Well, I did it; I went to a local Tea Party meeting. I wanted to see for myself exactly what these folks were up to before passing judgment, so I started my own investigation. I have heard many glowing reports about the movement and how it is amazingly bringing together people of all political backgrounds, faiths and races. I have read articles regaling the beauty of diversity standing side by side for a common cause; saving our debt ridden nation as it hangs by a thread from total destruction. I have also heard the jokes and the insults as Tea Party members gather with American flags, home-made signs and chanting semi-clever sayings. (My favorite so far: Stop the Obmanation! On the other side, just the nickname "Tea Baggers" makes me howl!). I've read the accusations of disorderly Tea Partiers causing problems at their gatherings and then read elsewhere the rabble rousers were really the liberal left infiltrating the movement and wreaking havoc to discredit the Tea Partiers self proclaimed only chance for our nation to recover from our current woes. Just like you, I have heard it all and decided to find out for myself what the truth is behind this movement, the characters involved and what agendas are being touted by Tea Party participants. What I learned is far from the anything I expected.
I wanted the Tea Party movement to be viable, honest and bipartisan. It is not. I wanted the Tea Party movement to be united under a simple mission statement that most disenfranchised Americans could stand under. It is not that either. What I found was a group of very nice people who are committed to their country and who truly love their nation, but they come with some heavy baggage and therein lay the crux of the problem.
In all the literature and articles I have studied, the movement talks of three core values. These values are what would bring the people together, if in fact that was all they preached.
• Fiscal Responsibility
• Constitutionally Limited Government
• Free Markets
How could any one of us who value our nation disagree with the need for governmental fiscal responsibility? I have yet to hear any citizen ask for more government interference into our lives, more taxes or laws governing our private lives. Most of us earn our livings due to the Free Market System; it is vital to our survival, I cannot imagine Americans wishing away their livelihoods or asking for their jobs to be discontinued. So, in my view, unless you are a screaming socialist or a ranting communist, the three core values are crucial and without them we will quickly flounder; so what's the problem? The problem is Tea Partiers have added a great deal of 'extras' to their core values that end up being the catalyst for discord. Already the movement is breaking off into factions that depend solely on personal beliefs. There is no united movement, just more people with their own agendas that immediately cause those who disagree to be excluded. There is no unity in the Tea Party movement; in fact, it appears to be a model of Washington D.C. with all their divisions and discord. I was as disappointed as I have ever been when I discovered, again, leaders who want to push personal agendas at the expense of our country.
This first division I discovered is religion. A polarizing subject, to be sure and something that has no place in a grassroots movement that claims to be based on the three core values they expound. Where does that leave those of who believe that religious beliefs have no place in the political realm?
An individual's religion, as it stands, is a good thing and I have no problem with religion. I have my own spiritual beliefs and they are important to me, but one of the first things I encountered at the meeting I attended was the leadership's religious agenda. This is insane. As soon as you put a religious label on the movement it becomes exclusionary. Not only does it alienate those of other faiths, but it excludes those who are atheists or agnostic. Remember, this is a political movement, not a religious movement. The Tea Party organizers cannot afford to exclude anyone who embraces the three core values. Bringing your religion to the podium does just that and reflects exactly what the movement accuses the current powers in Washington of being; elitist. The idea is to find as many people who support the movements political agenda…the three core values, nowhere in those values to I see a particular faith. The core values are not at odds with any religion I can think of, so why bring it into play? Tea Partiers, you just defeated your purpose.
I also saw only white faces. I find it hard to believe that people of color are wholly in disagreement with the three core values. Their love of the United States is as equally strong and important as people of European descent, yet not one non-white person was in attendance. Why is that?
The other lie I discovered is there was not a single Democrat in the room. I know many moderate Dems are feeling as discouraged as Republicans and Independents. The speeches made from the podium were nothing more than GOP rhetoric. Even worse than that, the keynote speaker went on a twenty minute rant about Muslims. Not terrorists or extremists, just Muslims. Give me a break. There is no way I will align myself with racist, ignorant, bigoted fools, no matter what their core values claim to include. I walked out.
