Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday in the park with Pat

Reflections on a tea party

More than 1,000 people gathered on the park like grounds of the Virginia State Capital near the bell tower on January 18 for a rally in support of the founding ideals of the nation.

Cloudless skies and relatively balmy temperatures provided a perfect backdrop to listen to speakers, with Patrick Henry as master of ceremonies, express frustration with government and exhortations to change the status quo.

It was a tame, well-behaved crowd of mostly older people, though there was a sprinkling of kids with their parents and younger people who might have been college students or even media representatives. Garb ranged from blue jeans and military camo to business suits.

Grammatically correct homemade hand held signs peppered the group. One showed a pair of eyeglasses with a message to Congress to “read the bill” alluding to the mammoth health care reform legislation created by a plethora of committees whose product is more horrific than any sausage created by the imagination of Upton Sinclair.

A handful of people circulated through the throng wearing blue windbreakers with “Tyranny Response Team.”

Gun rights advocates handed out stickers and literature. Others distributed copies of the Constitution. A surprising number of people declined the nation’s founding documents saying “no thanks, I’ve already got one.”

For almost 90 minutes speakers encouraged the gathering to return to their communities and start holding all elected officials accountable for their actions and demanding smaller less intrusive government.

One speaker advocated taking over both the democrat and republican parties to ensure that all elected officials are responsive to the will of the people.

Speakers reminded the group that Virginia would not ratify the Constitution until the Bill of Rights was added.

In an echo of the early days of the American nation, allusions were made to the battle underway in Massachusetts. Although that contest is for a seat in the US Senate and being fought with robocalls and television spots, the urgency and import was on a level with the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord.

Governor Henry repeated his well-known words first uttered in St. John’s Church a short distance from the capital on Richmond’s Church Hill.

His declaration of “Give me liberty or give me death” drew a huge cheer.

At the conclusion of the rally the group was urged to meet with state legislators in support of HB10 and HB69, which challenge the imposition of mandatory health insurance and restrictions on sale of firearms respectively.

It was a lovely rally.

How far will citizens take the Tea Party fervor?

Right now in Goochland, concerned parents are demanding that the school board be more transparent in its budget process so that vital people and programs are retained and everything else pared from the budget.

The next local and state elections are in two years. Will this fervor for change and accountability endure that long? Or will we return to complacency and business as usual?

The Tea Party movement is a manifestation of the frustration that everyone has felt with some level of government somewhere along the way. As government spending reaches heights few could imagine, citizens expect that their already heavy tax burden will soon become unbearable.

Tea Party Patriots are saying no to big expensive government; no to erosion of personal liberties and no to the socialism that is creeping across the land like kudzu in August. Their numbers are growing. Will the politicians take heed? Will real change happen? Stay tuned.


Mike in Centerville said...

Nice recap of the rally! I was there also and agree with your account. Did you see NBC 12 news coverage that evening? Running the tag line "Gun Rally..." across the bottom, they had a quick show of a small part of the crowd, interviewed a very young man who said he wanted students to be able to wear guns with a concealed permit (college I hope) then switch and spent the majority of the report convering a small gathering of anti-gun advocates that gathered at the bell tower that afternoon. You'd never know the real size of the turnour, nor the variety of reasons (not just gun rights) by watching NBC 12 news. Very one sided reporting in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I found it distressing that the rally started with a blatantly Christian -- rather than ecumenical -- invocation. It was as though the organizers were saying that non-Christians are not welcome in the Tea Party movement. It is inconceivable to me that only Christians can be concerned about government over-reaching. But that's the message that was sent, both Blatantly (reference to the United States as a "Christian nation" and subliminally.

We see the same thing locally. Time after time we've seen Memorial Day or Veterans Day commemorations turned into fundamentalist Christian events, as though no Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, or, indeed, anyone other than Christians (and fundamentalist Christians at that) ever fought or died for this country.

In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson states that "all men" -- not merely Christians -- "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights;" later he appeals to "to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions" and "with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence." Note the references to: "Creator'" "Supreme Judge of the world" and "Divine Providence," and not "Jesus Christ." As largely deists themselves (i.e., believers in a supreme being but not necessarily the teachings of Christianity), Jefferson and the other founding fathers founded our country "under God" but not necessarily as a "Christian" nation.

Anonymous said...

Wow. As another anonymous poster, I totally agree with the sentiments regarding the blatant attempts to insert religion into politics; and while I wasn't present at the rally, I'm distressed to hear that this continues with the Tea Party movement.

I support the VCDL in it's attempts to secure 2nd Amendment rights in Virginia, but I have been disturbed at some of their events where the insinuation is clear that our rights flow from a Christian God.

Get religion out of politics!