Who Are the Tea Party Patriots and What Do They Want?
The Deficit Chart
An Inside View of the Tea Party Patriots
I first attended tea party rallies in 2009 as a concerned citizen. My initial purpose in attending these rallies was to see what was going on and to write about it. I always take my little Flip camcorder to record what I see and hear. I did the same at the April 16, 2011 rally at he Atascadero Sunken Gardens, Atascadero, California. This time, though, I was an official part of the organization called the Tea Party Patriots.
As an insider now, I'm hoping to satisfy others who might be as curious as I was about who these tea party people really are -- the organizers, and those who come to the rallies. Of course, I can only tell you about my local group here in North San Luis Obispo County, California. It's the only one I know. It's quite different than the stereotype many people have of the tea party movement. (In the beginning of 2012, our local group, along with most other California groups, left the Tea Party Patriot National organization in order to retain our grassroots character.)
Why I Joined the Tea Party
I am not a political person. I am a bookseller and I work hard at it. I am never caught up. I'm loving my new opportunities to find an audience for my writing since I joined HubPages and Squidoo. I'm also a Zazzle addict. I would much rather be doing web page work for the business, writing, or designing Zazzle products than going to political meetings and rallies.
So why did I get involved with the North County Tea Party Patriots? I was afraid that if all the people like me -- working people, small business people -- ignored politics, the politicians in power who are pushing a socialist agenda would soon transform the America I grew up in to an entirely different kind of country, and that personal liberties we have become accustomed to will soon be a thing of the past.
The Tea Party Patriots have three priorities they are fighting for: Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free markets. As things stand now, those in control of our national government chafe under the constraints of the Constitution they have sworn to defend. Our President is trying to use executive regulations to usurp the Constitutional power Congress has been given to make the laws. The Courts are also usurping that power.
Government spending is out of control. State, county , and local governments can't print money and have to live within their means, and the federal government is trying to reduce the cost of its legislation by expecting the states to carry more of the burden.The states, in turn, are passing those costs to county and local governments. Governments at all levels want to tax an already overtaxed people even more. If the people resist, they say they will need to cut essential services -- while retaining commissions that duplicate each other, pass burdensome regulations, and then enforce those regulations.
I also see corruption in both major parties that disturbs me. Those who make our laws exempt themselves from having to follow them. It would seem many of our politicians in power consider themselves above the law. Instead of being examples of good citizenship for our children to follow, they are examples of doing anything they can get away with. I think many believe the people who elected them are there to serve them, rather than the other way around. A good many of them are deaf to their constituents and would prefer not to have to be accountable to them. This is not the kind of government our founders envisioned.
These are some of the reasons I have become politically active when I really didn't want to be. I'm hoping some of these issues can be addressed and corrected. I'm hoping it's not too late.
Why Do People Come to Tea Pary Rallies?
Not Everyone Who Comes is a Tea Party Patriot
Why Do People Come to the Rallies?
One way I serve our our local group is to record on my camcorder and camera what happens at the rallies. Before one tax day rally started, I took my camcorder around to interview some of the folks who had come out to our San Luis Obispo County Tea Party Rally. They consented to be on video record. I asked them one question: Why did you come today?
Some, as you will see, probably came just to see what we were about. Some came to support the Tea Party movement. Some knew exactly why they were there and were able to articulate it in a few sentences. You will hear what they have to say in the top video to the right. I did interview my husband, too -- he's the clown who said he's there because his wife made him come. It's not true.He just likes to tease me.
I did these interviews before most people had arrived. It was a warm day and many people preferred to sit in the shade at the edges of the park under the trees. Some who had not brought chairs were seated on the park's benches and around the fountain, so people were spread out. Only a few sat in the middle where they show up in this video. My husband counted around 400 people.There was a lot of competition from other events that day, and there were probably some who had to stay home and work on their taxes.
