Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Script for change as old and rocky as the Alamo

Third parties don't work – to effect change, “Take over” – Zimmerman

...And I'll know my song well before I start singing... - Robert Zimmerman, known as Bob Dylan, “A Hard Rain's a'Gonna Fall”

Belton – The guy stands up all alone, like a preacher or a teacher, and as he talks, the mind's eye slowly pulls back in long focus, one of those Orson Welles scenes shot in shadow and subtle shadings of light, a vignette around the edges, a picture in a picture that tells a story about a story.

Don Zimmerman is standing under a proscenium of a theater, a place where every bit of schtick, schmaltz, drama, climactic and shocking event, tragedy and comedy has been bought, taught, preached, told, sold, bought -resold, and re-bought. We are in the temple of drama, the house of feelings, of true emotions

He has a story, and it's a good one, this Zimmerman from San Antonio, this politician and activist from Austin.

It's all about his life, his mother and father and brothers.

He's talking back to the night; the night is listening.

As the story unfolds, you begin to see the drama of a story of tyranny acted out so long ago, it's become part of his personal myth, his odyssey and his ordeal – this redheaded and very sharp cookie from the Alamo City.

There is a hero in this story – to be sure. A fourteen-year-old brother who stood a foot taller than anyone else his age, knew how to drive, though he had no license, and ran the family business while Mr. Zimmerman's mother and father languished in jail.

A federal judge presiding in an IRS tax case against the couple put them there for contempt of court because they refused to testify against themselves in abrogation of their rights under the Fifth Amendment. IRS rules often compel defendants to do so if they have any reasonable expectation of getting out of trouble.

Mr. Zimmerman, senior, a San Antonio home builder with deep ties to the John Birch Society and the conservative politics of Senator Barry Goldwater, had no such illusions. He would stick by the principles of the Constitution, according to his son, and eschew the expedience of the deal, the compromise of the ideal, the abandonment of the desired freedom from tyranny.

So the kid took care of his smaller siblings by driving around in the family car, collecting the rent on properties the Zimmermans owned, and the family got by. Someone, somehow, somewhere, mercifully turned a blind eye. They left the kids in peace, let them live a little.

As the story unfolds, the view narrows its focus, you home in on the voice, the facial expressions, the gestures, and you realize you could be listening to such a story often told anywhere, any time, in areas as far flung as Warsaw, Leipzig, Kiev, London, Paris, Rome – or Okeechobee, for that matter.

Like, a pogrom is a pogrom. No way to sugar coat it. It is what it is.

Then comes the comic relief.

“My father always had a bumper sticker that read 'I love Ronald Reagan's speeches.'”

There is a small ripple of laughter, infra dig, in the Beltonian Theater, where the Reagan legacy strikes a resonant chord. Mr. Zimmerman has practiced his pitch early, often, long and hard. He knows how to tell the story and keep their attention, then move on.

The father's jest was not lost on his son, who similarly took his convictions as far as the United States Supreme Court – and won – at least partly – his rights to equal representation under the law.

The Central Texas Tea Party has gathered for its monthly meeting amid a coalition of Central Texas Conservatives, Bell County Republican Party Executive Committee, and the Tea Party. It's been a long time coming, but it represents a rapprochment slowly built by Wes Riddle and his cohorts in the Central Texas Tea Party.

The founding Chairman, former Colonel Wes Riddle, who is an announced candidate for the newly redrawn U.S. Congressional District 25, has just handed over the reins to his successors, and they are taking nominations for his replacement.

He's got other fish to fry as a candidate in a massively gerrymandered new and bodacious District 25, a 13-county area that stretches from Hill County to Burleson and a small part of Tarrant in that southern bedroom suburb of Cowtown, thence in a crescent that takes in Johnson, Somervell, Bosque, Hamilton, Burnet, Brown, Lampassas, Coryell, western Hayes and Travis. The new district is purposely redrawn through a swath of country rich in conservative politics and rock-ribbed Republicanism in order to eliminate the liberal representation of long-term Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Austin.

Hence, the appearance of Don Zimmerman, an Austin software engineer who has organized Precinct Chairmanships far and wide – a skill he learned at his dad's knee.

“It's a political office,” he says of the position. “You're an elected official.”

He knows the power of that concept.

