Great letter to the editor
- Why the tea party movement should disappear September 23, 2010
As a newly minted member of the tea party movement, I must say with
sincerity that the ultimate goal of this organization should be to lock their
doors and go home.
This weekend I was at a tea party rally in the Marietta Square, where I
volunteered to sit at a table and explain the First Amendment to
schoolchildren, as they passed by each amendment station one by one. Some children were
able to enunciate what the First Amendment was about, but most had blank
stares. You would think that the schools would teach them such things at an
early age, instead of relying on a volunteer communications contractor who
had no instruction or experience in these types of events. But I sat there
for five hours and talked to parents and children alike, and I found that
most parents were very happy for the event and the education it provided.
The weekly tea party meeting, at the main Marietta library, was a
different type of affair. There, mostly older couples sat politely and quietly,
nodding their heads in agreement as one speaker after another excoriated the
federal government. But the criticisms were not broadside attacks against
the government in general, instead focusing on specific areas such as
immigration, tax policy and the national debt. This was not a motley crew of cuss
buckets and malcontents. Instead I found them to be well educated,
concerned about the future, and angry about the direction of the government.
This was the Mayberry of the 21st century, what might happen if Andy found
out that Opey was buying dope from someone on the edge of town. When good,
honest people get angry, it is not a wave of blind emotion detached from
the source. It is a palpable feeling of alarm at the American Dream, paid
for in so much blood, slipping through our fingers while the ruling class
dithers for political advantage.
I am an isolated person, stuck in my daily routines and never venturing
far from home. So when I find myself at rallies and meetings concerning
political matters, I know things are getting out of hand. At my meeting, a local
news reporter attended and filmed the event. The meeting was the third
story to air that night, and got several minutes of accurate and balanced
airtime, without the usual snarky condescension you usually get from the
The tea party is not really a party, at least not yet. It is an
association of people who have no other outlet to vent their concerns and
frustrations about government policy. As a conservative movement, it naturally aligns
more with Republicans than Democrats. But don't think for a moment that
Republicans are viewed with less scrutiny than Democrats. Witness the cry-baby
Lisa Murkowski in Alaska and Mike Castle in Delaware, both out on their
ears courtesy of the tea party. And they have no kind words for the victor in
their races, defying custom and decency.
When politicians don't understand such movements, they ignore them or
vilify them in order to make them go away. What makes the tea party work is
that it is not a party. It is in reality a real grassroots movement that is
magnetic in its attraction of like-minded citizens. With nowhere else to
turn, concerned voters are flocking to the only outlet that gives a voice to
their fears. With these new people come their votes and their wallets,
bleeding support from tone deaf establishment politicians like Mike Castle. The
days of the go-along to get along politician are over. Loyalty to the
country is more important than party loyalty. This is the message that is finally
culling the moss from the brains of the DC establishment.
Ordinary citizens will no longer stand idly by on a national suicide
watch. This is our intervention. It is my personal intervention, putting into
practice what I have merely preached over the years. There are many like me
in the movement, political neophytes who would rather channel their anger
into something more productive than screaming at the TV set.
But why, then, should the tea party disappear? Here is why. The measure of
its success will be that the need for an uprising has receded. In short,
they won. The goal was realized, and the politicians absorbed the lessons
into the political mainstream. Nobody is deluded enough to think that
politicians will ever be pure as gold, but it is possible, as we are seeing, to
spank them hard when they stray, and cause a generational change of direction
Like any organization, the tea party was started for a reason. And like
any organization, it is subject to the instinct for survival. If its mission
is accomplished, it will have to redefine the mission in order to exist. It
will become a retread, a hanger-on, like so many other agencies and
departments. And then what is it good for, when it is snatched from the hands of
an aroused electorate and made into a polished official organization with
corporate offices and fund raising apparatus at the ready?
No, it is better to let movements such as this rise and fall on the
currents of the times. The tea party can be recast in short order. It is not and
should not be a permanent organization. It is, and should be, us, the people
reacting with vigilance to the challenges that confront us.
As I sat at the table educating young people about the Constitution, it
occurred to me that they were the ones who would have to bear the
consequences should we fail. And they were the ones who would have to stand guard once
I move on. And so I talked and talked, a regular guy forced into political
action by my duty as a citizen to defend this country. It felt good to
actually be doing something besides complaining. And that is the vein that
this movement has tapped into. May the tea party's life be short and sweet.
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