Helping the American people self-govern
The Tennessee Center for Self-Governance is a non-profit based in Tennessee that conducts workshops designed to help the American people realize their own power when it comes to civic authority and holding elected officials accountable.
I saw the Center’s President, Mark Herr, present at a Tea Party Patriots Local Coordinator Conference last November. His presentation was sharp, informative, and touched on a lot of areas only political insiders generally know and understand.
I sat down with Herr and other members of the Tennessee Center for Self-Governance’s leadership here at CPAC, including Tea Party Patriots Regional Support Team member Rachael Proctor, who co-founded the Tennessee Center for Self-Governance.
Dustin Siggins: What is the Tennessee Center for Self-Governance (TNCSG)?
Mark Herr, President: Our vision is that every citizen have the opportunity to exercise his or her civic authority, to leverage a self-governance agenda, and to use that agenda to use delegations in their states accountable.
Mishelle Perkins, Field Representative/Board of Directors: We define self-governance as “Self-determined man exercising individual liberty for the control of instituted government.” It’s an inherent ingredient in the human spirit to self-govern.
DS: How long has the TNCSG been in existence?
MH: October 2011. We realized that we were neglecting our power, and that citizens were being herded around through the election cycle, so we decided to focus on empowering and amplifying the voices of our fellow citizens.
DS: What are the primary ways you spread the message of self-governance?
MP: We have a wide citizen-based focus on religious groups, liberty groups, professional organizations, educational institutions, all leading to recruiting and training teams and missions.
Rachael Proctor, Treasurer/Board of Directors: We use our five levels of training to teach the groups Mishelle mentioned how to self-govern.
MH: They consist of:
Foundations in self-governance: Level 1
Communicating for effective self-governance: Level 2
Macro-understanding of government/team dynamics: Level 3
Micro-understanding of government/team building: Level 4
Pathway to self-governance/teamwork: Level 5
DS: Do you work with outside groups to spread your message?
Kurt Potter, Treasurer/Board of Directors: Absolutely. We work with a lot of outside groups.
MH: We team up with Tea Party Patriots to do presentations, groups across Tennessee and across the country. The 9/12 Project, Memphis Catholic Diocese, and the Baptist Pastors of Cookville, and Parents for Truth in Education are several other examples.
DS: What does Level 1 education consist of?
RP: Level 1 is about bringing people to the same understanding, of key definitions, to reframe how they think, so everyone has an equal launch pad into the curriculum.
KP: From my perspective, Level 1 changes the paradigm in heads – no longer will people think it’s top-down government control. We teach people how to not only give their consent explicitly, but also how to withdraw their consent.
The citizens will talk constantly about how government has usurped their power. This is not true. The people have simply abdicated their power, such as the lack of citizen engagement in our governance. This has allowed the government to pursue avenues that are well outside of their constitutional bounds.
DS: How long does it take to understand apply all five levels?
RP: It depends on the student.
KP: We have no set time frame. Each course, each level, is eight hours long. There are two sides to the training – the theory side, when they sit in the classroom.
RP: Then we have the practical exercises, based on the instruction. We have people write an issue paper on whatever issue appeals to them. We also have student meet with their appropriate elected official most relevant to their issue. That’s all in Level 1.
On further levels, they have to take their issue paper and boil it down to a one-page summary of bullet points so they can message it.
Our exercises are designed to turn each student into a subject matter expert who can navigate the political system in the most effective way possible.
DS: What measures of success have you seen thus far?
KP: We taught 71 people between April and December of 2012. We taught 79 in the first six weeks of the year, and more since. We have people coming from other states to take the class in Tennessee. People are taking entire days to drive and be educated TNCSG, to the point where we are also traveling to their states to do our courses.
RP: We also have requests from additional states we’ve been too in-demand to fulfill.