The grassroots heroes will save America—not the elites, philosophers, political party operatives, or the mega-donors; not the congress members or senators or even the president. The grassroots activists who love the home of the brave so much that they are willing to put their bodies on the line for her have always been the unsung heroes, keeping the city shining brightly on the top of that hill whose “beacon light,” proclaimed former President Ronald Reagan, “guides freedom-loving people everywhere.”
I would like to mention just three of these grassroots activists who have all worked to keep America shining brightly.
On June 9, 2014, I went with a friend to meet a patriotic Republican congressman in his office on Capitol Hill. This was not long after the U.S. Senate had passed a bill granting amnesty to illegal aliens. The socialists were now pushing to pass a similar bill through the House. If they succeeded, 11 million to 20 million illegal aliens would become U.S. citizens and potential voters. I asked the congressman how the Amnesty Bill was going in the House. The Tea Party movement and some pro-America Republicans had been fighting a valiant battle against the amnesty push, but I feared they were losing.
The congressman confirmed my fears. It went something like this:
“Trevor, the House Republican leadership has enough votes to pass amnesty through the House. They have the numbers they need locked up. They’re going to pass it on Friday this week. It’s a done deal. There’s nothing we can do.”
I replied, “Don’t they realize this will destroy the Republican Party? That’s 8 or 10 million new Democratic Party voters right there. There’ll never be another Republican president. That’s a one-party state. It’s the end of liberty here. Don’t they see that?”
“Well,” he replied, “they don’t really seem to understand that. They mostly live in gated communities, you know. They get so much money from the Chamber of Commerce, which loves open borders and cheap labor—it’s done.”
I walked out of that room with a knot in my gut and despair in my heart.
Not far away in the 7th District of Virginia, a charismatic economics professor named Dave Brat was in the final days of a primary contest against former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, then-second ranking member of the House Republican Caucus and a darling of the amnesty crowd.
Brat was on a fool’s errand, many believed. Nobody in history had ever successfully primaried such a senior House member. Cantor had it in the bag. He had $5 million in the bank. He didn’t need to campaign. A few TV ads would fix the “Bratpack upstarts.”
One of those upstarts was Brat’s then-23-year-old campaign manager Zach Werrell. New to campaigning but savvy beyond his years, Werrell marshaled his small army of volunteers and was so efficient with his paltry $200,000 budget that nearly half of it was left unspent at the end of the race.
Werrell was totally focused on grassroots campaigning: old-fashioned door-knocking and more door-knocking.
As he told The Washington Examiner: “The focus was 100-percent grassroots. Grassroots, grassroots, grassroots, grassroots, grassroots. … Face-to-face positive interaction. That’s what you do. We had dozens of people knocking every day—not every day, sometimes only one person. But we had a few spectacular volunteers that, I don’t even know how they managed to hold down a job, let alone volunteer all those hours for us.”
Werrell was also smart enough to make the election a referendum on amnesty, which garnered lots of free publicity from some media heavy-hitters.
“Eric Cantor’s flip-flopping on amnesty made it very easy to label him as a flip-flopper. And then that got national attention when Eric Cantor said, ‘Let’s make a deal with Obama’ the Friday before the primary,” he told the Washington Examiner.
“That [amnesty] was a huge driver of a lot of it [media attention]. Like with Laura Ingraham’s stuff—amnesty. With Mark Levin, his big pet peeve—amnesty. Etc, etc.”
The day after my Capitol Hill meeting, June 10, Brat stunned everybody but his supporters with a blowout 55.5 percent to 44.5 percent victory over Cantor.
Brat’s shock victory made international news.
Stuart Rothenberg, publisher of the Rothenberg Political Report, said of Brat’s primary victory: “This is the political version of the San Francisco earthquake. It came out of nowhere.”
Everybody reported on the victory, but almost nobody made the most important connection of all. On hearing the shock news, the pro-amnesty congressional Republicans totally freaked out. “Amnesty Eric” had been soundly defeated. It was inconceivable. The locked in pro-amnesty Republican majority melted in a day. The majority dissolved into a minority to the point it wasn’t even worth holding a vote. Immigration amnesty died that week. The Republican Party was saved from its own folly. The Democrats didn’t get their extra 8 million votes and went on to lose the Senate in November and the presidency two years later.
