Wednesday, June 9, 2010
I attended a Tea Party meeting last night.
It is a county group and there were about 60 people in attendance. There were no protest signs, no threats of leaving the country and no disrespect shown to Obama. In fact his name never came up during the formal part of the meeting. As I drifted from group to group before and after the meeting he did receive some lumps over Obamacare and his foreign policy but more in sorrow than anger.
The foreign policy issues that resonated like a tuning fork was our dependence on OPEC, Obama apologizing to every tin pot dictator and country that exists, radical Islam and our immigration policy. Arizona was strongly supported.
Out of control spending and an unresponsive government, at all levels, was the burning issue.
The demographics ran from "seasoned citizens" to middle age to college students. The societal structure ran from retired military to factory workers to small business owners to teachers to farmers. From the comfortable niche to the scared edge.
I asked why there were no blacks in attendance and was told that many had been invited but, evidently, the Tea Party is seen as too conservative. Hope was expressed that blacks would attend. As one man put it, "All anyone has to do is show up. Everyone is welcome."
I find the "too conservative" funny in that several people echoed such libertarian concepts as illegal drug legalization and school vouchers.
I never heard anyone speak about abortion or gay rights. I think that is because no one is all that concerned with where things are "now."
We were addressed by one state Senatorial candidate plus about 6 county assemblymen candidates and one running for county mayor. The speeches and questions/answers were about streamlining government, saving money and reducing taxes. Side meetings were planned on how to get people registered and how to get them to the polls.
The speeches were necessarily short and the Q&A's lengthy. Almost every question resulted in open floor discussions between attendees. The speakers had to be patient and act as facilitators rather than lecturers. It would have been hard for anyone there who knew anything about our country's history to not come away with the feeling that this is the way it happened in 1776.
Free people discussing events and ideas and guiding those who would be leaders.
I think the Tea Party has grown past shouting at Congress people and waving signs, although some of that will always be done. It is great sport and wonderful theater but not particularly productive. The people I met are interested in issues and electing candidates they think will vote the "right" way.
The Tea Partiers represent a new resource. They are a new 10% and as such they can make the difference in election after election. If Republicans can meet the requirements and get this support they can win.
If they do and win and then don't deliver, a third party is the next logical and unavoidable step.
We shall see.
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