Coastal Voices: What is the Tea Party?

Submitted

The call rang out Feb. 19, 2009, when Rick Santelli, a Chicago stock commentator, voiced his now famous rant over the bail out of delinquent mortgages. His "call" was for other outraged Americans to push back, against the moral and economic tyranny of big government, with the modern day equivalent of a Boston Tea Party.

Today our government rewards bad behavior at the expense of those who play by the rules, pay their taxes and live responsible lives. For decades a collective "we" allowed this assault to our civil liberties and family values, the growth of all levels of government and faceless regulation, and the theft of our property through monumental debt.

Overnight an electronic firestorm turned frustration into action as

websites sprang up, emails swept the nation and self-proclaimed patriots

began networking. The common denominator to this grassroots movement is

liberty from government's unconstitutional control over our lives.

These patriots esteem the Constitution, demand smaller government,

understand the importance of free markets, and expect fiscal

responsibility. These values strike at the core of how they live their

lives.

When the April 15, 2009, Tax Day rally became a national event, most

protesters were shocked to see the size of the crowds. The universal

realization was the comfort in knowing that there were other like-minded

patriots. This became the beginning of everyday Americans taking their

government back to its foremost mandate, "Governments are instituted

among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed."

Unbelievably, the rally was ignored by our mainstream media and the

opposition took a now-familiar stance. What was shocking was hearing our

elected leaders, including our President, vilify average Americans, who

for the first time in their lives, dared to voice their grievances. The

more the opposition mocks, dismisses, marginalizes and brands the Tea

Party as home-grown terrorists, bigots and racists, the more it

galvanizes these novice protesters and the more the movement grows.

To understand the Tea Party, one needs to look at their actions and

listen to what they are saying. Contrast these protests to those

against the f World Trade Organization; these are not the same people.

Every Tea Party rally has been non-violent, no property has been

destroyed and every location has been left spotless. While these

protesters are frustrated they are respectful and law abiding;

furthermore there is no hatred.

The argument could be made that there is irrational hatred towards

the Tea Party. If Americans are to embrace the "anti-war,"

"environmental" and "anti-corporate" protests as exercising their free

speech and if these protesters can receive the accolades of elected

leaders and the media, then why is there so much hatred expressed toward

a grass-roots group of everyday Americans?

Could it be that the deeply held prejudices of the opposition are

projected on these self-proclaimed patriots? One could argue that the

opposition is guilty of the accusations they're leveling against people

they choose not to understand. How can this locally organized national

movement - standing on the principles of the Constitution - pose a

threat? If so, who is threatening whom?

The Tea Party's non-violent agenda is about upholding the

Constitution. It protests irresponsible big government and the growing

debt, over-reaching and over-regulating bureaucracies, political party

hacks, and those who sheepishly follow the institutional machine over

serving the people. This movement represents the common everyday person

who wants to preserve the key to the American experience: life, liberty

and the pursuit of happiness.

Is a Tea Party member a patriot or a bigot? Find out for yourself by

visiting a local chapter's January meeting:

In Del Norte County, the Tea Party will meet for a potluck tonight

from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Fairgrounds Arts and Crafts Building. Call Dean

and Mary Wilson for more information, 464-5616.

Karen Brooks of Arcata was the Republican candidate last year for

the state Assembly First District seat, which includes Del Norte County.

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