By Claire Muzal
I beg to differ with Washington Irving who wrote, “There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse; as I have found in travelling in a stage-coach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position and be bruised in a new place.”
Hmmm, not the kind of change I want to believe in!
A year ago, I remember the powerless despair that my Senior-self and some of my peers felt as we observed a Federal juggernaut racing toward more debt and Federal control. Was it inevitable that we endure more and bigger bruises in more places? It was looking like a rough stage-coach ride indeed.
A year ago this month, the first Tax Day Tea Party was held. Then on April 15, I met with some of my despairing friends and a couple thousand other people in Asheville, North Carolina. We were encouraged!
We kept meeting: on July 4th, and on Sept. 12th.
In Washington D.C. we were a huge but very tidy crowd, picking up after ourselves and acting so peaceful that not one police incident took place that day. It was a heady experience to join ranks with so many Main Street Americans to shout “Can you Hear Us Now?” to our Leaders. It was disheartening to go home and see the disparaging , marginalizing, non-news coverage that took place. We weren’t being heard.
So we dug in and got more organized, looked ahead to 2010, and planned to hit ’em where it hurt: we’ll just take both Democrat and Republican career jobs away and put in some people who won’t continue the bruising ride.
In one year’s time, we have gone from feeling powerless to becoming empowered and very politically active. All this, despite the fact that the Federal Government, many media outlets, and even many of our neighbors still don’t “get us.” We had read the signs that pointed to a controlling, Federal Nanny-state, took the signs seriously, and acted. But can the Federal and State Governments and the major political parties read the signs too? Do they clearly hear and understand the rumblings from millions of people out on Main Street?
I wanted to attend a press conference in Greenville, SC today, but a snow storm is coming. One farmer called into a local radio station to report that his pigs broke into his barn, dug holes and made a nest in the straw. Somehow the pigs knew that we were in for a doozie of a winter. They could read the signs and see it coming.
We are surely smarter than those pigs….?
Today’s press conference was called by a coalition of upstate conservative political action organizations to clarify – one more time – our relationship to the SC State GOP. The members of the coalition are not professional politicians or lobbyists. They are my friends and neighbors, local business owners, nurses, teachers and retirees. They are tellers and the bank managers, computer geeks and college professors, Moms and doctors.
Collectively we are The Tea Party. We have appealed for fiscal common sense, adherence to our Constitution, national and state sovereignty, and true transparency. We are activists, independent government watchdogs, pushing a positive agenda of reform across all parties according to our Constitution.
So I was dismayed a few days ago when I read the Politico headline, “South Carolina Republicans Unite with Tea Party.”
Unlike the pigs who can sense a storm coming, the SC GOP leadership thought that they could get away with misrepresenting their relationship with the Tea Party – and there would be no fuss! The coalition spent a week making it crystal clear that we are independent entities who will cooperate with WHICHEVER party or candidate we find agreement. In effect we had hollered, “Can you hear us now?” We were at least acknowledged – but not exactly heard.
On the national front, despite Massachusetts, the Democrats are smiling and nodding in our direction – and forging ahead with their fingers in their ears.
We are, for the most part, a mature lot with firm political resolve. Some of our peers, however would prefer to remain in the nostalgia zone of the 50’s and 60’s. I know some who find the signs so disconcerting that their emotional discomfort makes involvement too difficult.
We who remain are tidy and peaceful and determined to act through the system to affect change that won’t bruise us. However, as the light dawns among Americans who can and do read the signs, I pray the political leadership is likewise enlightened. Because if they refuse to be, it is hard for me to get my mind around us tea partiers, with our pot bellies and gray hair staging sit-ins, and walk-ins, and stand-ins and starting riots — doing penance for our foolishness of the 60’s. But like my friend Judy says all the time: “What goes around comes around.”
Maybe things haven’t changed so much after all – what it comes down to is this: a person’s gotta do what a person’s gotta do.
Claire Muzal is a Grandma living in South Carolina. She works from home, runs The Seneca Tea Party website at http://senecateaparty.org and is discovering what living with Parkinson’s is all about.