So, about those Jeremiah conservatives…

I made an executive decision as I wrote this: an edited (no blockquote) version is crossposted to my book site.

I’ve been meaning to get to this all week and the opportunity has finally arrived. Last week Erick Erickson at The Resurgent did a piece on what he called “Jeremiah 29 conservatives.” In the post, he cites Jeremiah 29:5-7, which is a portion of a letter from Jeremiah to those who were captured and forced to relocate to exile in Babylon. Erickson uses it to springboard to his main point:

There is a growing class of conservatives in the United States who can be considered Jeremiah 29 Conservatives. They have given up on national politics. It has become too ugly, too compromising, too unaligned with their values, and too willing to make compromises with bad government and big government to advance a compromised agenda.

These conservatives are trying to seek the welfare of the cities in which they live, recognizing that it is there they will find their welfare. They want good government and understand the most important fight of the day is the one for their family’s daily well being. Washington, they know, is too far removed from their daily lives and, in their mind, Republicans and conservative institutions in Washington have made too many compromises to be effective.

At the end of the Bush Administration and beginning of the Obama era, thanks oddly enough to the Citizens United case, grassroots groups were springing up around the country to help conservatives down to the local level. There were training sessions for conservative activists on simple things like the best way to write editorials to local papers. They grassroots groups provided tools for local activists to contact their state legislature. They explained how to find when a city council met and how to show up to speak on an issue. They encouraged conservative activists to run for the school board.

As the tea party rose, conservative organizations began focusing more and more on fighting Barack Obama. They abandoned the fights in the states.

Obviously this quote hit home with me given my passion for the TEA Party and its principles. But to a great extent it’s true.

I’ve probably researched the TEA Party more than 99% of the people out there and I found that it was a very unusual phenomenon in that the TEA Party began as a nationwide effort but then decentralized itself to the local level for a time. Think of the TEA Party as three early stages, which I’ll distinguish by their dates: February 27, April 15, and September 12. (All these occurred in 2009.)

The February 27 wave occurred in fewer than 50 cities and was really put together for one purpose: to make a statement about the unwillingness of government to consider solutions other than top-down financial stimulus and increased government control in addressing the Great Recession. Some may have organized this believing it would be a one-time deal, but there was such a success created that thousands of others, helped along by mass media, decided to get in on the action at the local level.

So rather than 40-odd mainly large cities, the April 15 (and later July 4) wave of TEA Parties took place in a thousand cities around the nation, big and small. Each local event had its own flavor, with some rallying around strictly financial and national issues and others departing from that script to address local items or topics dear to social conservatives, particularly those in the pro-life movement. There was no “right” way to do a TEA Party, and part of its appeal was the grassroots organization that didn’t get marching orders from a party or inside-the-Beltway group.

But by the September 12 Taxpayer March on Washington – an event I simply call 9/12 – local groups were being encouraged to join up in a national organization, supposedly to increase the clout of the movement. While some TEA Party groups remained fiercely independent, most others gravitated toward an alliance with organizations such as the Campaign for Liberty or Americans for Prosperity. (The latter is basically what happened to our local TEA Party.) This also coincided with the rise of Tea Party Patriots as an umbrella group, although they weren’t the only one as many states had similar entities.

Once the rallies became less frequent, though, hundreds of TEA Party groups withered on the vine. And many of those individual participants who stuck it out for the first couple years were perhaps made complacent by how easily the political tables were turned in 2010 and figured the movement didn’t need them anymore – they let the most passionate ones soldier on. So by the time 2012 and 2014 rolled around, many of those who believed in the TEA Party early on saw that the movement was no longer locally grassroots but corporate-style Astroturf, and no longer fiercely independent but now the red-headed stepchild of the national Republican Party.

As Erickson might tell it, that’s what happens when outsiders try to get involved in national politics, which is way out of the league of the average person. Most people are more interested in local activism, and (to be honest) if government were as it should be that’s all they would need to deal with.

So today I decided to look again at the Tea Party Patriots’ website as they celebrate their tenth anniversary. In a celebratory op-ed by Jenny Beth Martin – the only one of the three original co-founders of Tea Party Patriots to still be with the group – she cited a number of Washington initiatives as accomplishments of the TEA Party and noted they would continue to fight in the halls of Congress – just like any other lobbying group. They pay lip service to the local groups, but their focus is on stopping socialism on a national level. There’s nothing wrong with that, but let’s stop pretending they’re a grassroots group, okay?

It’s very sad to think that the TEA Party may have missed its golden opportunity because they lost focus on the local groups. If local needs are addressed, it’s more likely that states will follow and eventually the nation.

I have a suggestion for all this, but I can’t reveal it here – it’s waiting until my book is ready. (That’s called a tease.) Good Lord willing and if the creek don’t rise, look for it April 15.

Remembering the rant

For the first time, I’m cross-posting to my book website.

On a humdrum Thursday morning, there were probably a few dozen thousand who were watching the CNBC show “Squawk Box” and a lot of them probably weren’t paying full attention when one man’s statements were the spark that lit the fuse of pent-up political frustration. It was a fire that raged out of control for several years before being contained by a political party more interested in power and winning elections than in its stated principles.

I half-jokingly wrote that night that I thought Rick Santelli would be the next guy on the unemployment line, but instead he’s become something of a cult hero for those things he said a decade ago. Yet in looking up his whereabouts it appears he’s doing pretty much the same thing as he did a decade ago. In that respect, he’s a lot like most participants in the TEA Party who did what they did out of love for the country, not fame, fortune, or political power. I’m sure his name has come up a lot today, though.

