Saturday, March 26, 2011

March 26, 2011

Short meeting today! We discussed agenda items of Texas Legislation and decided which Representative to visit.

Next meeting is on April 16, 2011 at Spring Creek BBQ at 4pm.

March 5, 2011

Great meeting today! Linda Nuttall spoke on Texas Legislation and visiting representatives. Larry Youngblood spoke on immigration

Meeting Prayer:

A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Heavenly Father, please give us and our elected representatives wisdom to obey You, find Your will and do Your will in every area of our lives. You gave us this land. Help us to govern ourselves and hold our elected officials accountable so we take advantage of the opportunity you gave us to live in America. Help us to do our part as Tea Party Patriots to influence our community and representatives to limit government, become fiscally responsible, have strong borders and adhere to the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and our Bill of Rights.  In Jesus Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

February 12, 2011-Meeting



Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 NLT

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your hand upon our nation. We ask that you keep us from evil and everyone who would want to harm us. We ask that you fill our Government leaders with wisdom and fortitude to follow you and do what is right in your sight. We lift up the Cypress Texas Tea Party to you and we ask that you lead us in the direction you have called us to go. In Jesus Christ’s name we ask, Amen.

Pledge: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Bethany Scanlon-U.S. Constitution Study
Julia Lovorn- Questionnaire for Family Law Judges
Linda Nutall- Contacting our Representatives
Larry Youngblood-Immigration

Next Meetings: March 5 & 26  @4pm- Spring Creek BBQ in Cypress

U.S. Constitution History:

Began as the Articles of Confederation in 1781, which served as a constitution for the first 13 states after the Revolution. Congress was attempting to function with a depleted treasury; paper money was flooding the country, creating much inflation and the bad condition of business was hurting many farmers. Some were thrown in jail for debt, and numerous farms were being confiscated and sold for taxes. In 1786 a group of farmers fought back. James Madison called for a Congress meeting in which George Washington was unanimously voted in as President. From there work began, led by James Madison on our current Constitution. The Constitution creates the three branches of the national government: a legislature, the bicameral Congress; an executive branch led by the President; and a judicial branch headed by the Supreme Court. The Constitution specifies the powers and duties of each branch and reserves all unenumerated powers to the respective states and the people, thereby establishing the federal system of government. The Constitution was accepted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and ratified by conventions in each U.S. state in the name of "The People". The handwritten original document was penned by Jacob Shallus.

Preamble: We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January 22, 2011 1st Meeting of the New Year!

Ready for the New Year? So is the Cypress Texas Tea Party! This meeting we assigned projects to get our group out and active! Julia Lovorn taught us about the judicial system and will be designing a system to help keep our judges accountable!

Linda Nutall taught us how a bill passes and will be leading the way to us visiting our local politicians so our voices will be heard!

My new job is to study the U.S. Constitution and teach our group about our rights!

Our meeting prayer:

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior. 1 Timothy 2:1-3 NLT
Heavenly Father, we come before you today with thanksgiving. Thank you for this beautiful country you have given us. Thank you for our neighbors and the many blessings you have bestowed upon our nation. We beseech you now to give our leaders the wisdom and grace to do what you have called them to do. We ask that your hand of favor would continue to stay upon our country and we ask that you uproot all that is evil and remove it from our land. We thank you for showing our political leaders which direction to take our country. In Jesus Christ’s name we ask, AMEN

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

January 5, 2011- Essay by Elizabeth Morgan

The following is an essay written by a Notre Dame student after she interviewed 12 members of our Tea Party during an early voting rally!

