The rearview mirror

This was one of the copies I initially received from the publisher. If it’s copy 1 like I think it is then I believe it’s still in a box someplace from our move. It was the markup I used for the reading last June and the reference copy I kept for doing radio gigs.

I placed this photo on my social media page a year ago today. It was the first book out of the box of copies of my book that I kept for hand sales and promotions. So let me tell you about being an author and what a long, strange trip it’s been since that book came out 366 days ago.

When I put the book out after 2 1/2 years of writing it, I felt reasonably good about its prospects. I thought it was rather topical as it came out a decade after the initial TEA Party protests, and the peer reviews I had on it were positive. And the initial sales were actually encouraging after I did my first radio gig on it a couple days afterward (it was actually 52 weeks ago today, the same day Joe Biden made his formal announcement.) I had a lot of encouragement from friends and supporters, but of course I had no idea what sort of sales to expect.

Well, it’s disappointing to say that I’ve sold 26 copies through Amazon. However, I can at least say that’s more than my previous book has sold in almost eight years (a total of 18 copies.) But that doesn’t count the copies I have hand-sold in person, most of which I autographed as well. Somewhere in our house (or maybe out in the shed, who knows?) I have about 8-10 copies of my first book, which came from an original stock of 20 or 25. This time, though, I started with 25 and bought another 10, leaving me about a dozen remaining. Their disposition is an interesting story.

Out of the original stock of 25, I numbered each book from 1 to 25. I kept number 1 as my copy, tithed 2 through 4 to charity (still have those), and sent most of 5 through 10 to those who contributed to the writing. (I still have one because I’ve never been able to get a contributor’s home address even in several attempts to ask.) Out of 11 through 25 I have just a few remaining – many of them were sold at my reading back in June.

Among the second batch were a few I sent to various radio personalities who requested them. As I recall all but one of those eventually resulted in an interview, and that adds to the story.

Believe it or not, I’m way more comfortable with writing than I am with public speaking, even though I took a class in college to conquer that fear. (Shocker, huh?) I’m sure that comes through over the phone, but I also figured it was a job I had to do in order to try and spread the word given my marketing budget, which was basically zero. (I did find out it costs $3.27 to send my book anywhere from California to across town, not that I had to do the latter.)

So I spoke to various people everywhere from California to Delaware, for anywhere from seven minutes or so to a whole hour. It was a “virtual book tour” which took me from my adopted hometown to my real hometown, and from where I went to school to places I’ve never visited (or, frankly, heard of) before. There were small towns and big cities on the docket, but the last stop was a national one on an internet radio station called Southern Sense Radio. I did find out from doing sixteen or so shows that the longer I knew I had, the better the conversation flowed.

While all this was happening, I went through a move (hence, why I can’t find the spare copies) and went on vacation twice. Could I have been more diligent at marketing? Perhaps, but I also work full-time. (You may gather I’m that diligent at unpacking. But I told my wife we have the rest of our lives.)

A few months after the release, I decided it would be a good idea to follow up on the loose ends I had to leave untied to finish the book by last April. Thus was born the quarterly State of the TEA Party updates, the last of which I did a couple weeks ago – a little early but necessary to be topical. It’s been a concept that’s evolved a little bit and probably will some more before it’s through.

It’s been a tremendous and tumultuous year since I put out this book. It’s interesting to ponder how the release of the book would have gone over had it come out this year, but it’s still out there if you want to read it for the history. I think I’ll go onto Amazon tonight and give you a little incentive by cutting the price. (Hey, I have reached triple digits in royalties, at least.)

As for the next book? Honestly, I can’t say for sure whether I have another one in me. Over the years I have kicked around a couple concepts, and I got as far as a couple chapters on the Indivisible movement. (I still owe you one last part on that story – maybe in the next couple weeks.)

If anything, I have the most desire to write a sequel update to my first book, So We May Breathe Free. Once upon a time I had thought about writing a tome on the struggle between Big Oil and the green energy movement – something more on my radar when I had Marita Noon (now Marita Tedder) as a columnist, but not so much now. (I still keep a few tabs on energy, but to turn a phrase I don’t have as much energy as I used to.)

The other idea I’ve had from time to time is a project I call 600 Words. It’s been over a decade now, but once upon a time I toiled as an (unpaid) columnist for an outfit called Liberty Features Syndicate. (The title refers to their optimum column length.) Most of the time these once- or twice-weekly pieces ended up on the website of a group called Americans for Limited Government, but once in awhile I would find out some small-town newspaper also ran my column. I think it would be an interesting idea to follow up on what happened to the subject of the columns, as history may or may not have been kind to them, and maybe it would have the autobiographical element of perhaps one of the most uncertain times of my life. Between 600 Words and the sequel to So We May Breathe Free, 600 Words is definitely more the vanity project.

I guess that’s the life of a part-time author who’s become a (very) part-time blogger too. If you have pity on me and want to buy the book – or if you like a good read on history (yeah, that’s the ticket!) the link to Rise and Fall remains above the fold on my front page. Let’s see if I can beat my year one sales in year two.

The state of the TEA Party: spring 2020

Subtitled, the Wuhan coronavirus edition.

I originally intended for this piece to have a completely different look and feel than it will have, not to mention it was moved up in time about two to three weeks from its original intention of coinciding with the anniversary of my book release last year. (Yes, it’s been 12 months since I wrapped up that labor of love.) But the question of just how the TEA Party is reacting to a government stimulus that is over twice again the one it was initially formed in response to was on my heart, so this post is brooming the original concept of answers to a rhetorical question that, frankly, was never asked anyway. Life gets in the way.

