Goodbye, Bob Bennett; The Truth Behind the Protests
There is a lot of unrest in this country. Bailouts and health care reform bills signed by both Presidents Bush and Obama have ignited a fire in the hearts of the American people and they’re angry and insulted that their government has gone above and beyond the act of “representation” and are controlling their lives against their wishes. The media paints those of us who attend Tea Parties and make calls Congress, urging them not to pass poisonous pieces of legislation as everything from “racists” to “violent protestors,” in part, because they aren’t used to those of us who love and cherish our freedom and independence fighting for what’s right, for what’s ours, and for what was promised to us over 200 years ago. To be honest, up until this point, I’m not totally sure this newfound interest in our political system would amount to anything. Despite our loud protests, despite our phone calls, and tea parties, the health care reform bill passed and the government takes more control over our lives each day. I even worried that the point of our protests would become something it was never intended to be – party affiliation – and we’d fall back into voting for whomever had a certain letter by their name, not for those who represented what we truly believe. But yesterday, I saw a small glimmer of hope.
Yesterday, in one of the reddest, most conservative states in the nation, an incumbent Republican Senator was ousted by his constituents. Senator Bob Bennett of Utah cried as he entertained reporters yesterday, who wanted his thoughts on just why Republican delegates in his state decided he was no longer fit for the job. The 76-year-old Bennett has been in office for 18 years and for the most part, has been considered fairly conservative. It took only his support of last year’s $700 billion bailout bill to show him that people are paying attention, and to show the other incumbents on both sides of the aisle that Americans mean business, and an “R” or “D” next to your name means absolutely nothing.
In the press conference, Bennett said, “The political atmosphere obviously has been toxic, and it’s very clear that some of the votes that I have cast have added to the toxic environment.” But he went on to say he would not change the way he voted because he thought it was the right thing to do. According to the UK Guardian, delegates yelled, “he’s gone, he’s gone,” hugged each other, and waved yellow flags when the announcement was made. “Toxic” votes have consequences, Mr. Bennett.
I heard the news yesterday, as it broke on the Fox News Channel, and I was so excited to see my fellow citizens in action. I’ll never forget watching Obama’s meeting with Senators and Congresspeople, shortly before the health care reform vote, and thinking almost every single person in that room needs to be voted out of office, Democrat and Republican alike. We need to quit worrying about party affiliation and vote for people who will follow the Constitution and stay out of our lives as much as possible. It seems as though that is a strong possibility in 2010.
There have been other signs pointing us in that direction: the election of the fiscally conservative Governor Chris Christie in a very blue New Jersey is one example, as well as the election of Republican Bob McDonnell to become Governor of Virginia when the increasing liberal state hadn’t seen a member of the GOP in charge since 2002. And of course, there was the election of Senator Scott Brown, who backed by the Tea Party movement, to the late Senator Ted Kennedy’s seat in the very blue Massachusetts. Kennedy had held the seat for nearly 37 years. There are several other states across the nation who may very well see new faces in seats that have been held by the same people for years: Arlen Specter, Barbara Boxer, and Harry Reid are just a few who are battling for their political careers and several more have decided not to run again. With any luck, there will be even more surprises come November.
To the media and pundits, to the incredulous and skeptical, those who say the Tea Party is about the GOP or Conservatives, to those who say it is simply anti-Obama, or even worse to anyone who says it is anti-black President, to anyone who doubts the good people of this country: these elections prove that the Tea Parties, the protests, the phones calls and loud voices are not about party lines, Obama, or race. They’re not about Democrat vs. Republican, Conservative vs. Liberal or even Black vs. White. They’re about the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, and the Declaration of Independence. They’re about everything our ancestors fought for in the past and everything our children are fighting for now. They’re about any soldier who has ever died on the battlefield, any child who has ever said the Pledge of Allegiance in his classroom, and any person who has ever hung an American flag outside of their home. They’re about any immigrant who worked hard and paid their dues to become a citizen of this country, in order to provide a better life for their children, and any citizen of this country who works hard every day without the assistance of government programs to provide a better life for their children.
At this point, I don’t care if the House, Senate, and Executive Branch are made up of red, blue, or purple, so long as they know their role in our political system and do not overstep their boundaries