Back in the Sixties, I can still remember the television reports of the hippies protesting in Washington, D.C., burning the American flag, carrying anti-war signs, and flashing the “V” peace sign. Socialist communism was on the march and everyone knew it.
Conservatives were angry, but peaceful, even as cities burned around them in the race riots. Nixon would later term them “The Silent Majority.”
One of The National Review’s writers complained that the Tea Parties need to articulate a better message if we’re to return our nation to the Conservative path that the Founding Father’s blazed for it. Many Conservative pundits complain that we – the Tea Parties – aren’t “doing” anything but talking. Or writing (as I do).
The ideal picture of Socialist-Communists is a scruffy, long-haired hippie in a tie-dyed tee shirt holding up his middle finger, surrounded by like-minded useful idiots in peace sign tee shirts screaming profanities as the hippie leader sets fire to the American flag.
The scene makes headlines.
What’s the ideal picture of a Conservative? One picture consists of hundreds, maybe thousands of commuters tied up in a traffic jam east-bound on New Jersey’s Route 80, a parade of them trying to cross the very busy George Washington Bridge to their high-paying jobs.
Or another parade of commuters on New Jersey’s Route 287 both north- and south-bound headed for jobs in Morristown, Parsippany, Basking Ridge, Madison, Chatham or New Providence. You’ll see them headed home again in the evening, returning to comfortable suburban homes (or perhaps condos, if they’re young marrieds), where they’ll sit down to a good, if fast, dinner and then off to a softball or soccer game with their kids.
Uggh! Dullsville, right?
Or you’ll see them on a Saturday morning, mowing their lawns, tending their gardens, taking the kids to more athletic events or a movie in the evening. The sight is enough to put a young Liberal to sleep until they wake up in a rage over the whole thing.
The only times you might see them all collected together as one is at a school board meeting if there’s a controversy over the firing of a coach or band director. Another, happier place you’ll see them is at a Memorial Day or Independence Day parade, where junior is marching with his soccer team, karate group, or scout troop and sister is with her dance class or in the color guard of the high school marching band.
That’s Conservatism at work – doing nothing more than living for the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness the Declaration of Independence guaranteed for us back in 1776. The only reason you see some – and I say only “some” – Conservatives out in force is because that peace and tranquility is under threat.
Many Conservatives – you would call Moderates – are so peaceful and content they don’t realize they’re sitting in a boiling pot of water. That’s how disinclined most Conservatives are to create a ruckus.
Average Republicans looked aghast at the first televised Tea Parties in February 2009, when Rick Santelli sounded the klaxon. Those Tea Parties, I believe and have heard, were actually well-organized events; organized, that is, to discourage increasingly discontented Republican voters from deviating too far from the party center. The numbers were against the Republicans after the John McCain debacle and they knew it. They heard the drums beating against them in the distance and knew they had to do something.
Initially, their plan worked. Real Conservatives looked at the scenes from the Florida Tea Party events and said to themselves, ‘Yeah, that’s what we want to do. Only we don’t know how.’ My feeling, as I watched from my mother’s television because my television set had blown up, was similar.
“Yeah!” I said to my mother, pointing to the television. “That’s what we’ve got to do!”
She looked askance at the protestors running amok.
“But not like that!” I added. “If I were to plan an event like that, we’d be more organized. We’d have speakers and music. We’d have the people gathered around peacefully listening to the speakers and to the musicians. But they’d carry signs so their message would get out.”
A month later, late at night, I found myself on a Tea Party organization website discussing the matter with other would-be Tea Party organizers. They didn’t think they could do it. I told them that was nonsense. If they’d ever organized a birthday or anniversary party, an office party, a meeting – a wedding – they could do this. And I typed up an agenda and sent it to them.
Before the night was over, people in my workplace vicinity were volunteering to do everything under the sun. One particular dynamo, a full-time mom, said, “Yeah, I can do this. I can set up the meeting for the organizers and get to work on a permit for the Morristown Green.”
I didn’t have to do another thing. I didn’t have to lift a finger. These volunteers did it all and they were absolutely amazing. They’re still at it to this day.
At one meeting, someone asked me what I was going to do. “Why don’t you become president.” No, I demurred, I’m not a leader.
“Then what are you?” the man asked.