This is going to sound completely hypocritical to many, but I sort of expected the one response I found in a local Florida newspaper – the Sunshine State being one of the remaining hotbeds for the movement. One I didn’t expect but am not surprised by is the reaction to a New Mexico businessman apparently best known as a TEA Party leader suing his state government, claiming the disease “is not serious enough for emergency orders, enforcement of restrictions on socializing is impossible, and the orders deny him the right to free assembly and worship.” Aside from the lack of certainty that a mix of commonly available drugs presents a cure (the research on that is promising but ongoing) the complaint is very truthful. Yet it’s going to go nowhere.

(It’s sort of like the Rick Santelli approach that was blown way out of proportion by the Left and media – but I repeat myself.)

On the other hand, while I have been critical at times of the personally opportunistic leadership of Jenny Beth Martin and the Tea Party Patriots, I have to commend both her and the organization for the tone they have struck in their response to this ordeal. Citing Scripture (in this case, 2 Timothy 1:7). Martin writes in part:

(T)he best advice I can give is to take this virus seriously, but don’t panic. Don’t let the bloodthirsty media panic you. But, at the same time, please take appropriate precautions. Follow the recommended guidelines about washing your hands, don’t touch your face, sanitize surfaces, and stay home more. And, if possible, support your local businesses and restaurants – you can order food to go so you aren’t eating in, but still helping them keep their doors open.

Also, please if you are not in an at-risk category and you are able, help your friends, acquaintances or neighbors that are over 60 or already ill. Call them up and find out if they need anything from the store that you could pick up for them, so that they don’t need to risk going out. You can even drop it off on their doorstep so that they can avoid human contact.

“My thoughts regarding the Coronavirus,” Jenny Beth Martin, March 19, 2020.

The TPP also has a nice coronavirus portal on their website, with an editable form letter that’s honestly full of good advice for individual initiative.

But there are a couple questions going forward that those interested in fiscal conservatism and limited government should point out, particularly since those on the Left had their own wishlist that could come in yet another Wuhan virus relief bill. Aside from the non-virus related pork in the bill, another thing to watch for is whether this new, vastly increased amount of spending becomes a new artificial baseline from which the Left will scream about “cuts” if we even level-fund in the next budget year.

And when they are not wailing in their best shrill girly scream about how Donald Trump is “a president who will bear responsibility for the death of many of our neighbors, friends, and loved ones, and for an economic nightmare… an outcome of the right-wing project to undermine and vilify government,” they’re certainly scheming on how to not let this crisis go to waste:

At the end of this pandemic, more Americans will view the government as capable of solving big societal problems, progressives argue. New emergency-aid legislation dramatically expands paid sick and family leave for millions of workers and suspends work requirements for food assistance, two agenda items progressives have long supported. And the $2 trillion stimulus package that the president just signed into law would provide a $1,200 direct payment to most American adults—similar to the Freedom Dividend championed by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang—and another $250 billion in unemployment-insurance benefits. “There’s going to be an amazing shift where we recognize the impact government can have on our lives for the better,” says Charles Chamberlain, the executive director at Democracy for America, a progressive political-action committee.

“What Do Progressives Do Now?”, Elaine Godfrey, The Atlantic, March 28, 2020.

Unfortunately, that “amazing shift” isn’t going to come with the economic activity required to create the value to come anywhere close to repaying the debt or preventing a return to rampant Carter-era inflation.

Finally, it’s interesting to me that both of these stimulus programs come in response to government actions perhaps the opposite of what would be expected from the party in charge. The Obama stimulus came after the months of uncertainty that spanned from the tail end of the George W. Bush administration (when he had to destroy the free market to save it, and which briefly took GOP candidate John McCain off the campaign trail) whereas this stimulus came from the unprecedented government action of ordering certain businesses to close to prevent the spread of a virus unknown just six months ago. It’s worth pointing out, though, that the decentralization of the federal response is more or less in line with the philosophy of the Trump administration (hence the whining from the Left.)

Whether I’ll come back to my originally scheduled summer TEA Party update or change up again may depend on circumstances both national and personal. I’m definitely hoping we return to something approaching normal by then, but there’s always the prospect that we are in a new normal – and that’s what’s scary.

I’d love some thoughts from my TEA Party friends on this theory, either here or the places I’ll share.

On the duopoly

One facet of the early TEA Party which fascinated me was the debate on whether to try to form a political TEA Party or work through the existing two-party system, or, as I call it, the duopoly. In Rise and Fall I devoted a significant part of the early chapters to the TEA Party’s impact on two political campaigns: the 2009 Doug Hoffman Congressional race in New York’s 23rd Congressional District and the Scott Brown Senate race for the “Kennedy seat” in Massachusetts in 2009-10.

In the Hoffman case, you may recall that the Republican nominee was selected by local party officials rather than the electorate at large, resulting in a candidate, state Assembly member Dede Scozzafava, who was deemed most electable as a moderate as opposed to necessarily espousing Republican principles. Hoffman, who had also interviewed for the seat and had originally pledged his support for Scozzafava, eventually prevailed upon New York’s Conservative Party to give him his own ballot line.

Although Hoffman was in a close second place by the time late October rolled around – thanks to the sudden interest of the TEA Party in a rather obscure, backwater Congressional district special election race – the eventual withdrawal by the Republican and her endorsement of Democrat Bill Owens, along with a disadvantageous ballot position, pulled defeat from the jaws of victory. (Owens had the advantage of two ballot lines as well, as a far-left party endorsed him rather than run a candidate on their own.)

Stung by that loss, the TEA Party tried things the other way. Fast-forward about six weeks and once Scott Brown made it official by winning the Republican nomination for the Massachusetts special election it was (practically) all hands on deck – never mind he was arguably to the left of Scozzafava overall and there was an independent libertarian candidate in the race (ironically by the name of Joseph Kennedy, but no relation to the Camelot clan) who may have been more suitable philosophically. Aside from the small percentage who argued the Kennedy case on TEA Party principles, the national focus was on Brown winning, and as we now know, he did – and was soon rather disappointing for two reasons: one, his moderate stances, and secondly, he’s the one who gave us Elizabeth Warren because he got his doors blown off in the 2012 general, when his wasn’t the only race of national concern.

