Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Friday, June 08, 2012

A Force to Be Reckoned With

 After Gov. Scott Walker’s victorious vindication in Wisconsin on Tuesday, no one is laughing at the Tea Party anymore.

Once we’d gotten the public’s attention with the rallies, Tea Partiers wanted to go on to the next step – getting involved politically.  The rallies were fun, they said, but a lot of wasted effort when the real job was getting out the vote.

Looking back on its origins, it’s easy to see now that was exactly the Tea Party’s purpose, right from the beginning – getting people to come out and vote.  We didn’t need statistics to tell us how suppressed the Conservative vote was.  We already knew family and friends who refused to vote because they thought it didn’t matter.  The Republicans were just as bad as the Democrats, they said, so why bother?  They were right.

So the Tea Party had a two-fold purpose:  to get Conservatives out of their shell and see that it was only hopeless if they gave up and didn’t vote, and to give them someone to vote for.  I recall an early meeting, when a passionate Tea Partier cried, “We’ve got to do something more than just put on rallies!  We’ve got to be active politically.”

He looked around the room in a mixture of passion and supplication.

“Who are you asking permission of?” I asked him.  “Whose permission do you think you need to do this thing?  If you think it’s the right thing to do, then do it.”

And he did.  He went on to organize small groups in every town.  They took my early advice and started with their “familiars,” people they know – family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and urged them to solicit others.  It was, as a savvy politician told me once, all about the people.  The connections are stronger and more influential than trying to persuade an entrenched, Moderate politician to change his view.

The Tea Party is definitely on the right track.  They’ve been on the right track since that first summer.  They still must beware of that word “partisan”.  Neither party particularly represents American values anymore, but there is still the matter of ideology – Progressive or Liberal versus Conservative.  The Progressives have a decidedly socialist bent.

For years, no one would believe it.  They thought such accusations were a remnant of the McCarthy era, and Socialists themselves would deny it.  They claimed they were as red-blooded as any other American.  Unfortunately, the only thing “red” about them was their politics.

Drawing them out took years of pre-Tea Party work to get them to admit that they were Socialists and even Communists.  ‘If you think it’s so great, why don’t you just come out and say so.’  ‘You’re so ardent about it, you must be Socialists.  Why not just admit it and be proud of what you are?’

It worked.  They started coming out of the closet and admitting their Socialism.  Conservatives could no longer hide behind doubt.  Here were the Socialists, admitting themselves that they were Socialists.  Ohmming at the Capitol in Madison, Wisc., was probably the last straw for Wisconsin Conservative voters.  Traditionally, “ohmming” is an evil practice in which you call the spirits of the Underworld to join with you through the base of your spine (hence, the cross-legged, seated position).  But the Beatles did it in the Sixties, so how evil could it have been, right?  Well, pretty evil, as we saw this week.

The Tea Party still has a lot of work to do, with the presidential election coming up.  Don’t be fooled by the Media’s predictions of Obama’s loss.  It’s a feint so we’ll let our guard down.  They have a lot more money than they’re acknowledging and many willing foot-soldiers.

Still, well-done, Tea Parties.  There is hope on the horizon.


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