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The following is the prepared version of a speech delivered by FreedomWorks’ Max Pappas, Vice President, Public Policy, on June 10, 2008, at North Carolina FreedomWorks Day, attended by over 500 activists and state officials and their staff.
Pictures of the event coming soon.
What an honor and privilege it is to be here at North Carolina FreedomWorks Day! And not just because I get to see so many old friends and familiar faces—like Roger and Jim and Bill and Kathy and Jane and Joyce and of course Allen. But also because I get the opportunity to be part of democracy in action, to be part of making good policy good politics, because as everyone here knows, politics goes to those who show up. And what an impressive group has shown up today because we care about this country. I think you all deserve a round of applause.
I’ll wrap things up today with the presentation of five prestigious and hard-earned awards, but first I want to share a short story with you about lobbying and then quickly tell you about two very successful nation-wide campaigns FreedomWorks is currently involved in—one to do with the mortgage bailout and the other to do with gas prices.
First, a story about lobbying. As some of you know, I’ve only just returned to FreedomWorks. After several years with FreedomWorks, I left almost two years ago to go to one of Washington’s most influential lobbying firms. The Constitution guarantees the right to petition government, which applies to lobbyists, and there are a lot of good people who are lobbyists, but in stark contrast to FreedomWorks, where we operate from a foundation of principles in which we believe and work to promote—lower taxes, less government and more freedom—for-hire lobbyists believe, and lobby your representatives on, whatever they are paid believe.
Lobbyists are amazingly successful, and incredibly influential. They fear almost nothing.
The one thing many lobbyists do fear is serious grassroots activism against whatever interest they may be representing. They fear serious grassroots activism like ours because it is the one thing that can get a politician to respond. That’s because more than the gobs of money DC lobbyists raise for politicians, it is voters in that politicians district that he or she ultimately needs to get reelected, which is almost always a politicians top priority.
That is why it is so important to do what you do. When an elected official hears from you, he or she knows you are a citizen-leader and that your voice represents the voices of hundreds of voters from his or her district who have not taken the time to speak out.
So, thank you for everything you do to make America great and for everything you do to make FreedomWorks such a powerful voice for good public policy.
This brings me to two great examples of campaigns going on across the country through FreedomWorks right now. The first campaign is AngryRenter.com.
By the way, did anybody see the Wall Street Journal article about this? It said we are a “fake” grassroots organization. Can you believe that? If the reporter were only here to see how real we are. You’ve got to be the best looking fake group I’ve ever seen. I understand some in this room have taken to letting the report know just how real we are, sending him emails and videos of FreedomWorks in action. I think they’re getting the message. The paper ran a few of the letters they received from fellow FreedomWorks activists in other states. Here’s one from one of our guys in Oregon:
“I resent the inference that I do not exist, that I am part of an “AstroTurf campaign” or a grass-roots façade. Believe me, I am real! I have a voice with FreedomWorks that would go unnoticed alone.”
Signed Daniel R. Kohler, FreedomWorks Member, Keizer, Oregon.
To date, we have over 54,000 petitioners from across the country who have signed up to oppose the $300 billion taxpayer-funded mortgage bailout. It has passed the House, but we’re making real progress in stopping it in the Senate. We’ve definitely ended the perception that this bill is unstoppable. It reminds me of the asbestos campaign, which I think a lot of people here remember, which many in the beltway also thought was unstoppable. In that campaign your work with FreedomWorks is acknowledged as being the primary reason the $140 billion asbestos trust fund didn’t pass.
As you probably know, the mortgage bailout would put the burden of the irresponsible on the responsible. The 98% of Americans not in foreclosure, including renters, like myself, and responsible homeowners, like many here, would have to bail out the 2% of homeowners, many in California, who are in trouble. I feel terrible for anyone losing a home, but it just isn’t right to expect others, like you and me, to pay for it.
Well, this campaign has gotten the Senate’s attention. Our DC team delivers packets of petitions to Senate offices on a daily basis. And just the other day while making the delivery to Senator McConnell from Kentucky’s office, who is in a position to stop this thing, they were asked to sit down to discuss the problem.