In short, this brief few months sealed a key decision (and perhaps error) by those who were the leaders of the TEA Party: they chose to try and reform the Republican Party from within. Convinced that someplace within the GOP were candidates and officeholders receptive to the conservative message of the TEA Party, the effort in the first half of last decade was to take over the GOP from within, through gaining seats in local precincts and working their way up the ranks. By now you would think this policy of percolating through from the grassroots would be bearing sizable fruit – but it doesn’t seem to be working that way.

This long prelude has finally brought me to my main point and inspiration. One of those who I made acquaintance with in promoting my book over the summer was Andy Hooser, whose radio show “The Voice of Reason” was the seventh stop on my radio tour. (I remember doing his show pacing around my backyard on what I called “Triple Dip Friday” – three shows in one day!)

Since then I’ve signed up for updates and the other day Andy introduced the current two-party system as a topic of discussion, noting in part:

We have been the ones, as members of the parties, that have allowed the parties to get out of hand. Our nation was built on strong, hard individuals who were leaders, not followers. The founding fathers that did promote a two party system, did so with the idea that the informed, active member of society could listen to an argument, contribute to the cause, and help the party accomplish it’s goals. Now…the party creates fear in the hearts of ill-informed followers to create an agenda. With our lack of involvement in politics…with our lack of engagement in the system…and our lack of understanding of issues as a society, the parties are no longer run by us…but for for self preservation with us as the follower to keep the lifeline going. 

So how do we fix this? A third party? HA. Third parties are no more relevant than Vermin Supreme running for President. The only thing third parties do, is potentially swing an election to the side lest in line with your views. 

Our job is to fix the parties from within. We cannot destroy them (unless they destroy themselves…Hello socialist Democrats?), we cannot leave them. At the end of the day, the money, they power, and the influence is within the parties. Our chance to change things…is the fix the party internally. Run for office locally. Set a standard of what you will tolerate as a platform for the party and the candidates. Hold you local, statewide, and national elected officials accountable. Don’t let them say one thing, yet vote another way. Work within your party. And bring it back to the platform it says it promotes. That’s the reason you joined it in the first place. 

“To be a two party system…or not to be!” – Voice of Reason website, January 29, 2020.

A common definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and it seems to me we in the TEA Party tried this approach a decade ago. Nor would it surprise me if the Moral Majority crowd didn’t try it in the early 1980s, to name another somewhat failed attempt to mold and shape politics to their will. Everything old is new again.

This assertion also begs the question: are the two parties really that popular? Since I was a Maryland resident at the time, this is where the party registration totals stood the day after the initial set of TEA Parties, February 28, 2009:

  • Democrat: 1,953,650 (56.9%)
  • Republican: 919,500 (26.8%)
  • unaffiliated: 482,806 (14.1%)
  • all others: 76,486 (2.2%)

It was a D+30 state. Now let’s see where we are at as of the end of 2019:

  • Democrat: 2,204,017 (54.7%)
  • Republican: 1,009,635 (25.0%)
  • unaffiliated: 757,953 (18.8%)
  • all others: 60,536 (1.5%)

Of the four major groups, the only one which is growing in rate are the unaffiliated. But it is still a D+30 state.

Turning to my adopted home state of Delaware, the online numbers only go back to 2010. In Delaware at that time (January 2010) there were 25 (!) registered parties but only four had ballot access: Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and the Independent Party of Delaware (or IPOD).

  • Democrat: 287,821 (47.1%)
  • Republican: 180,479 (29.5%)
  • unaffiliated: 137,072 (22.4%)
  • all others: 6,095 (1.0%)

That would make it a D+18 state, which was a little more promising for conservatives. So where do we stand now, a decade later? Well, we are down to 17 parties listed but the top dogs are still on top:

  • Democrat: 338,586 (47.4%)
  • Republican: 198,018 (27.7%)
  • unaffiliated: 163,150 (22.8%)
  • all others: 14,365 (2.0%)

The Delaware GOP has seen their previous support splinter in every direction: their 1.8% loss has gone slightly to the Democrats (0.4%) and unaffiliated groups (also 0.4%) but mainly to minor parties, which doubled to 2% of the electorate. Now it’s a D+20 state.

What does this all mean? Well, at least in this small area of the country, it means that if the TEA Party took over the Republican Party, it didn’t do a very good job of making it thrive. (Given the Delaware GOP’s treatment of their Senate primary winner Christine O’Donnell in 2010, it wouldn’t surprise me if a significant part of their registration loss came from that incident.) Of course, there are other areas of the nation where the GOP is probably growing but I suspect these types of declining numbers are prevalent in many areas.

So why not a third party? Well, if you look at our history as a whole our political system went through a number of party upheavals in its first century, but the last major shift came in the 1850s as the Republican Party ascended over the ruins of the old Whig Party. I tend to believe that as time went on the two dominant parties entered into a gentleman’s agreement to divvy the political spoils among themselves, making it more difficult for competing parties to grow and prosper.

Imagine the time and effort wasted by the Libertarians, Green Party, Constitution Party, Reform Party, and others in having to gain ballot access again and again in some states, such as Maryland – a state that required parties secure 1% of the vote in certain races or go through a process of collecting thousands of signatures just to qualify for another cycle. Of course, the Republicans and Democrats don’t have to do this, and they are the ones who prefer the duopoly because it cuts off competition.