The nation was saved from a permanent socialist majority by a 23-year-old patriot named Zach Werrell and his tiny army of dedicated Tea Party volunteers.
Raised on a dirt-poor farm in South Australia, Malcolm McGough gave up the chance at a professional “Aussie Rules” football career to join the Australian Army at the tender age of 17. Commissioned from the ranks, McGough served his country overseas and at home as a senior officer for more than 20 years.
During his service, McGough also became a committed Christian. After retirement from the army, McGough left for new adventures in the United States. In his new home, he read hundreds of books on American history, the Constitution, and the Founding Fathers. The more he read, the more he was convinced that the United States of America was a nation like no other in world history. Inspired, McGough wondered what he should do next.
When McGough saw Donald Trump ride down that famous escalator to announce his run for the U.S. presidency, he had his answer.
McGough was perfectly placed to jump on board the Trump train when it began rolling across the nation in early 2016. McGough served as a volunteer in several states, working for food and a roof over his head. He was then asked to help organize in California. He turned it down, as he was too broke to continue. After three days of boredom and a lot of prayer, McGough spent almost all he had left on a plane ticket to San Diego. Soon he was organizing massive rallies all over the state, making use of the logistical skills he had learned in the military. He and a small committed team built an army of 330,000 volunteers—theretofore unheard of in California politics on either side of the political divide.
With military precision, McGough and his team mapped out a plan to win California for Trump. They organized a massive phone-banking team: 40,000 volunteers a week, almost 10,000 callers on any given night.
Determined to win California, McGough—the quintessential officer and gentleman—kept his base fired up and motivated. His superb organizational skills inspired confidence and generated even more enthusiasm.
Then came the shock. Five weeks before election day, McGough was ordered to turn all the California phone-banking outreach toward five battleground states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina, and Michigan. He was told in no uncertain terms he had to win them. Always a good soldier, even McGough balked at Michigan. Almost nobody thought that Trump could win such a heavily Democratic state. McGough asked the New York campaign headquarters if they would “settle for four out five?”
“No,” came the answer.
For five weeks, McGough and his thousands of America-loving Californians poured millions of phone calls into the five designated states. They put 1.6 million phone calls into Michigan alone. On election night, Florida was the first swing state to go for Trump. Many were shocked when Pennsylvania also went for Trump—not so much for Arizona and North Carolina—but when Michigan went for Trump by 10,000 votes, almost everyone was stunned—including McGough.
It’s hard for a New Zealander like me to give an Australian credit for anything, but it’s undeniable that Malcolm McGough and his incredible California team played a major role in the extraordinary victory of Nov. 6, 2016.
Growing up on Long Island in a secular Jewish family, Evan Sayet didn’t think a lot about politics. He went to a prestigious university in upstate New York, got a high-paying job for six months in Manhattan, then threw it in to become a standup comedian. Twenty years on the road led to some lucrative contracts in Los Angeles—he wrote for the Arsenio Hall Show, Bill Maher, and several other well-known entertainers. Sayet was doing pretty well for himself.
Sayet was a life-long Democrat. The Democrats were the good guys in Sayet’s view. And Sayet knew he was one of the good guys. So, what else could he be other than a Democrat?
Then came 9/11. Sayet wasn’t surprised that Muslim terrorists would attack the United States. But what shocked the longtime Democrat to the core was that many of his “liberal” friends took the side of the terrorists. Over several years, Sayet examined the psychology that made his friends crazy. He delved into the human psyche looking for answers. The more he got to know how his friends really thought—or didn’t think—the more he changed his views—and his friends.
After several years of soul-searching, Sayet walked away from the left and into the freedom movement. Life is hard for a Tea Party-supporting, Republican-voting, Jewish comedy writer in Los Angeles. Sayet’s income took a bit of a hit for a while—but he slept way better at night.
By the time the 2016 election rolled around, Sayet was a popular emcee and public speaker in Republican and Tea Party circles across the nation. His blend of biting humor, intellectual rigor, and deep understanding of philosophy and human nature earned him lots of repeat business. Early in his conversion process, Sayet gave a speech to the Heritage Foundation that is still the most-viewed speech in their catalog—beating out both Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
When the 2016 election rolled around, Sayet and I both supported Ted Cruz. We loved him like chocolate—and still do. We supported him until the day he dropped out of the race.
