Opinion

You Don't Have To Hold A Sign To Be A Tea Party Protestor

By Ron McCoy 
April 28, 2010              

There is a reason that Tea Parties are currently growing so rapidly across America. 

Everyday, hardworking Americans who loyally pay their taxes and play by the rules have started paying real attention to what is going on in Washington – and they didn’t like what they were seeing.

Until recently, these Americans have been distracted in the day to day process of making a living, raising families and just living their lives in relative anonymity.  They don’t think of themselves as political people.  They don’t consider themselves activists.  And, they hardly identified themselves as protesters.  

However, they sense that something is very wrong in Washington.  The way the government is managing the affairs of America makes no sense at best, is disengaged and destructive at worst.

The Federal Government is growing at the most rapid pace in American history.  The Federal deficit has ballooned to unsustainable levels.  The values and principals of America’s history no longer seem important.  Freedoms and liberties protected by the US Constitution appear to be slipping away.  And, exacerbating these citizens’ concerns is a feeling of frustration and helplessness as they have come to realize that their elected leaders are not listening.

I know this because until recently I was one of these Americans.            

I am not a flag waving, sign carrying type of guy.  I am shy that way.  But, like most Americans, I care deeply about the future of this great country; and, what kind of America my children and their children will inherit from us.

With this mounting frustration, I felt compelled to do something.  What exactly, I wasn’t sure yet.  But, I knew that I could no longer linger idly as just an aggravated observer.  

I’d seen a lot of coverage on TV about the Tea Party people, though I knew little more about them, but they seemed to be trying to make a difference.  The Tea Party seemed to have a passion about the issues, which is what I was hearing from my clients every day.   They seemed to be as troubled and I was watching the government wasting our tax dollars and bankrupting our country.  The time for further inaction had passed for me, so I took a first step and sent an email to the local Orlando Tea Party to learn more. 

A few days later on a Saturday afternoon, I got a call from Lisa Feroli.  I had a very pleasant conversation with Lisa and after about 20 minutes realized that she was just an every day hardworking American, like my neighbors, my clients, and me who was just concerned about the troubled direction that the country was taking and decided to do something about it. 

As the conversation was winding down, I was feeling even more inclined to “do something” and I expressed that feeling to Lisa.  Her suggestion – “Why don’t you start a Tea Party in your local community in West Orange County?

My first thought after the call was that I would feel silly having people over to my house to discuss issues and talk politics.  That just wasn’t my style.  When would I have such a gathering?  What would I say?  I’m by no means a public speaker or an activist. 

However, after a long discussion with my wife Laura, who shared all of my concerns about the future of our country, and after careful consideration of the commitment that I would like to make, I decided to spend $159 to get a domain name on Yahoo and set up a website to see what would happen.

The West Orlando Tea Party was born at www.westorlandoteaparty.org .            

Conceived in late March, The West Orlando Tea Party was nothing more than a website and 2 parents who care about their children’s future and could no longer sit by and do nothing.  Our kids deserve the same opportunity our parents gave us.

Our first proactive act was to send an email to our contact list of friends, neighbors, and clients telling them about what we were doing.  We then just started talking to people at every opportunity.  The response was astounding.  We were amazed at how many people felt much the way we did.  And, they too were looking for a way to make a difference.

Our goal of bringing enough people together who were just as troubled with America’s situation so that we could speak with the voice of thousands, started to take off; and the positive response has never slowed down as we continue to grow our numbers.            

What is truly remarkable was that I had never been to a Tea Party event until recently, after I formed our local Tea Party.  In mid April, I went to my first Tea Party event in downtown Orlando at the City Hall. 

I am pleased to say that it was a truly inspirational experience to see that many people gathered peacefully and respectfully to express their love of country and concern for our future as a nation.  It solidified for me the fact that what Laura and I were trying to do was the same as everyone else in attendance – voice our concern because being an observer is no longer an option.

I came away from this event wondering how could the mainstream media, and so many vocal politicians, be so wrong about what the Tea Party movement was all about. To hear them accuse the Tea Party of being comprised of hateful, mean, racist and radical people was simply not what I experienced. 

What I witnessed at this event was not hateful, racist or radical behavior.  In fact, it was exactly the opposite.  How could any politician who actually chooses to observe such an event or the mainstream media covering such an event ever come away with such inaccurate conclusions and characterizations? 

The truth seems to be that they need, for their own self-serving interests, to present a narrative that discredits the Tea Party message of less government, reduced Federal spending and the protection of rights granted in the US Constitution.

They seem to want to suppress the powerful voice that comes from the Tea Party movement, never realizing that Americans can see through that; and, that the cowardly act of demonizing the Tea Party is the real radical, racial and hateful behavior. 

What they really don’t seem to understand is that the harder they try to discount and berate the Tea Party message, the stronger it actually becomes.  And, that is a very good thing for America right now.

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Tom Tillison

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