On the other hand, the reason Delaware has so many parties is fairly lax rules on party formation. Their biggest hurdle is getting and maintaining 1% of registered voters for ballot access, but it’s been done by the Libertarians, Green Party, and IPOD, so there are possibly five choices all across the political spectrum. (They are very close to six, if the American Delta Party can pick up a handful of voters.) Granted, none of these parties fill a ballot all the way down to state representative, but I believe the reason is a self-fulfilling prophecy (created by the duopoly, echoed by the media) that only a D or R can win.

Over the years, there has become a “lesser of two evils” approach to voting: people voted for Donald Trump not because they were enamored with him but because they were really afraid of what Hillary Clinton would do to us. We were all told that “a vote for Gary Johnson, Evan McMullin, etc. is a vote for Hillary.” So they were scared into voting for Trump. (On the other hand, having disgruntled Bernie Sanders backers and conventional wisdom that Hillary would easily win may have freed those on the Left to vote for who they really wanted, to Hillary’s detriment.)

That was the approach by enough people in enough states (including her so-called “firewall” across the Midwest) to give Donald Trump the upset victory despite the fact more Republicans voted against him than in his favor during the primary season, although Trump had the plurality by the time it was over. (As Democrats did against Barack Obama in 2008 – Hillary Clinton won that popular vote, too.)

But what if people had something to vote for? If you’re on the far left, maybe you like the Green Party or Socialist Workers Party, while those on the conservative side may prefer my political home, the Constitution Party. There’s nothing hurt by giving the electorate more choices, but the key is getting states to loosen up balloting requirements.

And if we want a real TEA Party, it would become possible and easier to build one from the bottom up. Why take over a party which is set in its ways when you can build to suit? Let’s make that easier to do.

The state of the TEA Party: winter 2020

This update is going to be a little bit different than the first ones from last summer and fall. Most of the immediate loose ends left untied by the publication of my book have now been tied up so it’s time to shift focus.

I got to thinking the other day about where the TEA Party was during the 2012 Presidential campaign, which was the first one it faced as a political entity. At this point in the 2012 campaign the TEA Party – which, in real time, was just before Christmas of 2011 because the Iowa caucuses were held on January 3 of that year – was still weighing its choices between a slew of TEA Party-approved contenders like Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum or holding their nose to get behind the favored and more centrist and establishment Mitt Romney, who eventually won the GOP nomination – much to the chagrin of many TEA Party believers. (One of those who also flirted with the idea of running during the 2012 campaign before bowing out just weeks later: Donald Trump. It would be four years later that his campaign ignited a second firestorm among TEA Party adherents.)

Fast forward to 2020 and flip the coin over to the other side of the political spectrum and you see the dilemma of the far left Democrats: do they stick with the infighting between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, switch over to the unproven Pete Buttigieg, or hold their nose for the known commodity of Joe Biden as the best chance to defeat Donald Trump? In short, at what point do you abandon principle for practicality and work for an election in the hope that maybe you won’t lose any more political ground with a more moderate candidate? That seemed to be the fate of TEA Party people in 2012, and perhaps they learned pragmatism from their first two major elections: the Doug Hoffman New York Congressional race in 2009 and Scott Brown’s first Senate run in the winter of 2009-10.

I’m thinking that may be a question I will ask later this summer, but here’s the idea for this feature going forward.

If it’s not apparent to you after all these years of writing, the TEA Party as envisioned was a political movement right up my alley; hence, I’m pretty passionate about it. Why else would I spent over 2 1/2 years writing a book to help document its history and effects? (Hint: it ain’t the money.)

After a decade-plus of existence, we can now see what impact the TEA Party has had on the political scene, but there’s a portion of me that feels it needs continued study on how to maintain and increase its relevance and make it more effective in implementing its principles. The question arises, though: what are its principles, and how have they changed over time?

So, every three months, my hope is to distill what those who are most involved in the TEA Party as its Founding Fathers (and Mothers) and other longtime leaders have to say about the topics I’m introducing here – not just as a blog post but in more of a newsletter style. (My model in this is a familiar one to me: The Patriot Post, for whom I write weekly.) Not only would it promote academic-style study, but it would also be a legacy project for those involved – we have lost several of the early leaders already, and it’s a movement we need more than ever.

To that end I’ve already determined a number of topic questions that will carry us through the remainder of 2020.

April: The TEA Party got its start as a movement claiming we were “Taxed Enough Already.” We have found that the tax cuts we received from President Trump in 2017 have indeed bolstered the economy and put more money in our pockets, and that’s great – but we still run trillion-dollar deficits just as we did in the heart of the Great Recession. How can we sell a message of spending reduction to the masses like we pressed for tax cuts? And, corollary to that, how do we defend ourselves from the charge of hypocrisy given we got the tax cuts we wanted but still find ourselves deep in red ink?

July: As noted earlier, the primary elections don’t always give us the candidate we want. For many of us, Donald Trump was an example; however, the way he has governed has been a pleasant surprise. What are some of the “red line” issues that are non-negotiable to you, or, put another way, are there instances where you can’t abide by the rule made popular by Ronald Reagan, “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally – not a 20 percent traitor.” Or is just moving the ball enough after primary voters have spoken?

October: For good or bad, Donald Trump has been our President for the last three=plus years. On the off chance that he is defeated in November, however, where does the TEA Party begin with its resistance to the far-left agenda sure to be enacted by the Democrats’ nominee? Or, if Trump wins – and doesn’t have to worry about re-election ever again – what issues do you want him to exhaust his political capital on in his second term?

I believe these are compelling questions worth asking, and hopefully I will have a plethora of answers from those most passionate about the TEA Party movement.

