09/15/10 — Tea Party terror: Why is it that regular citizens organizing is automatically discredited?

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Tea Party terror: Why is it that regular citizens organizing is automatically discredited?

OK, so maybe there might be a few people among the millions who are signing onto the Tea Party bandwagon who are a little out there.

But that is not the reason that the minute Tea Party candidates started winning races and when hundreds of thousands gathered at events to express their views about their government, so many of those who are already in Washington and in the media started to pull out their claws.

It is because the idea of average Americans becoming interested in their government and the decisions made in Washington is foreign to anyone who has been in politics more than a few years.

After all, the naysayers would opine, the Tea Party is nothing but a fringe group anyway and has no real legitimacy in the process. Of course, they would add, a Democratic incumbent or an established Republican would have no problem defeating such a challenge.


Here's the problem with those who argue that anyone connected with the Tea Party cannot possibly have anything legitimate to add to the political discourse in this country.

These are citizens who have as much if not more at stake than some of those politicians who have logged decades in the system -- and they have as much experience in government as some of the leaders who are currently serving in Washington.

Sure, there are nuts in the bunch -- just like there are radical and over-the-top Democrats and Republicans. That doesn't mean that the organization itself has nothing to contribute to the discourse about the future of this nation.

Somewhere along the way, many of those in power in this country decided that they did not need to listen to the everyday people they serve. They decided that their experience in Washington was all they needed to make decisions about the direction of this nation.

They say they want people to participate in the process, but they only mean at the ballot box. Voters are numbers and a means to get into office and stay there, power intact.

These are the leaders who have forgotten the principles upon which this republic was founded and what the founding fathers were fighting for in the first place.

Not every incumbent needs to be tossed this November. That is just as silly as saying that anyone without a Washington pedigree cannot possibly serve effectively in Congress.

But those who refuse to see that there are other views, and those who dismiss offhand that perhaps there are members of their constituencies who might have something to contribute, or who make decisions based on what their parties tell them, need a challenger who will call them out.

The Tea Party is not a subversive organization -- and its members are not racists masquerading under a new name.

This is what democracy is supposed to be all about.

And there are quite a few politicians who need to wake up and smell the coffee -- or tea -- of an involved electorate if they want to keep their jobs.

Published in Editorials on September 15, 2010 10:59 AM