I had a most interesting conversation this morning with a friend of mine that is a devoted Ron Paul “Libertarian” type of
supporter. We do in fact disagree on many topics, but we do agree on many as well. I decided this morning that I would give you the first several chapters on a new book I am currently working on. The working title of the book is “EGO IN A TEA BAG”. This might stick or I might change it or the publisher might change it, but that is the title currently.
I believe for conservatism to survive in America we “MUST” come together. The Democrats have done it, we can do it also. The fact is this; if we do not find common ground and we do not unite as a conservative force, we will fail and never win another White House. To do this, I believe it is time we remember how we in the Tea Party came about to begin with. Then we can begin working together for solutions.
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EGO IN A TEA BAG~
AND SO IT BEGINS (This has not been fully edited yet, so please forgive anything you might find)
February 19, 2009 began like any other day in Chicago. The Chicago Stock Exchange reporter Rick Santelli (for CNBC) arrived for another day on the job. The day quickly began changing when he arrived on the floor and started witnessing the rising anger of traders and the American people. Santelli began feeling the same rage toward President Barack Obama’s economic policies as most everyone (on the right side of the aisle) else did that day.
The previous day, the President had signed into law the now infamous Homeowners Affordability and Stability Plan (HASP). HASP infused some $75 billion of America’s tax dollars into helping struggling families stay in their homes. The bill went further in that it paid some $200 billion dollars to what we now know as a corrupt and floundering Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Keep in mind that all of this was on the heels of the $700 billion that had been paid out by then President George W. Bush for a TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program). This was spent to keep the major banks from sending America back into a Great Depression. Or so everyone thought at the time.
In a span of just a little over 5 months, America had added some $1 trillion dollars to our national debt. Not only was Rick Santelli angry, he was livid. Not only was he angry at the government for guaranteeing the mortgages in the first place, he was angry at the borrowers for taking out home loans they couldn’t afford. There was no question about it, America was headed into an economic tailspin and Santelli was about to voice his anger.
When the camera’s turned to Santelli and the light went green he began what is now known as the Santelli Rant. Standing behind him at their respective desk and computers were dozens of brokers and other employees. As Santelli launched into his tirade against the President, he was met with cheers and shouts of approval from those in attendance. It was then the infamous words escaped his lips. I think I will form another Tea Party and call it the Chicago Tea Party! He went on to say he would not only form a Tea Party, but would hold a rally in Chicago. In the conservative grassroots movement across America known as the Tea Party, those words would live in infamy.
Out on the snow-covered fields of Iowa, there was another fellow listening to the frustration that Santelli was ushering forth from the floor of the Stock Exchange. Santelli might have thought he was just speaking for himself that day, but in reality he was actually speaking for millions of angry Americans.
Charlie Gruschow was not only listening, he was also caught up in the anger. Santelli was speaking and expressing Charlie’s thoughts and passions. The more Santelli talked, the angrier and more frustrated Charlie became. When Santelli mentioned the now famous Chicago Tea Party verbiage, Charlie immediately thought; why not Des Moines also? By April 15, 2009; Charlie and a band of trusted “Patriot’s” had not only formed the Des Moines Tea Party, they were holding their first rally (protest) on the steps of the Iowa State Capitol. The magic date of April 15th is not really that complicated to understand. This is the date that resonates with Americans everywhere, as it is the date that most Americans are forced to write checks to the federal government. If one is starting a new movement of campaigning against government waste and frivolous spending, what better date to hold a major protest than April 15th?
Charlie was not alone on April 15th. Thousands showed up to join him on the steps of the Iowa Capitol that day. Along with Charlie and his new protesters in Des Moines, there were protests being held in many more cities across America almost at the same time. Hartford, Connecticut and Atlanta, Georgia were two of the largest. It is estimated that some 346 cities and communities held protest, with an estimated 318,000 people attending those first tax day protests after Santelli’s speech. Many of the smaller events had only dozens protesting, while Atlanta and Hartford had numbers in excess of ten thousand.
These first formal protest and rallies seemed to be spurred by sheer anger directed at Barack Obama and his new way of governing. Obama had not only bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, he was now talking about the auto industry and their struggles as well as his future Health Care initiatives. The protesters could see the handwriting on the wall in regards to government expansion and becoming more intrusive.
While the first protest were certainly directed at the Obama Administration’s “dumping” of some $275 billion to bail-out what the Tea Party regarded as bad policy, the shouts of anger did not end with just wasteful spending. The protests were now including Constitutional subject matter as well. The Bill of Rights and Constitution were now being handed out at the rallies and well as many speakers giving their speeches on the topic of constitutional law. Steve McCoy from Indianola, Iowa (aka; Patrick Henry) often attends the Des Moines rallies and gives constitutional lessons to the eager attendees.
