Keli Carender is a blogger (at Redistributing Knowledge) and Tea Party organizer who is helping build April 15 Tea Party events in Seattle, Washington.
This is the eighth in our series of e-interviews with local Tax Day Tea Party organizers. (There are links to the previous seven interviews at the end of this post.)
Keli, what motivates your involvement in the Tea Party movement?
In my mind we are fighting for freedom and liberty from an increasingly tyrannical, oppressive, and immoral government. The founders knew what men were capable of, and similarly, how easily corruptable man is as well. I find it absolutely immoral for the government to be able to come into your home and take your family's bounty and give it away to basically bribe other voters. I think we need to hammer home the immorality, illegality, and unconstitutionality of this administration's attempt to bring Marxism into our country.
Wasn't Seattle one of the first protest sites?
Yes, the first protest I planned was on President's Day, in February, before Rick Santelli's rant! Without any support from a national movement, without any support from any official in my city, I just got fed up and planned it. We called in the Porkulus Protest. I had 120 people show up, which is amazing for the bluest of blue cities I live in, and on only four days notice!! This was due to me spending the entire four days calling and emailing every person, think tank, policy center, university professors (that were sympathetic), etc. in town, and not stopping until the day came.
The second protest was the first Tea Party on Feb. 27th. We more than doubled our attendance at this one, and that is very much due to the fact that I had collected email addresses at the first one and was able to tell a couple hundred people at once about the second rally.
Can you share any other lessons from your previous events?
Number one: just get it done. Do you need a permit? Find out and then just get it. Do you want a guest speaker? Get on the phone and call anyone you can think of and get them there. You will need to alert media, so just get that done. At the other end of taking the reigns and not worrying about anything, I would say, let people help you. Almost immediately I had two women email me and say, what can I do? And boom, I had two other organizers to start helping me with the next event.
Number two: make sure to GET EMAIL ADDRESSES at your event!! That way you will have a list to email later, when the next tea party or other event rolls around. If you are able to collect a lot of email addresses, you might need a formal emailing system in order to send out mass emails. I started using MailChimp and it is a GREAT service!
Number three: if this makes sense for your event, try to pack a lot of things into a shorter amount of time. My first protest was too long and kind of meandered at the end. Keep it structured, with a good pace (almost like a theater production.)
When did you decide that your efforts could make a difference?
I decided to get involved when I saw the manner in which the stimulus bill was passed. I felt like I was drowning, like I couldn't breathe. I was calling my congressmen, writing emails, etc., but they were just being ignored. I decided the time had come to do something in the streets, visible to everyone, to let our voices be heard.
We heard you're not attending the 4th of July Tea Party. What's up with that?
I will not be able to attend the 4th of July event as I am getting married on that day! Hooray!
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