Now is Our Time
As I wandered through the crowd at the Jefferson County Tea Party rally on Saturday (April 10), I passed one elderly gentleman who appeared to be fast asleep in his lawn chair, holding a sign that said, "Be good stewards of my money. My future depends on it." The long afternoon of speachifyin' had done him in.
As I recorded some of the speaches, I noticed that folks seemed somewhat bored with the parade of politicians ranting about the perceived march of socialism in the country, taxes, health care reform, and the horrors of Nancy Pelosi, President Obama, Claire McCaskill and Russ Carnahan. I'm not certain what they expected from this rally, but what they got was a big dose of political cod liver oil meant to get them going, priming them for the tough political work necessary for TP victory in November.
They were repeatedly told to give their emails and contact information. Dana Loesch said of the rally, "This is like coming to church for me." No doubt, since organizer Ken Horton had assigned "staff" to wander through the crowd and collect money to help defray the cost of the event. He said they were running about $300 behind and made a promise that none of the money would go into his own pockets. Certainly this event did not come cheap. There was the sound equipment, the tent, the bouncy gym for kids, t-shirts, buttons, advertising in local newspapers, and flyers mailed to an unknown number of households in the county. Ken also was asking for pledges of $10 per month to run campaign ads in the local papers, and to run ads in response to editorials by Patrick Martin, editor of the Leader newspaper, and other liberal democrats who submit letters to the editor. I felt that this was an odd request, since many GOP/TP people already submit letters to the Leader on a regular basis....for free.
Some little bits of news were made. Charles Huey, GOP candidate for state rep. in the 101st District, said that he and Ed Martin, GOP candidate for U.S. Rep. 3rd Dist. had met that very day with Lieut. Governor Peter Kinder of MO to file a lawsuit against the federal government in response to the health care legislation. I didn't get this on tape but I swear Huey said, "We need to come together as one, as an Americans."
Organizer Ken Horton, who had apparently invited all the politicians to the event, took a good share of the time for himself. Railing on the health care bill he said it "had nothing to do with health care." "This is a way to control people. It's another entitlement to get people dependent on the government." He claimed that the government will now tell him what cars to purchase or what clothes to wear. His message to the President and Democrats was "The people of this great country defeated the Nazis in WW II, we've conquered tyrants in every corner of the world. We won every single battle in Vietnam. We defeated the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and make no mistake Washington, this is who you're messing with and we will defeat the socialist agenda!" Big cheers punctuated that rant. Sadly, no mention was made that there was no public option in the health care bill, or that people of all political persuasians fought in all of those wars, and that not EVERY battle was won in Vietnam or any other war.
Mr. Horton did make a wave and another bit of news by announcing that he was "done with the Republican name", and that as a born again "independent conservative" he would not be supporting Matt Blunt in the primary. He will support State Sen. Chuck Pergason to run against Robin Carnahan for retiring Senator Kit Bond's seat. He "believes people are tired of the same old names running this country...the Blunts, the Carnahans, the Kennedys." He did say that he would support Blunt against Robin Carnahan if Blunt won the Republican primary in August (even though he's REALLY tired of those names). He concluded with "If the Tea Party is gonna' make a move, now is the time to do it, the primaries."
Many speakers reminded their audience that "we know you have tried to contact McCaskill and Carnahan", but "you don't get an answer or you get a form letter". Actually, that happens to me too, and to virtually every one of their constituants in this state because, THESE PEOPLE ARE BUSY DOING THEIR JOBS! Hundreds of calls, emails and letters pour into senatorial and congressional offices daily, but the TP people are very angry that they aren't getting personal responses. One gentleman running for office even gave out his personal cell phone number, saying he would never change the number if he was elected!
With the Gadsden flag flapping behind him, Ed Martin laid out the three basic principles that we as a country need to return to. "They are the founding principles that we all know, are life, liberty and prosperity." So, now "the pursuit of happiness" has been replaced by Martin with "prosperity". That made sense; it rhymes with "cut taxes". He went on to lie about the health reform bill and say that "Congress took the unprecidented step of deciding that our tax dollars will now go to pay for abortions." What did he think that whole Stupak thing was about? Does this man who aspires to Congressman Carnahan's seat not understand that the Hyde Amendment of 1976 bans the use of federal funds for abortions? He told seniors that now "they are vulnerable", to which a gentleman near me yelled "They have no hearts!" He reminded the audience that this Congress has taken away their rights, "bit by bit" and that regarding the second amendment "they've taken that away too" and "I could go on and on". Really Mr. Martin, none of our rights have been taken away by this Congress or President, not by one fell swoop or bit by bit. ( Although I do recall losing a few under Bush's Patriot Act. )
I was shocked by Mr. Martin's off the cuff remark about his Marine brother. "We need to honor our military and honor the focus of our Constitution to keep us safe...we have to be confident that we don't try to be the policeman of the whole world. I have a brother who is a marine and I kinda' kidded him that 'your whole life you told me marines are meant for killin'. Then they sent you down to Haiti to sandbag somethin' or other.' We have to be careful our military is used the way it should be." I guess Ed thinks they should only be sent to a questionable war in Iraq, but certainly not to a place like Haiti where there are only dark-skinned men, women and children to save. My guess is that his Marine brother would have cringed at those remarks.
Then came the climax and the entire point of the rally. The purpose of the rally was to gather foot soldiers for the primaries and for the November elections. "Now is OUR time. Now is OUR time", Martin said. "Maybe we saw the darkness on the other side and said 'we don't want it', but now is our time. But it's NOT our time to have parties. It's NOT our time to listen to talk radio...It's not our time to watch O'Reilly and Beck and all that. It's our time to go to battle to save America!" Big cheer. "We got work to do. We gotta' go door to door. If you wanna' be in on the glory that's comin' in November, be in on the grunt work NOW."
Dana Loesch followed up with "Holding signs and going to rallies - that alone isn't going to win back our country." She reminded them that the journey is not for the faint of heart and that "some of our Founding Fathers...were tortured practically. Some of them were killed even. It's dangerous to be for the Constitution now."
The TP people who packed in lawn chairs and signs to the rally on Saturday are just people, like progressives are just people. We all love our families, we all honor our veterans and we all love our country. But the TP people have been fed a steady diet of fear, lies and overt race baiting by leaders of the GOP/TP, Fox News and talk radio hosts. This hateful, volatile mixture is cleverly wrapped in the banner of faith, making it's consumption easier for the followers. I don't know how it is possible to bridge such a gap.
And so I agree with Ed Martin and Dana Loesch that now is the time for the hard work that will be necessary to save our country. Progressives need to gear up for the battle it will take to keep our congresspersons and senators in the majority. In Missouri, we need to fight to turn our capital blue. The election of Barack Obama as our good President was only the beginning of our work. The GOP/TP is ready and willing to achieve victory in November. Do not underestimate these people. The leaders of the GOP/TP and Fox News are fully aware of the lies they are perpetrating and the fear they stoke. The people who follow them have very real fear for our country and fear of progressives. They will fight hard to achieve victory in November.
Are WE ready and willing? Do we understand that this too is our time?