"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts." —Abraham Lincoln, 1860s
The 1,000 people who gathered at the Sarasota Polo Club on the hot and humid Sunday before the Fourth of July for a nonpartisan TEA Party protest did so peacefully, in a peaceful demonstration, American style.
There were no baton-wielding militia or rooftop riflemen, although there may have been an FBI agent or two in the crowd.
The acronym TEA stands for Taxed Enough Already, and participants received blank postcards with a personal message box to fill in and mail to their elected officials to make sure they get the point.
The postcards had timely quotes by Abraham Lincoln, such as the one above and this one: “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”
Organizers also provided Web sites for the region’s federal, state, and county representatives.
Among the hand-printed signs TEA Party protesters displayed were the following: Give me liberty, not debt. For those unfamiliar with American history, this is a play on the famous words of Patrick Henry, patriot of the War of Independence (1775-1783) that the 13 colonies waged against Great Britain. On Dec. 16, 1773, colonists conducted the Boston Tea Party aboard a British ship from which they dumped bales of tea into Boston Harbor to protest a new tea tax Great Britain levied.
On March 23, 1775, Henry urged his state of Virginia to join the American Revolution, declaring: “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains or slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” Not the Uncle I know. This was lettered above an illustration of President Barack Obama in the red-white-and-blue suit and top hat of Uncle Sam, pointing outward with the message: “I want your money.” This was a play on words from a famous U.S. Armed Forces recruitment poster used in World War I and World War II, which had a white-haired Uncle Sam pointing outward and saying, “I want you.”
People are beginning to see the unfettered spending of the Obama administration for what it is, a form of unjust indirect taxation. Americans are realizing that reckless spending individually or by their government ultimately spells disaster. Here is the money you could have saved, if you didn’t vote for Obama. This sign showed the cartoon stack of money with eyes on top popularized in the GEICO insurance advertisement on television. TEA Party protesters question the redistribution of wealth through unjust taxation under the guise of energy savings, health care restructuring, manipulated census politics, corporate bailouts, or taxpayer-subsidized auto unions at Chrysler and General Motors. Free market, not freeloader. The U.S. taxpayer graciously helps those in need, but multi-generational welfare recipients are running up costs of billions of dollars, costs that have become an unsustainable burden. A free society is not free — individuals must accept personal responsibility. Another timely Lincoln quote: “You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.” Government in health care makes me sick. Socialized medicine that places a government bureaucrat between citizens and their doctors is not the American way. The power of some faceless, unelected bureaucrat making life and death medical decisions is not the American way. The United States has the best healthcare in the world. Ask Canadians and Brits why they come to the United States for medical care, and their answer is that they must wait months and years to receive care under socialized medicine in their homelands.
The Democratic propaganda that now estimates the medically uninsured in the United States at 50 million men, women, and children is disingenuous at best. A closer look will show that this estimate includes upwards of 22 million illegal immigrants and their extended families living within U.S. borders. Another 12 million of the uninsured are U.S. citizens who, by choice, opt out of medical insurance. When a TEA Party speaker asked the crowd to let him hear “if you’re against the Obama socialist healthcare plan,” the answer was hearty applause. How they treat us at the beginning shows how they will treat us at the end. This sign referred to the liberal culture of death, which advocates abortion at the beginning of life and healthcare rationing for the infirm and elderly. ObamaCare legislation would finance universal health care by eliminating the most fragile among us. Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union had elaborate plans for the disposal of unwanted fetuses, the handicapped, and the elderly. Among the TEA Party protesters were several people in wheelchairs, people who stopped to look long and hard at the message.
These and other signs identified the issue-oriented thoughts on the minds of the TEA Party protesters seated in yard chairs and blankets on the grass. Local politically astute speakers addressed the crowd with remarks such as the following: The Obama apologists say that we, the TEA Party people, represent the extreme, but they are the extreme, and we are the mainstream. Remember, every radical group has marched on Washington; every one has marched, except mainstream America. President Obama likes to compare himself with Ronald Reagan. We knew Ronald Reagan, and President Obama: You are no Ronald Reagan. (This was a play on the words of Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, D-Texas, unsuccessful vice-presidential candidate in 1988. During the vice-presidential debate that year, when his opponent, Sen. Dan Quayle, R-Ind., defended his own age (41) by responding that John Kennedy was only 43 when he ran for President. Bentsen retorted, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy.”) On the cost of ObamaCare legislation, a speaker noted: “A trillion dollars here and a trillion dollars there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” (This was a play on the words of Sen. Everett Dirksen, R-Ill., who is credited with saying of a proposed budget: “A billion dollars here and a billion dollars there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” How the times and the federal debt have changed.) On a statement by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the cap-and-energy bill will mean “jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs,” one speaker said, “Where are the jobs?” and a voice from the crowd replied, “In Washington, not here.” The remark that evoked the biggest applause, however, was the following simple statement of fact, despite all human failings: “America was founded on Judeo-Christian values.”
The TEA Party protesters are motivated by a fear of looming and unnecessary new taxes but also and increasingly by a fear of government attacks on the values that make this country great.
James Walsh is a former federal prosecutor.
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