Liz Morgan-Political Preferences from Members of the Tea Party
Professor Griffin-Fall 2010

On October 29th The Wall Street Journal declared that the Tea Party was a birth of a movement that stemmed from a “wave of discontent” (Birth of a Movement, A1). Through the study of the Cypress Texas Tea Party members’ political preferences, I analyzed how this group of Tea Party members perceive government policies and cause their subsequent involvement in politics. In my analysis, I will look to see if there is a connection between a citizen’s either positive or negative reaction to a policy and his or her political participation during the 2010 midterm election. By looking at the comparisons between answers, there may be certain conclusions that could be drawn about Tea Party political efficacy. Emotion words such as anger, excited, happy, and frustrated, could signify a participant’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction to a policy. If one can differentiate emotion words from rational responses, these words could provide some explanation for an individual’s political participation. The questionnaire not only asked about personal demographics such as education level and religious affiliation, but it also asked about levels of participation in this election, past elections, and feelings of political efficacy as a result of the levels of participation described. In this essay I will examine scholarly works as a foundation of background knowledge about policies and participation, explain my research accumulated from members of the Cypress Texas Tea Party, and analyze the responses I received from these questions. Drawing from this case study of the members of the Cypress Texas Tea Party, I believe that there is a correlation between a Tea Party member’s dissatisfaction with a specific government policy that results in increased political participation.

Political participation is important in our society because it is “one of the primary avenues citizens [use] to influence the direction of public policy” (Flavin and Griffin, 1). Flavin and Griffin suggest that there is a link between “government policies and the subsequent citizen political participation” (1). By specifically measuring the variations of political participation among citizens from 2001 to 2004, Flavin and Griffin discover that the “perceptions of how well a policy played out, and political knowledge both moderate the effect of policy winning and losing on political participation” (1). Accordingly, the more a citizen benefits from a policy the more likely that participant feels that he or she has a sense of political efficacy. However those that are the “biggest losers” are also more likely to boost their political participation because those individuals feel that they have lost the most from the policy. Thus political polices have an effect on efficacy.

Flavin and Griffin measure “external efficacy with measures of internal efficacy” (8). External efficacy suggests that the government is responsive to the concerns of citizens, while internal efficacy suggests that there is a sense that citizens individually can contribute to politics. Two questions within my questionnaire serve to measure the individual level of external and internal efficacy; “the government doesn’t care what people like me think” and “people like me don’t have a say in what the government does.” These two questions suggest that there is a correlation between participation and belief of effectiveness; thus I should be able to see some connection when looking at the responses from Tea Party Members.

Both Mettler and Soss offer two specific case studies that offer insights into the reasons why some individuals might increase or decrease their level of political efficacy as a result of a particular policy. Mettler examines the effects of the G.I. Bill for WWII Veterans. As a result of the “resources bestowed on citizens through policy, whether in the form of payments goods, or services…[these goods] directly affect [the recipients] capacity for participation” (Mettler, 352). Thus because of the positive benefits received including educational benefits from the G.I. Bill, the participants “intensified their predisposition to participate by joining civic organizations and engaging in a wide range of political activities” (Mettler, 352). These participants engaged in policies and subsequently felt an increase in their internal and external efficacy. On the contrary Soss describes how welfare recipients, particularly Aid to Families with Dependent Children, AFDC, lack both an external and an internal efficacy in their political activities. Soss argues that because these recipients do not see the positive benefits from the policies and are often subject to bureaucratic delay, they are more likely to feel that they cannot get what they want from the government and the government is less likely to respond to “people like them” (374). Soss suggests, “citizen involvement is fragile and malleable and that public policies can either support or discourage an engaged citizenry” (376).

The role that policy plays in connection to citizen participation has implications for efficacy, but also has a new function within the United States that includes “empower[ing], enlighten[ing], and engag[ing] citizens in the process of self-government” (Soss, 376). Flavin and Griffin suggest that “policy success or failure might reflect the end result of strategic efforts by political parties to mobilize citizens who [believe] themselves to be winners or losers” (13). Through my examination of the Cypress Texas Tea Party members, because of the level of education from the members of the group and their knowledge of policies, the fact that they believe themselves to be political ‘losers’ will result in an increased mobilization by the Tea Party movement as a group and increased participation from individuals.

