Sunday, September 6, 2009

American Liberty Alliance debuts in Phoenix with all-encompassing strategy for the right

Tom Jenney talks with ALA/#dontgo founder Eric Odom

Thursday night, the American Liberty Alliance held a meeting in Phoenix prior to the launch of their bus tour around the country. ALA is a true grassroots organization that is holding rallies, meetings, and training around the southern half of the U.S. in 18-19 cities this fall without backing from any major corporate interests. A documentary is being made of the tour with assistance from the Sam Adams Alliance, another grassroots organization that is a leader in using social media.

None of us in ALA Arizona are paid. The basic goal of ALA is to bring together activists on the right with grassroots organizations on the right in order to collaborate better. Unlike other groups, ALA avoids the traditional top-down model where leadership dominates and tells its membership what to do. We are living in a Web 2.0 era where every blogger sitting at home in his/her pajamas can be as effective as a traditional newspaper reporter, so it makes more sense to empower individuals to pursue their effectiveness in the way that best suits them, instead of trying to make them fit into a traditional box that no longer works.

I opened the meeting with my tips on how to use online social media most effectively for political activism. John McJunkin, ALA SW Regional Director and editor of Voice of Liberty Podcasting, spoke next (speech to be added shortly). Gayle Plato, ALA Executive Committee member and blogger for, talked about She said it originated to make it easy for women to get into politics and blogging, women who might not otherwise be confident about jumping into that world.

Tom Jenney, ALA Executive Committee member and director of Americans for Prosperity AZ, says conservative activism is now a "do-it-yourself revolution." Individuals are encouraged to take action on their own. If you're upset about Barack Obama's message to schoolkids, you can easily take action through the internet or organizing tea parties to do something, you no longer need a big organization to take the lead. Tom told how AFP has been active opposing the stimulus, through, and said he can't believe that Obama's supporters really think that just a little
more government control with make things better with healthcare. He told how the Tucson teaparties have forced Rep. Gabby Giffords to hold a townhall meeting on healthcare. AFP's website opposing Obama's healthcare is AFP supports the Ron Paul bill which would require legislation to be posted on the internet 10 days prior to voting on it. They are also supporting the Audit the Fed bill, which has over 200 co-sponsors.

Keith Sipmann, ALA Advisory Board member, teaparty organizer and editor of American Political Analysis (deliberately designed to look like Obama's, discussed how he was able to get thousands of people to come out for the teaparties this year in Arizona. He said there's a lot of people who like to sit around and complain, but they do nothing about it. He realizes that people probably got really tired of seeing his name all over their facebook page posting events and sending out emails, but that's how you get things accomplished. One audience member asked Keith how he knows socialism is wrong, and he responded, "Because it's never worked anywhere else!"

Kevin Creighton from spoke next, saying he felt qualified to discuss healthcare as a recovering Canadian. He described himself as the resident "gun nut" - er "shooting sports enthusiast" on the blog. He explained how he has been able to get a lot of hits on his blog that he shares with Jon Gabriel, another ALA Executive Committee member. His post, "I, for one, welcome our new Democratic overlords" got thousands of hits after it got picked up by Instapundit and other websites. He recommended the book "Permission Marketing" by Seth Godin.

State Treasurer Dean Martin said it's about "Join or Die." He said the right has the motivation, we are just lacking the organization. He finds it humorous that the media claims the teaparties are being put together by establishment organized efforts - the party couldn't organize 40 people if it tried. He warned against using generic emails from organizations to lobby your representatives - they will just tune them out when they see they're just more of the same-worded email. He said the key to emailing your representatives is timing. Because they get so many emails, they just get buried soon after they are received and are forgotten about. If you want to pressure a legislator on a vote, send the email immediately prior to the vote. He also gave the audience some tips for blogging - don't be too vitriolic or you'll lose credibility. It's better to be accurate because you're already at a disadvantage since many people don't consider bloggers as credible as the mainstream media yet.

Dean had some amusing comments about Obama. "I've never met anybody who can give an entire long speech and not say anything. He says 'hope and change' but doesn't give any details. You need details - the devil is in the details." Dean predicted that we would take back Congress in 2010, but not the White House. He thinks it will be a repeat of the Clinton years in 1994 and 1996. After Democrats suffer a defeat in the House, Obama will triangulate and shelve the far left agenda. Should be interesting, considering Obama is farther to the left than Clinton. When asked if he was going to run for governor on Clean Elections, he responded, "I am completely and totally dirty."

Ken Marrero, VP of ALA and editor of Blue CollarMuse, explained the seven parts of ALA.
1) Find individual right-leaning activists. After the teaparties ended, we needed to take the next step and not let things die.
2) Put the individual activists together. You're not alone in your objections to this administration's big government objectives.
3) Introduce the individual activists to the right-leaning organizations in their state. Right now there are too many organizations that are D.C. based, or if they are outside D.C., they have a top-down model that suffocates activism. Ken gave a nod to Al Gore here for inventing the internet, which has made organizing so much easier.
Now, any individual activist can have their own newspaper, their own TV station, their own radio station, they no longer need millions of dollars to have those. We all have different hot button issues, now everyone can focus on the issues they care the most about. You can start your own organization easily. With access to media and money, the average activist is as good as at least 60% of the people in D.C.
4) Introduce organizations to each other. There is power in mass. ACORN and those other left wing alphabet soup groups have already figured out the power of coalitions, and are using it to crank out crazy stuff.
5) ALA informs its members of issues to jump on board with, such as #dontgo,
6) The reverse - you suggest to ALA issues to take on. It's not what you know, it's who you know.
7) Nothing happens until we change the legislatures.

Eric Odom, the 29-year old founder of #dontgo and ALA, spoke about getting ALA to where it is now, with 43,000 registered members. He explained how he went from working at a bank to becoming a political activist. One of the first projects Eric started was, a venture with Sam Adams Alliance which compiled info on all ballot measures across the U.S. into one main comprehensive database. One of his biggest projects ever was launching #dontgo, which involved using twitter to get GOP representatives to stay on the House floor in order to stop Nancy Pelosi from sending everyone home early last summer without doing something about energy. If they hadn't done that, the Drill Here, Drill Now campaign would probably have never launched. It was all done for $10, the cost of launching the #dontgo website.

Eric said the two most important parts of activism are
information and collaboration. A project he worked on earlier this year was, to help organize teaparties for April 15. It helped bring out 30,000 people in 40 cities, with 1.7 million visitors hitting the website in just 6 weeks. After that success, he collected the email addresses to keep in touch with activists in the future, which worked well when he sent out the Rick Santelli rant to 40,000 email addresses.

Eric finds it funny that the left thinks we're a vast right wing conspiracy - he missed the memo on that. He's been accused of working for Exxon. One reporter asked him about it, and when he denied it, the reporter asked him if he would accept money from Exxon if offered. Eric's response? "Hell yeah!"

See pictures from the ALA Arizona event on Sept. 3, 2009

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