What the Tea Parties Were Not
“We will not fail. We will take our country back to its rightful place: the land of liberty, the home of the brave and the free, because America is the greatest nation on the face of the earth.”– Georgia State Representative Melvin Everson
If you’ve turned on any news program in the last few weeks, you’ve probably heard multiple stories about the Tax Day Tea Parties. Stories of rogue and racist Americans, stories of citizens who are disgruntled because Barack Obama won the Presidential election, and stories of selfish people who are out of touch with the United States.
99% of what you probably heard is untrue.
I had the opportunity to attend the Atlanta Tea Party with what felt like 20,000 of my closest friends. I saw people from all walks of life, of all different colors, and of all ages. I met veterans, college students, business owners, parents, immigrants, teenagers, disabled people, gay people, Republicans, Democrats, celebrities, politicians, people who didn’t vote for George Bush and people who didn’t vote for Barack Obama and everyone in between. There was no one description that fit every attendee.
Actually, there is one description that did fit everyone: sick and tired of the government stealing our hard earned money. We were all there because we love this country and we know what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they signed the Declaration of Independence. We were all there because we’re tired of Congress passing ridiculous laws that keep us from the freedoms promised to us in our Constitution. We were there because we’re ready to put this country back in the hands of those of who keep it running: American Citizens.
But as usual, the pundits and the reporters painted a different picture of the tea parties. James Carville said that the tea parties were for “old cranks” and that the average age would be “72.4.” Actress, Janeane Garafalo, claimed the tea parties were about “hating a black man in the White House” and called attendees “rednecks.” CNN reporter, Susan Roesgen, berated attendees live on air and announced the entire movement is “anti-government, anti-CNN, since this is highly promoted by the right-wing conservative network, FOX.”
After watching various other similar reports for days and weeks leading up to and after the Tax Day Tea Parties, I began to wonder if my experience was unique. Maybe the crowd in Atlanta was different than those in the rest of the country? Or maybe I was too caught up in how beautiful it was to hear that many people say the Pledge of Allegiance in perfect unison or how wonderful it was to see such a unique group of speakers lead the crowd in chants and cheers to realize what was really going on around me. So, I decided to ask some people from around the country what they saw:
Pat Austin attended a Tea Party in Carville’s native Louisiana. I asked her if she thought the media did a good job or portraying the crowd and their reasons for being there. Her response: “At our tea party there were children playing chase and running in the grass, there were veterans in wheelchairs, there were LOTS of young married couples, working businessmen in suits and ties, and both black and white; in fact, one of our speakers was a black pastor. Nobody was angry in a hostile way – it was all very controlled and civilized.”
Roxy McCrary worked at the Young Republicans voter registration booth at the Augusta, Georgia Tea Party and told me she was very busy the entire time. On the media’s coverage she said, “A lot of what I have heard in the MSM about the tea parties is that they were old rich white people that were there but I saw the opposite. …people of all races [were] there, and there were more middle aged and young people there than old people…It was also very peaceful, there was not hatred or screaming and yelling, there wasn’t any vandalism, no one destroyed private property. There were a couple of thousand people there of different ages and races that are tired of the spending in DC and just wanted to show our lawmakers, along with hundreds of thousands of other American throughout the country, that we have had enough.”
I spoke with Ron Hughes who attended the Tea Party in Great Falls, Montana and he had this to say, “There were Americans that represented the Left, Middle, and Right of the political spectrum. Each one of them expressed their own personal point of view. They were young, old, rich, and poor. We had farmers, ranchers, doctors, lawyers, and waitresses. Great Falls was represented by the bravest of its citizens.”
Mike LaRoche attended the San Antonio Tea Party and had only positive things to say, “At the tea parties, the mainstream media saw angry rednecks. What I saw were proud, loyal Americans who love their nation. It was so refreshing to be around like-minded people who love their country unconditionally.”
Maria Whitehead had this to say of the Tea Party in Jacksonville, FL, ” I was struck by how many different types of people gathered together of one mind and one accord. It almost felt like we knew each other. We were completely all on the same page – whether it was drill here, pay here, no bailouts, taking care of our military. Also we had a hometown banker from the oldest bank in Jacksonville speak, such a down to earth guy.”
From what these tea party attendees told me, it sounds like I was not alone. It seems as though every single tea party in this country was organized and attended by some of the greatest citizens our country has to offer and I’m proud to be among them.