By April the 15th there was now precious little doubt that hundreds of thousands of Americans were now viewing the new President and his Administration with disdain and as an enemy of the state. Many new Patriot’s (as they like to be called) rightly or wrongly were now convinced that the Obama Administration was not only governing in an amateurish manner, but might possibly be gearing up to seize control of America as a whole.
On the same day that Charlie was putting together the Des Moines Tea Party; down in Georgia you had a lady thinking the exact same thing as Charlie except on an expanded scale. Jenny Beth Martin and her husband had just had their home go into foreclosure. They were losing their home and they too were seeing red with frustration and anger. Jenny Beth claims that she was angry and did not want Obama’s money and that the policy of writing checks to bail out some 8-10 million Americans mortgages was bad for America. This thought process is what would fuel Martins anger and give birth to the “Tea Party Plank” if you will. The April 15th protest that had gripped America and had the nightly news casters wondering “what is going on” was raw and unscripted in nature. Martin and many others would come to the conclusion that the Tea Party needs a little bit of direction and something solid to stand on.
Jenny Beth decided to team up with a cowboy/Attorney from California by the name of Mark Meckler and Amy Kremer to form Tea Party Patriots. Tea Party Patriots not only was patriotic sounding, but it was to be the first Tea Party that would encompass all of America. The goal was to form the national headquarters in Georgia then have each state with separate Tea Party Patriots branches if you will. These would be utilized to take the fight as they saw it to the states individually. This plan would be fulfilling the truest definition of grassroots organization.
Almost at the same moment in time that Charlie was organizing in Iowa and Jenny Beth was hard at work in Georgia, there was Lisa Feroli in Orlando, Florida. Lisa had posted a public email complaining about all the stimulus spending and the email had been picked up by a local talk radio host. After reading the email on the air to his vast listening audience, Lisa began receiving thousands of emails from conservatives wanting to protest. Whether Lisa wanted to be a Tea Party leader or not is up for question but nevertheless Lisa had become one. She was now organizing a mass protest for April, 15th. Since that rather awkward inception of the Orlando Tea Party, the good patriots of Central Florida have seen their Tea Party grow into one of the largest in America.
The results of the success of the first Orlando rally of some 5000 angry patriots have been quite stunning in nature. Not long after that first rally in April of 2009, some 150 Tea Party groups sprung up across the Sunshine State. There were so many groups and so many members that a website was created just to handle the inquiries from the thousands, on which groups were in the area the callers, were from.
After the smoke had cleared from the hundreds of Tax Day rallies across America; it was then that Jenny Beth’s partner Mark Meckler and the rest of the Patriot’s upper crust saw an incredible marketing opportunity. Meckler has a history with multi-level marketing schemes having been an executive with the HerbaLife Corporation. Almost immediately Jenny Beth and Meckler began an online narrative marketing plan to raise money for “The Cause” of liberty and freedom.
Through this mass marketing effort, several processes happen. The Patriots not only garner your personal information such as your email address, mailing address and phone number, they also have snagged a very passionate person that cares about the causes. After you have given them this information, the next thing that happens is; you will begin receiving very passionate emails from them. Meckler and company knew that you cared and were fearful or you would not have joined The Cause.
The emails and letters you receive would isolate a particular item that the Patriots knew you care so much about. The theory being; if you were passionate about this item, then you would donate money to help fight it. One of the biggest subjects that has garnered the Patriots the biggest financial take is Gun Rights. Anytime the President would address gun’s, you could count on getting an email the next day stating that the President was coming to seize your guns and please donate to help the Patriots fight this egregious seizure of your Second Amendment rights. The Patriots ran with fund-raising narratives on anything and everything you can think of. They ran them on oil pipelines, coal mining, green energy, health-care, foreign diplomacy and the list goes on. All of them would give you an emergency transpiring with Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi (Former Speaker of the House) and the only way to save America was to donate to the Patriots whom are fighting on your behalf. The tragedy is; they could do nothing.
The word spread far and wide that this organization was in the trenches fighting for liberty and freedom. By the mid-terms of 2010, their membership had grown into the millions. There is much dispute about how many actually joined, then how many are actually active. But there is little disputing that the Tea Party Patriots are the largest Tea Party group in America. This dubious honor has to go to Mark Meckler for his incredible marketing and merchandising ability. There is zero speculation that the Patriots have earned millions upon millions of dollars for their efforts. The question now becomes, where has the money gone?
Remember; Jenny Beth’s home was in foreclosure and today rumors are running rampant that she now owns several homes and many automobiles. Running up to the mid-term elections of 2010, Jenny Beth had a video shot of her and Mark, jet setting around America in a private jet. In the Tea Party world this video that had been uploaded to YouTube was met with mixed reactions. Most of the smaller groups that had in essence been franchised at the local level were angry for the lack of support from the national Patriots organization. Here you had Meckler and Martin flying in style to speak at small rallies and the locals are wondering how to pay the local bills. The local bills typically include cost for porta-potty rentals for rallies, signs, staging and many other expenses. This can very easily run into the hundreds and thousands of dollars.
