The TEA Party: Five Years of “Non-Stop” Criticism

On his radio show this morning, Glenn Beck urged his listeners not to go to see the new film, Non-Stop, starring Liam Neeson as an air traffic marshal who must track down a killer in-flight.  This is definitely a spoiler-alert because, according to Glenn (who saw the movie last night), the killer is an ex-Army Ranger who wants to get back at the TSA and at the current administration for infringing upon the freedoms of the American people.

According to Glenn, the character doesn’t directly say so, but there’s a very strong implication that this Constitution-quoting killer is connected to the TEA Party.

It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since Rick Santelli gave the clarion call to Conservative Americans to tell the government that we’ve had enough of bureaucracy, big government overreaching beyond its Constitutional limits, exorbitant taxes, and infringement of our Constitutional rights.

What followed Santelli’s so-called “rant” on CNBC, calling for a Tea Party rally in Chicago on April 15, Tax Day, was a movement of Americans, rather undisciplined at first, calling to account their representatives at every level of government – federal, state, local, and educational.

First impressions count, and uncommitted Americans’ first impressions of the TEA Party were of a mob run amok.  People were just running around, yelling and carrying signs.  Understandably, moderate Americans held their noses and said, “Ewww!”

But we aren’t really like that at all.  At least not here in New Jersey.  We did things differently than they did in Florida.  We made an outline of our activities, from an opening ceremony to who would give the closing speech.  We made time for music to appeal to the younger folks.  We invited a panel of elected officials from both parties to come speak.  Unfortunately, our particular Tea Party didn’t take my seasoned advice (having helped in carrying out legislative visits) and give all the candidates the same question.  There was some unpleasantness.  But it worked out.

We gave equal time to professional and community speakers.  That appeased our older attendees.  Everyone was happy.  When people heard they could bring home-made signs, they were thrilled.  The signs ensured the success of future rallies that summer.  The signs were almost like a contest.  People prided themselves on their homemade signs.

But there were enemies amongst us:  DIDs (Democrats in Disguise) sent to sow unhappiness among the volunteers working on the rally and RINOs also trying to discourage our volunteers.  They told them that the first rally would be a failure, that they were doing all this work for nothing.

Someone – namely, me – literally shouted them down and showed them where the door was.  Well, they were trying to tell the TEA Party its business.  They were trying to tell us that we had to be non-partisan or bi-partisan.  I told them we were a Conservative group and if they didn’t like it, they didn’t have to stay.

There were also online battles where the TEA Party and moi were threatened with lawsuits.  Eventually, I was kicked out of the Tea Party.  But the April 15th rally drew a crowd of over 2,000.  The next rally, there were 4,000 and at another rally on July 4th, 6,000.  Quite a success for a small-town TEA Party, wouldn’t you say.

I bear that Tea Party no particular grudge.  Their meetings were pretty far away for me.  At the time, they were the only group available.  Now there are Tea Party groups all over the state, some by other names, but all with the same Conservative cause.

I warned them not to abandon the rallies; they were what gave the Tea Party its exposure.  However, they wouldn’t listen.  Well, after all, it’s pretty easy to tell someone else to do the hard work, isn’t it?  Some members wanted to do more than just hold rallies; they wanted to get involved politically.  I tried to tell them it was all about educating the people, not the politicians who, for all intents and purposes, were already compromised.

Still, if the TEA Party really wants to succeed and to be perceived as being successful by the Conservative media that is desperately trying to help them (namely Fox News), they must do this thing, even if they only do it once a year.  We’re $17 trillion in debt?  Apparently, someone didn’t get the message five years ago.  We’re being taxed more than ever, and to no good purpose.  The TEA Party’s work isn’t done.  Probably, it will never be done.  We are the watch-dogs.  Some people don’t like dogs.  Some people are afraid of them, some don’t like their barking.  Isn’t that too bad?

By 2010, the rallies were drawing fewer people, for a number of reasons.  First, the organizers had allowed themselves to be persuaded that the home-made signs were bad for business.  They just didn’t understand that the signs were the easiest way for the greatest number of average Conservatives to get their message across at the same time without the rally turning into a screaming riot.  The signs were quite effective – and the people enjoyed the heck out of it.

But the signs were banned, nonetheless.  Then there was the problem of music and the generation gap.  The rock n’roll country style music appealed to younger voters and their young families, but not to the Hearing Aid Generation, who despised it.  Truthfully, I don’t care for rock myself, but if it got those younger voters out, I was all for it.  Whatever worked.

Nevertheless, the music was silenced and when that happened, all that was left of the Tea Party rallies was a handful of older people in lawn chairs and a smaller (thankfully) number of speakers.  Not seeing the numbers they’d seen in the early days, the rally organizers gave up holding rallies and lost most of their base.

“We’ll get into politics,” they told themselves.  “We’ll have meetings with the politicians.”  Except that the politicians are mostly RINO Republicans who have their own concerns with committee chairmanships, cronyist deals, and unreliable staff members (just ask Gov. Christie) who feed them false information.  There are more moles in our legislators’ officers than there are in the U.S. Embassy in Russia.

There is also a division within the Tea Party about getting involved in social issues.  Some say, rightly, that the government has no business interfering in personal affairs, as the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution states.  The states should be left alone to decide on issues concerning abortion, gay marriage, educational reform and so forth.

