Since its emergence as a home grown political movement a year ago, the Tea Party organization has been associated with true democracy, lauded as a return to activism, criticized as a covert organization actually run by the GOP, credited with redefining grass roots political movements, and likened to a McCarthyesque coven of ne’er-do-wells, Nazis, and folks who use outdated expressions like “ne’er-do-well.” This week the Tea Party express made a pit stop in Boston Massachusetts, a historical touchstone of democracy and my current hometown. With the promise of raw political history and fried dough vendors planted in my own backyard, it seemed irresponsible to pass up the opportunity to experience this organization first hand and set the record straight.
Signs, signs, everywhere signs! Tea Partiers (hereafter demarcated as TPs) must spend most of their social security checks on poster board, markers, and glue. Homemade signs are a crucial part of the TP experience with great care and points awarded for creativity and wordplay. Any type of riff on the word “Obama” such as “Obama Care Makes Me Sick” or “OverBama 2012” or simply “NObama” sends the clear, direct message that the TP is known for: We don’t like President Obama and we aren’t afraid to make money selling tee-shirts, stickers, buttons, and other gee-gaws bearing our snarky slogans.
It takes more than the promise of pretzel vendors and politics to attract a formidable quorum of TPs to any given rally. You must have a relevant, current, engaging program. After all, these people aren’t driving in their Yugos and cashing in their Master Card World Points for Greyhound tickets to travel, in some cases, thousands of miles to connect with each other and share their views about the most pressing issues facing Americans today. That would be ridiculous! That would be like John Adams leaving his wife and children to spend a week traveling down to Philadelphia to represent the Massachusetts colony on the most pressing issues facing Americans at that time. What a loser!
TPs won’t settle for a route of such intelligent and, let’s face it, boring discourse. After all, it’s not called a Tea Talk; it’s a tea party! Music and entertainment should figure prominently in any Tea Party gathering (Note: This function may be doubly filled by the types of speakers invited to perform for the rally). Just like the Civil Rights era of the 1960s and 70s when singers like Joan Baez or Marvin Gaye penned deeply moving calls to involvement and activism, so too should Tea Party events honor that tradition with songs to inspire and uplift. Regretably, there seems to be a lack of artists writing stirring anthems in support of conservative values and anti-Obama sentiment (the academy of country music artists excluded). Thus, TPs have to settle for really smart parodies of songs like Queen’s We are the Champions altered to We are the Patriots. Do you see what they did just there? Don’t forget to tip your TP entertainment accordingly. Many of these musicians exist without record contracts or representation and rely on the public’s generosity when they aren’t relying on important government sponsored programs designed to help the unemployed or underemployed.
Most importantly, a Tea Party is an opportunity for different speakers who share the same concerns and values of the TP movement to speak with the American public, offering their support of working to address some of the problems plaguing the nation, and breaking down the complicated political moment (i.e. Democrats are doo-doo heads) in a way that makes it easy for people to understand their roles in this new political entity. (Hint: that role involves keeping a Kung-fu grip on your anger). Former Governor of Alaska and prominent iHand note-taker, Sarah Palin has become a fixture of the TP organization, appearing at numerous rallies such as the one in Boston. Some might say that Palin is the pride of the party and that she represents the core values of the group (Note: No one seems to know what those are, but are pretty sure they have something to do with dead colonists, Miley Cyrus, and stricter immigration laws). She’s a working mom, a straight shooter (bears, wolves, or perky journalists), and an average Jane that just about anyone can relate to (if that average Jane were a wealthy, former public servant with a best selling book and multiple television show deals). What makes Palin unique as a speaker is her ability to connect to the hearts and souls of TPs, tapping into what TPs want to hear, which are small, manageable phrases that are fun to repeat to your friends:
"Yes we can? How about ‘Oh no you don’t!”
“We can’t spend our way out of these problems.”
“God knows we have the resources. He created them for us to use!”
“Drill baby drill!”
It also helps to have a large array of leather clothing and high tolerance for your own shrill, dental instrument tingling, incredibly grating voice.
The Tea Party event in Boston was enlightening and informative, and much better experienced live than through the filters of “lamestream media (Thanks Sarah! That one was my favorites! I can’t wait to share it with my friends!). It was a peaceful gathering of all kinds of people ranging from infants to the elderly, representing every ethnicity, and having differing political view points. The Boston Tea Party event involved people who enjoyed coming together on a beautiful spring day in New England to hear about the terrible, oppressive, corrupt American government, to heed the warning of the apocalypse that is upon the American people soon to be stripped of their guns, pills, and cable TV and to wave pretty, multi-colored signs. And something about “small businesses” too.