As far as a timeline, ideally April would be the last State of the TEA Party blog post exclusively at this venue. I would love to have a functional site for this proposed digest (as well as a nice little mailing list) by this summer, but that is going to depend on how much assistance I receive. At this point the help is more in the area of expertise than finance, since the goal is simply to promote this information in a venue that is inherently not looking to support or oppose particular candidates but to be a clearinghouse to discuss ideas and correctly write the TEA Party’s history and overarching goals.

By its very nature, 2020 should be a year of vision. Let’s bring the state of the TEA Party into a much clearer and more broadly understood focus.

The new direction

Back in the last decade (a few days ago) I alluded to the fact I would talk about a new direction for this site, which actually extends to other aspects of my writing career. So here goes.

Last summer I did my famous (or infamous, depending on perspective) reading of The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party at Pemberton Coffeehouse. As the last part of that reading I read a tease from the next project I was working on, a book about the Indivisible movement. Its basic premise was to use the statement that it was using the rules of the road laid out by the TEA Party as their own. I figured that I was a pretty good expert on how the TEA Party operates so who better to write a book grading the upstarts on their efforts?

Unfortunately, this is where I ran into a problem. I really have no passion for Indivisible; in fact, I still get their stuff and read it, alternately wanting to laugh hysterically and shake my head in disbelief that supposedly intelligent people believe some of this crap. Their being stuck on “orange man bad” makes them rather dull to consider, and there’s nowhere near the tension and conflict when the media has its back – or, really, more or less ignores them by comparison to the TEA Party. In short, there just wasn’t the desire to write 200 pages on the subject.

And then we have the whole book marketing thing. To be honest, as I noted in my latest edition of radio days, I really need a long format radio gig to feel comfortable and those are hard to come across. And even with all that, the books haven’t exactly been flying off the shelves – not for a lack of trying. I did sixteen different radio shows but what I didn’t tell you is that I contacted somewhere close to 200 in order to make that happen. There were probably eight to ten more gigs which fell through for various reasons, and by this point the book is far enough in the rearview mirror that its relevance has diminished somewhat. (For example, it’s silent on the whole impeachment saga that’s consumed political news during the latter half of 2019.) There’s a point where you can’t market old news.

I love the act of writing, but I don’t get nearly as much thrill from the acts of selling even though that’s what creates the market for the writing. It seems to me that finding someone to market books properly yet affordably is almost as unlikely as finding the winning lottery ticket on the sidewalk. I know I have people who believe in and enjoy my work, but I can’t make them give me reviews or market my book for me. I can say that I’ve written two books but I can’t say I was significantly better at marketing the second effort – which involved a lot more work than the first one – than I was with the first one seven years ago.

However, having said that, I think there is a market for my writing – it may be a small niche, but it exists nonetheless. Moreover, I’m very partial to short-form writing (such as blog posts, but also my contributions to The Patriot Post and before that PJ Media, Examiner.com, and my days as a struggling syndicated columnist) so why not bring those strengths into play? Plus I retain this venue as a good base of operations. (Eventually the Rise and Fall site will go away. I would like to have a writer site to market my writing, although there’s nothing which says I couldn’t just do it here. Something for me to think and pray about.)

Thus, I have a few writing goals in mind for this year. Some are relatively easy to achieve while others are more ambitious. There is also a longer-term political goal which will hopefully be kicked off by actions I take this year, but I won’t get into that just yet.

I begin with the fate of the Indivisible book. To date I have put about 4,000 words to paper, most of which went into the introduction while I also covered a little bit about the personalities and finance. Making this an 80,000 word book would definitely be a stretch, particularly since I had intended to complete it for this November – and, like I said, my heart wasn’t in it.

However, I also have a saying – don’t let good writing go to waste. I think what can be done with this beginning of a draft would be to serialize it into a four- or five-part series after I round it out a little bit, maybe adding a couple thousand words to make the points. It may be a good thing to start up around the time of Super Tuesday since Indivisible will be actively trying to manipulate the Democrats’ nomination process, similarly to how the TEA Party tried to influence the 2012 GOP nomination.

In the interim, I want to continue a series I’ve done on a quarterly basis since last summer: the State of the TEA Party. My next installment will come later this month, but by the summer I really want to take the concept in a new, exciting direction.

My vision for the State of the TEA Party is to eventually create a quarterly journal from it – whether print, online, or both – one which creates an academic-style look at the movement for a limited, Constitutional government that the TEA Party supposedly espoused at its creation. Obviously this entails more input from other people, and that’s where some of the contacts I had in the writing of Rise and Fall as well as the gravitas of writing a strongly-researched book could help bring that to a reality. I’d love to bring more perspective from those who directly assisted me with Rise and Fall as well as others in the TEA Party who have guided it over the last decade-plus. This could also help me with a non-writing goal I spoke about in the final chapter of Rise and Fall. (Go buy the book and you’ll see what I mean.)

Long story short: I may be done as a book author – although the Lord may have other plans, and some have suggested I write a book on the Shorebirds – but I’m a long way from throwing in the towel as a writer. It’s just that, given some of the various side hustles I have – not to mention my “real” full-time job – writing a little at a time and not trying to rush through a book I’m not passionate about is the move I think is best for me and my overarching agenda.

Radio days volume 27

This turned out to be the conclusion of my Rise and Fall radio tour, with two stops in November. However, the less said about the first one, the better. I have to apologize to the fine folks of Burlington, Iowa and KCPS-AM 1150 because I was just not on my game for various reasons. Had I known the situation in advance I would have rescheduled. But what’s done is done, and life goes on. At least it was just a short segment.

Four weeks later, I had a whole hour thanks to my long-standing effort to get on a program called Southern Sense Radio. I first contacted host Annie Ubelis back in July, figuring I would probably not be on until after my August hiatus, and I was right. But that gave Annie time to read through the book and made it a much better conversation. I even had an interesting lead-in, she being President Trump’s spiritual adviser Paula White.