My particular group studied was the Cypress Texas Tea Party. To study this group, I received permission from the leader of this local tea party group to interview members at an early voting event in Cypress Texas. Prior to doing this questionnaire in person, I emailed a draft to the leader of the Tea Party organization. On October 22 the day of the event, I sat at a table under a Tea Party banner and used the snowball method to obtain interview participants. The Cypress Texas Tea Party is a relatively new group formed in the spring of 2010.The group interviewed was receptive and excited to participate. All twelve participants agreed to be recorded; the average length of each interview lasted around eight minutes, with times ranging from five minutes to fifteen minutes. In addition because of the location that I chose to complete my interviews, all twelve of my participants had already voted or were anticipating that they were going to vote later that day. Thus the group interviewed represents a highly active portion of Tea Party members.

The specific demographics of the group interviewed are a follows. Of the twelve participants eight were male and four were female. The average age of my participants was around 50 with the youngest being 29 and the oldest being 79. Eleven of the twelve participants agreed to disclose their annual income; the annual income was averaged to be slightly more than 90,000 dollars a year per household. Out of my group of participants more than half had received some type of higher education. One participant had a Doctorate degree, two participants had a Masters degree, three had received Bachelors and two had attended some college. The remaining three participants had received some form of a high school degree. Eleven out of twelve of my participants considered themselves to be a form of Christianity. One participant was Buddhist. Ten out of twelve participants classified themselves as Caucasian, one participant was Vietnamese and one participant was Indian. Eleven out of twelve participants owned their own home. The occupations of the group that I interviewed ranged from lawyer, author, business owners, carpenters, consultants, and retired professionals. Because of the highly educated nature of the subset group, each question was thoroughly answered with supporting evidence and arguments.

When asked about a specific policy that the participant would like to discuss, all of the participants chose to discuss a policy that they strongly disagreed with. Thus, as suggested by Flavin and Griffin, the strong negative opinion to a policy fueled members of this Tea Party’s participation. Nine mentioned healthcare, one mentioned the GM takeover, one mentioned the excessive spending, and one chose to discuss the entire administration. In dividing my analysis between those that disagreed with healthcare and those that disagreed with another policy, I found that those who disagreed with a policy besides healthcare were more personally affected by that policy.

The reasons why the participants disagreed with healthcare ranged from personal reasons to national reasons, however because the Healthcare bill will not be enacted in 2013 all of the reasons mentioned were the pre-emptive effects of the Healthcare bill. Some of the reasons were more rational suggesting that the overarching goal of “government healthcare is about deterring people from receiving the costs [however] the cost is never really accrued” (Participant 1). In addition to the fact that many participants believed that they would not be able to receive the services that they desired, one participant discussed the business aspect of the Healthcare bill. Specifically, the public sector “is usually never run as well as the private sector can. It is usually not as efficient,…and the cost of any government plan is usually higher than any cost that it would be on the private sector side” (Participant 2). Many participants strongly disagreed with the passage of the Healthcare bill because of their individual liberties. One participant suggested that the Healthcare bill is unconstitutional for three reasons; “one it is unconstitutional to require us to buy something. It is a loss of freedom in an area where [the government does not] belong. Two it’s a big government take over. Three it’s going to raise the rates on everybody” (Participant 3). This suggests that universal healthcare was considered to violate individual liberties and freedoms, but would also have negative implications for the entire nation.

In addition the remaining three participants chose to discuss other policies. These three participants had been affected either through their business or personal life with a particular policy. One participant discussed the negative effects of overspending in relation to his business. He suggested that as a small business owner he could not spend more than he has and the government should abide by the same principles. “We [as a nation] are out of money and they are still printing money, it’s a no win situation. It’s out of control” (Participant 10). Participant 8 discussed his overall distaste with the Obama Administration in relation to his past home in Vietnam and his first hand account of seeing socialism and communism in practice. Participant 8 stated, “free healthcare or whatever doesn’t work. You lure in lazy people and they support welfare. I got involved in politics because [the government] take[s] away my taxes and give[s] it to lazy people” and I do not agree with it. One participant discussed how he personally benefited from the stimulus money, but overall does not agree with the fact that he does not feel that he “had any say in it, [he was] not in control, that is for sure true” (Participant 5). In addition he feels “like he has to change things when it is [his] next turn to vote” (Participant 5).

