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There’s a fever abroad in the land. It’s viral. It’s heating up. And it’s definitely contagious.
The upcoming election may be like lancing a boil. It won’t necessarily heal the contagion, but it can release the pressure, expose the underlying wound … and maybe point the way toward healing.
I joined the Tea Party Express tour Thursday night, at an outdoor event in the parking lot at the Rose Bowl, in Pasadena. There were flags waving and several hundred citizens cheering, as the bus rolled in from Las Vegas, where another event had supported Sharron Angle for Harry Reid’s Senate seat.
The doors opened and several hardworking tech guys came off first and quickly set up lights and sound. Then the stirring recorded patriotic music began, and in short order a succession of country and pop singers and musicians lit up the night, the crowd of just plain folks, old and young, singing along when they could and waving their own flags in rhythm.
A number of speakers took the stage, like Andrew Breitbart, the producer who fostered the exposure of corruption in ACORN, the feminist talk-show host Tammy Bruce, and the exciting black artist and author Lloyd Marcus. There were several other national and local conservative leaders … and yours truly.
I sang a song I’ve written for the tea-party movement, “I Am an American,” and said a few things about what this whole phenomenon really is. I asked the crowd, “Any racists or racism here?” The crowd roared, “NO!” Then I asked, “Anybody get paid to show up here?” “NO!” “Anybody know of any organization or corporate bigwigs funding this tea party?” Again, a resounding “NO!”
I was doing this for the benefit of the several TV news teams that were covering the whole thing, NBC and CBS affiliates. I then introduced Josephine Rescigno, my neighbor lady from up the street here in Beverly Hills. She and I told how we first met and agreed there ought to be a Beverly Hills tea party, and how we organized the whole thing ourselves, recruiting help where we could. I said, “The tea party isn’t a Republican thing. It’s not a Democrat or Libertarian thing. This is a citizen thing! We don’t all know each other, and we’re bound together by one thing. … We love this country, and we don’t intend to stand by while it’s ‘fundamentally transformed’ into something our forefathers never intended!”
I went on. “It’s kinda cool out here tonight, and it’s been raining. Yet you’re all here for the same reason we on the stage are here. It reminds me of what I read about that night in Boston in 1773. A group of citizens – like us tonight – were not willing to go on being oppressed and dictated to by a government that was only interested in what it could get out of them. They boarded some British ships in the harbor and tossed the cargoes of East Indian tea overboard. They didn’t want it, and they sure weren’t gonna pay an excessive tax for it. ‘No taxation without representation!‘ was their cry, and it’s our cry tonight!
“We’re tired of career politicians. Our founders envisioned citizen-leaders, like some here tonight, 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.
“Tea-party folks want representatives who are ‘naïve’ to party politics, but are determined to work and vote for smaller government, lower taxes, massive debt reduction, greater individual freedom to choose our health care, or refuse it. We believe in the right to express our faith freely and openly. AND WE … WILL … BE … HEARD!”
The night was exhilarating. It felt so right to be among hundreds of fellow citizens who still believe we can change the direction of our country, by being informed, involved and determined. We insist our elected servants operate within the boundaries formed by our Constitution and serve the people who elected them – not the other way around.
The idea of “we the people” sounds strangely exciting again. We’ve had it with “they the government” ramming things through a subservient Congress that’s not even listening to what the people clearly want. We’re outraged by being buried under oceans of unpayable debt, by the creation of “czars” answerable only to the president and not to Congress, and by the appointment of people to powerful positions who have records of Marxist involvement or even claim Chairman Mao as inspiration. It’s nightmarish. And we want to wake up and shake this oppression off.
That’s what the tea-party phenomenon is. A genuine grass-roots citizen uprising.
Plato said, a long time ago, “The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
Gen. and President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a citizen-leader in the mold of George Washington, said, “Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.”
The fever is raging, and the boil is about to be lanced.