So if you go to the 63-minute mark here, you’ll hear Annie and I have a wide-ranging discussion of where the TEA Party went. We really covered a lot of topics, but the bigger discussion wasn’t necessarily so much a blow-by-blow review of the book as it was a conference call about the differing philosophies required in using the TEA Party to create change in radically different states: it’s far easier in ruby-red South Carolina where she’s from than it is in our deep-blue bastions of Delaware and Maryland. Certainly the book gave me standing to discuss these issues, and she had a couple legitimate disagreements with me on various topics.

But as I listened to the replay in writing this, I noticed I really began getting cranked up about 10 minutes in. One thing I have to realize in doing radio is that it’s not quite like casual conversation – I’m very good at stepping on her lines because I start thinking I need to say something to her point. Maybe that makes for better radio, though. I have to admit, however, that even after doing all these stops on the phone I have a hard time getting to a comfort level with talking like this, regardless of host, so the longer segment I have, the better I seem to do. I would say my best three stops on this tour (in no particular order) were Annie’s, the hour I did for The Ross Report back in July, and the hour I spent doing Political Vibe later that month.

So I suppose this may be the last Radio Days episode I do for awhile, as I have stopped seeking new radio gigs to support my book. And as a bit of foreshadowing, after the new year dawns I’m going to share a little about the direction I’m thinking of taking in the realm of political writing. Stay tuned.

The state of the TEA Party: fall 2019

(This is cross-posted to my book site for The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party.)

Since I last updated in July, we’ve had the elections I alluded to in North Carolna – where both Republicans won and maintained the seat for the GOP – but we’ve also had a more recent event which was reminiscent of the TEA Party of old. I’ll grant it wasn’t so much a philosophy-driven protest as it was personality-driven (or perhaps a little touch of desperation) but the TEA Party that came out for Donald Trump in 2016 wanted to take to the streets to support the beleaguered President last weekend.

Led by former TPP and TPX leader Amy Kremer, who now runs a group called Women for America First, the rally was slated on a weekday around noontime, which limited participation. Then they had an issue with the bus companies who were being counted on to bring hundreds more to the “hundreds” who found the time to attend the march in Washington, D.C. (However, nearly 50 other rallies were slated around the country so presumably there were thousands in attendance.)

Considering the Breitbart site set this up as a “massive march” it’s no surprise the meager turnout became the subject of left-wing derision. Of course it was, and the media got its exercise from jumping to conclusions: “Both women seemed to believe that TV video is regularly doctored to make Trump look bad,” said a report from the lefty site Mother Jones. “We are witnesses to a coup!” screamed the Right Wing Watch website, referring to attendees in Washington. “Without the president’s leadership, she fears the United States is fated to trash the Constitution and adopt communism,” intoned Cronkite News (a PBS site) about a rallygoer who actually was quoted as saying, “Not all leftists are against our country, but many have gone with the global philosophy of the New World Order.”

Yet media covered some of these smaller marches, too, in ruby-red places like Wyoming to conservative patches of blue states like Illinois. They encountered opposition in Tennessee.

At least there’s something there to believe in, though. If you’re a fan of the TEA Party Express (as I was) there’s not much to go on anymore; meanwhile the TEA Party Patriots are just hanging out on social media and doing their occasional lunch meeting.

Obviously I can’t see what each and every local TEA Party is doing, but hopefully they’ve made a habit of being involved in their local elections. If change is to be made, the local level is a good place to begin.

As for this ongoing update, I’d like to solicit more opinion and I have some ideas on how to do that. We’ll see where it goes come January.

Radio days volume 26

I had one last show to do before I went on a hiatus for a few weeks thanks to some family time and other obligations. So on Friday I stepped into the ring of a show called “Ringside Politics” with host Jeff Crouere on WGSO-AM in New Orleans. (They podcast the whole show, I come in about the 3:02 mark.)

It’s actually a gig I’d been seeking for awhile, but there were a few roadblocks placed in the way: I let them get through a hurricane, sent him a copy of the book to review, and finally got him to agree to a spot on the last day I was going to do shows before I took the time away. It’s interesting because I think years ago I was on Jeff’s mailing list but somehow we lost touch.

Anyway, the one issue I had initially was originally I was slated to be on at 9:00 a.m. his time. A few days beforehand, Jeff contacted me and asked if we could push it back a half hour, which was no problem with me.

But when it came to the appointed time, my phone was silent. So I went online and checked the station only to find he was talking to another caller. After going “hmmmmm…” I texted him to ask if I was bumped; a half-hour later I got a call from the station asking if I was ready to come on.

Thus, I was a little unprepared because I was also working on a project for work that had grabbed my attention again, but once I got back in the flow I thought I did okay. The biggest issue I had was where I rolled into a break before I was informed we were coming up on it; otherwise, I would have wrapped things up better. But it was a nice overview of the TEA Party and the frustrations that we had to endure.

I probably should have held my tongue on Bobby Jindal, though. It was really intended as a passing remark, but Jeff took it and ran with it. Live and learn.

So now I’m on a radio hiatus for a little while, for reasons I will further explain in a few weeks. There are two to three outlets which are still interested in speaking to me once the fall comes so we’ll see how pursuing them goes.

Radio days volume 25

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.

Radio days volume 24

To prove that I’m in no real rush to break news, these radio spots occurred over a week ago. But seeing as the big push to secure interviews has slowed down to a manageable trickle – that and being busy with some actual, real life adulting-type stuff rather than my usual fun and games – it took me a little time to get to this wrapup, which will cover a total of four interviews I did during the week of July 15.