When asked how the particular policy that the participant chose to discuss makes them feel, the majority of the participants drew on words that described strong emotional connections. Anger, afraid, and losing control of the government were words that were commonly cited. One participant felt bad and felt that “it was strongly no good” for the American population (Participant 4). One participant described a feeling of “disappointment that Americans bought into the hype” of the new policies without the proper education on what they are voting for (Participant 5). As a result of the strong emotion words used by seven out of twelve of the participants, these words emphasize how much emotional connection this particular group felt to policies. Due to the personal attachment to the effects or potential effects of the policy from many of the participants, this implies a reason behind the increased need for more participation.

The questions of both “public officials don’t care about what people like me think” and “people like me don’t have a say in what the government does” received not only most contemplation from participants, but also held the most diversity within each answer from the participants. Coupled together these two questions are extremely important in measuring the political efficacy of participants. In the first question, which measures external efficacy, eight people agreed, one disagreed, and two partially agreed. However of those that ‘agreed’ many stated that it is conditional on the time and the administration in power. Of the eight that agreed one reason cited was on the condition that “conservatives only care, and democrats don’t really care” (Participant 1). It was also emphasized that there was a select group that truly paid attention to the wants and needs of the people, by one participant suggesting that “when [politicians] have the attitude that they don’t care about my opinion, they have already lost the right to serve, in my opinion” (Participant 5). The one individual that believed public officials care about him did not expand and elaborate on this response. The two participants who partially agreed and disagreed, directly stated that they both agree and disagree with the statement placing them in this third category. One stated that “I think you have to judge each one on an individual basis,” suggesting that you cannot group all public officials together (Participant 2). Because of the limitations of the answers given, some of the members of the this particular Tea Party movement believe that at some instances in time the public officials do not care about what they think. This could potentially be one indicator for their escalation of participation especially during this election period, when the individuals are trying to capture the attention of the public officials.

The next question within this series, “people like me don’t have a say in what the government does” was divided with five agreeing, six disagreeing, and one somewhat agreeing. This question could potentially be a predictor of the factors that could cause participation and a feeling of internal efficacy. If I were to think that I do have a say in what government does, then this would predict increased numbers of those participating because they would know that they are effective. However, if one was to believe that he or she did not have a say in what government does, then a portion could potentially be less willing to participate. One participate believes that she has the ability to have a say in the government because “I vote. I lead a tea party. I think I can make a change” (Participant 12). For this participant voting was one way to make political changes in society. One participant joined the tea party because he believes that individually he cannot make a difference, but “if you have one person that works with a collective group of people than you can make a difference” (Participant 2). Those participants that believe that they do not have a say in government suggest that the elected officials move away from fully representing them and as a result their vote really does not matter. Those who partially agree suggest that sometimes they have a say, but at times the government is not receptive of their personal beliefs and opinions.

As a result of these two questions it is surprising the amount of participation even though four participants stated that “public officials don’t care about people like me” and “people like me don’t have a say in what the government does.” These questions suggest that there must be some other component that is driving participation from these individuals. Two of the four participants held some form of higher education, a Doctorate degree and a Bachelors degree. Their higher level of education could be a reason why they find it a necessary obligation to participate in politics; studies predict that those with a higher level of education will be more likely to participate in politics. One of the remaining participants described how he has been a regular voter “and has never missed voting [since] voting is the best way to let elected officials know what I want” (Participant 4). Despite the fact that he believes that he does not have a say in government and public officials do not care about people like him, he uses voting as a means to participate in society with the hope of letting his representatives know what he wants. The remaining person that agreed with both statements had immigrated from Vietnam and states that “the American Dream” is what he wants to protect and does not want someone to “take that away from [him]” (Participant 8). He votes because he wants to make sure that his children can go to college and that they can have live out their dream.

Of these four participants there was some predictor of their civic duty, which despite the cost of participating and the overall potential that they will get the result they want, it is their responsibility as American citizens to participate in politics. Accordingly, I believe civic duty is a crucial indicator of this particular group’s political participation. All twelve of my interviewees had regularly voted in elections and were active participants in society. Suggesting that even though currently some believe that they do not have a say in the government, because they feel it is their civic duty, many participate in elections by voting.

