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My 1st tea party

On March 6, 2009, in this space, I called for “a new American tea party.”
This weekend I helped organize and will host my first one, right here in Beverly Hills, Calif.

In the interim, of course, there have been hundreds of tea parties all over the United States. Most have been relatively small and local, but some have been quite large and regional. None have been put together by some national organization or political party. In fact, neither the Democrat nor the Republican party has known quite what to make of the grass-roots phenomenon. Who thought that just plain citizens could – or would – organize spontaneous demonstrations and citizen celebrations all on their own?

In my original call for a “new tea party,” I detailed how the one we call the Boston Tea Party came about, on the evening of Dec. 16, 1773. There was no political party to organize it; it was indeed a citizen uprising, a reaction of ordinary people to the imposition of burdensome taxes and other oppression by a dictatorial government, a tyranny the citizenry would no longer tolerate.

It was about taxation without representation. That first “tea party” triggered the American Revolution, and that revolution gained the liberty this nation has held sacred for 234 years.

Over the last 18 months, countless modern “tea parties” have sprung up spontaneously all over this country, in virtually every state in the Union. To the great consternation of established political parties, the organizers and participants aren’t controlled by “the big boys” and special-interest groups. They’re just taxpaying citizens like you and me.

They’re not Republican or Democrat. They’re not radical rabble-rousers. Most have never participated in a demonstration before. They’re family folks, faith folks … and freedom folks. They’re demanding lower taxes, not fantastic deficits that somehow promise to self-reduce. They know better than that because they have to pay their own bills. They want a much smaller, less intrusive government. They want it off their backs. They want state and national governments to secure our borders and to make everybody in this country obey our laws – everybody. They want politicians and corporate executives held to the same legal and moral standards as the rest of us.

They want our elected representatives, as well as our judges, to respect and adhere to the Constitution and not try to legislate ways around it to accommodate their own preferences and actions. And they demand to be heard!

A lovely neighbor lady from just up our street rang our gate bell recently. I hadn’t met Josephine Rescigno, but when she asked tentatively if I’d be interested in helping put together a tea party – right in the middle of Beverly Hills – I answered, “You’ve come to the right place, neighbor!”

And so it is that this Sunday afternoon, from 2 to 4 p.m., we’re having a “tea party,” right in front of the big Beverly Hills sign on Santa Monica Boulevard, smack in the heart of the glamour and entertainment capital of the world.

There’ll be flags galore, bagpipes playing “America the Beautiful” and “Amazing Grace” and a man named Riley dressed as Patrick Henry leading us in the pledge of allegiance. A 10-year-old phenom, a beautiful young girl, will knock us out with “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I’m emceeing and introducing a new song I’ve just written, “I Am an American.”

Speakers, wow, have we got speakers! Six-term Ohio Rep. Robert McEwen, who ought to run for president, will blow us away with his articulate, winning analysis of where we are, how we got there and how to fix it. David Horowitz, former atheistic communist and now brilliant conservative author/speaker, will light some fires. An expatriate Cuban lady will explain why she left Castroland and explain her horror at seeing the U.S. heading in a similar direction.

Several prominent entertainers and movie producer Lionel Chetwynd will challenge us with conservative views. Black author and activist Wayne Perryman is flying in from Seattle, and actress Victoria Jackson is winging in from Florida. Black minister Jesse Lee Peterson, founder of BOND, will address family issues and the need for men to truly be heads of their families.

We’ll hear briefly from citizen/candidates who are running to replace career politicians, and from several women who will inspire moms and wives to help their families to truly know issues, candidates and ways they can contribute positively. And incredulous, bewildered media will try to explain what it all means.

Just two days ago, I flew to Las Vegas to participate in a big fundraiser for Sharron Angle, the brave woman vying to grant a long-deserved retirement to Harry Reid, currently Senate majority leader. On the plane to Vegas, I read in USA Today, front page, that personal income in Nevada fell 7.4 percent during the 18 months of the recession (the administration is proclaiming it ended some time last year (have you noticed?)) and 3.6 percent since, worst in the nation in both periods, though really it was just one long economic drought.

And this man, Harry Reid, somehow has a $10 million campaign fund for his re-election!

I asked at the Sharron Angle event, “Where did this $10 million come from? With a record like Reid’s, who wants him back that much? Could it be from folks who expect something from him in return? Or is it his reward for favors already granted? It certainly can’t be from his constituents, the ordinary folks who elected him to represent them.”

That $10 million will be spent trying to paint Mrs. Angle as an inexperienced, naïve, far-right babe in the woods at best. My response, and I hope hers:

We’re tired of career politicians. Our founders envisioned citizen/leaders just like Sharron Angle, who would come into office for a brief period of service, not to play “the game” of Washington politics, but to actually represent and do the bidding of the people who sent them there.

The tea-party folks want representatives who are “naïve” to party politics, but are determined to vote for smaller government, lower taxes, massive debt reduction, greater individual freedom to choose health care and to express their faith freely and openly. And we will be heard!