One of the facts that is known; Tea Party Patriots is not a Limited Liability Corporation. The organization was a 501C-3 when it was formed. This meant that the organization could not endorse candidates. A C-3 is supposed to be a teaching organization. Jenny Beth and company got around this little snafu by holding rallies and speaking about the Constitution. Thus they were able to keep enjoying the benefits of millions of dollars in donations without paying taxes on any of the proceeds.
What began as Tax Day rallies over government spending and waste was quickly spreading. Groups were being formed in Dallas, Texas, San Antonio, Denver, Sacramento and Lexington, Kentucky. Groups were being formed so fast that the Internal Revenue Service could not keep up with C-3 applications. In the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area alone there are some half-dozen groups with membership amassing into the hundreds of thousands of regular participants. One group headed by Katrina Pierson of Dallas, boasts in excess of 100,000 members and is still growing.
Seeing the success of those first major events of April, 15th, it wasn’t long before hundreds of grassroots organizations were forming. The interesting part of the success however; was that the main stream media (NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN etc.) were not really covering this story. They all had a little snippet of the story on the evening news, but it was quick and then it was over. On the other hand, your radio giants and more conservative leaders were all over this story. Radio legend Rush Limbaugh ran with this story for quite some time. Keeping in mind that Limbaugh’s regular audience at the time numbered in the tens of millions weekly, you see how fast this story would have spread. Truth be known, I have often wondered; how do you ignore a story in Hartford of 10,000 plus screaming and unhappy folks, dressed like Patrick Henry and standing on the state house steps? But, they did.
This was the actual beginning or the first indication to the general public that the media had no interest in being supportive of anything conservative. It was the first glimpse into just how biased the media was and just how deep in the tank for Barack Obama they really were. The very visible biasness was to become major fuel for the fledgling movement as well.
To add even more fuel to the Tea Party movement “as if it did not already have enough”; you now had in June of 2009, Obama bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia and delivering a very (as the Tea Party saw it) sympathetic and passionate speech toward Muslims in Cairo, Egypt. Obama’s anti-American speech (again; as the Tea Party viewed the speech) in Egypt poured gasoline on a bond fire of passion. This speech and the photos of our President bowing to a Muslim King was all the radio talents of Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and many more needed. The pictures spread like wild-fire on Facebook and the Internet. For Alex Jones whom was already convinced that Obama was a Muslim plant in the White House, this only served to send him into orbit.
While Limbaugh is a professed conservative, Jones would be a Limbaugh on steroids in comparison.
I am bringing up Alex Jones because he does have a rather wide-spread audience on the radio and the Internet. The second reason I am bringing him into the spreading of the Tea Party, is because; by the summer of 2009, the Tea Party was being transformed from just Tax Day frustrations into a total “Hyper-Conservative” movement. The term Hyper-Conservative is a term that I personally use. Allow me to explain; because this becomes very relevant when we begin to close in on the 2010 elections.
While the left or the Democrats if you will, like to accuse Rush of being a right-wing fringe Wakko, he is actually rather tame in comparison to folks like Alex Jones. For instance, Rush will report that the Federal Building in Oklahoma City was blown up and that it was a terrible tragedy. Alex Jones not only reports it, but now goes on a trail of why “Our Federal Government” was behind blowing the building up, who did it and why. Jones gives the patriots that love a good conspiracy theory, fodder for many beer drinking sessions around the old campfire. Jones is one of the chief architects of President George W. Bush and the New World Order (Jones accuses the Bush family of being in The New World Order) of being behind the attacks of September 11, 2001. File all this away, because it will be coming back into play, later in the book. Suffice it to say, Jones brought an element of “Hate thy Government” into the Tea Party movement, not to mention all of the paranoia surrounding the government and how evil it might actually be.
When one wants to truly analyze the Tea Party movement and its origins, one must think about “who” comprises the membership of the movement to get a grasp on its meteoric rise in popularity.
I have been asked many times over the last several years; who makes up the base of the Tea Party? My stock answer is this. The Tea Party is composed of the old Christian Coalition, Reagan Democrats, hacked off conservative Republicans and conspiracy theorist. Back in 1989 then Presidential candidate Reverend Pat Robertson had taken his religious programming to the streets to become President. He formed what was then known as the Christian Coalition. Membership of course is in dispute, but everyone does agree that the believers and membership numbered in the millions. The strongest membership base of course came from the old South. States like Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and Alabama held the strongest contingents for the movement. It is no secret that these states are also some of the strongest areas for card-carrying members (metaphor) who love to wave the Tea Party flag as well.
