Happy Anniversary, Tea Party: A Look Back
T.E.A. Do you remember what those letters stand for? Taxed Enough Already. A lot has changed since the dawn of the tea party movement, but I think we can all agree on a few things; the Tea Party, although not all of the members still go by that moniker, is still a force to be reckoned with. To TEA, we could add, 'regulated enough already' and 'spied upon enough already' or 'targeted enough already' to the list of growing things that the American people are fed up with from the feds. With as a storied of a past as we've had, I can still think back on fond memories of the tea party movement in its infancy and all of the excitement that surrounded its beginnings. For me, the kick off of the tea party movement was the rant heard round the world, given by Rick Santelli. Remember that? It was epic and still stands the test of time. To jog your memory, here's a link to the video.
I remember the very first, or actually the second tea party rally that was held in Houston. It was in Jones Plaza in downtown Houston. I wasn't a true activist yet, let alone an organizer of any kind, but the event holds a special place in my heart. I made two posters, one with a hand painted coiled up snake to represent the infamous Gadsen flag and one with my favorite political cartoon by Ben Franklin, you know the one with the dismembered snake telling us to "Join Or Die". There were rumored to have been 15,000 people there and even if that's not true, there WAS a lot of people there! We were squeezed into Jones Plaza like a bunch of sardines. It was a fantastic experience, no doubt.
I followed the tea party movement around that year in 2009. I went to Discovery Green in July, followed it to Austin, and finally the coup de gras was the March on Washington on September 12, 2009. There will never be another tea party like that one, and it was proven in my opinion, the year after that when Glenn Beck staged his March on Washington. The first one was more special to me because it seemed like it was 'organic'. It was a true up-rising of citizens who had been and still are Taxed Enough Already.
From my very first Political Chicken article, titled "Why I'm Supporting Bill Tofte for U.S. Congress," I touched on the beauty of the ebb and flow of the movement and my thought was and still is this, "I love the tea party movement and how it has empowered folks like myself, who normally wouldn't even think twice about politics to get involved. I also love how it has evolved, too. It's not about just waving signs and flags in the middle of town squares across America anymore. It's about taking the people from the town squares and putting them into positions in state house races, school board races and mud board positions."
I remember how excited I was to meet and become patriot buddies with so many of the tea party regulars here in Houston. You can't say the word 'tea party' in Houston without mentioning my good friend and mentor, Felicia Cravens. Another name that I remember hearing early on and who is also a good friend of mine, Natalie Arceneaux. While we were at the tea party rally in Austin, I remembered hearing Natalie talk about the fact that she was glad we were all there, but she wondered what we were going to do with all of our excitement when we left the rally. It was a fair question, I thought, and it really made me start to think about my own personal involvement as an activist.
So, after leaving there, I dove in head first into the local political scene, and I didn't look back. I started off with becoming the precinct chair for my precinct. I soaked up as much information from the tea partiers as I could to learn how to be a better activist. I attended activist boot camps and even went to FreedomWorks headquarters for a training class and later became a volunteer for their organization. I worked as a volunteer on campaigns and had hands-on experience, which was invaluable to my growth as an activist. I even started my own blog, The Political Chicken and now write for TexasGOPVote.com and RagingElephantsRadio.com. I've done radio shows and interviews and have made trips to Washington, D.C. to speak on behalf of Tea Party Patriots. I guess I should be thanking Natalie for pushing me outside of my comfort zone and really challenging those of us at that rally. Thank you, Natalie!
Remember what I said earlier? A lot has changed since the dawn of the tea party movement, but the tea party is still out there, working behind the scenes, getting elected to office, running campaigns and elections, knocking on doors, and making efforts to get out the vote. Happy Anniversary, Tea Party! And for those of you who are skeptics out there, the tea party isn't dead, it's surely alive!