In addition this group was a highly politically active group. The reasons why many participants have a desire to vote can be related to personal family history. “Well growing up my parents would say, ‘you have to go vote.’ My family explained how the government works and we’ve always discussed candidates and political activity in our family” (Participant 6). According to this interview, even in light of her dissatisfaction with political climate, there was an inherent reason inside of her that encouraged her to continue to vote.

The members of the Cypress Texas Tea Party participate not only through the traditional method of voting, but also through alternative forms of participation. When I asked if participants “called phone banks, put out yard signs, attended rallies, donated money to campaigns, and wrote letters to elected officials,” nine out of the twelve stated that they did all of these forms of participation for the midterm election. Members of this Tea Party focus on cultivating and building relationships with elected officials to discuss keeping the constitution intact by following specific political preferences. Because of the time constraints one stated that in this mid-term election all he could do was focus on engaging in the issues with other people. One participant stated that he was not able to participate in this election, but in the 2012 presidential election he intended on doing all forms of participation (Participant 2). This participant suggested that only sometimes public officials cared and he believed that he had a say in politics. In addition even though four participants “did not believe that they had a say in government” or “public officials cared about what people like me say,” each of these four participants had participated in at least one form of participation besides voting for the midterm election.

Three participants believed that these forms of participation were effective and two believed that their forms of participation were not effective. Participant 4 who believed that “he did not have a say in politics” and “public officials did not care about people like me” suggested that his participation was effective because it “makes him feel better.” Participant 1 believed that his forms of participation were “more effective than [he] predicted.” In addition one participant stated that even though she had written letters and attended rallies, it was “difficult to know how effective her participation was” (Participant 6). On the contrary, others who believed that their forms of participation were not effective, utilized reasons suggesting that the current administration was not responsive to the methods of participation that had worked previously with other administrations. Participant 3 described that the “administration is so arrogant,” making it hard to reach them. In addition Participant 10 suggested that he is losing faith within the political system through all of the letter writing and the means that he has tried to reach the administration, because it is not effective.

During the interview, all of the polices that were discussed were at a national level. At the conclusion of the interview several participants chose to discuss further policies that were regionally based. Cypress Texas is suburb outside of Houston, a region that has an enormous economic tie to the oil industry. Two participants suggested that the Cap and Trade oil program and the lack of general knowledge and preparedness for how to respond to the oil spill were extremely problematic. One participant described education policy and the bailout. Four participants described that the youth need to be more involved in politics and the youth are distancing further away from knowing what is going on in government. Participant 5 suggested that he has

“the capability therefore I have the responsibility to serve my community. It is not enough to go to work and do my job …and pay my bills. It is no longer enough. That sentiment has been a major one in our community, and we have to do this to be a good citizen”(Participant 5).

In addition one participant suggested,

“I don’t want to be an activist. I’ve got things to do, a business, and a house. I’ve got four hours I put in today that I could put in my personal life. Can’t sit on my hands anymore. This country is going in the wrong direction. We are going to be watching you; I don’t trust the republicans or democrats. I will be watching every individual decision and make sure to bring the nation back to the way it needs to be” (Participant 10)

In future research, I would want to expand the number interviewed to see if all the members of the Tea Party have this high level of participation. In addition, I would want to know if members of the Tea Party in different states have the same level of political activism and reference the same policies. Due to time constraints I limited my survey group members of this one Tea Party group, but I would be interested in learning about the female perspective by interviewing more females. Potential problems in my interview could range from the fact that the group knew I was interviewing members of the Tea Party. When asking questions that include the phrase “people like me” they could revert to their membership in the Tea Party rather than another group, such as a religious group. Despite the critiques of my questionnaire, I believe that because the answers had similar themes, I was able to draw the main dissatisfactions from members of the Tea Party that resulted in their political participation.

