To grow the diverse “Tea Party” movement and to Get-Out-The-Votes for elections, we need a non-partisan message that resonates with most voters. Candidate and issue focused messages divide voters, while a message based on constitutionally based principles of limited government, free markets, and individual liberties has broad appeal and is sustainable for the long term. It will be easy for volunteers with no experience in this type engagement to communicate a non-partisan, non-confrontational message and thus identify like-minded voters who may want to volunteer, get involved with your organizations, or just be on the mailing/ call list for Getting-Out-The-Vote (GOTV).
Well informed voters, through the use of non-partisan Candidate Nights and non-partisan Voter Guides, can be trusted to vote for candidates who most closely adhere to constitutional principles. As Thomas Jefferson stated in 1789: “It is to me a new and consolatory proof that wherever the people are well-informed they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights."
The non-partisan Tea Party message is resonating with an ever increasing number of voters, including Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. There are now more voters outside the two-party system than ever before and the trend is rapidly growing. For example, Independents represent 60% of voters in Ohio, 51% in Massachusetts, and 25% in Florida. Recent national polls of likely voters confirm that the non-partisan Tea Party message of limited government, free markets, and individual liberties is highly relevant to voters and has broad cross-party appeal. Specifically,
· A mid-January, 2011 Gallup poll showed that 7 in 10 national adults, covering Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, say it is important that leaders in Congress take the Tea Party movement’s position and objectives into account as they address the nation’s problems. Among Republicans this number is 88%, even though only half are self-identified Tea Party supporters.
· A February, 2011 Rasmussen Poll indicates that 68% of likely-voters believe big-government and big-business work together against the interests of consumers and investors. This view is shared across partisan, demographic, and ideological lines. Rasmussen states that: “As a result, the gap today between Americans who want to govern themselves and politicians who want to rule over them may be as big as the gap between the colonies and England during the 18th century. And that’s true whether Republicans or Democrats are in charge.”
In light of these findings, a non-partisan message to engage others in productive conversations, with an invitation to join the “Tea Party” movement, can be as simple as: “Hello: My name is _______. I am a concerned citizen from your neighborhood who is troubled by how big-government, career politicians of both parties are bankrupting our country and are jeopardizing our children’s and grandchildren’s future. Are you concerned about what is going on in Washington?” Additionally, a discussion of relevant Economic Principles and sharing a data-based report card for our government would help voters become even more informed of our nation’s predicament and are non-partisan.
“Tea Party” organizations that adhere to a non-partisan message avoid having to form a Political Action Committee (PAC), with its many bookkeeping and filing requirements. In a meeting with lawyers from Ohio’s Secretary of State’s office, we were informed that a PAC or similar structure is necessary once an organization or groups of individuals “are for or against something and if money is involved”. Even donating one’s time and materials can be viewed as in-kind contributions and require a PAC or similar legal entity. Laws in other states may differ, so be sure to check with your Secretary-of-State.
Lastly, in the book Get Out The Vote, by two Yale Professors Donald Green and Alan Gerber, they state that: “Analyses have shown that in Get-Out-The-Vote efforts, campaigns that were strictly non-partisan were neither more nor less effective than campaigns that organized around an issue or a candidate.”