I'm not convinced that divine intervention was involved, however the first County Sheriff Project event in Las Vegas on January 30th was an unexpectedly huge success. One hundred fifteen Sheriffs and Deputies registered for the event, and approximately sixty of them stood together in uniform for the group photo just before the evening banquet. I confess that standing near that many law enforcement officers put me on edge wondering if I would be going to jail for some of my political views. However I am convinced that we are finally headed in the direction of Liberty, because I now consider myself friends with a number of the Sheriffs who attended.
Let me begin by thanking the dedicated patriots who devoted countless hours working to make this event a reality. They put their personal differences aside and worked tirelessly together based on their common love of Liberty. No one person was in charge. Everyone contributed what and how they could, and despite some ruffled feathers, we proved that bottom up organization really works. There isn't time to thank everyone individually, however I want to specifically thank Bobby Florentz for successfully coordinating the transportation nightmare of getting nearly 200 people from the airport to the hotel - and back. John Oetken and his Oathkeeper volunteers did an excellent job of providing the transportation, and a very professional job of providing the security for three days of the event. They all worked quietly in the background, and acted as if it was all in a day's work. I am proud to be able to work with superlative people like this.
The activity began on Sunday as people arrived at the hotel. The hospitality suite was abuzz with small groups of conversation, and I did my best to speak to each and every Sheriff and Deputy, to thank them for attending, and to give them my business card in case they had any questions or problems during their visit. Everyone appeared to be there with an open mind, and in a spirit of good will.
After an opening statement by Sheriff Mack, and a short video to set the tone for the convention, I was the first speaker to address the audience. It was my responsibility to discuss the difference between rights and privileges, the proper role of government, and the Bill of Rights... and I only had an hour to accomplish the task. My goal was to shatter some of their assumptions and motivate them to action without appearing to be a crazed conspiracy theorist. Like the game of Blackjack so common in Vegas, my challenge was to reach a certain level without going over. I feel that I achieved exactly that. Several Sheriffs recommended "more Michael Badnarik" as way to improve future conventions, and I have already been invited to make presentations in several of the counties. Offering my class in all 3300+ counties would be a daunting task, but I am certainly up to the challenge. Domino Effect - Part Two?
Sheriff Mack was the next speaker, and he capitalized on the momentum, highlighting the most important aspects of his Supreme Court victory, and the Tenth Amendment basis for that decision. Larry Pratt (Gun Owners of America), Tom DeWeese (American Policy Center) and Joe Banister (Freedom Above Fortune) also gave inspirational presentations before lunch. The afternoon consisted of Sheriffs from across the country telling their stories of success after their confrontations with the federal government. Sheriffs: Glen Palmer from Oregon; Jon Lopey from California; Dave Mattis from Wyoming; Brad Rogers from Indiana; and Tony DeMeo from Nevada gave very moving presentations that were signifcantly more effective because they were speaking to their peers.
Peggy Littleton, a county commissioner from Colorado Springs, also gave a very articulate presentation along with her local Sheriff. It is easy to complain about people in office showing little regard for their constitutents, but Ms. Littleton must not be assumed to be a part of the status quo. On Tuesday I spoke to her briefly in the hotel lobby and thanked her for her presentation. She was not leaving town as I originally assumed. She was preparing to participate remotely in a county commissioners meeting, perched on top of a bar stool with her laptop and cell phone plugged into the electrical outlet. She was still there after four hours, explaining that she had to know what people were saying so she would know how to vote. When I commented favorably on her dedication she looked at me with genuine suprise and said, "It's my JOB!" The annual snowfall in that state prevents me from ever living in Colorado Springs, but I highly recommend that the people who do, continue to vote this woman into office for as long as she is willing to represent them. Her dedication is another sign that all hope is not lost.
If there was any question about the positive energy level that filled the room, or any doubts about their passionate love of Liberty, they were dispelled immediately when these defenders of the Constitution began to assemble in uniform for their group photo. Not since my days as a Boy Scout have I experienced such a joyful hope for the future of my country! Standing before me were the guardians of freedom. Men and women dedicated to the "holy cause of Liberty", as Sheriff Mack is fond of saying. Wow! For those of us who have been trying to light the fires of Liberty, this was an unquenchable forest fire illuminating the night sky for miles around.
(Click on photo for larger image)
Clearly, our job now is to throw as much fuel on this fire as possible. Using the testimonies from the Sheriffs who attended, I predict that our second event will see between five hundred and a thousand new Sheriffs participating in the event. There is bright hope for the future, but we have a responsibility to support those who have taken an oath to protect our lives, our Liberty, and our property. Please contribute as generously as you can when the next event is announced. Promise yourself that you will establish contact and begin a relationship with your Sheriff now, to improve the chance that they will agree to attend the next event when you invite them. If you want your children to live in peace and prosperity, do not miss this opportunity to change the future. The Founding Fathers aren't here to do it for us.
Lighting the fires of Liberty, one heart at a time!