The trouble is, we are a society first and a nation second.  If that social fabric is torn apart, you don’t have a nation left worth fighting for.   We are a nation of laws and those laws had their foundation in a respect for God.  When you stop respecting His laws, yours won’t be worth the toilet paper they’re written on.

Average people fear Tea Partiers as trouble-makers, whack-Os, tin-foil soldiers, and every –ism in the Liberal vocabulary.  We view Moderates as feckless cowards, afraid of their popularity and fearful of a too-powerful Media controlled by the government.  They fear for their families, their jobs, and their lives.  If they bothered to look, if they bothered to trouble to inform themselves, they’d find out it’s the government, not the Tea Party, that has taken Justina Pelletier (and other children) away from their families without just cause.

I’m not the president of the Tea Party.  If I were, I would advise my Tea Party groups to: 1) Get back out on the street and rally, rally, rally (as the weather permits).  Invite the neighbors back to the party, with their signs.  2) Strike up the bands.  Young voters love music, particularly rock music.  Let the older generation stuff their ears with cotton, stop kvetching, and be glad the kids are there at all.  3)  Don’t pander to the politicians.  Don’t beat them up.  But don’t pander to them.  Don’t become star-struck if one of them invites you to a meeting.  Don’t suck up to them.  Stick to your agenda and let them know you expect them to show backbone.  If they don’t, find some other candidate to get behind.  4)  Don’t let the IRS scare you about supporting candidates.  You don’t have to name names.  Just put them to the Conservative test and make sure they stick to it.  Finally, 5) Every candidate should be given a literal History and Constitution test.  Seriously.  For example, who was the first American governor of New Jersey (William Livingston)?

Who said the following:  “It was a thing hardly to be expected that in a popular revolution the minds of men should stop at that happy mean which marks the salutary boundary between power and privilege, and combines the energy of government with the security of private rights.  A failure in this delicate and important point is the great source of the inconveniences we experiences, and if we are not cautious to rectify and ameliorate our system we may travel from one chimerical project to another; we may try change after change; but we shall never be likely to make any material change for the better.”?  (Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, No. 26)

Who made this statement:  “When the public is called to investigate and decide upon a question in which not only the present members of the community are deeply interested, but upon which the happiness and misery of generations yet unborn is in great measure suspended, the benevolent mind cannot help feeling itself peculiarly interested in the result.”?  (The author went by the pseudonym of “Brutus” and was thought to be New York Judge Robert Yates; The Anti-Federalist Papers, “Brutus” Essay I.)

Name the U.S. presidents from first to current, in order.

What is the capital of Ethiopia?  (Addis-Abbaba)

In what year was South Dakota admitted to the Union?

Who came first – Plato, Socrates, or Aristotle?  (Socrates, the teacher of Plato)

What does “novus ordo seclorum” mean and where can this motto be found?  It’s Latin for “a new order of the ages” and can be found on the Great Seal of the United States.

The questions asked depend on the office the candidate seeks.  A candidate for mayor of Pompton Lakes might be asked what the word “Pompton” means.  (Indian for “where the waters meet,” which is very true of Pompton Lakes) or when the town was founded (Feb. 26, 1895).

Someone on the state level might be quizzed on their knowledge of the state.   What does the name “Kansas” mean (Indian for “people of the wind”)?  Or, why was the state known as “Bleeding Kansas”?  Did Kansas enter the Union as a Free or Slave state (Free)?  Which explorer first set foot in Kansas (Coronado, in 1541, almost two centuries before the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts)?  Who were the “Exodusters” (Recently-freed slaves who sought freedom in Kansas)?

A presidential candidate aiming for the highest office in the land should know all this about the fifty states and more.  That candidate should be familiar with the capitals and rulers of foreign lands.  They should know the Constitution backwards and forwards and be willing to uphold it.  Military experience, while not mandatory, would be preferable, as it should be at least for Senators.  They should be made to go through the “gas chamber” before entering the Senate chamber.

A presidential candidate should have an exemplary knowledge of American history.  They should be able to recite history concerning America at least 400 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence so we know they know why freedom was so important to the Colonists.  We should not suffer the President of the United States to take our history or our freedom for granted.

People laughed and complained when legislators read the preamble to the Constitution of the United States.  They said it was a waste of taxpayers’ time and money.  Considering how much money they do waste, we considered it worthwhile for them to recite a reminder of their duties to the taxpayers.

We should also require the President to observe certain customs on national holidays:  A reading of Washington’s First Inaugural address on Presidents Day, as well as a renewal of the oath of office.  A reading of the Gettysburg Address on Memorial Day after he lays the wreath at Arlington National Cemetery.  A reading of a portion of the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July.  And a reading from a selection of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations on Tax Day.

Finally, on September 11th, Congress should hike itself out to Somerset, Pa., to the United Airlines Flight 93 Memorial to give thanks to God and the passengers on that flight in 2001 that they are either alive, or that their successors lived, to see another day.

The TEA Party isn’t a party in the sense that it’s a political party, although its members are decidedly Conservative.  If we’d wanted to create a political party, we would have called it The Conservative Party.  Ultimately, we should.  The TEA Party is about politics, yes, but not about politicians.  We’re about the people.  We’re for the people.

We are the people.

Published in: on February 28, 2014 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

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