At least one person I ran into was there to heckle the tea party people. He seemed to be intent on getting his own talking points out to those in the crowd, but did not seem interested in a real discussion. I invited him to talk to my husband, who was born in a socialist country, but he wasn't interested. I have put him in the lower video to the right just to give him a fair shake. You will see I disagree with him, but I did not have time before the event started to give my reasons. I don't think he was interested in hearing them anyway.
All videos used in this hub are ones I took myself. Some are a bit shaky because I was trying to move closer to the speaker or go around people who were moving in front of me. There really wasn't much to look at anyway, since it was what the speakers said that's important. As far as the crowd goes, it was peaceful. People appeared to be there to learn rather than to protest with their voices. They were making their statement just by being there, and some carried signs to express their feelings and ideas.
People Who Do the Work
A Hometown Rally by Local People
This rally was organized by Matt Kokkenon, a financial planner from San Luis Obispo and the San Luis Obispo Tea Party from South County. The North County Group, of which I'm a part, was planning its own event for April 15. When I attended the March 21 planning meeting, I was surprised to see Matt there. We discussed whether to join forces instead of putting on competing events, since the National Tea Party Patriots were hoping we could make a statement with all groups holding rallies on April 16 -- a date made possible with 2012's later tax deadline.
Since Matt had all his speakers pretty well lined up, our group offered to assist on the ground with set-up, tear-down, clean up, and other such tasks. Matt acted as MC and did some of the speaking, as well. If you want to know what is on the minds of tea party supporters, the speakers at this event laid it out, each covering one subject he was an expert in.
Color Guard Kara Kester
The Star Spangled Banner
The Color Guard and National Anthem
Our rally began with a color guard on horseback. I had been asked to try to find one, but I didn’t know anyone with horses who was available and instead gave our organizer the names of organizations who might know someone. They found Kara Kester, reigning Creston Classic Junior Rodeo Queen, who lives with her family in Parkfield.
I had an informative conversation with Kara’s mother, June, who was head of the county Cattlewomen’s Association. I had called to get permission to use the video and-or picture I had taken of Kara for this article, since Kara is only 14. Her entire family is involved with cattle, and they also raise grapes. Kara’s father Kevin was president of the California Cattlemen’s Association, and Kara has been riding horses even before she was born. Her independent riding started with a pony when she was two or three. She has been active in 4-H, as you might expect.
I was fascinated by her education. She attended a one-room school house for her elementary school years. The older students help explain math and reading to the younger students, and in doing so demonstrate their own mastery of the subjects they explain. Kara was participating in the Templeton Home School program, since her elementary education, where students were able to advance as fast as they could, left her too advanced to transfer into middle school without, in effect, being put back to a lower level of learning. She was planning to enroll in public high school the next year as part of the gifted program.
Meanwhile, her years of home education have given her some incredible opportunities to accompany her father to Washington, D.C. and Sacramento, while he met with elected officials. Kara was able to meet House Republican Whip Kevin McKarthy in Washington when he took that office. She has had an opportunity during these trips to see our government at work and learn how things get done in Congress and at the state level, as her dad represents the interests of cattlemen.
The person who had been scheduled to sing the National Anthem was not there, so a volunteer was called for from the audience. A man introduced as Bob responded -- at least that's who did sing. I thought he did a great job. He is in the lower video above, to the right. The National Anthem was followed by an invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance. The speakers were then introduced one by one after that, and I will introduce them below.
Matt Kokkonen Speaks on the Deficit
Matt Kokkonen was the First Speaker
As a financial planner, he is especially concerned about our national deficit. He brought the large chart behind the podium and used it to explain the the growth of the deficit since the United States began.
Youth Speaks out on Border Protection
One of the first speakers was a high school student, Anthony Aguirre. If I heard his introduction properly, his speech was a winner in a Rotary contest. His interest was in a state's right to protect its borders. He was only one of the young people at this rally. The others were watching, and some of them had spoken at previous rallies.
State's Right to Protect its Borders by Anthony Aguirre
Dr. Richard Riggins Speaks Out on Health Care
What about Health Care?
