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Tammy Messina: The tea party phenomenon

Posted: April 29, 2010 3:02 p.m.
Updated: April 30, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
"If I see you on the news wearing a crazy hat with Lipton tea bags stapled around the brim, with a misspelled sign, screaming at Parkinson's patients and biting people's fingers off - all bets are off. I will, at that point, stage an intervention!"
- a loving note I received from a very dear and very liberal friend

I don't care what party you're a part of - or not a part of - this tea party phenomenon has shaken the foundation of "politics as usual."

People don't know what to do with it. It doesn't fit into our nice, compartmentalized two-party political system. And it is most certainly throwing a monkey wrench into the previously well-oiled political machine. But I think that's kind of the whole point.

Following politics is like predicting the weather. We have a pretty good science defining the concepts, and we have a pretty good idea of how to predict the outcome based on a given set of circumstances.

But there's always the chance that an unexpected variable may shift that prediction or change it entirely. So it is with political analysis. The tea parties have proven to be that unexpected variable.

When I saw it start up last year I thought, "Good for them! I can sympathize with what they're saying." I drove past the Tea Party SCV protesters, honking and waving in support. But I didn't stop to join them, uncertain of what I might be getting myself into.

When the media began covering the tea party movement, its members were often described as "radicals," crazy," "racists," "fascists," "hate mongers" - need I go on?

Others called them "patriots" or the "conscience" of America. So which is really the truth? I continued to watch and listen to the accounts.

Then I learned a longtime friend had become involved in our local tea party organization, and I began asking questions. About six months later, I took the plunge and attended one of their meetings to see firsthand what this group was all about. Nothing "radical" or "racist," unless, of course, you consider the Constitution radical.

I have continued my involvement with the tea party organization and, to date, agree with its agenda. It is not part of a party.

Though the Constitutional ideals and the stance on issues do align the group more closely with conservative Republican values than those of liberal Democrats, people from all parties are joining the movement.

The recent SCV tea party rally was a peaceable and polite demonstration, as well as a reminder that they intend to hold politicians accountable for their representation, their policies and their votes.

The mood of the rally was easy-going, congenial and friendly. People of all ages, from all walks of life, talked about the politics that brought them together, while they quietly displayed their handmade signs and their love of this country in a united purpose.

It was the most moving display of patriotism I have ever witnessed firsthand, and I was proud to be part of it.

The Republican Party has the unique opportunity to be re-energized and refined by a voter base that was politically numb, but is now completely engaged and knows exactly what it wants from its representatives.

Our representatives are truly public servants who merely represent "we the people." They are our voice, and we expect for them to listen to the majority and make our voices heard.

The pundits and analysts will continue to speculate how this group will impact the existing political machinery.

It is my hope that the Tea Party movement will serve as an ongoing reminder - rather than a flash in the pan - of the accountability our elected officials have to the voters, and hope that reminder will continually motivate them to do the will of the people who elected them each time they cast their votes for us.

For more information about the local tea party organization or to get involved, visit www.teapartypatriots-scv.com.

Tammy Messina is a resident of Santa Clarita and a local business owner. She can be reached at tmessina@wildcat.la. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Right Here, Right Now!" appears Fridays in The Signal and rotates among local Republican writers.

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