But in just eight days after Santelli made his remarks, tens of thousands of people got together in over thirty cities around the nation and began a phenomenon that people still talk about today. And because there are a number of useful lessons that came from the TEA Party, I wrote a book detailing its history: Good Lord willing, I’ll have it ready in time to commemorate the tenth anniversary of one of the most massive and widespread grassroots uprisings in recent American history, the Tax Day TEA Party of 2009 on April 15. I was at the one here in Salisbury, and five months later I was at the unforgettable 9/12 Taxpayer March on Washington. (I posted on that event in two parts the next two days, and the posts reminded me I had even more photos on my then-relatively nascent Facebook page. Revisiting this with the new WordPress block setup allowed me to add the captions I wrote originally, too.) As they say, the rest was history.

And to think: how many people just thought February 19, 2009 was just going to be another humdrum winter’s day?

Ten Question Tuesday – April 2, 2013

The other day I had the chance to chat with a fixture of the pro-liberty movement, Andrew Langer. He’s probably best known locally as an activist and internet radio personality, but he also serves as president of the Institute for Liberty. We touched on a lot of these subjects during a fairly lengthy, in-depth conversation.


monoblogue: Let me get my readers up to speed here. You’ve actually been on my blog a few times in various capacities, I’ve noticed that your name has come up quite a few times. But, really the first time I really got to talk to you a great deal was when the TEA Party all got started.

Langer: Sure.

monoblogue: Now, the question I have – and I know you were there at the beginning  – you’re actually the president of Institute for Liberty, which was actually around before the TEA Party…

Langer: Yes.

monoblogue: …but was kind of carried along with the TEA Party, but where do you think, in the four years or so the TEA Party has been in existence, where do you think it’s gone and where do you think it’s going to go. Is it dead like some people say?

Langer: Well, no, I mean insofar as the – the movement existed before the TEA Party, and will continue to exist after the TEA Party. Movements are always changing fundamentally; that’s the nature of them. They go a certain distance, and then they stop, and they transform, that’s what happens. So, before the TEA Party movement was the Don’t Go movement, you had the property rights movement, you had the various taxpayers’ movements that have been out there…the TEA Party movement has just been an outpouring of discontent in which things got jelled together very, very easily and lots of different factors came together.

What killed the TEA Party brand was the media itself, which never really understood what the movement was. It never fit into any of their particular boxes, and what the media doesn’t understand the media will work to destroy – especially if that thing they don’t understand is actively working against the things they have advocated for in the past.

So it’s a brand that has been damaged, but the movement goes on – and the movement, as all movements change as I said – different parts of it will focus on different things. (Part of it) will continue to focus on health care and health care reform. You have folks who focus on electoral issues and will continue to focus on electoral issues; a lot of them will focus on state and local races, some focused on Congressional races, some focused on Presidential races.

A lot of – and probably the most positive thing to come out of the movement – was the proliferation of new media, and the raising of the blogosphere as a legitimate force to be reckoned with. That’s certainly going to continue to go on, and obviously there’s been a certain degree of institutionalization of that in things like the Franklin Center and the various Watchdog Wires, and that cannot help but be a good thing.

Between that and the re-connection of people with their government, there is no going back from that, and that’s why, while the movement itself may not be the same thing as it was before, the forces that were at work will continue to be forces that are at work.

monoblogue: Let me back up one second here. You’re President of the Institute for Liberty, and I guess – I guess it would be good to explain what their role is insofar as the entire movement.

Langer: Sure. Well, I mean, and keep in mind I inherited the Institute for Liberty from a friend of mine who has gone off and become a successful author.  IFL had been focused on a lot of defense and tech issues – and we still do a little bit of each – we are a nonprofit advocacy organization, which means that we take issues and we advocate on behalf of a particular side from a free-market, limited government perspective.

As it happens, I’ve got a background in mass movement organization. That’s something that I’ve spent a lot of time studying, something that I’ve had some efforts in growing up, and so when the TEA Party movement itself began to form I found I had an expertise that I could lend to that movement, both in themes, organizational structures, and merely offering, as I saw, logistics – you know, how do you organize a rally? What are the elements of a rally? What goes into putting something together? And so, for me, the Institute for Liberty never had the resources of a FreedomWorks or Americans for Prosperity – we didn’t sort of jump on the moniker in a way that TEA Party Patriots or TEA Party Express were able to, but what we could offer was logistical advice and support to people.

In the very real sense in D.C. where we organized – we were part of the first TEA Party rally in February of ’09, to organizing the D.C. Taxpayer TEA Party, to offering our resources for the 9/12 D.C. march…

monoblogue: Which I was at.

Langer: What?

monoblogue: I was there. I was at 9/12.

Langer: Yeah, and I spoke, and it was great. And then at the state level offering up advice to various TEA Party events and also speaking at various TEA Party events in the state, so – it’s one of those things where for us, it’s never been about credit, it’s never been about glory, it’s never about making us center stage. When the Annapolis TEA Party was being put together, we were there at the start, sort of offering up our advice, but it was very clear that guys like Aaron Jones and his brother, they were wanting to head it up and they were wanting to put it together. We’re not interested in turf fights so we said whatever you need from the Institute for Liberty that we can give to you to help you put this together, we’ll do that. Whether it was financial support, or whether it was saying, hey, you need to get these permits or you need to get that, here’s how you want to do a press release, or here’s how you ought to put together the program…but beyond that, we were not folks who needed to be at the top of anyone’s list – that’s just not what we’re about. So we were happy to act in a supporting capacity.

monoblogue: That’s all right; the movement needs that, too. But another thing…

Langer: Michael, let me just say – and this is very, very key – I’m a firm believer in the philosophy that’s it not all about me, and it’s not all about IFL. And I think we need more folks to recognize that it’s not about their own personal glory, this is about getting stuff done and making change. And making change means making not about you.

monoblogue: I was going to ask about something else, but the way you answered that question, I’m going to slide into something else here…

Langer: Sure.

monoblogue: …about the Maryland Republican Party. (laughs) And the game of personalities we seem to have in that party right now.

