By Mike Engleman on Dec 26, 2022
Just like you, and millions of Conservative Americans, I have been watching this country be destroyed from within by politicians from both political parties for years! And now, they have attacked and sabotaged our electoral processes in my opinion. I then came to the realization and understanding a few years ago, that sitting back, armchair quarterbacking, and complaining was not going to repair the damage being done. So, I took advice from people who had a lot more political background and grassroots organization skills, who challenged me to get engaged, involved, get some skin in the game, and start making my voice heard. Strategically speaking, it was the best advice I could have taken to effectively make a difference.
I have always considered myself politically informed and engaged, but I may have been a bit misguided in many respects. I will expand on this a bit later. I also learned that real change starts locally. While we yearn for representation and change in Washington DC, we have continued to be disappointed election after election, as both parties seem to align more against the wishes and will of the American people. So, I got engaged, involved, skin in the game so to speak at the very local level, and it’s been a very rewarding experience, to have made a difference and continue to do so.
This is how I started and got involved. It is not rocket science, and it’s not hard work if you have a passion for it. You find the skill set that you are comfortable with and run with it. I started talking with people, close friends and acquaintances who were equally not happy with the direction our local governments, city and county councils were taking us local taxpayers. Out of control reckless spending, raising local income tax rates without ever cutting budgets, continuing to expand the size of our local government in a County and Community that was not growing or developing, instead was seeing a declining population.
As a local group, we started to meet weekly for a few hours to discuss and develop a strategy to confront our councils with questions. Each of us had a distinct role that we were confident with and some background in research and understanding of government budgets and financial services.
We started attending the monthly council meetings, asking questions, presenting options instead of the status quo. Presenting facts and figures that was met with resistance. Mind you, these councils were comprised of so-called self proclaimed fiscal conservatives in a Republican dominant county and city. They were governing more like liberal Democrats than conservative Republicans. We saw 3 local income tax rate increases over a 4 year period, while budgets continued to grow. They disrespected us as taxpayers and voters, even to the point of insulting our intelligence. The good ole boys network was not about to be disrupted or changed by a group of locals who didn’t know what they were talking about. That’s how they perceived us. They thought we would just go away little did they know we were just getting started.
Understand something, getting involved locally for change is not a one size fits all, I am just sharing what worked in our particular local area. We became more emboldened and determined. Our weekly meetings expanded in numbers of people who wanted to join us. Each bringing their special talents and abilities. Spokespeople at meetings, writing Letter to Editor articles in local newspapers to inform and educate the public. What used to be County and City Council meetings with hardly any public input, quickly became well attended meetings with 20-30 people in the audience putting publicly elected officials in the hot seat to answer questions, explain decisions that were not beneficial to the taxpayers, making them defend their asinine decisions. Meetings grew, and needless to say we were no longer being insulted and disrespected as loose cannons who didn’t know what we were talking about. Especially, when they no longer had answers that could justify their decisions. We were winning and just getting started, whether we realized it or not. Our local coalition was growing and gaining attention. Needless to say, 90% of the coalition, which really had no name, was compromised of mainly local Republicans not happy with the local Republican Party, and they were not happy with us either.
Backing up to my earlier reference about “being a bit misguided” as this process started. I and many others took it for granted that our local elected Republicans and Republican Party were acting in our best interests, fiscal conservatism, responsible small government. That was a huge wake up call to see it was just the opposite. We vowed to change it! That’s when we discovered we were taking on 2 factions, County government and County Party political leadership.
I will share in a future blog what has transpired with “change is getting involved locally” has meant, and offer to you what has been successful and what hasn’t been so successful. First, I want to share one additional experience with the infancy stages of developing the process.
Our county is over 150 years old. Never ever in County Budget Adoption history had there been any challenge to any proposed budgets! That was about to change. We were successful in getting our Remonstrance challenge to the proposed budget on adoption night publicly presented. We took what traditionally was a 15 minute meeting to nearly 3 hours with debate, questioning, facts and figures to publicly challenge bloated budgets. We knew the Council would double down and vote for adoption anyway. This was the first step in assuring change was about to actually happen and the way of conducting county business and government would drastically change. We needed this Remonstrance battle to happen. It was all part of the strategy going forward. We may have lost the battle but we would win the war.
In my next blog, I’ll explain how affecting change locally made the difference, and can for you too! We were just getting warmed up!
Follow me on Twitter @RealHickory for updates to my blog. Part 2 coming soon!