multiple readings on certain issues, yet to see readings waived and emergency clauses attached to others.
The larger frustration is dealing with entrenched concepts of how government is to work. We are a very blue-collar, multi-year all town. “This is how we do this” is the most repeated phrase in all our municipal buildings. There is a lack of acceptance of economics impact of decisions. Our area has the highest property tax rate in the county along with some of the highest income tax rates. Yet the answer for every department is new equipment, new manpower, new money. The deep state exists at the local level. Lifetime bureaucrats will do everything (or nothing through a pocket veto) to keep the status quo. In our town as with many others it is more about who you know rather than what you know.
One major plus of being an elected official, it has provided a larger soapbox to teach from. As I get the chance to talk about “the why” of my votes or actions, people get to hear a new perspective. Too often my past educational efforts through Back to Basics ended up as preaching to the choir. As a councilman I talk with people who would never take a Saturday morning or week night to learn about the Constitution. A bit like Paul, I can preach to my Roman captors.
Bob is actually a very good example of being accountable, as he regularly engages with his public on social media to explain the governmental process. But he points out yet another reason hearts and minds have to be changed in the proper manner before political fortunes improve: notice the emphasis on “it’s always been done this way” and political fiefdoms. (Fred brought up the same point: if you have certain last names in Toledo, you will most likely be a Democrat and almost become a shoo-in for elected office no matter the qualifications – or lack thereof. I’m sure they are on third-generation elected officials in the same family, just like here in Maryland: Ben Cardin got his first political seat when his uncle with the same name left it – now it belongs to Cardin’s nephew Jon Cardin. )
So this edition of radio days was more than just a radio show, but the process of keeping a kinship going. However, I do have another gig coming up on August 16 in the great state of Louisiana once again.