Langer: Yeah.

monoblogue: I know you had considered running for the (party Chair) post and you had to back out.

Langer: Yes.

monoblogue: Because of…

Langer: Well, I mean, I make no secret about this, it’s one of those things where I almost ran in ’10, and had actually come very close to pulling the trigger. But at that point it was simply one of my donors said that they couldn’t fund IFL, and one of the great problems with the MDGOP Chairman’s position is that it’s an unpaid, full-time volunteer job – and it really would be the equivalent of a full-time job. And with two kids at home – my wife and I have a very equal partnership in child care – I couldn’t take on a full-time volunteer gig and sacrifice the Institute for Liberty at that point; it just couldn’t happen.

In ’12 the circumstances had changed somewhat. But the real problem is that my wife is an active-duty officer in the Air Force and either there’s a strong likelihood we will get transferred this year, and if we don’t get transferred this year there is 100% certainty that we will be transferred by July of 2014. I am not someone who takes on a job like chairman of the Maryland Republican Party without setting some clear goals and working toward those goals – I certainly couldn’t complete any of those goals in the next five months and there was great question in my mind whether I could complete my goals to my satisfaction in seventeen months and at that point we’d be back where we were before.

monoblogue: With an election to run.

Langer: Which is essentially the chaos of a party chairman’s race in which people confuse criticism with infighting, and all the things that go on with that. I’m not talking about the certain specifics of this race right now, but the reasons why I didn’t run are those very clearly. I’m someone who is incredibly optimistic about the Maryland Republican Party; I do not think that all hope is lost. With the amount of disarray and infighting that we have in our state party – I have seen disarray and infighting in other state parties as well, so Maryland is unfortunately not unique, but certainly there are challenges. And as if there are people who are – who want to work toward overcoming those challenges and there are people who are actively working against overcoming those challenges, and there are people who don’t know how to overcome those challenges. But those challenges can be overcome.

I think it starts with that proposition that the Chairman’s job is too big for one person to do, and anybody who thinks that it is a job that can be done by one person – they are either deluding themselves or they’re simply not capable of handling the job.

monoblogue: Well then that actually brings up a little bit of a different question – this will be more effective in a couple years when we select all new officers – should they run as a slate? Should we have a – instead of doing separate elections for each of the (Vice-) Chairs, would it be better to have a particular slate go up and vote for an entire slate rather…

Langer; No, I firmly believe in the freedom of choice, I believe in building coalitions, in the fact that people ought to try to work together. I think part and parcel of that is having individual elections for the different officers. I do, however, believe that more people ought to be involved in the running of the state party. I do believe that we ought to – we might ought to consider looking at – especially if the state party is going to continue to run with having the Chair being an unpaid volunteer position. I think we ought to consider dividing up that Chair’s responsibilities, maybe among co-chairs, I think there ought to be – and this is a conversation that I’ve had with Greg Kline – is that there ought to be more people involved in that operation. Certainly I think if more folks stepped up and were willing to take on more of the chairman’s responsibilities and work with the chairman to take on those responsibilities, I think that you would find more people willing to run for Chair.

A group of my friends and colleagues, we talked to a lot of folks about running for Chair, about who was going to run for Chair, who might run for chair? And by and large, the number one complaint that people has was it is too big of a job for one person to do as a volunteer gig only. In the near term the state party simply does not have the resources to pay someone to be Chairman, especially if they pay an Executive Director, and they shouldn’t. But the point is, so long as it is this haunting huge responsibility for one person, unpaid, the more discouraging it becomes for somebody to run for Chair. Good, qualified people to run for Chair.

And so I had pledged to Greg (Kline) that if he ran I would help him for as long as I could and as much as I could, as long as I’m in Maryland and probably after I leave Maryland I’ll still continue to help Greg because I have every intention of returning to Maryland down the road. Other folks around Greg have pledged to help him and to make sure that his chairmanship is a success. It’s not just voting for Greg, but voting for folks around Greg who are good people and who want to work – and there are a lot of folks who sort of stepped up there and said, yeah, I’ll help out.

It gets to another of my big themes of this Chairman’s race, which is inclusivity vs. exclusivity. And this idea that, in order to build a party, you need to be solicitous of outside opinion and outside help. One of my great criticisms of Diana Waterman – and this is a criticism, it’s not a knock on Diana Waterman’s personality, I think Diana Waterman is a lovely person, she’s a pleasant person. She is someone who avails herself of opportunities to get active. But I will not say that Diana Waterman is someone who’s incredibly solicitous of inclusivity. Case in point is the job that she’s handled, she has demonstrated a record of someone who has not been someone to bring people into the office to work, or bring people into an organization to work. Diana steps in, and she becomes chairman of something, and people are shut out of the process.

You can talk to folks about the Eastern Shore Republican Alliance, which Diana stepped in there and became Chair, and she had a few folks around her who were regional vice-chairs, and the operation went nowhere quickly because it became bureaucracy. It became another thing for Diana Waterman to become chairman of, and it was very clear that she didn’t want any outside help, and that doesn’t build the party.

monoblogue: But it built her resume.

