Dear Reader: I am back from a wonderful 2-week vacation in Italy, a gem of a country and a haven for a history-loving American who loves fine wine and friendly people. I will be posting snippets from my trip through the week, as I process pictures and slowly transition to a summer home routine.
I wanted the first post after my return to focus on the wonderful experience I had during the June 19th Tea Party in Florence, Italy. I truly believe it was Divine Intersession from the Lord, that many months ago my generous in-laws arranged for a family vacation in a villa just outside of this city and near the home city of Italy’s Tea Party coordinator, David Mazzerelli. David kindly arranged for a meet & greet at a wonderful cafe in the Piazza della Repubblica, so I could get to know our Italian counter-parts better. I also wanted to share with them some tips that we American Tea Party goers have gleaned in the 16 months of citizen activism we have had.
One of the most exiting aspects of this adventure was being interviewed by Marco Respinti, a journalist well-known and respected in Italy. I talked to him for about 30 minutes over the phone during my short stay in Venice with my beloved husband, Horemheb. Marco, among other things, is working on a book covering the rise of the Tea Party movement. It seems while talking to him, I seem to have provided quite a money-line: The Perfect Storm — Una Tempesta Perfetta. For my American friend, the Google Translate of this story is here: The Perfect Storm to Remove Obama. I have a new friend, via the Internet, who may be able to provide the Shrine an enhanced translation. If so, I will post the better translation when I get it.
It turns out Marco is rather like the Instapundit of Italian journalists, and the piece was featured prominently in the Libero (a national news publication). When I arrived for the Florence Tea Party, all of the Italians had read it and asked detailed follow-up questions. I have promised Marco that we will stay in touch to better support the Tea Party efforts in both countries (I am going to be blogrolling his site later today).
I must admit, after experiencing an Italian Tea Party, it is going to be hard to go back and do an American one. They serve excellent wine at these events! And the appetizers are outstanding! But, I digress!
I was really thrilled to be able to meet David, about one dozen Tea Party party participants, and his mother! It seems David’s mom is like many other American women Tea Party participants, concerned that her child’s future is tainted by potential servitude to outrageous government budget policies.
The emphasis of this Tea Party event was having a venue in which the Italians could learn more about the origins and actions of the American Tea Party. It was also an opportunity for me to share with them some of our lessons-learned, of which there have been many. Besides David, I had the pleasure to talk to my counter-part in their group — Tea Party Italia media coodinator Saba Zecchi. Like me, Saba has a science and writing background — and I conversed with her quite a bit during the event. I was happy to be able to answer some of the great questions on practical and tactical issues. The highlights of the tips I offered:
- As noted often by Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, good videos are essential. Make sure Italian Tea Party participants are there with good hand-held video cameras, as well as others with digital cameras, to ensure that reports about Tea Party activities can either be confirmed or refuted (as needed). The Italians were very well aware of the false charges of racism that were hurled at American Tea Parties — what they did not know is how critical the video evidence has been at disproving the vulgar lies.
- T-shirts can help fund your Tea Party agitation! David turns out to be an advertising professional, as so he knows the importance of branding. The Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition, for example, uses the monies we get from t-shirt sales to help fund our rallies. I see they jumped on this idea right away!
- Politicians will try to designate themselves the “Tea Party” candidates. Make people understand that it is the reverse — and keep politicians as far away from Tea Party events as is practical. That is, unless a candidate is truly the “People’s Choice!”. It seems Italy’s Tea Party has already had some issues of being accused of falsely supporting candidates — and they only had their first event last month!
- Don’t try to do everything. Pick a few doable items, and do them well. Small victories will lead to larger ones. If you do too much at once, you risk burnout and disappointment.
- The strength of the Tea Party movement lies in the fact that it is leaderless. Everyone has something to contribute, and the entire effort will last longer and do better if the work, energy, and creativity is spread around.
- Use the FULL power of the new media. For example, I have found Tea Party participants really enjoy being interviewed for the Shrine, and often have insights that might be missed by paying attention to a few, select pundits. My fellow Californians appreciate being asked their opinion, and relish being listened to respectfully — instead of being told they they are being a “smart-a$$”. Italians should be no different. (MUT Note — Saba appreciated this, as apparently there was a Tea Party Italia video that went viral and got tons of media attention).
- Keep it Italian. While many elements of the Tea Party movement will work in both countries, others may not. For example, Italians are not use to doing classic sign-holding rallies with 3-minute stump speeches that are a staple of American events. And, based on my experience, American Tea Parties are better fueled by coffee than wine — but, I am open to doing a more civilized evening event in the future. We can learn from eachother, afterall!
I would like to point out, this was Horemheb’s first Tea Party event. Normally, he is either at work or watching the Young Prince. So, this was a real special moment that I was glad I could share with him. He was happily discussing current events and politics with David’s mother and other participants. He also took the video of my speech in Italian, which was very kindly translated for me (I am sorry for the side-ways look; I will get one of my technically savvy friend to correct this) The translation is below:
Thank you my Italian friends, for inviting me to speak to you about the American Tea Party today. Our Founding Fathers used the works of many exceptional Romans as the basis for the United States Constitution. They admired the ideals of the Roman Republic. For example, Marcus Cicero once said: The more laws, the less justice. Cicero’s words even now inspire Americans in the Tea Party movement.
I am delighted to be in Italy, the icon of our American fathers. I am inspired to be speaking to you in Florence, the pearl of the Renaissance. It is fitting that this region is the well-spring of the Italy Tea Party movement. At this point, I must revert back to English, but I wanted to thank you for this wonderful opportunity to join you in our mutual quest for liberty.