“I’m going to be your attack dog. And you won’t like it,” I predicted, “and ultimately, you’ll ‘fire’ me.”
Moderate Republicans took umbrage at our efforts. They insisted that the group’s mission statement declare that the group was non-partisan or at least, bi-partisan.
“If you don’t, we’re leaving,” the Republican operatives declares.
It was time for me to go into Attack Dog mode.
“We are not changing that mission statement. We are a “Conservative” group – make no mistake about it. We’re a Conservative group and if you don’t like it,” I yelled (it took a week to recover my voice), “there’s the door – don’t let it hit you on the way out!!”
They left. But they continued to make mischief on the group’s open discussion group, trying to discourage the organizers. They said all sorts of terrible things. They said no one would show up. They said they were wasting their time and that they’d make fools of themselves, that they’d look like idiots on television.”
I told the group to just keep following the agenda I’d sent them and everything would be fine. Their rally would be a great success. I wasn’t an event organizer myself, but as a company photographer, I’d worked closely with one through many meetings. I even interviewed her twice for the company magazine.
I knew exactly what to do, thanks to “General K.”
However, the Republicans began threatening the lead organizers with lawsuits if they didn’t drop me from the organization membership, particularly its website. I told the Secretary that it was all right; the rally was so well along, we were so close to the date that nothing the operatives could say was going to disrupt the event now.
The Morristown Tea Party rally on April 15, 2009 was so successful that Tea Party groups across the Hudson were writing about. We even made the headlines of their local newspapers. Other groups began following Morristown’s model.
In terms of actual numbers, 2,000 to 2,400 people would seem like a small crowd. The Morristown Green, however, is not quite that big. Those 2,000 people took up every square inch of The Green and were even climbing the trees.
The next event, which I was unable to attend, was the Fourth of July rally. At that rally, there were 4,000 people, and by Labor Day, the last of Morristown’s rallies (again, I was unable to attend), 6,000 people showed up. They took my suggestions and called out the costumed militia. They invited rock musicians and dynamic speakers. We’d gotten the attention of an enviable number of people.
As happens with all such organizations, sooner or later, things fall apart. One problem was the generation gap. The older ralliers hated the music. So the organizers eliminated the music and their attendance dropped by half. By the second or third year, the volunteers were “volunteered out.” Such burn-out occurs when the same people are forced to do all the work.
The other thing that spelled the end of the rallies what Rush Limbaugh would call “the seminarians.” Consultants started showing up, telling the Tea Party organizers their business. The consultants business, I don’t mind telling you, was to destroy the Tea Parties.
They advised organizers not to allow anymore home-made signs. The signs were one of the reasons the rallies were so popular – and peaceful. Attendees could listen quietly to the speakers and yet still get their message out. Signmaking became a sort of friendly contest among the ralliers to see who could make the most creative sign.
They also told the organizers that it was time to move “beyond” the rallies. They needed to take “legislative” action. That missed the entire point of the Tea Party rallies. Our legislators were not listening to us. They had no need to listen to any Tea Party organizers; they had their constituents and very merrily retained the status quo.
Our mission wasn’t to talk to legislators; it was to educate what Rush Limbaugh calls “the low-information” voters. The best way to do that was on the public square. I had that on good authority from the legislators themselves, whom I questioned during Legislator Days at my company. ‘You need to talk to the people, the voters,’ they said.
If we’d run around the Morristown Green shouting and yelling, burning Obama in effigy, we’d certainly have gotten the Media’s attention and rightfully earned the scorn of other Republicans and fellow Conservatives. But that wasn’t us and that’s not what we did.
Still, the Republican Establishment itself mounted a propaganda campaign against us, eagerly joined by the Democrats and their Propagandist Media. Sure, we wore tri-corn hats. Mine was semi-authentic, a souvenir from the 1976 bicentennial, when our high school marching band wore the hats as a summer uniform for the local Independence Day parade (the same year, I might add, when our U.S. History II class held its own American History Revolution, protesting against our Communist teacher’s agenda for the rest of the school year).