Langer: Well, it built her resume. And that is something I’ve also talked about, which is an issue of confusing promotion with accomplishment. Which I think is something fundamental – confusing the resume with competence. This gets into the two things that happened last week, which calls into question, and I’ve said this before – anyway, I’m getting too far afield here.

It’s this issue of inclusivity, and I’ll give you a prime example: folks who believe this Chairman’s race is only of interest to Central Committee members, and I’ve heard this from a few people that only Central Committee members ought to be briefed as to what’s going on with the state party and why the Chairman’s race is important. That sends a message to your rank-and-file Republicans, who elect Central Committee members, that their opinions are not needed, that they have no place in advocating who should be Chairman because they’re not Central Committee members, they haven’t been involved to the degree that Central Committee members are. That’s fundamentally the wrong message.

Not only is the Chairman’s race of import to every Republican in Maryland who is trying to vote to bring a different vision of government to the state of Maryland, but it’s important on a national scale, too. Because the Chairman, and what the Chairman can do, has an impact on this rules fight that is going on and is going to happen in the next couple of weeks as the RNC Rules Committee meets. And as you can see by what happened (two weeks ago), the Chairman has an incredible amount of influence as to what happens at that Rules Committee, either by appointing someone who is dedicated to undoing the damage that happened in Tampa over the summer, or by someone who is by all accounts part and parcel of the damage that happened over the summer.

monoblogue: Well, let me – I will say this: in refuting the idea that the race is just of interest to Central Committee members, my readership has just surged as this whole thing has developed. A lot more people come to my website to read about the situation than the 300 Central Committee people.

I am curious about one other thing – this is where I’m going to wrap up. The Red Maryland network and the radio show that you did, how did that all come together? I’ve been kind of curious how that all started.

Langer: I had been wanting to do a podcast for awhile – I experimented with a podcast through a thing called HipCast because a buddy of mine, Phil Kerpen, had said something about doing a HipCast, you could do it by phone. But I didn’t like the audio quality there. And so at CPAC in 2011 I launched LibertyLine, which was an actual semi-slick podcast where I was upping the production values, I got a good microphone, I was doing interviews by phone – and remember, Mark Newgent was, at the time, a neighbor of mine. So Mark came in and sat in with me a couple of times.

(Meanwhile) Greg (Kline) and Brian (Griffiths) had done their Red Maryland show by BlogTalk, and they decided they were going to do – they wanted to create an actual network and they apparently talked to Mark and Mark said, hey neighbor, I know you’re doing this, would you like to instead do a weekly show with me instead of, you’re doing your thing one interview or two interviews three times a week why don’t you change schedules and come on and do this with me? And so that’s how it was born.

Greg and I started doing it, and then he and I started shopping it around – we both had contacts up at (W)BAL, so we’d done some fill-in work on BAL’s ‘1090 At Night’, you know, made inroads to the Mike O’Meara Show, helping out, doing some stuff with those guys – so that’s how it is. Greg and Brian wanted to develop an actual sort of podcast political network, understanding how the whole industry is changing, and that’s what they did. They’ve got programming five out of seven nights now.

monoblogue: Yeah, I really think that’s interesting – now I am not a person that does a lot of radio per se, but I can tell you from just checking around that it’s almost like people are getting into multimedia moreso – I mean I started my blog in 2005 and nobody had ever heard of blogging, let alone internet radio. Now you have people that do video, radio – we’re our own little subculture of media here, and it’s kind of interesting to see where it’s going to go in the future.

Langer: Well, this is what I’m saying – this is one of the great things that’s come out of the TEA Party movement. It is that there’s this proliferation of new media – Mark and I, when we were together before Mark moved back to the Western Shore, when he and I would do our show weekly we would do a radio component and a video component. We would get set up over here because Mark’s house was chaos at night and mine was a little more subdued, and so all the folks that broadcast together on the Red Maryland network, they do a video component so they’re on both BlogTalkRadio and UStream, you could watch or listen. It’s a little bit harder now that Mark and I aren’t in the same place, although I’d like to do that – there’s something that’s lost when we’re not able to give each other visual cues about things, but that’s the nature – the nature of media in the future is going to be narrowcasting, which means you go to a subset of the population, so for us it’s Marylanders and conservative Marylanders that we’ve been wanting to branch out a little bit into a little more pop culture so we can bring in a wider audience, and it is all on demand.

So one of the big debates that we have at Red Maryland radio is BlogTalkRadio the platform to use, is live radio – see, for me, live broadcast is overrated because the bulk of our listenership comes from the downloads. I look at podcasts like the Mike O’Meara Show – I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but Mike was on the radio for almost 25 years. They moved to a podcast format – they get maybe 150-200 listeners who listen or watch live on their live feed, but they get 35,000 downloads a day, because folks like to be able to pick and choose when they will listen to their podcasts. That’s the nature of the future.

And so that is another area where I think Greg has a much superior track record is this embracing of the new media, is this embracing of the blogosphere, in a way that the party simply, for whatever reason, has not done so – not only because they just don’t get it, but also because they confuse criticism with disloyalty. I think Greg knows in the end that some of his biggest critics are going to be his “buddies” at Red Maryland. And we know that guys like Joe Steffen are going to ream him a new one. I don’t think he minds it so much, I think he recognizes – he’s adult enough to recognize that there comes a time when you have to be open to criticism. That maybe one of the other big barriers this party has faced. Dissent is inherently patriotic, and certainly in Maryland it’s a cherished right.

monoblogue: (laughs) Yeah…

Langer: Folks who lead the party have to be more adult about that criticism, and recognize it’s going to come with the territory. And if you’re not taking flak, you’re not over the target.

monoblogue: There you go. I mean, I… (laughs) I’m sitting here chuckling because I’m kind of the rabblerouser on that front for several years.

