To give you an idea of what Richmond Tea Party is working on now and for the future, I interviewed President Eric McGrane. My questions and his responses are below.
What major initiatives are on tap for Richmond Tea Party this year?
The primary focus for the rest of the year will be activities around the VA state elections. RTP is hard at work in the background, carefully evaluating the voting records of current legislators and scoring their performance on issues important to tea party supporters. We are also involved with examining/vetting new candidates that are not incumbents, who may not have a record or history for review. We are also working to organize tea party supporters to mobilize for the campaigns they choose to support.
How can others get involved in these initiatives?
The best way to reach RTP to get involved is through the online volunteer sign-up form, located at http://www.richmondteaparty.com/volunteer. Alternately, interested parties can call our voicemail line at (800) 394-5885. We are also conducting a volunteer fair this weekend (Saturday, June 18th) from 10:00AM to 2:00PM at the RTP office, where RTP coordinators will be available to answer questions directly. More information is available on the website at http://www.richmondteaparty.com/2011/06/reminder-volunteer-fair-saturday-june-18th/, or call the number above. Finally, supporters can reach us at our monthly meetings, where frequently the RTP committee chairmen are available to answer questions.
What are your biggest needs?
We need more dedicated volunteers that are willing to sacrifice a few hours a week for our very good cause! We have specific needs in various committee initiatives, including media/marketing, fundraising, research, and elections, as a start. Additionally, we need donations to be able to expand our opportunities to spread our message, such as buying advertising and ordering printed material to distribute.
How do you awaken people to the reality of the over-reaching government in Washington (and Virginia)?
This is a common problem for any organization working to get its word out to the public. We will continue to share information through our newsletters, website, Facebook, Twitter, and other electronic methods. We even have a mobile app for iPhone and Android users! We have public meetings monthly (or thereabouts), and you may see us around the area waving signs and focusing on areas of high population density. We also would love to do more billboard advertising and direct mailings when appropriate, but all of that requires funding.
What can average citizens do in their own neighborhoods and communities to help advance the principles of liberty?
Talk to your neighbors … spread through word of mouth. Host a mini-tea party gathering at your house or subdivision clubhouse. Attend the tea party meeting of your local group. There are actually several smaller local tea party groups throughout the Richmond area that would love additional support. Contact your state and federal reps. Continually. Ceaselessly. Most importantly, get involved in your local government. Go to your county board of supervisors meetings, your school board meetings, etc. And be sure to speak up and be counted!
How would you score the new Congress’s job performance so far?
The new Congress in aggregate has been very lackluster. With sparse exceptions, we’ve seen few bold new ideas to confront the very serious challenges facing the county. While we certainly understand that securing votes in the Senate on issues that are important to tea party supporters is problematic, we expect at least the House to erect strong firewalls against further encroachment on our rights and the erosion of our freedoms.
What about Majority Leader Cantor’s performance?
We were expecting House leadership to come out “with all guns blazing” after the election, given the monumentally historic vote results across the country, especially at the state level. However, what we received was more timidity. I’m not sure how we could’ve sent a stronger message of “we’ve got your back” than we did in the election numbers, and I’m concerned that the message was still not received. Watching the House fold on the continuing funding resolution was demoralizing and disappointing as we learned that the “concessions” (cuts) allegedly gained were meaningless. We expected more from Leader Cantor and Speaker Boehner on this issue, and they let us down. I’m afraid now that the House leadership is also about to cave on the debt ceiling, with rumors swirling that any spending “cuts” meant to offset the raising of the ceiling will be spread across many years, instead of taking effect immediately within the same budget year. The best I’m hearing out of Leader Cantor’s office right now is corresponding cuts to spending would equal the raise in the debt ceiling, which obviously does nothing to reduce the already unmanageable current levels of debt. I want Leader Cantor to be outspoken on the issues, publically and continually, educating the public on why conservative solutions to address the economy make sense and are the best option moving forward. Instead we seem to be getting background management of capitulation, quietly guiding us deeper into the fiscal abyss. How House leadership manages the debt ceiling issue will clearly indicate to everyone how serious they really are. We will be watching.
What are your thoughts on the results of VA’s General Assembly session this year?
It was very disappointing. The Senate subcommittees were on a mission to kill bills that tea party supporters favored before they reached the floor for a vote, even violating long-standing rules of the Senate in the process. If you’d like to get your blood boiling, check out the RTP coverage of what happened this year. It was shameful. (http://www.richmondteaparty.com/2011/02/senate-chairmen-breaking-their-own-rules/) Watching the Senate’s performance, it’s very clear that we need new Senate representation next year.
How will RTP be involved in the VA elections this year?
We want to educate voters on the issues, and how current legislators have voted on those issues that are important to RTP’s core values. We plan to offer information on any non-incumbent candidates in the area, so that voters will be more informed about the candidates’ positions. Additionally, if you are a legislator that has been behaving badly, prepare to have your record highlighted for all to see. And once we have determined which candidates are aligned with RTPs core values, we plan to assist tea party supporters with contacting and supporting those candidates’ campaigns. At this time however, we don’t plan to endorse candidates officially, but that is a possibility that we will evaluate as needs and opportunities arise. We encourage all tea party supporters who want to jump in now to make a difference in the election to contact the Virginia Tea Party Alliance PAC: http://vateapartyalliance.org/
What do you see for the future of RTP and the Tea Party movement in general?
Education, organization, and activation. It all comes down to those three main initiatives.
I would like to thank all of the RTP volunteers for their continued sacrifice, which is considerable. I would also like to thank all of the RTP supporters who we have been standing beside for more than two years! We’ve come a long way towards restoring some sanity to government, but we still have a great distance to go.
Cross-posted at redstatevirginia.com