Many people wonder what the Tea Party Patriots think about health care and how it should be delivered. My guess is they don't all agree, but most would tell you that the way to reform health care is not in the law Congress sneaked through against the will of most people -- the law commonly known as "Obamacare." Most tea party people I know want that law repealed.
One of our speakers was Richard Riggins, M.D., a retired professor of Orthopedics in San Luis Obispo California. He holds degrees from Duke University, Durham, NC, University of Tennessee, Memphis, TN, and The University of Surrey, Guilford, Surrey, England. He does not believe that a universal health care system run by the governement will do the trick.
Michael Brown from COLAB on the Environment
Many people think that those of us in the tea party don't care about the environment. I would say that I don't personally know any one of us who wants polluted water and air. On the other hand, some environmental regulations do more harm than good. Michael Brown will explain some of these regulations in his speech in the video to the right. You can learn more about COLAB, The Coalition of Labor, Agriculture, and Business on its Facebook page. You can download their newsletters from that page. You can read an article by Mike Brown in the most recent newsletter (April, 2011, when this was written) where he defines COLAB and explains why it is threatening to the left.
Mike has 42 years of experience working in state and local governments in many different states. He was Deputy City Manager of Hartford, and City Manager of Berkeley and Tucson. For 14 years he served as Chief Executive Officer of Santa Barbara County. He knows how government works. His parable of the coyote as it would play out in California and in Wyoming, is well worth reading, and will also help you see what things California thinks are more essential to spend money on than education, police, fire protection, and helping the disabled elderly get the help they need to stay in their homes. (The Parable of the Coyote is in the newsletter referred to above.)
David Bentz on Taxes
Is the Tea Party Just about Taxes?
Some people think that protesting taxes is the main reason the tea party exists. After all, the Tea Party Patriots group is named after the famous Boston Tea Party that protested the British tax on tea. It would be hard to find a Tea Party Patriot who does not want taxes cut, but as you will learn in the videos, taxes are not the Tea Party's only concern. They also want fiscal responsibility in how tax money is spent, free markets, and constitutionally limited government. Tea Party Patriots realize that the power to tax is also the power to control behavior and ruin free markets.
Our speaker on taxes is John Bentz, who ran for Atascadero City Treasurer in 2010. He has been active in Atascadero city politics for many decades, and he has served on the Atascadero Planning Commission. He's also been an assistant scout master, a church board member, and a Rotary Club member. He has served as president of Creative Alternative for Learning and Living, a non-profit entity which serves autistic individuals and he owned a business consulting company. He is now retired. He will tell you all about the taxes you might not even realize you are paying and offer come suggestions as to what you can do about it.
Steve Burke Talks about Business
As the owner of a construction business, Steve has felt the effects of the economic slow-down on small businesses such as his. He has also felt the impact of the regulations which cripple the construction business and impact the cost of building. I'll let him tell you about it himself in the video.
Steve Burke on Business
Nate Maas on the Ninth Amendment
Nate Maas on the 9th Amendment
Nate teaches social sciences at San Luis Obispo High School. You can read his complete profile on his blog, Nate's Nonsense, where you can also find some historical tidbits that might interest you. Nate spoke on the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. These amendments deal with the rights of the people. They are supportive of limited constitutional government and show some ways in which the Constitution does limit the federal government.
Matt Kokkonen on Anchor Babies
Matt Kokkonen on the 14th Amendment
I had to pick up Matt's speech on the 14th Amendment and how it relates to anchor babies a bit late due to a battery problem, but I think the meat of it is intact. As you might recall, an anchor baby is the a baby born to illegal immigrants on American soil who has been granted American citizenship. What Matt was pointing out just before I picked him up was that the real purpose of the 14th amendment was to be able to grant citizenship to the slaves born in America who were freed. I will let Matt be the last speaker and end this hub. You will have the last words.
Please leave some feedback about those sections you read or watched. I didn't really expect anyone to read and listen to everything here, but I did want to put it all in one place. This will be the anchor hub for some others that are related and will be written as I have time. For another excellent hub and a much different tea party event, earlier in the year, read Tea Party -- What's the Uproar About?