I have found a candidate in a major Wisconsin race that suits me. I will not deceive anyone. I have a favorite in our September 14th primary. Every position this candidate takes is what I believe. I have been an independent voter all my life. I have found TEA parties to be full of energy and enthusiasm. They contain people who are genuinely concerned about making a better America.
Saturday, August 7th, 2010 is the day the TEA Party movement died in Wisconsin. A group called “Common Sense Citizens of Washington County” had organized and sponsored a TEA Party. I had been to two meetings of this group. Awesome people. People concerned about their town, their local leaders, and the direction of America as a whole.
I knew back in March they were planning a TEA Party. Not just your small, gather at the courthouse, TEA Party, but your, park a ways away and walk to it, TEA Party. I received their e-mail a month ago notifying me of the date, time, and location. Then a week ago, I got worried. It seems the Wisconsin chapter of Americans For Prosperity was involved. That isn’t necessarily bad news. They can get the word out about worthwhile events. They can use the 65,000 member Wisconsin AFP network to pass on the message and generate media commercials.
I had obtained from a campaign what is called a “line by line”, a virtual minute by minute account of each speaker, song, and master of ceremonies event that would take place during the TEA Party. On it was even a request that all speeches must be approved before hand and that absolutely no political commentary in favor of a candidate would be allowed. In fact, if you, as a candidate, were to promote your own political race or agenda from stage, the microphone would be turned off. I thought that was a nice way to ensure independence. I thought it was a good way to focus speakers on activism. I thought it was a good way to remind speakers that the people were important.
As I arrived at the TEA Party a little early, I noticed the usual tables of people hawking T-shirts, buttons, and flags. There was a nearby TEA Party group giving away free water and raising awareness of a city crisis regarding a housing issue. All appeared normal. Then word quickly spread that two high profile, Republican endorsed candidates would be speaking. They were not originally contacted according to the “line by line” and they weren’t supposed to attend. In fact, rumor had it that they weren’t even added to the speaker list until Friday night. Shockingly, I could find no one who would speak about that. I knew then that my worst fears were realized. This had become a Republican rally. The TEA Party was in critical condition.
We began the festivities ten minutes late because, as it was announced from the stage, there were still people trying to walk in to the event. As we got under way, I took out the “line by line” and the order of speakers was jumbled around. Soon enough the Republican endorsed candidates swooped in, were hurried off back stage, they spoke, and then they left almost as quickly as they arrived. I am sure they were off to another equally important engagement but why not stay, meet the people, hear their concerns, and connect with voters? The really interesting thing to note is this: each and every speaker carefully talked about patriotism, or the rise of progressivism, or the down fall of American society, or honor and integrity, or First and Second Amendment rights except…
Joe the Plumber? Bob Baso (Patrick Henry)?
If you have ever been to one or two Lincoln Day dinners, or attended candidate town halls or watched forums and debates, you know a campaign speech by the third word. Well the two last minute adds to the “line by line” apparently never got the memo that political commentary on their own campaigns was forbidden. And wouldn’t you know it; the microphone stayed on.
The really sad thing is people in the crowd questioned why these two candidates were there. Some expressed concern that is was just a Republican political rally. But they sat there and took it. They sat there and drank it all in. Everything they heard about rights given from God, and let your voice be heard apparently fell on deaf ears.
As I left I wondered if there was truly any hope left for my great state of Wisconsin. Were there any in attendance that realized it was a sad, sad day? Did anyone know that they drove their Chevy to the TEA Party and that the TEA Party died?
I have reported the death of Wisconsin’s TEA party. You may disagree. You may still hold out for the reality that the Republican party can change. You may accept the belief the Republicans hijacked the TEA Party movement. This might be a one time occurrence. This may be a premonition of things to come.
My job is not to present a final eulogy. My job is to ask questions and get you to think. You go out and find more information. You prove me wrong. You stay active, make a difference in your sphere of influence, and take back your county!