Langer: Yeah!

monoblogue: I know just how – my blog and my political career on the Central Committee started almost the same time, so (laughs) they’re well aware…

Langer: For me, it’s one of those things where I had to step down from my Central Committee for my mental health. I was in a situation in which I had four people on my Central Committee who, if I said the sky was blue, they would swear the sky was pink.

It’s one of those things where at some point you have to make that calculus “is my time going to be better spent doing other things?” For me, it’s my show, obviously, with Mark, and the stuff I do with IFL.

But this Chairman’s race is of import, which is why I’ve gotten involved, and why Greg has my support. I make no bones about that fact.

monoblogue: Well, we appreciate it. That’s going to be a lot to write about.


Indeed it was, as I spent part of my Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday evening transcribing this lengthy interview. Maybe I should look into a podcast.

But I thank Andrew for his time, and look forward to speaking with next week’s guest.

1 vs. 100

Well, okay, it’s not quite on the scale of the game show but one has to snicker at the thought of covering a protest in front of Andy Harris’s office that draws 20 people. Shoot, the TEA Party got more than that to go to former Congressman Frank Kratovil’s office, brought a noose, and still couldn’t get any local media attention besides local bloggers like me. Never mind that we’d get 300 or 400 for a nice local gathering, whether in the bright sunshine or pouring rain.

Continue reading “1 vs. 100”

A tax day protest

While I have no idea who he or she is, the Pajamas Media contributor known as ‘Zombie’ always seems to have an ear to the ground when it comes to events in that other socialist paradise of northern California. Here is Zombie’s take (in pictures and text) on two recent protests – one by the TEA Party and the other by a left-wing group called US Uncut. Both occurred simultaneously last Friday out in San Francisco.

There’s a reason I bring this up, and it’s not because there were other tax day TEA Party protests around Maryland and all over the country.

Come July, the plan is to have another local TEA Party. Yes, we missed the traditional April 15th date for Salisbury but that would have been problematic anyway because of the monthly Third Friday celebration held downtown. Instead, one can think of it as a booster shot between elections and at a time when politics may not necessarily be at the top of the agenda. After all, being a TEA Partier activist is almost a full-time job in and of itself.

Needless to say, I’ll have more updates as they become available to me.

Oh, one more thing. I have a major sponsor coming onboard to my humble little site. Details soon.

How the other side lives

If you consider the TEA Party movement a political one and support their goals, you’re not alone. A Rasmussen poll taken just before the tax day protests found that 24% of Americans now considered themselves part of the TEA Party movement.

Yet if you look at the actual number of people who have attended a TEA Party, the movement is likely far smaller. While there’s no good accurate count of the number who have participated, it’s safe to assume that the sum total is much fewer than the 69,498,215 people who voted for President Barack Obama. And chances are the circle of TEA party regulars has little congruency with the circle of Obama voters so it’s no stretch either to assume that these are two different and entrenched camps.

Those who favor TEA Party politics tend to be for a reined-in, smaller government which is fiscally responsible, and they’re united on that front. On the other hand, the sector of the Democratic party which most supported Obama is actually made up of far smaller and more disparate groups, which fall in and out of favor quickly depending on the issue of the day.

For example, the recent push for amnesty for illegal immigrants placed the Hispanic advocacy groups and other race-baiters at the top of the heap, displacing environmental groups who were hoping cap-and-trade would lead the agenda once health care passed. Moreover, while unions and other progressive groups were thrilled at the passage of Obamacare, gay rights supporters were displeased with the lack of progress on their pet issues and vocalized their disappointment at President Obama’s recent appearance with Senator Barbara Boxer in California.

Despite their differences, though, the side of those who would consolidate government power in a Washington bureaucracy, back it up with an activist judiciary system, and reduce Congress to a body where favors are bought and sold for plebiscite votes has advanced their agenda at an increasing pace. Over the 80 years since the Great Depression began, government has constantly become a more powerful force in people’s lives – only the pace has changed, depending on who occupies the White House. The statist agenda won victories, even under Reagan’s watch, because Democrats controlled the purse strings at the time.

Those on the left also use the tactic of asking, “where were tea partiers when the Republicans in Congress increased spending and drove up the deficit under President George W. Bush?” It’s a good question, but the pace toward statism wasn’t quick enough to incite alarm and economic conditions were acceptable. In addition, President Bush handled the post 9-11 period well enough to earn a second term.

In retrospect Bush’s biggest mistake was assuming he could work with Democrats inside the Beltway as he could Democrats in Austin. He had no idea the disparate groups which fight amongst each other when the Democrats are in power can speak with one voice when their territories inside the Beltway become threatened. In that respect, these special interests become the image the Tea Parties would eventually mirror because they too took to the streets when that which they believed they’d earned for themselves was threatened.

Yet even if the Republicans win big at the ballot box in 2010, the fight has barely started. Note that the Gingrich-led Republican Congress of the 1990’s couldn’t starve the Beltway beast – eventually they lost their will and their way. But if they don’t succeed we could lose America as we know it, and the Tea Parties of 2009-10 will become a forgotten chapter of the closing days of our nation’s history.

Michael Swartz, an architect and writer who lives in rural Maryland, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer. This article cleared the LFS wire back on April 26.

Remarks to Salisbury TEA Party, April 15, 2010

As part of “open mike” I prepared these remarks for delivery Thursday:

Greetings to my fellow TEA Partiers!

My name is Michael Swartz, and as my life has evolved I’ve become a man of many hats (besides the Shorebirds one I’m wearing today) – by profession I run a website called monoblogue and am currently a freelance writer but – most importantly – by grace of God I’m an American!