Frankly, we would have preferred some other monicker than “Tea Party” because we really were about more than lowering taxes. Our platform was lower taxes, limited government, and Constitutional accountability. The group shied away from the more controversial issues like immigration and gay marriage because of the Generation X and Millennial voters who tended to be Moderate. The high school peer group philosophy of not standing out from the crowd, of conforming to “popular” opinion – opinions put forth by the most popular gatekeepers – still clung to them.
We were, therefore, put into a conundrum – stand out wearing, say, tricorn hats, and we’d be pilloried. Retain our identities as peace-loving, hard-working suburbanites and no one would notice us.
If the Conservative punditry wants us to hold rallies – and we’re not lacking for causes – they’re going to have back off a bit. Our organizers must “reorganize” and go back to the original agenda, the one I taught Morristown and was shared all over the country. They must forget everything the so-called “consultants” told them and get back to the job of educating their neighbors.
Summer 2015 is nearly over so for those in colder climes, rallies will be limited. That gives you plenty of time to organize new rallies, picnics, parades, concerts, road rallies. Outdoor movie nights (there’s a church on Alps Road in Wayne that holds them – NJRTP should ask them how they manage these events). Wear your Tea Party tee shirts and buttons with pride everywhere you go. Someone is very likely to ask you questions. Be prepared with the answers.
NJRTP has done Independence Day parades every year with some success. On one side of the town, the crowd is deep with admirers. When we get to other side of the tracks, the crowds are silent and skeptical, even downright hostile.
Yes, I am a blogger. Writing is what I happen to do best (just ask my former editor, JD). I want to go to Washington on September 9th to the rally, if I can convince someone to go with me, to protest this Nuclear Iran deal, which the Senate just made veto-proof. I’d like to find an old-fashioned air-raid helmet to wear!
I’d love to speak at that rally. I’d love to denounce John Kerry and our State Department, in person. I’d love to tell them what I think of them and what I’ve read about them. But I don’t have the appearance to do so, and I certainly don’t have the voice. I have a weak speaking voice. I can barely be heard across the dining room table, much less across the Washington Mall.
To those who complain about those of us who only write but don’t “do” anything, I ask: what exactly would you like me to “do?” I’m not a time-traveler; I can’t turn back the clock and tell these stupid people not to vote for Obama. Or, for that matter, Woodrow Wilson or FDR. I can’t go back in time to the Sixties and create a Conservative television network like Fox News to tell the public why we’re fighting in Vietnam (Guys, it’s about the oil. There are vast oil reserves in the South China Sea and other areas that the Chinese and the Soviets want to get their hands on to fuel their military machine).
I’d love to furbish up my lungs and go back to any school or university in the Sixties to teach the students the truth about Socialism and Communism. I’d love to go back in time and take a hose to those miscreants who burnt the American flag. Even now I’d love to be a teacher on a campus who could inspire students to take up the Conservative banner. But I can’t. Not only would my voice not comply but now, neither would my arthritic hips. I’d have to teach from a wheelchair.
All I can do is write my blog and educate as many readers as I can about the history of America, the difference between a populist democracy (which is what Socialists and Communists advocate) and the representative federated republic we have the good fortune to live under (if you think the current riots in the streets are bad, they’ll look like picnics compared to a true democracy in a nation of 300 million people).
The difference between the Conservative and the Democrat Socialists is that we’re civilized. The elites are but the poor people they mislead are not civilized (obviously) or educated. That’s the way both the elites and the poor want it. The more agitated the so-called underclasses are, the more likely they’ll vote as demos, strict democrats who want direct involvement rather than a representative republic.
Just what choices do the pundits think we have? Shall we shoot the rioters (we may have to, in self-defense)? Shall we riot ourselves? We voted for a representative government that is clearly not representing us and shows absolutely no inclination to do so.
Are you looking for more rallies? Well, as I said, there is the D.C. rally this coming Wednesday. I’m going to try to be there, if I can. If Morristown does hold another rally, or if a miracle happens, and North Jersey holds one, why don’t you try showing up this time? Where were all of you in 2009?
This isn’t the first time I’ve had to address this issue. Why don’t I do something? I could write a whole blog about the things I’ve done for Conservatism since I was five years old. Put me up at the microphone in Washington and I’ll give you and them an earful. I’ll show you and tell you what Conservatism is all about. You might want to keep the fire department at hand because I’ll set that microphone on fire!
Otherwise, leave me alone! Buzz off!