The members of the Cypress Texas Tea Party participate in politics because of their dissatisfaction with the current policies, but also because of their heightened knowledge of the potential effects of the policies. Many of the participants believed that it was their time and they needed to speak up for the nation. The members of the Tea Party feel themselves to be the biggest policy “losers” of certain policies, so there is a boost their political participation. Despite the fact that there was a range of responses to the questions that determined political internal and external efficacy; civic duty and education level could predict the reasons for those members participating in politics with little external and internal efficacy. In addition there was a range of rational and emotional responses to questions asked. However, it is difficult to differentiate the if there is a difference between emotional and rational responses and the indicators of these responses. Overall, if policy dissatisfaction continues to grow in the near future, then the Tea Party movement could continue to grow in strength and numbers in upcoming years.

Works Cited

"Birth of a Movement: Tea Party Rode Wave of Discontent." Wall Street Journal 29 Oct. 2010, sec. A: 1,4. Print.

Flavin and Griffin, “Policy, Preferences, and Participation: Government’s Impact on Democratic Citizenship,” The Journal of Politics 71(2009): 1-16.

Joe Soss, “Lessons of Welfare: Policy Design, Political Learning, and Political Action,” American Political Science Review 93 (1999):363-80.

Suzanne Mettler, “Bringing the State Back into Civic Engagement: Policy Feedback Effects of the G.I. Bill for World War II Veterans.” The American Political Science Review 96(2002): 351-65.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November 13, 2010 Meeting

Today's meeting was about brainstorming and discussing which direction CTP needs to go in and how to streamline our group better. We came up with some great ideas that we are implimenting at our next meeting on January 8, 2011 at Spring-Creek BBQ in Cypress Towne Center, 4pm.

One of the ways we are streamlining is by appointing committee chairs to oversee an issue. These commitee chairs are to keep everyone abreast of what is happening with that issue and what our job is concerning the matter. Members can join as many committees as they want to help with research. Then at the meetings, the committe chairs will share with us the information. This way we are not overloaded trying to figure things out! Our next order of business will be Texas Legislation and committee chair is Linda Nutall!

Today's Prayer from our meeting:

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.The government will rest on his shoulders.And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor,Mighty God,Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 NLT

Dear Heavenly Father, we come before you today with thanksgiving. Thank you for giving us this opportunity to serve you through the Cypress Texas Tea Party. Please give us the wisdom and foresight to steward this responsibility wisely. We want to honor you with our decisions so we ask that as we discuss political issues and the direction our nation is heading in, that your Holy Spirit guides us. In Jesus Christ’s name we ask, Amen.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

November 7, 2010 The victory was ours!

As you have already heard, we took the house! For the most part, nationwide, our tea party efforts have worked!So if a group of people, who mostly had no idea what they were doing, made this big of an impact...

What happens now that we've learned a few things? It's time to win 2012 and stay on that winning streak, bettering America and kicking communism, socialism and Obamacare to the curb! For the first time, I poll watched this past Tuesday from 6:00 am to about 7:40pm, taking notes and reviewing voting poll law. And, I plan on working the polls again next election! Fortunately, there were no incidents at my location, and overall I believe Houston had a free and fair election.

So what do we do now? 2012 elections aren't for a while? Here are the next steps:

1.) Texas Legislation-time to watchdog so study up!

2.) Since we are the Cypress Texas Tea Party, you need to know what's going on locally! 

3.) It's time to educate our circle of influence! Most people have NO IDEA what is going on and vote for the best "sound bite." First educate yourself, ( & ) then tell  your friend. Throw a "House Party." Organizing at the community level will reach more people and have more influence.

4.) Come to our Tea Party meetings, get involved. You already saw what happens when people refuse to no longer stick their head in the sand and decide to do what they can to make a difference.

5.) Luke and I stay in contact with Felicia Cravens (founder of Houston Tea Party Society) and we watch which direction the Tea Party Patriots are going in. They have a conference call for Tea Partiers  nationwide to listen in on every week. If you don't get their emails, please get them and read them!

These are our ideas...if you would like to contribute! Come share at a meeting!