There’s a sort of humorous irony today. At this place where I’m speaking, to a crowd who agrees with me that we’re taxed enough already, Mayor Ireton is revealing his FY2011 budget for the city of Salisbury as is County Executive Pollitt for Wicomico County. I’m certain their message is that we’re going to have to endure pain and sacrifice to balance these budgets.

Yet while some observers, those who are fed misinformation by what passes for the mainstream media, believe that we in the TEA Party movement stand for no government – well, they are mistaken. They assume that what we mean by limited government is a lack of government, and nothing could be further from the truth. To have no government would be anarchy, and the Founding Fathers were certainly just as interested in preventing anarchy through the rule of law as they were of stopping the tyranny of the rule of man.

They placed checks and balances on our political system, but most importantly their intent was to create a republic as opposed to the simple mob rule of a democracy. We stand here today to reclaim the republic for the average, hardworking American who’s fed up with government excess!

Our elected leaders tell us there will be sacrifice, and they are correct. For government to truly live within its means we may need to give up some of what we cherish. I’m not here to tell you things will be rosy, but the truth doesn’t necessarily lie in their dire predictions of doom and gloom either.

These elected leaders truly don’t need to have a lot of courage to stand up for what’s right; it’s only conventional wisdom which says that they do. Our job here in America is to properly vet those among us who want to serve as our leaders – needless to say, we’ve found that the press won’t do it for us and those we’ve elected to serve us have instead decided to serve the special interests who would weaken this great nation.

In 1964, before Ronald Reagan served as governor of California or as our President, he noted, “You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man’s age-old dream – the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order – or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism.”

Among my company today are those on the right – Republicans, those in the center as independents, and thoughtful members of the left who remain Democrats. As Reagan said, we have a choice to make and by removing the shackles of overbearing government we can rise once again to prominence.

It’s likely my short speech won’t be repeated on the lips of millions tomorrow, but if we can promote the attitude it exudes over the next few months as our republic prepares once again to choose its leaders, the message will resonate over the next decades as we lift ourselves from this slavery to our Beltway and Annapolis masters and regain control of our own destiny.

Thank you and God Bless America!

Friday night videos episode 29

Back after a one week hiatus, the focus shifts to fiscal responsibility and TEA Parties.

Obviously the GOP is critical of Barack Obama’s policies, and this video explains why.

The same goes for, which reminds us how California got into its financial mess.

Two filmmakers for Americans for Limited Government bring the green jobs fallacy home by looking at the closing of the BP Solar plant in Frederick, Maryland.

Now it’s time for a little bit of tea. But first, it’s interesting to note the tenor of counterprotests, as an alert reader sent me a video from another March 20 rally in Washington D.C. that had little to do with health care.

To echo one commenter, I bet you didn’t see this on the nightly news.

Fellow blogger and patriot Bob McCarty does yeoman’s work covering the TEA Party scene in the St. Louis area. Here I have two videos, one from their weekly (!) rally last weekend and one from their TEA Party Express 3 stop a week or so back.

Finally, here’s local TEA Party organizer Chris Lewis from yesterday’s Salisbury rally as I excerpted the conclusion of his speech. Good background music, too.

Speaking of music, there’s no local music to wrap up this week, but that’s intentional. Next Friday I’m doing another all-music edition of FNV and plan on making it a regular event every 10 episodes (along with placing a music video or two in most other editions.) I look forward to putting it together so hopefully you’ll enjoy watching!

Salisbury Tax Day TEA Party in pictures and text

Well, this was definitely an interesting exercise in airing our grievances for redress. And let me warn you: there’s a LOT of pictures which go with this post. Let’s start with this one.

This dexterious young lady had several messages for those in the government.

As was the case last year, a number of speakers took the podium. Unlike last year, they weren’t being rained upon. It started with ten of us reading the ten amendments of the Bill of Rights (I read the Ninth Amendment) and one of our featured speakers, author and internet radio host Dr. Gianni Hayes.

Dr. Gianni Hayes spoke early on about the 'new world order' and lack of assimilation by recent immigrants, contrasting it to her childhood experience as the daughter of immigrant parents.

Speaking early because she had another commitment, Hayes went on at some length about the “new world order” and lack of assimilation from today’s immigrants. As a first-generation American herself she proclaimed, “to be American you must be assimilated,” otherwise “we are losing our identity.”

After a short pause to bring us up to the 5:00 hour and formal beginning to the program, Joe Collins led off and served as a master of ceremonies.

Local AFP co-chair Joe Collins served as master of ceremonies and had his own remarks addressing the possible infiltrators.

Collins cautioned infiltrators to “free your mind…be not wicked on this day.” He equated control with votes, but more importantly compared the deregulation of health insurance with the deregulation of airlines, including the example of Salisbury being a small market whereas larger airports provide more choice due to their larger market.

He was followed by a number of other scheduled speakers, including event organizer Chris Lewis and Joe’s AFP cohort Julie Brewington.

Chris Lewis told us he was 'not concerned or worried' about the political situation, now he was 'mad as hell.'

AFP co-chair Julie Brewington read from remarks she prepared and preposted on her website.

Conveniently, Julie posted her remarks on her website.

Other speakers included Dr. Greg Belcher on taxes, Dave Parker of the local GOP on their relationship with the TEA Party, and author Patrick Samuels, who noted, “if we’re going to put the genie back in the bottle we need to stop wishing to it.” Dustin Mills also spoke about being an educator and political activist, as you’ll note on his shirt.

Dr. Greg Belcher advised us on how to get the 'tools to fight back' against oppressive taxation.

