In February, 2009, Common Ground 13 went live, with the overarching goal of organizing a “grass-roots movement of the American people, without regard to political party affiliation, whose purpose is restoring the federal government to that commanded by the United States Constitution.” And none too soon. Whereas, for most of the last century, the federal government’s encroachment on the powers of the states, and the rights of the people thereof, has been a relatively slow, but steady, creep, recent years have seen not only an unprecedented explosion in the size of government but, more importantly, the exponential increase in its powers, as it daily seizes more and more of the powers reserved by the Constitution to the states. So, here we are, on the brink of what amounts to the dissolution of the states, ready to act. But, what are we doing? Are we having any effect, or are we simply wandering in the wilderness?

When we added our forums, our intent was two-fold. First, we hoped they would serve as a place where people could discuss, openly and without hostility, the issues we all face; in that, so far, we’ve largely been successful. Second, we wanted to use those forums as the staging ground for action, both in support of other, like organizations, and of our own design, fitting nicely into our stated goals:

To declare to the Congress of the United States of America that We the People shall no longer tolerate the subversion of the United States Constitution; to demand the immediate restoration of constitutional government; to hold members of Congress accountable and promote the removal of members who fail to abide by their sworn oath to uphold the US Constitution.

Looking back after several months, it is unclear whether this site and its forums are truly serving their purpose, or if they–the forums in particular–have simply evolved into the on-line version of the office water cooler.

In the earliest days, having been blessed with the implosion of another site’s forums, we saw a corresponding explosion of commentary on the various topics posted in our forums. Over time, however, comments tended to drift wildly off topic and, in several recent cases, did so less than an hour after the topic was posted for discussion. This may be because, with a few notable exceptions, many here have similar stances on things political and, as a result, it seems we’re just preaching to the choir; if that’s the case, it’s easy to understand that boredom could soon set in, and that would explain the drift. Or, perhaps, the drift can be explained by the fact that, since the forums are unmoderated, it’s a convenient place to air our own pet issues (just as convenient as, say, that office water cooler?). Regardless of the reason, however, for this site, and all of us, to be effective, we must remain focused and on topic, lest we fall into chaos and lose whatever effectiveness we might have had.

Now, while we all sit at our computers and chat the evenings (and work hours) away, we must also consider that our movement may not be growing. It’s true that people do visit and sign our resolution, but how many of them return, and how many go to the forums, with high hopes of actually making an impact, only to leave in disgust after seeing the random, disorganized commentary that can be found there? How many came, hoping to find a group planning and executing action–whether on our own or in conjunction with other groups–only to discover what they perceive to be little more than a chat room?

The Common Ground 13 resolution loudly proclaims:

Now, therefore, we the people of the United States are resolved and do herewith proclaim no confidence in the Congress of the United States …

That’s a lofty proclamation, but if our numbers remain static, at best it will fall on deaf ears, while at worst it will be met with derisive laughter. With that in mind, to become and remain credible, we must grow in number. And, with government set to “do more for us” with every passing day, with the promise of huge deficits and correspondingly larger tax burdens, to wait is to seal our fate. So, we must ask ourselves if it’s enough that we talk amongst ourselves about the perils of a run-away federal government. We must ascertain whether or not our discussions, drifting all over the topical map, are drawing others here, others who will feel compelled to join us and help reclaim the America that once was. The answer is that it is not enough and, though we all have great love of country, we are far too few to be considered a force to be reckoned with.

Folks, we must do more. We must reach out to others in every way possible, so that we can instill in those who share our outrage at the casual disregard of our Constitution and country the desire to join with us. We must make our web site and forums highly visible by: a) resolving to invite friends and family to join us; b) including links to the web site (and the resolution in particular) and forums in our personal e-mail; c) linking back to our site on every comment we post on other blogs; d) distribute flyers when attending events put on by other groups (kudos to Susanne for her efforts in that regard); and, e) identifying and partnering with other like-minded organizations. If our mission is to have the remotest chance of success, we must first increase our ranks. While we want as many signatures as possible on the resolution, for it to have real meaning, what we really need is feet on the street, ready to help organize peaceful assemblies in all of the far-flung places across this great land. Size matters, if we are to be heard over the din of Congress’s self-aggrandizing twaddle.

Finally, to be taken seriously requires that each of us stay on point, particularly when discussing the issues presented in the forums (along those lines, we are considering a general chat forum; we welcome opinions on the need for that). If one has strong convictions on an issue, rather than draw attention away from the topic of discussion, draft an article submission and send it to us, as some have already done, but remember that what you submit must conform closely to the stated mission and goals of the site.

Time is short. If we have any chance of bringing about real change, we must act, not just chat. Else, we may truly find ourselves wandering alone in the wilderness.

Wandering in the Wilderness?

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