|Caucus Floor Management at the CRP?|
Tea Party tech may allow minority to caucus like a majority
It's major good news, both politically and on the tech front as the Tea Party California Caucus (TPCC), a collection of Tea Party organizations from up and down California, announces its intent to be present at the California Republican Party (CRP) Convention in October as a formal caucus.
I dare say that many Tea Party activists may well look back on the last week of August, 2013 as the week that real Tea Party political influence began. Many savvy politcos I've talked to across the country regard this as a HUGE development.
There are four major tranches of good news in this story: the formation of a Tea Party caucus at the CRP convention, the technology that the TPCC is employing, TPCC help in becoming a voting delegate to the CRP Convention (this means you!), and TPCC help in becoming a voting member of your district/county party central committee (again, this means you!); in short: learning to actually help govern the GOP effectively toward more conservative Tea Party principles. Then exercising that governing power effectively at the state party and subordinate conventions (other states outside CA have subordinate conventions, CA does not).
All three, together and separately, are the most powerful short- and long-term tactics for exerting influence in governing the party.
But it's not just the intention of the Tea Party to start getting inside CRP governance that's good news, it's also the tech they've deployed to both manage and inform the caucus during the CRP convention in October.
Although the picture above, (which perhaps suggests a lot of delegates on the convention floor getting their voting instructions directly from caucus managers) is definitely a wild exaggeration, there are many very valid and exciting use cases for the technology that will help political underdogs wield real influence at a state party convention.
Imagine attending such a convention and getting a text message that says something like:
"Resolution committee considering affirming 'comprehensive immigration reform' now. Pls proceed to Ballroom A to speak out."
Or being able to text a request to caucus managers...
"Which hospitality suite is the party chairman in now?? Would like to lobby regarding school vouchers."
. . . and getting a fast, accurate answer back!
"Party Chairman is in suite 1132, Resolutions and Bylaws chairs are there, too."
. . . and finally, the text message everyone expects (or hopes for) as the plenary session gets underway . . .
"Deal struck with Resolutions Chair. Report changed in emer mtg. OK to vote for Resolution Q."
Most state parties must try to conclude an astonishing amount of business at their conventions in only 2 or 3 days. Sometimes state parties must rely on mystery, secrecy and surprise to further agenda items that party officers may feel many members would likely oppose. If you've ever felt outraged at a measure taken at a state convention, you know just what I'm talking about, and you probably realize that a freer, more open flow of timely information could have forestalled the unsavory measure. The tech that the TPCC is employing can help caucus managers resolve that, and open up the flow of information, so all caucus members quickly know where to apply pressure; and stop the pressure when their demands are satisfied. Then immediately direct that influence elsewhere.
With a 2-way 'intelligence' system based on phones in convention-goers' hands, surprise items on committee agendas can be reported and dealt with in a timely, effective manner. Rumors, the currency of many state conventions, can be quickly quelled or confirmed. Requests for facts, fact-checks, or even spot research can be quickly serviced and distributed.
Information, as some have said, wants to be free. This technology helps a lot.
In the hands of alert caucus members, tech like this could prove to help a minority wield influence like a majority.
Just as lock upon doors keep honest people honest, employment of this tech could help keep some state parties a little more honest. If party leaders in some states think it'll be too difficult with agenda information flowing so freely among an opposing caucus, they may opt not to try the more unsavory tactics we've seen in some states.
Attracting caucus members could be very, very easy and fast. Caucus members could wear QR code buttons (or even jewelry) that when scanned, adds the scanning person's cell phone number directly and instantly to the caucus' text messaging database, and as of that very second, the new member who just scanned is 'in the loop' to receive caucus texts and 'intelligence' updates - and to make requests of caucus managers for information - and report events that may be of interest to the caucus. New members can even join anonymously if there are 'political requirements' that their caucus membership be kept very low key. And seeing these buttons on enough lapels could instill a very proper fear among opposing caucuses.
It's not a done deal yet. Caucus managers will still need to exploit the technology in an adroit fashion, but look for the Tea Party in California to have a very, very successful CRP convention.
But that's not all that the TPCC is doing for the Tea Party in California. They're also helping people become voting delegates to the CRP Convention. Having more votes always helps, and you need lots of voting delegates if your caucus is to exercise any authority. TPCC has finally seen the value of putting their own people inside the party, with votes that must be counted. It's a much more clever strategy than renting a ballroom for meetings at a convention - a tactic that most parties have over a hundred years' experience at resisting. Plus, it costs a lot less money!
Finally, the Coup de Grâce
To be sure, it's a much longer term strategy, but one that's essential to any effort that wishes to wield influence in any major party: The TPCC will be helping its rank and file learn how to become voting members within their local and county parties. It's the rank and file voting members who choose the leaders and endorse platforms; a change in the voting rank and file means eventual changes in the party.
You've read it here many times before: nationwide, half - 50% - of the voting seats in the party are empty. Vacant. Unoccupied. Twenty to thirty percent of the people already working/voting within the party are our kind of people. And they're waiting impatiently to be joined by other Tea Party activists to form a majority (this means you!). If we fill the vacant seats with our people, we own the party - set, game, match. TPCC will begin to help with that.
The TPCC will undertake to help its members fill as many of those vacant, voting seats as possible.
Of course, many of us are hoping that the Tea Parties in other states will be watching TPCC closely, and emulating them in their own states.
Now if we can simply get Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Heritage, Freedomworks, AFP and the 'big' Tea Party leaders to start touting this strategy, we'll finally put our country back on a sound footing for prosperity, growth and safe personal liberties.
TPCC may be leading the way to a new and very effective level of influence for the Tea Party in American politics.