As an elected official of the Canyon Creek Municipal Utilities District, he got standing to sue the Department of Justice, and won a series of appeals that ended at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The allegation of complaint was straight forward enough. What business did the executive and judicial departments of the federal government have meddling in the affairs of the state legislatures as enumerated in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which provides for apportionment at the exclusion of other governmental entities?

According to the Court's 8 to 1 holding, they don't have any such right.

Here's how that works.

The 11 reconstruction states of the old south, the Confederacy, were subjected to a second period of reconstruction beginning in 1965, with the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

Every decade, the state legislatures redraw congressional district lines following a census year. Because dominant Democratic Party policies prohibited fair and equal voting among minorities – chiefly black citizens – the new district lines are first subjected to the scrutiny of the Department of Justice and the federal court system under the “pre-clearance” provisions of law's famous Section 2.

As a result, Mr. Zimmerman says, “We don't have minority discrimination, but we do have the Department of Justice and the court system.”

He lets that sink in.

“The only way we got that legal standing is because I had won that office.”

A listener asks about challenging other provisions of statutory and substantive federal law – so-alled legislation from the bench – under the terms of the 10th Amendment.

He shrugs, says “I won't advise people not to do it.”

But there is a catch and it's a risky proposition.

Why? Federal judges are appointed for life. They do not face re-election and are rarely called to account for their actions save by other judges similarly appointed for life.

They are known to misinterpret perfectly logical legal arguments, throw suits out, hold their plaintiffs in contempt and punish them, withhold standing to sue either as unfounded or frivolous, and refuse to order enforcement of judgments if and when they are obtained.

Then he plants his feet and leans over the lectern, says, “Spend that time and money to become an electoral force.”

The handbook, self-published and available through and its Kindle electronic delivery service, is just as straight forward.

“How To Swing Votes – Precinct guide to winning elections,” Zimmerman, Don, Morris Pubishing, 2010.

What do you get?
Instructions on how to obtain the kind of information you will need from County Elections offices and the Secretary of State – lists of registered voters, their addresses and voting history.

Lists of contributions to campaigns from the Texas Ethics Commission and its corresponding agencies in other states, and what those campaigns spent their money to buy and from whom.

Practical advice.

“I look for people who sent money to Rand Paul, a Tea Party candidate for Senate from another state – Kentucky.”

He also looks for people who write checks to the Republican National Committee, an organization which, along with the Democratic Party's National Committee, keeps the election rules so abstruse and difficult to interpret and follow that it helps perpetuate their power – for no other reason.

“They are not the ones I ask to become Precinct Chairmen.”

How to win?

He says he remembers many visits to the Shrine of the Alamo, where his mother took he and his brothers to teach them what she considered the most important political lesson of their lives.

“These people in the Alamo, they were ready to fight, to put it all on the line. They were kind of scary,” he says. They didn't play well with others. They sounded the deguello. Every one was put to the sword, their bodies burned to preserve the principles of sanitation.

Ultimately, in a lifetime of experience with political persuasion, Mr. Zimmerman's conclusion is the people sign the petition, make the donation, cast the vote, volunteer to put out signs or make phone calls for one reason and one reason only.

They like the person who is asking for the cooperation. No other reason is necessary. Just like the guy. That's what counts.

“Now, the kind of guy we vote for, the one we like, the nice guy, the one who is so easy to get along with . This – schmuck – he's ready to sell you out at the drop of a hat.”

He nods, shrugs, nods again. He lets that sink in.

Washington, D.C., with its contempt for constitutional principles, its blatantly deficit spending and its disregard for the well-being of the citizens, is beyond control and getting worse.

How to win?

Third parties? It's a waste of time. All you do is split the vote. You give somebody else the nod, vote for someone to vote against someone else. Who needs it?

Get interested in who is your Sheriff, your County Commissioner, Municipal Utilities District Committee member, Precinct Chairman, Party Chairman, State Representative, Tax Collector, District Judge.

You count the votes. That's how you know who won.

To count the votes, you got to get the voters out and get them to cast their ballot.


Get them registered to vote. That's job one, something to do today, now.


Make them like you. Make them want to do it.

He shrugs, nods. This is his story. He knows it so well.


  1. Don Zimmerman is one of the clearest thinking people we have in Conservative Activism today.

  2. That guy is something, isn't he? His parents' story--and his brother's--is amazing. The way he talks about others makes you think there is something special about him.