Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal Online noted the following: “After fighting for several months on the highest level of American politics, the leaders of many local tea-party activist groups now plan to take their agendas of limited government and penny-pinching to their hometown governments.”
Well, hopefully, they’ll begin doing more than just bird-dogging the budgets of their local governmental bureaucracy. It seems that most Tea Party groups are not very cognizant of the genuine implications of grassroots activism. Other than a myopic focus on political candidates running for state or federal elections, many Tea Party organizations have not a clue what the heck is happening on their own home turf.
Here in the Philly area, the Philadelphia Tea Party Patriots seem to be getting the grassroots message, at least to some degree. They plan on instituting what they call the Watchman Project. Their members will be assigned to local government meetings in order to monitor agendas and proposals and thereby keep a watchful eye on local politicians.
Well, it’s a good start, but it’s not enough. Not by a long chalk.
If all politics are local, then it stands to reason that much of what shapes our culture today is also hatched at the local level. But in this age of big media and big internet, it’s easy to forget that lesson. We tend to think of culture as a juggernaut bearing down upon us from on high. We feel powerless to shape or reshape so many of the key elements of culture that touch our lives. But to ignore the bottom up push-back is to ignore the real road to power. Want to take back America? Then start paying attention to what’s happening close to home.
Within every defined community, there are small businesses and corporations, community colleges and universities, school rooms and teachers unions, not-for-profit organizations and community groups, governmental agencies and labor unions, TV, radio, and print media, religious institutions and business groups. These are just some of the entities that shape our local communities and provide the building blocks of American culture.
Corporations give away grants to not-for-profits and their corporate executives sit on the boards of various community enterprises. Just what 501c3 organizations are the companies in your neighborhood supporting? Not-for-profits not only get corporate grants but they also get a truck load of taxpayer money. What are the real missions of your neighborly community groups and what are they doing with your dough? Universities shape the values of young men and women and these institutions are funded by state and federal money, which of course all comes from you, the taxpayer. Don’t you ever wonder what’s going on at those hallowed halls of academe in your home town? Local school boards are not just spending your hard-earned cash, they’re also indoctrinating your kids. Do you know what’s really in those textbooks that you’re paying for? Local media are supposed to portray the attitudes of the community in which it operates. Does your local radio, TV, and print media represent your values and concerns?
Think globally, act locally. Stake your claim to your own home turf.