Political history tells us that Texas for well over 100 years was largely a Democrat Garden of Eden. The Lone Star State was home to some of the greatest Democrat leaders in American history. By today’s standards these same Dem’s like former Democrat Congressman Phil Graham turned Republican Senator Phil Graham have jumped off the Democrat bandwagon and joined the right side of the aisle. The former Senator was pretty much forced into doing so because of his constituency down in Bryan, Texas who was forcing him to the right. The states listed above and many more are also known as the Bible-Belt and for good reason. The Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, Pentecostal churches amongst others are extremely influential in the Deep South. When the Democrat Party began in mid-80’s drifting to the left in political terms, Graham was forced by his base down in College Station, Texas to pull his blue dog stake up and transfer it to the elephant pen.
The mass media likes to label the Tea Party as racist, demagogues, right-wing fanatics and a litany of other derogatory terminology, but the truth of the matter is this. The majority of the Tea Party memberships across America are simply average Americans whom love God, love their country, and love their families and neighbors. They own small businesses or work in middle class occupations, attend PTA meetings, coach little league baseball and go bowling on Wednesday nights. They are not wealthy for the most part, but in turn they don’t hate the wealthy because they are rich. They love liberty, freedom and the right to succeed or fail on one’s own merits. One must also understand that the average Tea Party member also attends church regularly and believes that basic human rights stem from the Bible, the Constitution and Bill of Rights. This is a very key factor into discerning why and explaining the rapid expansion and growth of the Tea Party.
Most of the Tea Party nation and its members began researching America’s origins almost immediately and in a very serious way. They began buying books written by Glenn Beck and books entitled “The 5000 year Leap”. They began holding weekly or monthly meetings in people’s homes, then expanding to local churches. Tea Party leaders passed out copies of Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged” about a character named John Galt and freedom. The Roots of Obama’s Rage by Dinesh D’Souza immediately became a best seller upon its release. Why? Why this starvation for political and patriotic knowledge? Why are books and videos being sold by the millions and some of the books were even published back in 1957? There is little doubt that the bulk of those sales are going to Tea Party homes. Why the hunger? In a simple sentence, the conservative world known as the Tea Party could sense that something was going on in America and it was not for the better!
For the first time in their collective lives, they were witnessing something that they viewed as sinister happening in their government. These religiously and politically conservative voters could not understand why a President would bow to a King. They could not understand why he was attacking big business and Wall Street all the while stripping tax payers’ dollars to bail these very industries out. Reports were beginning to surface of how he granted green energy companies hundreds of millions of their dollars and then only to find out that the owners of these companies were in fact the Presidents own campaign fund-raising bundlers. They could see the depths of corruption consuming their White House and the word was spreading fast across America’s conservative voting base.
The stories coming from people’s radios by Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck were serving to fuel this anger even further. They were stories of the payoff’s to the green energy companies, guns being sold to drug lords in Mexico and of course Jones was infusing his tin foil hatted conspiracy theories of government taking over America and imprisoning anyone that disagreed into a FEMA camp. The FEMA camp for government dissidents was of course another piece to the puzzle that held the patriots attention. Between the radio hosts explaining how Obama was attacking their religious faith, the taxing of wealth, job losses due to Obama, the Wall Street payoff’s, the shoving of green energy which doesn’t work down our collective throats, rising gasoline prices (because of Obama) and so many more juicy topics, we were now ready for an explosion of patriotism.
The summer of 09 brought us a barrage of Tea Party expansions, plus a new twist. Glenn Beck began the organizing of his now famous 9-12 rally in Washington, D.C… Beck started a movement of 9 Principles and 12 Values that he hoped would “Re-Found” America with 56 “Re-Founders” from our House and Senate elected officials. Beck’s goal was to hold a massive rally then implement a few days later his “Re-Founders” all in order to restore America. To do this, he decided to hold a major rally with these core principles involved. The 9 principles are;
- America is good.
- I believe in God and He is the center of my life.
- I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday.
- The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.
- If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.
- I have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.
- I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.
- It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion.
- The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me.
After the 9 principles that Beck was submitting for America’s approval came the 12 Values and they are;
- Hard work
- Personal responsibility
These are the principles and values that Beck was gathering steam with to take up Capitol Hill with an army of supporters. It is by no coincidence that he chose a date that holds particular sentimental value in America. Saturday, September 12, 2009 gave Glenn Beck the perfect day and he was now set. He had a television audience and radio audience numbering in the millions. He had millions of disgruntled American patriots with millions of worried Christians who agreed with him. He had a plan, he had the venue, and he had the audience and the assistance to pull it off. The stage was now set for an event of epic proportions.
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