Unfortunately, the very first one I did doesn’t seem to be available on a podcast. It’s too bad because the introduction I had to this small-town Texas host was, “Would love to visit with you on the air…. and off!” Brownwood, Texas (a city of just under 20,000) is literally in the center of the state and would seem to have a very receptive audience. J.R. and Celinda were nice enough hosts, and they focused a lot of the conversation (as I recall it) on Donald Trump, which was fine. I just remember that it seemed I got to talk at some length and it went pretty quickly.

Nor have I had any luck with my second radio spot of the week, that of “Real Talk With Riggin.” I truly enjoyed speaking with Faune Riggin, and maybe that podcast is out there someplace, but it appears they only keep a rolling tally of the last 10 or so and that doesn’t cover last week anymore.

Faune was quite well-informed because I sent her a copy of the book (at her request.) And she sounded like she was someone definitely sympathetic to the TEA Party aims, so it was a nice conversation. I remember being pretty pleased with it at its conclusion.

On the other hand, my appearance that Friday was an experience I hadn’t come across before – discussing the book with someone left of center. But Dave Priest and I had a very good conversation, although in listening to it I noticed I have some odd fallback phrases, like per se. Hey, as long as I informed the fine folks of Myrtle Beach and got them interested in the book I suppose I’m doing my task. It was definitely an overview, but for 15 minutes I think I did a reasonable job. Because it was sent to me as an .mp3 file, the show is available from my book site.

Later on Friday I got to tape a segment for broadcast on the following day, which would have been back on the 20th. It’s a show called “Political Vibe” and it airs in the relatively rural area around Chambersburg, PA. (It’s interesting to note that many of my appearances have come in smaller communities, although I’ve also been in the “major league” city of Cincinnati as well as high-minor towns like Richmond, Fresno, and Wichita.)

That show was very enjoyable because, first of all, I got a couple long segments in – no squeezing in between traffic and weather – and second of all, it was hosted by people who had themselves marched with the TEA Party. (In that respect it was a lot like the show I did with Carol Ross.) We had a great conversation, and it was one of those where I sort of forgot I was being taped for later broadcast – except for how Michele did the segment intro. I even got to listen to it online because it was repeated twice on the same day at 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.

So it appears I am beginning to wind down the radio tour – I have a few more show prospects but I’m going to try and wrap up this leg by the middle of August, for several reasons. However, I have a very special show tomorrow (the 1st) at 7:30 a.m. because it will be in the city of my birth, Toledo, Ohio, and WSPD-AM – the station which introduced me to talk radio giants like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity, among others. I’ll be joining host Fred LeFebvre for a segment, which will probably be over before I know it!

Programming note: Even though tomorrow is the first Thursday of the month, the fact that it’s literally the 1st and the Shorebirds played a night game last night – well, we will do July’s Shorebirds of the Month on the 8th.

I also made another executive decision to push back the August Shorebirds of the Month to the second week in September because, should the Delmarva nine advance to the SAL Championship Series, there will be a Shorebird Position Player and Pitcher of the Month for September, too. (If not, I have to add in the stats for the few September games.) Barring rainouts, errant tropical weather, and so forth, that would assure the Shorebirds play at least 7 games in the month, with potential to play up to 10.

Radio days volume 23

With the emphasis this time on “days”…

Last week was something I had never tried before, but The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party is creating conversation and interest. So I was on SIX different radio shows in six days, although they weren’t distributed equally: I had Monday and Thursday off but did three Friday.

The week began on Sunday night when I spoke to John Whitmer, who does a Sunday night show on KNSS-AM and FM in Wichita, Kansas.

Now that I’ve listened to it again, it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it was initially. But there are days I write better than I talk and that was one. I felt like I had vapor lock a couple times, but those pauses that seemed like 10 seconds of dead air to me weren’t that bad. I did hit most of the points and John seemed patient enough – I didn’t know he had a guest right after me so maybe he was rushing through it too.

So, to say the least, I was really, really nervous about Tuesday’s show with Carol Ross and The Ross Report on KPEL-FM in Lafayette, Louisiana, particularly with Whitmer’s show fresh on my mind.

But for whatever reason, I got my mojo back in about two minutes with Carol and it was an outstanding pick-me-up. Maybe it’s because I knew she was prepared for the show: she had actually read my RAF website and the sample chapter, then bought the book. So she had questions about the book I could answer and we had a wonderful HOUR. (I was expecting more like two segments.) Of course, the ONE SHOW where they couldn’t get me a podcast was that one. Complete bummer, because we had a great conversation.

With that conversation out of the way, I felt much more at ease going into Wednesday’s talk with Gail Fallen and “Mornings with Gail” on KFKA-AM in Greeley. Colorado. And Gail was actually rather funny; as you can tell we had a lot of laughs. I come on at the 17:25 mark, although getting to listen to the whole hour meant I could get the promos too.

(Now about that train reference: I work within 40 yards of an active railroad siding. A train comes by, usually twice a day, and this one just so happened to be coming past and blaring its horn just as I went on air. I was sure they could hear it on the other end!)

One thing that impressed me about Gail is how she used the information with which I provided her. In doing this media blitz, I have created a press kit of sorts and she certainly reviewed it before I came on – and this was one of the more quickly-arranged stops on the tour. But I came off that one on a Rocky Mountain high because it was an enjoyable experience.

So I was still in a pretty good way come Friday, which I knew was going to be interesting as I piled three shows on top of one another. The latter two were scheduled just last week, but my first stop was on a station I remembered from my days at Miami University, 55KRC in Cincinnati. (More formally, WKRC-AM, but they have gone by 55KRC based on their 550 frequency for decades; even before the similarly-named sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati made its debut.)

