Lapeer County Tea Party draws from its grassroots support
To the Editor:
Despite all references to the contrary, I don't think you could find a more grassroots organization than the Lapeer County Tea Party Patriots. It all started with a fellow named Dave Wheeland and myself trying to plan a Tax Day Tea Party last year. After that, a few strangers came together around some coffee in a local restaurant and then continued meeting for months in my living room. I guess it would be more accurate to call us "carpet fibers" instead of "grass roots." The majority of us involved in this organization have no leadership experience, no political background, and certainly no financial backing.
Our mission statement is simple: "…engage citizens and provide avenues for participation in the political process. Our goals are to prevent wasteful spending of tax dollars, to reduce the size of government and its bureaucracies, and to hold accountable those we elect to represent us." (The entire statement can be viewed at our website www.lapeerteaparty.org) And that is exactly what we strive to do. Get people involved in the process to be active citizens and participants in our democracy.
For so long Americans were busy with their lives and figured politics was for politicians. They were not particularly interested in the latest bill going through the Michigan House or the fact that the County Commissioners had met last night. They listened to the evening news to get some idea of who was running for Congress or President and they showed up to vote—though not in great numbers statistically. Many have called themselves Democrats or Republicans and really have had no idea why. It is just what they were. And they voted as such.
Taxes have gone up. The government has involved itself in an ever increasing amount of issues. Our national debt has reached $12.7 trillion. Our housing market has plummeted. People's retirement funds were suddenly not what they thought they would be.
And then Americans woke up. What has happened and how did we get here? When good, honest, hard working American people started asking that question, they began to realize that things needed to change. And they started to find their voice—and use it.
Whether it is a Republican or a Democrat elected official, our representatives have got to start reigning in spending. Passing a 3% pay raise for state employees when almost 20% of Lapeer County is out of work is not acceptable. We cannot sit by while Congress passes legislation they haven't read and that is filled with pork barrel projects—or amendments that have nothing to do with the original bill. We have a Constitution to guide our country, and it needs to be followed. People want to enjoy their personal liberties and rights—not have them slowly eroded by a growing government that tries to regulate everything from healthcare to carbon dioxide.
The tea party movement is not about anger and partisanship. It is about passion and commitment. People are passionate about their families and their country. They want the life they have built for themselves to still be an option for their children and grandchildren. They have a renewed commitment to the principles this country was founded on—the framework for our country laid out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It is about not caring what party you come from—just espousing the ideals and principles you hold dear. It is about getting people into office that will uphold those principles and not keep paying back favors to those that helped put them into office. It is about responsibility—both personally and in government.
Do people show up at tea party rallies with signs about gun rights and abortion and unions? Sure they do. Why? Because the tea party is Americans gathering together to exercise their most distinctive right—the right to assemble and participate in free speech.
It is Americans waking up to the realities around them— that they can impact the direction this country is going if they don't like its current course. It is America at its best really—people exercising their rights to participate in the political process. People coming out in huge numbers to call for our government and our nation to return to its founding principles. That is the beginning to fixing the problems our government has gotten itself into. The people awake, active and alert to what is happening in our government. That is what tea parties all across the country are doing. And with God's grace, we are seeing a new day dawning in America.