boston-tea-partyHere are a few thoughts that I shared with the crowd at the Florence Tea Party on July 4th.

Now that you’ve listened to the patriotic music and the good speeches, what should you do?

Be informed and share information with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Use every form of technology there is, telephone, word of mouth, email, snail mail, Facebook, Twitter – everything.

Inform your legislators about your feelings and opinions.

Every state and federal house seat is up for reelection in 2010 – and about half of the senate seats, city council, county council and school board seats. So, run for office yourself, or pick a candidate and volunteer to work for them. Or volunteer to work for your political party. There are dozens of ways to help out.

The most important place to volunteer, however, is at the polls. Josef Stalin is reported to have said, “It’s not who votes that decides an election, it’s who counts the votes.” I believe that’s true.

Do you remember where were you on November 9, 1960?

That was the election when JFK won by only about 112,800 votes – one vote per precinct in just four states! I was only 17 years old, not old enough yet to vote. But that night I was down at McKenzie School with some other teenagers, helping to count votes.

In those days, we still had paper ballots, marked by little short pencils. The woman in charge gave us skimpy training: “If a ballot has a stray pencil mark on it anywhere, don’t count it – put it aside in a pile. Also, if any election is not marked (has not been voted), don’t count that ballot either, put it in the pile too. I’ll come pick them up later.”

Later on she did come by. She collected those uncounted piles of ballots and sat at a table across the way, doing something with them. At the time I didn’t give it a second thought. Today, I would give it a second, third, fourth and fifth thought – what was she doing with those ballots?!

We need good, dependable, conservative poll managers to be sure the election is run honestly, and poll watchers to stop them if it’s not. The Florence County Election Commission is always looking for people to work at the polls, and conducts training sessions for both poll workers and watchers. Look up the number in the blue pages of the phone book, call and volunteer.

And most importantly of all – pray for our elected officials. Too often we pray for the candidate of our choice to get elected, and then when they are elected, they go to Washington or Columbia and they’re surrounded by lobbyists, power, influence, temptations on every side, and we forget to pray for them. It’s really a miracle any of them stay straight.

So, after the Tea Party, what? What should you do next? Don’t just go home today and sit on your hands. Pray, and then put feet to your prayers!