When Trump won the Republican primary, Sayet put his reservations aside and did everything he could to get Trump elected. He understood what was at stake.
Through some California contacts in the Trump campaign, Sayet was invited to contribute his speech-writing skills to the campaign. Some of Sayet’s best work went into the famous speech Trump delivered at the October 2016 Al Smith Charity Dinner in New York City. Every election cycle, the main presidential candidates square off at the dinner. It’s traditionally a light-hearted affair: lots of self-deprecating jokes peppered with some gentle barbs directed at the opposing candidate.
Sayet wrote Trump’s speech. It was a huge responsibility and he knew it. A bad speech seen by millions of voters, days before the election, could sink Trump’s chances. A great speech could give Trump just enough edge to win. Most pundits were calling the race for Hillary Clinton at the time.
Sayet developed a very clear strategy. He knew that what set Trump apart from candidates before him was his willingness to ignore convention, to say things that no-one else dare say and, more than anything else, his willingness to fight, fight, and fight again.
Sayet reasoned that candidate Trump could not relentlessly attack candidate Hillary Clinton all through the campaign over her corruption and disregard for U.S. national security then cuddle up and make nice in front of millions of viewers. If Trump had done that directly after one of the most contentious presidential debates in U.S. history, he would be seen as just one more in a long line of hypocrites and the election would be lost—and so would America.
So, Sayet marshaled all of his writing skills, his psychological understanding, and his mastery of humor to craft a masterpiece. The speech was designed to respect the light-hearted spirit of the event but still show the voters that Trump would always be true to himself, didn’t care too much for convention, and would use every single opportunity to fight on their behalf.
The speech was a subtle balance of self-deprecating humor and humility and withering attack—all delivered with a hint of a smile:
“You know, they say when you do this kind of an event you always start out with a self-deprecating joke. Some people think this would be tough for me, but the truth is it’s true—the truth is I’m actually a modest person. Very modest. It’s true. In fact, many people tell me that modesty is perhaps my best quality.
“It’s great to be here with a thousand wonderful people, or, as I call it, a small intimate dinner with some friends. Or as Hillary calls it, her largest crowd of the season.
And the line that probably won Trump the White House:
“And even tonight, with all of the heated back and forth, between my opponent and me at the debate last night, we have proven that we can actually be civil to each other. In fact, just before taking the dais, Hillary accidentally bumped into me and she very civilly said, “Pardon me.” And I very politely replied, “Let me talk to you about that after I get into office.”
Polling numbers moved in Trump’s favor immediately after the event. One very senior speechwriter and strategist maintains that Sayet’s speech was the last of three major turning points in the campaign that put Trump in the White House.
A comedian from Long Island, like a fired up young political activist from Virginia, and a cool, calm self-effacing military man from Australia helped save America.
It Could Be You
Over the last decade, I’ve toured all over this great nation meeting grassroots activists in most of the lower 48. I’ve met thousands of patriots who have made a huge difference to this country.
All of them are heroes. Many of them have inspired me more than they can possibly imagine.
I highlighted Werrell, McGough, and Sayet because they are all humble guys (except, perhaps, Seyat), who took a leap of faith with little but the courage of their convictions.
All three were in the right place at the right time to literally save America—not permanently, that will never happen, but they made enough of a difference at a super-critical time to beat an existential crisis so that this great nation could live to fight another day. None of them sought glory. All of them could have made a lot of money and led comfortable lives doing something else.
All of them took risks to fight for what they believe in. All of them got themselves into the right place at the right time with exactly the right mix of guts and talent to make a huge difference.
We all need inspiration. It’s a tough, grueling war saving this country, and if you’re making a difference you will be attacked. I wanted to tell these stories to give these three men the recognition they deserve, but mostly to encourage others to dig a little deeper.
I wanted to show that one little right action can turn the course of history. We never know when it’s going to be or who’s going to do it. Next time it could be you.
Trevor Loudon is an author, filmmaker, and public speaker from New Zealand. For more than 30 years, he has researched radical left, Marxist, and terrorist movements and their covert influence on mainstream politics.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.