After the hour I spent with Carol Ross a few days earlier, my chat with Brian Thomas was my best conversation of the week. It had good flow, I got most of my points across, and it was obvious he was nicely prepared – in fact, he links to my website from his website, too. This meant I didn’t need to spend precious moments pushing it myself. I think it was because Brian’s interview was planned well in advance – I seem to recall we set the date back in late June when I reached out to stations in the Midwest. (There’s another Ohio station I was supposed to be set up with, but somehow that’s fallen through for the moment.)

And I could relate very well to Brian’s embarrassment about John Kasich – how many of us have backed a candidate we swore up and down would be conservative because he or she talked the talk, only to find out their walk was a headlong run to embrace the Left?

Later that afternoon I returned to Wichita, Kansas to do a show called “The Voice of Reason” on KQAM-AM with host Andy Hooser. Whether fortunately or unfortunately, I can’t seem to find a podcast on it.

Unlike Brian’s, this was a spot which was arranged rather quickly – Andy reached out to me on Wednesday and originally wanted to do Thursday, but I like to have a couple days to prepare so Friday it was. Initially I thought Andy’s show was on a group of stations, but in looking deeper into it I found it’s just on the one in Wichita. (From what I gather it recently became a midday show, too, moving out of a morning slot.)

I think it was an okay performance on my part from what I recall, although I remember more of pacing around my back yard – with two dogs sleeping in the house and a plumber who had fortunately had finished up just before I started, my mind wasn’t completely on his show. For some reason I don’t get the comfort level at home that I do when I’m on radio shows from my workplace – aside from the random train it’s normally pretty quiet there and I know the boss is cool with it (I just stay late to make up the time.)

And that carried over to my last radio show on Friday, reaching across to the Left Coast to be on The Trevor Carey Show on KALZ-FM and KRZR-AM out of Fresno, California. (I come in around the 21:30 mark, after a lengthy discussion of immigration raids and such.)

It took me awhile to get my bearings with Trevor, but toward the end I thought I made several good points, especially the mission field comments. Trevor definitely has some good bumper music, too.

And I get the impression from the advertising and rhetorical style that Trevor is looking for a younger audience, which fits well with what I’m looking for, too. People of my generation aren’t going to make a lasting change as much as those of a younger age can be taught in the way they need to go.

So this was an unprecedented week, one which may not be repeated anytime soon: I still have a number of leads out there as well as one show slated for Tuesday, but this week was probably the peak of on-air encounters. I’ll keep plugging away to spread the word, though.

Radio days volume 22

It took me about a week to get to this for a couple of reasons, with the most important being that I was hoping to stack this up with a second appearance I was working on – alas, through a series of misadventures and perhaps missed opportunities that stop of the Rise and Fall radio tour appears to have gone by the wayside, hopefully just for the time being.

The second appearance for the RAF tour came at a non-local station, WNTW-AM 820 and its repeaters, W249CI-FM 97.7 and W224EB-FM 92.7, out of Richmond, Virginia. So how did I get on a station like that? Well, let’s just say I’m doing a little bit of research and marketing and in that effort I came across a local host by the name of Craig Johnson, whose on-air persona is Brother Craig, the Hatchet Man. The show is called “The Really Real Deal.” It’s also simulcast on social media.

So why local hosts? I figure it’s easier to get on those shows in the medium and smaller markets, which is where a lot of my target audience lives. Would I like to be on Rush, Hannity, or Mark Levin? Yeah, but that’s not something a heretofore small-time author can realistically aspire to out of the gate. I figure I can start small like a ball player does, working my way through the minor leagues of local hosts before making my pitch to the major syndicated programs.

As I found in doing the research, this station is quite conservative in content and it appeared Brother Craig would be the most receptive host. So I sent him my elevator pitch and was on the air with him less than two weeks later.

To say the least, he has the confidence and bravado swagger of a Rush Limbaugh. He is also a snappy dresser – thank goodness this wasn’t on Skype because I was in my work clothes (business casual.) Since this is a Facebook video I’m not sure it will properly embed by itself but I think I got it to work:

If you don’t mind a lengthy Bible study Brother Craig goes into feel free to watch the whole thing; otherwise I come on about the 1:15:00 mark.

Now let me preface this by saying I didn’t listen to the previous day’s show, but one thing I was very disappointed by was the lack of promotion for me as a guest. I would hope he didn’t treat people like David Horowitz or Walter E. Williams (among the roster he claims as previous guests) that way. But the average listener had no idea I was coming on until I was put on coming out of the commercial segment. I’ll grant, though, that the date of my appearance was (unbeknownst to me until I visited his social media this week to find out if this show was up) was among his last at the station. (From what I’ve gathered, Brother Craig has a brokered program, meaning he pays for his time. Fortunately, I have also found he will soon have a new radio home in an even larger market.) So I’m sure I wasn’t foremost in mind – I just appreciate the opportunity.

As for the interview itself, I thought I did a reasonable job of explaining my book and its points, except I wanted to top off the statement about Doug Hoffman by noting the TEA Party’s shotgun marriage to the GOP began with the 2009-10 Scott Brown Senate campaign before I got a bit sidetracked by something Brother Craig said. It was interesting to note that he also spoke at his first TEA Party in 2009 as a longtime activist. Certainly I had enough time to make most of my points, since I was held over through the bottom-of-the-hour news (my segment began at 5:20 p.m.)

All in all, I thought I did a reasonable job of selling the book – yes, I could have done better and hopefully I will with the segments I have already scheduled – at least one and likely a second that should be nailed down this week. (On that one, I may see if I can do it after the holiday instead. Meanwhile, in the interim between when I first started this Saturday and now, I found out I have two more hot prospects!) The one I already have a date for is a return to one of my old stomping grounds so I look forward to it.

Finally, pinned to the top of my social media page for Rise and Fall is the video of my reading from last Saturday, in case you’re interested.