We’ve probably already lost Sen. Dole on this one, but we need to hold Sen. Burr on this, so be sure to call him and tell him No Mortgage Bailout!
The last thing before the awards is the Gas Price Protest—at GasPriceProtest.org. We think this will be as successful as the asbestos campaign and as AngryRenter.com. Along with our coalition partners, we already have over 30,000 activists signed up calling on Congress to make gas cheaper with the three options available to them:
1. Cutting gas taxes and making up for the tax dollars they won’t take in by permanently banning earmarks
2. Increasing American oil production by drilling where we already know there is American oil. And
3. Allowing for more U.S. refineries to be built so we can turn that oil into gasoline.
So, I hope everyone who isn’t signed up on GasPriceProtest.com will sign up tonight.
Now, on to the awards!
Our first two awards are very special awards created for very special circumstances, both dealing with the most fundamental of American ideas, private property rights.
First is the FreedomWorks Outstanding Grassroots Victory through Perseverance Award:
This award goes to a group of activists who fought a David and Goliath battle waged over many years. They ran one of the best classic grassroots campaigns we have ever seen.
And they won!
The citizens of Washington and Beufort counties, NO-OLF, stood for what was right (Private Property Rights) and they stood against the United States Navy—no small opponent. They organized and stood steady. They stood when the deck seemed stacked against them. They stood strong when they were called unpatriotic. And they stood when many of their elected officials would not stand with them.
We are pleased to award the Outstanding Grassroots Victory through Perseverance Award to NO-OLF!
The second award today is the FreedomWorks Youth Activist Award:
We are so pleased to recognize a very special young activist, a young guy whose parents and community always believed in him, a young man who took this faith in himself and turned it into amazing public good.
He knows what he believes and is willing to stand for what he believes is right. Since the beginning, Kevin Beasley’s family has been a part of the NO-OLF movement. In Raleigh, in Washington, and just about everywhere in between, Kevin has stood for his family, and all families, who would lose their land to a Navy OLF. Kevin, now to be the sixth generation to work his family farm, became one of the most active NO-OLF’ers and the face of NO-OLF.
Congratulations to Kevin Beasley on being the first ever recipient of the FreedomWorks Youth Activist Award.
The third award today is the FreedomWorks Freedom Fighter Award:
This award goes to a local elected official who stands alone a lot and just keeps standing. This sort of moral courage is in short supply in Washington, DC but not in Yadkin County. Brady Wooten is a County Commissioner in Yadkin County, and I know a few hundred guys in the US Capitol building today who could learn a thing or two from him.
Brady, unlike many of his fellow commissioners, has not voted for a single tax increase. Please join me in recognizing our FreedomWorks Freedom Fighter, Brady Wooten. Brady, thank you for holding the line on taxes!
The next award is the FreedomWorks Chapter of the Year Award:
With so many outstanding chapters in North Carolina, it’s so hard to pick just one. But this award goes to an extraordinarily FreedomWorks chapter. The chapter winning this year is extremely active in their county government. This chapter regularly attends and speaks at county meetings and has elected county commissioners—an amazing accomplishment that proves the FreedomWorks motto “Politics goes to those who show up”.
This year, two of their own are county commission candidates. Along with all this, the activists of this county regularly attend North Carolina FreedomWorks meetings and events and travel to other counties and even other states to work in the name of freedom.
It is our distinct pleasure to award the FreedomWorks Chapter of the Year Award to our Yadkin County Chapter!
The final award may be our most prized—the FreedomWorks Activist of the Year award:
This year’s award goes not to an individual activist but to an activist couple. This couple does it all: door to door, fundraising—even hosting fundraisers in their home, contacting federal and state legislators, traveling to Raleigh for committee meetings and hearings, getting on a bus at midnight to make it to DC in the early AM, which is where I got to know them. As a matter of fact, they have never missed one DC lobby trip!
They work for freedom, crossing the state and beyond. It is our honor to present this year’s FreedomWorks Activists of the Year Award to Charley and Mary Elizabeth Irvin. Thank you for your dedication to FreedomWorks. Thank you for your dedication to freedom!