Dave Parker, vice-chair of the Wicomico County GOP, told the crowd that under President Bush 'the GOP let us (conservatives) down.'

Patrick Samuels spoke of the chains which bind us, and proclaimed 'I am not a slave!'

Dustin Mills advocated that we get behind a candidate. Obviously he is.

Surprisingly, there was a media presence at the event. Channel 16’s Ko Im arrived early on to get some still shots for voiceover and a soundbite or two.

Our event didn't merit live coverage according to WBOC, but at least they sent a reporter.

Like sharks to chum, the media flocks to any controversy. Let’s tell the tale of local radio host Matt Walsh.

Local morning show host Matt Walsh began his remarks in reasonable fashion.

Things went along all right until he told the crowd “don’t vote Republican” and lashed out at Sarah Palin.

Joe Collins talks to Matt Walsh and asks him to tone things down a notch. Walsh was allowed to finish his remarks.

After a verbal volley where an observer called Walsh a “young punk” and Walsh retorted that the man was a “senile old fart” there was no question Matt would be the center of media attention, like a Daily Times reporter.

Like moths to a porch light, the local reporter needed to interview Matt Walsh.

While Walsh may have a point, the stunt seemed more to attract attention to his radio show than to contribute to the dialogue.

Of course, a number of local and state political campaigns had a presence too. People advocating votes for U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rutledge, Congressional hopeful Andy Harris, and State Senate hopeful Michael James circulated through the crowd.

This young lady was sporting the message of Jim Rutledge. The Senate candidate had been active in the TEA party movement but didn't appear at this one.

A Rutledge supporter engages a couple members of the voting public.

Andy Harris supporters took to Division Street with their own message.

Salisbury University College Republicans came out for the affair, many sporting the logo of State Senate hopeful Michael James along with their flags.

Another minor controversy erupted over this table, as the TEA Party wanted to maintain a neutral tone. But the table was allowed to stay as anyone who wanted to be civil regardless of political affiliation was welcome.

Andy Harris supporters had a table to get supporters to volunteer. The table aroused controversy early on but was allowed to stay.

Frankly, I found the attendance disappointing because I expected a crowd about 3 times as large. The final pictures are a view from the back I took a little after 6:00 and four panoramic pictures taken at around 3:20, 4:30, 5:30, and 6:30.

Looking from the lawn in front of the courthouse as a judge a crowd size. It was roughly the same as last year but the weather was far better.

This shot was taken at 3:19 p.m. just as the event started.

I took this picture shortly after 4:30 as the crowd began to file in.

Shortly before the peak of the crowd, I took this just after 5:30.

My last shot was taken around 6:30 as the crowd began to thin.

My thought on the TEA Party movement is that perhaps it’s beginning to be a little more celebrity-drawn. Other TEA Parties with “name” speakers did well yesterday while this one didn’t have that same attraction. Also, there’s competition from surrounding areas such as Ocean City, who will have its event Saturday.

I spoke at the event as part of the “open mike.” Tomorrow I’ll post my remarks for all to read.

The TEA Party test

It was at this time last year that the TEA Party movement was still in its infancy and doubters were rampant. The conventional wisdom predicted little chance of success for the rash of TEA Parties slated around the April 15th tax filing deadline – perhaps a few dozen cranks would show up, they argued, but real Americans truly didn’t mind the policies put forth by the fledgling Obama administration.

We all know what really happened, though – thousands of angry Americans of all races, religions, and political stripes showed up during that April week. Some came despite weather conditions which could be best described as raw, while others basked in sunshine. To a person, they were sickened by the direction our government had taken over the previous few months as they saw Wall Street banks and auto companies bailed out yet also saw jobs being lost and economic conditions slow to improve despite billions of stimulus dollars spent.

One year later, the job market is somewhat better but nowhere near the halcyon days of sub-5 percent unemployment just a few short years ago. And despite the best efforts of many TEA Party supporters to fight it, Obamacare became the law of the land last month. In the final days of debate, arrogant Democratic leaders baited the protesting crowd hoping to catch an embarrassing incident on video but TEA Partiers refused to swallow the bait. They weren’t exactly civil but no proof of any of the claimed racial slurs or spitting on members of Congress has come to light despite the media’s best efforts.

In fact, recently it was leftist protesters who were caught literally egging on the TEA Partiers – a bus for the “TEA Party Express 3” was pelted with eggs on its way to their initial tour stop in Harry Reid’s hometown of Searchlight, Nevada. So far that bus tour, which will conclude at an April 15th TEA Party in Washington, has drawn significant crowds at most stops.

However, the TEA Party Express tour does have the advantage of national press coverage and an all-star speaking lineup which at various points has included major media personalities and its most famous backer, Sarah Palin. A truer test of the staying power of this movement will come when hundreds of communities around the country host their own local events. Most of these won’t have the star power of the TEA Party Express to boost their numbers.

It’s these local events which have served as the backbone of the movement, and although many have been adopted by larger organizations like the TEA Party Patriots, the bulk of the leadership remains local. Their focus, though, is shifting from fighting the Democrats’ socialist agenda with phone calls, e-mails, and marches on the Capitol to one of cultivating conservative political candidates and getting them elected to office come November.

Certainly a huge turnout for the events next week will bode well for their November hopes, then again, a day is an eternity in the political world and 6½ months could see any number of developments. Still, there are a number of issues for TEA Partiers to fight (cap and trade and amnesty for illegal immigrants being the two chief ones) and it’s doubtful the socialist agenda is going to grind to a halt just because a majority of Americans aren’t behind it. For the most part, these protesters have keep their noses clean and to the grindstone thus far but there’s still a vast amount of work to do before they achieve their goals.