I found the Tea Party movement's philosophy posted on its self proclaimed 'official' website. I cannot vouch if this is in fact the 'official site', but that is what it claims to be and from that site I discovered the 'official' Tea Party philosophy. The following is an exact quote:
Our Philosophy (as presented on the 'official' website)
"Tea Party Patriots as an organization believes in the Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets. Tea Party Patriots, Inc. is a non-partisan grassroots organization of individuals united by our core values derived from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States of America and the Bill Of Rights as explained in the Federalist Papers. We recognize and support the strength of grassroots organization powered by activism and civic responsibility at a local level. We hold that the United States is a republic conceived by its architects as a nation whose people were granted "unalienable rights" by our Creator. Chiefly among these are the rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The Tea Party Patriots stand with our founders, as heirs to the republic, to claim our rights and duties which preserve their legacy and our own. We hold, as did the founders, that there exists an inherent benefit to our country when private property and prosperity are secured by natural law and the rights of the individual."
In the philosophical statement they use the word Creator. I have no problem with that, because it was also mentioned in our original documents; however the word 'Creator' means different things to many individuals. That is an inclusionary statement. Our Creator can be the God of our understanding to some and also represent the big bang that evolutionists claim began our world. The Tea Party meeting I attended used specific words and left no doubt who their God is; can a grassroots movement that demands change afford to identify with only one faith and survive? I think not. Not to mention the racist speech, white bread attendance and lack of any other political group except Republicans and the odd Independent.
Further evidence of the splintering Tea Party movement is described by Kenneth Vogel journalist for Politico:
'After emerging out of nowhere over the summer as a seemingly potent and growing political force, the tea party movement has become embroiled in internal feuding over philosophy, strategy and money and is at risk of losing its momentum.' Kenneth P. Vogel continues as he interviews Kevin Jackson, recognized expert on the workings of the movement as well as an active member himself; Jackson explains the current problems facing the Tea Party movement as it stands today:
"These groups don't play as well together as they should," said Kevin Jackson, a St. Louis-based conservative author and activist who has spoken at dozens of tea party-type rallies and is traveling across the South with a convoy sponsored by the national Tea Party Patriots group.
"They're fractured at the organization level, I think mainly because there are a lot of people who have not had managerial experience who all of a sudden are thrust into the limelight and become intoxicated with it. And when a potential rift comes up, instead of handling it and maybe agreeing to disagree, they splinter and go off on their own."
I can't tell you how it sickens me to read such statements made by an individual who is as familiar with the Tea Party movement as any other leader in the U.S. It seems, again, they are pointing the finger at Washington and then playing the same games they claim to detest. Where I come from that is called hypocrisy.
I don't pretend to have all the answers. I am just a concerned American who wants major changes in Washington. I am tired of career politicians that are so out of touch with the American public that they have no idea how outraged many of us have become. I am tired of seeing our tax dollars being spent like Paris Hilton on a shopping spree. I have had enough of our Congress and Senate being more concerned with their constantly growing benefits and earmarks while ignoring the voters who granted them the privelage of serving. The list could go on; signing unread bills, vote buying and selling, partisan politics, back room meetings, unmet promises, and most of all, telling us how we should live our lives when they are unable to tell the truth, keep their pants zipped and ensure they have the best while throwing scraps to the American public. There has to be enough of us who are outraged and eager to start a viable grassroots movement that is in fact what the Tea Party movement claims to be, but misses the mark by miles.
I see The United States of America taking a very dangerous turn. That is what happens when the men and women who govern our nation forget who they serve. It is a simple concept. We went to the polls and made our choices in the belief that they would do as they promised while campaigning. It turns out we were lied to, deceived by politicians whose greatest gift is spewing cow manure and doing what they want regardless of their promises. There is not an innocent among them; not Republican, Democrat or Independent are keeping their word to those of us that voted yes. My final question is this; what will it take to put these politicians in their place as servants of the American people? The answer is frightening to contemplate…You say you want a Revolution?