Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sign Yourselves Up

Last night, the band we play with was taking nominations for its board of directors. The rehearsal ended early so the band could deal with the politics. I was tired and wanted to go home, but the friend I came with felt it would be impolitic to leave early.

As he put his instrument away in the back of the room, the band’s secretary asked that anyone who wanted to run for a position stand up and introduce themselves. He went through the alphabet. My friend went back to his seat.

His music stand mate said to him, “When they come to the M’s, stand up.”

“Um. Okay,” my friend replied. I heard but was too far back in the room to intervene.

So when they came to the letter M, he stood up and introduced himself. Not knowing what it was all about, he didn’t know what to say. He looked to his stand mate, who motioned that he had done fine. Meanwhile, I was cracking up laughing. I tried to call to him, “Do you know that you just volunteered to run for office?!” He didn’t hear me, though.

The meeting continued and he still didn’t understand what was going on, even when they asked him to spell his name. I helped him out. At last, he came back to where his instrument case was.

“So,” I said, laughing, “you don’t figure you have enough to do, huh? You hadn’t enough of being an officer on the other band? You’re gonna give it another go?”

“What are you talking about?” he asked, blankly.

“Dude, you just volunteered to run for a position on this band. What I want to know is, how you’re going to explain this to your other half?”

“What?! I can’t run for an office! I’ll have to head them off at the pass before this gets out of hand!” He then hurried over to where the election committee was confabulating to explain to them that he just lived too far away to get involved.

When the Morristown Tea Party formed, I explained to them that there were three important words they needed to learn: location, location, location. New Jerseyans are like turtles; they don’t like to get too far from their shells.

They listened and are incredibly successful. Morristown is actually too far from my shell, although I poke my head into their meetings when I can. In truth, I’m a District 8 gal and I’ve been finding myself at the Tea Party meetings in Wayne.

Thanks to some underhanded conniving by national Tea Party operatives, they were discouraged from taking a local name. Due to the fact that they can’t get enough volunteers and that politics are so rough in District 8, they were also discouraged from holding outdoor rallies.

The people who are running this Tea Party are excellent people from Clifton, and the locality is problematic. That’s how close to home people feel. To people in Wayne and Pompton Lakes, Clifton is in the vicinity, but it’s a hike. It’s not “home” and they don’t really know the people running their party. People in the area don’t even realize there is a Tea Party for them.

Their meetings are terrific. They have wonderful, informed speakers and an educated, motivated base. But it’s not enough. We’re on the fringe of Congressional District 8, exactly where the Liberals want us. Wayne and Pompton Lakes were deliberately orphaned in the last gerrymandering session, divided from the people who think like us (the most notoriously rigged N.J. district is 13). The division roughly follows the outline of Passaic County, but these two central municipalities were gobbled up in the last remapping.

Well, if the Liberals want war, I’m game. I’ll do everything in my power to make them sorry they ever swallowed me. Redistrict my town, will you?

Because there’s a division between three districts – District 5, District 8 and District 11 – it’s hard for a Tea Party coalition to organize and mobilize. The national Tea Party operatives have exacerbated and exploited those divisions – north and south, east and west, Morris County, Bergen County, Passaic County. The nationals dismissed the Passaic County organizers, telling them they should just go join some other county’s Tea Party.

Yeah, well, the problem is those people in those Morris and Bergen counties aren’t being bled dry by two black-hole cities. No racial taunt intended. We’re talking here about the astronomical phenomenon where light goes in but doesn’t come out. With these cities, money goes in but it doesn’t come out again. Our money.

No taxpayers ever fit my portrait of the disenfranchised voters I described to the Morristown organizers better than the suburban Passaic County voter. At least the Conservatives in Bergen, Sussex, Morris (which all have Tea Parties) and upper Passaic counties –– are represented.

Not so in the middle of Passaic county. Not in Wayne and Pompton Lakes. (Poor old Hawthorn was forced into District 9). We get all the honor of paying the taxes to support those cities, the same as the up-county residents represented by Frelinghuysen and Garret, but without the representation. Register a complaint with Bill Pascrell? Surely, you jest.

Well, if we weren’t there, the Republicans wouldn’t stand any chance at all. The two main Democrat factions – minorities and the unions – are so heavily entrenched it would take a full lobotomy to un-brainwash them.

Getting our Conservative guy, Straten, elected is going to take some collaboration. We’re going to need the help of the other county residents. We need a Tea Party a rally, not just a closed door, members-only meeting. All the candidates running for office would benefit.

Morristown did it. They’re in a big county, and Morristown itself is Liberal. That didn’t stop the Morristown Tea Party from holding their rally there. They, too, have various representatives. The rallies weren’t about the elected officials, though. It was about waking up the Conservative voters to defend their turf and defend their country.

The Passaic County voters are hiding in their kitchens and their garages just the way the Morris County voters were, until they heard the tea party’s clarion call (I saw just such a couple at polling place – they were afraid to tell the clerk what their affiliation was. They didn’t want to declare as Republicans for fear the Republican candidate was no different than the Democrat).

Like the Morris County voters who balked at the notion of going to Newark, they’re not likely to go to Morristown. A few daring souls might, the way the state Tea Party group convinced some tea partiers to go to Trenton, which was fine. Except that the majority of voters stayed home or came to Morristown.

I’m pretty sure most Passaic County residents have no idea there’s such a thing as a Tea Party within their midst; it’s something they see on television, but that’s about it. Nor will they unless this Tea Party puts itself out in public, out in the open air where the residents won’t feel caged or trapped, like nervous pigeons being trolled for campaign cash.

There’s got to be something in it for them. The politicos running this tea party need to take a step back and let the civilian organizers handle this, and not try to thwart them – again. That “something” is the opportunity to make their voices heard, or at least listen to good, public speakers share their beliefs, to wave their home-made signs, and most importantly, be in the company of other average citizens like themselves who feel the way they do.

Morristown got it (after quite a bit of shouting on my part) and Passaic County could do the same thing, if it wanted to. Don’t think there aren’t Liberals trying to make inroads into Morris County. But someone has to step up to the plate. Someone has to volunteer to organize such an event. It can’t be done with only a handful of people.

If you’ve ever planned a kid’s birthday, a wedding, an anniversary or retirement or graduation party, you can do this. When the letter of your name is called, stand up.

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