Michael Swartz, an architect and writer who lives in rural Maryland, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer. This cleared the LFS wire just last Tuesday, making this release timely!

A prelude to April

This is actually going to be about the Americans for Prosperity meeting last night, which I was told would be a planning meeting for next month’s Tax Day TEA Party here in Salisbury. But apparently much of the event has been planned – however, what I didn’t know is that Ocean City will have one as well. More on that later, though.

To open the meeting, AFP Wicomico co-chair Julie Brewington had a monologue where she noted the Obamacare bill was “a finger poked in the face of the people” and created “a nation divided (which was) a very sad thing.” But rather than being depressed, she was “more energized than ever.”

To her, people were “fairly ignorant” on the contents of the Obamacare bill, and because of the lack of transparency, “we must change who represents us” here in Maryland.

At that point, we received some key dates.

On March 31st there will be a town hall meeting sponsored by Wicomico County Councilman Bill McCain regarding the revenue cap. McCain would prefer to see it repealed and allow the county to raise our property taxes through the roof (since property values are so far down the millage rate will probably increase regardless) but wants public input. I’m sure we’ll give it to him. The sobfest will be held in the Danang Room at the Wicomico County Youth and Civic Center beginning at 7 p.m.

Five days later sanity returns to the Danang Room as state Republican Chair Audrey Scott hosts a town hall meeting of her own, April 5th at 6:30 p.m. Brewington noted that the Republicans were “begging” for TEA Party input and personally I welcome them into the fold. (Otherwise there wouldn’t be any GOP Central Committee people attending AFP meetings, although the College Republicans also meet that night so that may account for one or two others.)

On April 6th the Wicomico County Council has its quarterly night meeting, where we were urged by AFP member Matt Trenka to “pack the house” and take advantage of the public comments. When pressed, County Councilman John Cannon (who was in attendance) said he supported the idea and noted it’s one of the few items brought back to the Council’s attention after a decision was made – the quarterly meetings were a compromise measure. The current schedule was “terribly confusing,” said Cannon, and I imagine this may be a side issue for this year’s election.

Finally, the Tax Day TEA Party will be held April 15th (naturally.) That was the last subject we covered, so I’ll get to that shortly.

G.A. Harrison (of Delmarva Dealings fame) next spoke on the prospects of an elected school board. He noted that only 6 of Maryland’s 24 school districts (each county and Baltimore City) still had appointed boards of education, and only Caroline and Wicomico counties had that method here on the Eastern Shore. To get an elected board, we would have to have a non-binding referendum and there were two methods of achieving this:

  • through the approval of County Council, or;
  • via petition drive, with the signatures of 10% of county voters in the last election for Governor. For Wicomico County, this would mean we have to gather 2,821 valid signatures. The time is tight for this petition though: the language needs to be filed by May 1, with 1/3 of the signatures in by May 31 and the remainder by June 30.

Obviously the easier route is County Council, and recently the Republican Central Committee sent a letter to the County Council expressing our support (a letter I was pleased to sign.) Harrison noted that the Democrats may be on board as well, but for differing reasons – the teacher’s union would certainly try to influence the school board election.

State AFP head Dave Schwartz was also in attendance, and he spoke at some length about the recent fight against Obamacare. He told us that, “the American people are with us” and had it not been for all of our efforts this would have been done last June. After the 2008 elections the only question was when Democrats would pull the trigger, noted Schwartz. But Americans got to look at how things work in Washington, D.C. and they don’t like it – a CBS News poll released this week revealed 62% want Republicans to keep fighting this bill!

While the media wants to paint this as an “accomplishment,” continued Schwartz, it was only an accomplishment in the sense of getting a third mortgage when you had difficulty paying for the first two.

The next steps in our fight were:

  • To “win the aftermath” by explaining the bill’s pitfalls (of which there are many) better than the other side explains the supposed benefits. After all, $500 billion in new taxes, $500 billion in Medicare cuts, and a “fast-forward” to single-payer only benefit the government.
  • Signing the petition at (As I write this 343,138 have.)
  • Attend the Tax Day TEA Party here – 600 did last year and we want double this year!
  • Call and get the Health Care Freedom Act passed here in Maryland. The bill lost in committee 6-5 but we are asking two Democrats to reconsider.

Schwartz concluded by citing an AMA study which suggested that a high percentage of older doctors (over 50) will simply choose to retire as early as possible once Obamacare takes full effect, leaving fewer providers to care for an increasing number of insured patients who expect free medical service.

Two other quick pieces of information we received were that the Leadership Institute candidate school originally scheduled for Cambridge this weekend was cancelled, but there were still openings up in Dover. Also, the Worcester County AFP chapter asked for donations to purchase the use of a billboard along U.S. 50 to promote a message.

Finally, the Tax Day TEA Parties.

In Salisbury, the TEA Party goes on Thursday, April 15th from 3 to 7 p.m. About the only desired thing missing from the planning is a band, but everything else seems to be going as planned (aside from hoping for better weather, of course.) The venue remains the front lawn of the Government Office Building downtown on Division Street.

This year, Ocean City joins in on the fun! On Saturday, April 17 from noon to 3 p.m. theirs will be held in the plaza which hosts Trader Lee’s on the southwest corner of U.S. 50 and Maryland Route 611.

In either case, I encourage my readers to attend and they can register at this website. It looks like AFP has taken the lead in planning and promoting these events in Maryland, although each individual one is different.

Their next meeting will be April 28th at Brew River in Salisbury. Be there early to grab a seat because we had over 70 in a room set up originally for 50.