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Story Archives: What I saw at the Tea Party
|What I saw at the Tea Party|
Thomas Jefferson once said, "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."
Since it's really not smart to take up arms against our government when it gets a little too big for its breeches, peaceful protests are a pretty good idea to affect change.
It might help to forget everything you have ever known about the type of people who involve themselves in protest movements when considering the Tea Party.
If you are like me — a Generation Xer—you have always taken protesters with a dose of skepticism, heavily peppered with cynicism.
After all, I came of age in an era with a Baby Boomer controlled media treating me and my generational cohorts to countless documentaries and Hollywood movies extolling Vietnam-era protesters.
The bloated idealism that framed these 1960's generation produced propaganda pieces made it easy for me to see protesters as self-absorbed, America-haters that were as adverse to my values as they were to soap.
The Great Silent Majority would never let their voices be heard, I thought. They were too busy working, raising families and bathing.
It was disappointing that a nation born in protest seemed incapable of mustering a movement willing to take to the streets in defense of hard-earned freedoms that the federal government burns through faster than a Woodstock reefer.
To be fair, there were protests of the 1960's that did a lot of good. They were led by men like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who marched in concert with American tenants that built our nation — that all Men are created free and equal.
It was a stride to advance the individual, but unfortunately many who came after King took a detour from the hard trod road of equality to a path paved with egalitarianism promises.
It didn't seem as if a protest movement was going to materialize in my lifetime with the goal of returning this country to something that resembled its founding.
The fire of liberty that forged this nation had been reduced to an apathetic ember that would eventually be snuffed beneath the heel of a socialist jack-boot with little resistance.
People might march in support of the snail-darter or some other endangered critter, but not our equally endangered liberty, I thought.
I was wrong.
On Saturday, I attended a meeting in Alexandria where Tea Parties across Louisiana converged to discuss what they could do to turn things around and set the United States back on the right road. I don't mean a road simply led by Republicans who don't like big government until they are in power and able to call the shots.
This movement is bigger than political parties and there are many involved in it that will be happy to tell you that they really don't care if it's Republicans or Democrats —or someone else — who is willing to make the hard choices to turn this nation from the European-styles socialist abyss to which it is heading.
Delegates were chosen by Louisiana Tea Parties stretching from the Bayou State's southern marshes to northern hills and everywhere in between. The people I met made me proud to be an American —proud to be a Louisianian.
They ranged from farmer to physician, from lawyer to logger, from restauranteur to rancher, from school teacher to store clerk.
They were, in short, the people who make this state —as well as this country —work.
Five people from the Franklin Parish-based Tea Party —which I was told would soon go by the name of "An American Patriot Tea Party"— were at the event.
Snotty pundits like Bill Maher might have been surprised that tin-foil hats weren't handed out at the Alexandria Baymont Inn & Suites and SAI Conference Center, but I wasn't.
I expected to find intelligent, ordinary people at the event and that's just what I found.
The room of around 80 delegates were divided into small groups to discuss strategy.
Topics given for discussions included how Tea Parties could work together, candidate endorsements, how to make the State Senate conservative, precinct organizing and creating an education arm for the movement in Louisiana — among other things.
In the group I sat with, I heard talk about books members have read from authors ranging from Saul Alinksy to Ludwig von Mises and F.A. Hayek. There were also discussions about Keynesian economics, early 20th Century Progressivism, the Jasksonian era and the creation of the Federal Reserve.
That's impressive when you consider that there were only about seven or eight people at the table.
I wouldn't be surprised if similar discussions could have been heard at tables through the room.
I wasn't able to stay for the entire conference, which ran from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., but I learned plenty during the time I was there.
What I already suspected, but was affirmed at the meeting, is that this is a protest movement that has legs that's capable of bringing real change to this country. The right kind of change.
Those in Washington wallowing in the status-quo are right to be very afraid.