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December 21, 2010

Our Allies in Pennsylvania

We have allies in Pennsylvania who helped secure the likely-House sponsors of our Read the Bills Act, Write the Laws Act, and One Subject at a Time Act — the Susquehanna Valley Regional Tea Party. They call these three bills, plus the Enumerated Powers Act, “The Responsible Representation Agenda.”

They have a unique activism model (particularly, compared to other Tea Parties). We offer this message, from Tom Anderson, in the hopes that other activist leaders will find value in their approach, and maybe even duplicate it.

I’ve taken the liberty of adding emphasis to a couple of lines we at Downsize DC think are extremely important. 

The Williamsport Tea Party is our local incorporated non-profit organization in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.

We’re in the process of building an umbrella organization for the multiple smaller Tea Party groups in the Susquehanna Valley, such as Bloomsburg, Lewisburg, Scranton, Hazelton, Berwick, Lock Haven, Selinsgrove, etc., under which we can coordinate our activities and share expertise and resources.

Currently, we have members who come to the Williamsport Tea Party meetings from many of these diverse places, but it is not feasible for many people to do it very often, nor is it practical for us to try to manage activities spread across multiple counties. Therefore we are embarking on this federation model called the Susquehanna Valley Regional Tea Party. We are presently negotiating the creation of bylaws, registration as a non-profit entity, and development of a logo, website, etc.

Until this point, the Susquehanna Valley Regional Tea Party has been synonymous with the Williamsport Tea Party. However, in the near future, these will be distinct organizations where the Williamsport Tea Party is but one of several independent affiliates of the Susquehanna Valley Regional Tea Party, under which we will be coordinating large scale goals and projects such as the Responsible Representation Agenda.

I sincerely hope that nobody is relying on us alone to single-handedly reform Congress. It was never our intention to take on such a responsibility and it is unlikely that we’d be successful if we did. 

The Williamsport Tea Party/Susquehanna Valley Regional Tea Party will hopefully serve as a role model for others to emulate and as a kernel of momentum about which others can rally and snowball into a major national initiative, similar in scope to Campaign for Liberty’s “End the Fed” initiative which eventually saw most of Congress co-sponsor the bill. 

But in order for that to occur, people can’t be passive observers relying on us to move the ball forward. They have to take possession and play it in their court too.

Why are we in particular successful in securing sponsorship commitments? 

First, we defined our general philosophy and outlined our shared principles. On this basis, and with plenty of planning, preparation, and advertising, we launched our first major rally which attracted over 4,000 people, which is around 10% of Williamsport’s population.  This demonstrated that we’re a force to be reckoned with. 

We then formed a committee to isolate the specific part of our philosophy and principles which was the highest priority to pursue first so that we could focus our energies on accomplishing a well-defined, near-term goal. After weeks of deliberation, the committee settled on reform of the legislative process.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, we adopted DownsizeDC’s four legislative reform bills — Read the Bills Act, One Subject at a Time Act, Enumerated Powers Act, and Write the Laws Act — to be the focus of our energies going forward. These alone would solve or get us most of the way to conquering our other seemingly unrelated grievances by striking at the root of government corruption — the power to grant favors. 

We coined this endeavor the Responsible Representation Agenda.

Next, we didn’t allow ourselves to get distracted by national electoral politics or wedge issues in our bid to advance this agenda.  We took it straight to our local Congressmen and candidates in the form of a pre-election survey — would they sponsor this legislation if elected? We promised no endorsements based on their response, merely the publication of it. Several responded in the affirmative. And now we’re holding them to it and they’re eager to work with us.

We in Central Pennsylvania have no sway over YOUR Congressman in some other region of the country.  We have no designs on lobbying them.  That is for you to do. We’re doing our part. We’re happy to be pioneers and cheerleaders to encourage others to replicate our goals and methods. But we are not equipped to go it alone.

We appreciate the support of DownsizeDC.org and look forward to Tea Party groups and concerned citizens around the nation standing beside us in our effort to reign in and rout out the abuse, corruption, and over-reach now intrinsic in the legislative process.

We are doing our part by getting these bills introduced and co-sponsored. But we need hundreds of more co-sponsors to ensure that our agenda receives national attention, overwhelming public pressure, and ultimately as a result, a fair and earnest consideration in Congress.

You can learn more about the Williamsport Tea Party and the Susquehanna Valley Regional Tea Party at our website, WilliamsportTeaParty.com. It is of course a work in progress and there is much more to come.

Sincerely,

Thomas Anderson
Director,
Williamsport Tea Party

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