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February 27, 2007

New Hampshire loves Read the Bills

This past weekend, my wife Sue and I were in New Hampshire, where I spoke to the Liberty Forum, an event hosted by the Free State Project. We received a very warm welcome.

More importantly, DownsizeDC.org and our Downsize DC Agenda, starting with the Read the Bills Act, received a very enthusiastic reception from the attendees.

And I want to tell you about the feedback I got and am still getting.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t bring you up to date on our progress statistics here at DownsizeDC.org because these numbers are also reason for hope.

There are so many reasons to be excited. We’ve now exceeded, by a good margin, our February ’06 numbers for newly registered DC Downsizers and messages sent to Congress.

Last February, we registered 242 and generated 11,253 messages to Congress. By comparison, this month, we’ve registered 393 and sent 18,804 messages to Congress (and we still have two days left).
This is our second consecutive month where we’re ahead of last year.

But one number still needs attention. And it’s quite close to being good. It’s the most important number: $14,000 — our monthly budget goal. As of right now, we’re only about $900 away.

One person making a contribution of $1,000 or two making a contribution of $500, could take us over the top. But we probably need lots of smaller contributions to make the goal. Right now, with but two days to go in February, we need your help. Would you please help us make our February goal?

Also, for the first time since May of last year, our monthly pledge amount, has declined (last June was when we introduced micro-pledges). Back then, our monthly pledge base was around only $1,800. We’ve grown tremendously in a short time, and as of a couple weeks ago, I believed we were closing in on $7,000 for February. I can see the increase as new pledges come in, but I don’t see the expired or maxed-out cards, the cancellations, etc., until the pledges are actually processed for the month. Upon returning from my trip, I viewed our latest report, which has us down under $6,200. Can you help us get that number going up again?

Money is always a trailing indicator. Every other number is heading the right direction. But we need to have the financial numbers heading the right direction in order to build that army that’s so big Congress cannot afford to ignore it . . . so large that we can make our message familiar to everyone and desired by most.

And one thing we do to get the message out is send me out as the spokesman for DownsizeDC.org. Usually, this means doing radio and press interviews. But occasionally, I get to go speak to a group.

And I must say, the people in New Hampshire were enthusiastic. The event was well-attended. The crowd was diverse. But they were all of one spirit.

And I had the privilege to speak to a standing room only crowd. I’ve never been able to say that before!

Estimates by friends place the attendance at my talk to in excess of 130 people and we had more people than chairs.

My topic was “How New Hampshire can change the Federal Government, forever.”

I spoke of the common objectives of each group — specifically, our common effort to REPEAL the Real ID Act. A reporter for a national publication, who sat in the audience, quoted from this part of my speech and linked to DownsizeDC.org.

But I also pointed out that New Hampshire has a unique place in Presidential politics. With little effort, a New Hampshire citizen can actually meet and have a conversation with the contenders for the nomination. Short of that, they can attend a candidate forum and ask a question in front of the national media.

Ladies and gentlemen, you wouldn’t believe how easy it is to meet and confront these candidates . . . 

. . . Because the rest of us don’t have that opportunity. By the time the primary comes to my home state, they’re surrounded by Secret Service and only speaking to the press and crowds.

So I gave the attendees some questions to ask of the candidates (preferably asked all at once):

“Do you believe that Congress should have to read the bills they pass? . . . If not, given that ignorance of the law is no excuse for a citizen, why should it be OK for those who make the laws? . . . And if you do believe the Congress should read the laws, then what will you do both as a candidate, and, possibly as President, to encourage the passage of DownsizeDC.org’s Read the Bills Act?”

After the talk, we signed up new Downsizer-Dispatch subscribers. We handed out about 75 bumper stickers that read, “Government is way too big . . . DownsizeDC.org.”

And upon returning back to my office, I found that the President of the Free State Project, a long-time DC Downsizer himself, sent an email out to sixty or so of his friends in New Hampshire. Let me quote one part:

“It only takes a few seconds to send a message [from the DownsizeDC.org website] to our representatives (Sununu, Gregg, Hoads, and Shea-Porter) . . . The reason I ask you to do that this week is because of something I learned from Babka this weekend. While Congress receives millions of letters per year, the number that is required to get a specific representative’s attention on a specific issue or bill is really very small:  15-30. If our delegation received 50 messages on the Read The Bills Act this week, that would likely get their attention.”

Then he gave the Read the Bills link.

While at the Liberty Forum, we had a special “off-site” event we titled, “Breakfast with the Babka’s.” I was amazed when we had 13 people signed-up. I was unsurprised when one canceled and said he wasn’t going to be able to make it to New Hampshire. In fact, given that the breakfast was at 7 AM, and that many attendees had stayed up quite late the night before socializing or watching a movie, I expected our breakfast to be a more “intimate affair.” Boy was I wrong. We had 16 wonderful folks join us.

Since I’ve returned to the office, I’ve heard from some of them as well. Let me share a representative sample of one of those messages:

“It was really good to meet you in person at the Liberty Forum and have breakfast with you as well.  BTW, right before the Liberty Forum, [my wife] started to get interested in Downsize DC. Between that, and signing up for your Downsizer-Dispatch at your talk, I think you might have another Downsizer!”
 
I feel a bit like I’m walking on a cloud today. I’m energized. I’m excited.

It feels good to grow. It feels good to be liked.

Our plan is working.

But we must — we absolutely must — keep making progress.

That’s why we need new credit card pledgers, starting at $3 per month.

Our largest monthly pledger gives $300. It would be great if someone topped him!

But with just over $900 to go, we’re oh so close to our goal. Help us make it today. If you haven’t given in the last three months, please, give generously and let’s keep Downsize DC moving forward.

Thank you for your support,

Jim Babka
President
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

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