Local political activism group aims to educate, encourage participation in government
RONAN — A local grassroots political activism group kicked off with a bang last week in Ronan. Calling All Conservatives, a group formed by several community members concerned with the state of the U.S. government, held its first event Jan. 12 at the Ronan Community Center.
For St. Ignatius resident Terry Backs, who’s been the driving force behind the group’s formation, it was frustration with receiving pat answers to letters she wrote to her Congressmen and sometimes being ignored altogether that drove her to seek out others with similar concerns.
“I realized that I could sit on the couch and stress about it, or I could get off the couch and do something about it,” she explained.
In Hamilton, Backs found a group called Celebrating Conservatism that focuses on educating people about their Constitutional rights — which is now the goal of Calling All Conservatives — and decided to try to organize a similar group in Lake County.
“The mission of the group is to remain non-partisan … the fact is, there are conservative-minded people in all political parties,” Keith Baker, one of the group’s founders, explained.
“This group is open to people of all political persuasions … we’re asking them to join us to learn the same things,” Backs added.
And if the turnout at the group’s first meeting is any indication of how Lake County residents feel about the current political situation in this country, people want change. Baker said by their best count, around 325 people packed the Ronan Community Center for the potluck dinner and discussions that followed.
“It exceeded our expectations,” he said. “We had a lot of fun.”
Baker, who moderated the event, emphasized that the group exists to provide a forum for discussion and education for people who are concerned about the state of the American government, but the group has no specific political platform and has a strong emphasis on community.
“We need to not take ourselves so importantly that we get offended any time someone says something we don’t understand or don’t agree with,” Baker said. “We’re here to be neighbors when we start and when we go home.”
At the event, attendees watched a short film titled “The American Form of Government,” and heard from three guest speakers.
Mona Docteur, of a Hamilton-based group called Celebrating Conservatism, spoke about how their group got started, and explained why it’s crucial for citizens to understand that many of their freedoms have been taken away over time without them even realizing it. She also stressed the importance of citizen involvement in addressing these problems.
Jim Thayer, leader of the Constitution Studies group in Hamilton, gave a presentation about the U.S. Constitution and stressed the importance of educating youth on the subject.
Dan Cox, also from Hamilton, discussed the Federal Reserve and how this organization, often incorrectly thought to be a government or federal agency, has served to erode the wealth of average American citizens. He also spoke about the conflicts of interest that exist within the Federal Reserve, and by both political parties at the local, state and federal levels of government.
Following these presentations, people could sign up to participate in eight different focus groups that are designed to educate citizens about their rights and encourage responsible participation in the political process. The small groups will hold monthly or even bi-weekly meetings in people’s homes, Baker explained. The topics are: 10th Amendment / state sovereignty, public education, property rights, Constitution studies, voter issues, self-reliance and preparedness, Second Amendment/right to bear arms and pro-life issues. These small groups are where Calling All Conservatives hopes real political change will start, Baker explained.
“It’s got to be grassroots … it’s got to come from the bottom up,” he said. “We believe that the heart and soul of this is the smaller meetings in people’s homes.”
According to a news release from Calling All Conservatives, another event is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 9, at the Ronan Community Center. Gary Marbut, President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, will speak about Second Amendment issues, and the group will also discuss what steps can be taken by citizens to have an impact on the November elections.
For more information about how to get involved in Calling All Conservatives, contact organizer Terry Backs at 626-3007 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the group’s Web site at www.calling-all-conservatives.com.