Politics

Tax Day Tea Parties in the Heartland

It started out at a normal April 15 tax day.  For the last several years, my day starts off at the local Post Office with other Fairtax supporters.  We line up on the sidewalk, hold signs, wave and tell people about the Fairtax.  Later in the morning, I was joined on the radio program by a couple of state legislators, Sen. Chip Rogers and Rep. Tom Graves.  Tom and Chip had been instrumental in moving the budget through the Georgia legislature.  In this difficult time, they had managed to balance the budget, cut spending and pass tax cuts.  Further, not one tax increase was passed this year.  

As it turned out, Rogers and Graves were invited to speak at the Atlanta Tax Day Tea Party.  Sean Hannity called into the program, too and we spent most of the program talking about the size of government and tax policy.  I was scheduled to speak at the Gainesville, Georgia Tea Party that afternoon and then speak to group of business students at The University of Georgia about the Tea Parties, taxation and spending policies in the evening.

Sen. Rogers pointed out “this was the first time in his life he looked forward to April 15.” Not because he likes paying taxes, but because this April 15 was going to be a day of action across Georgia. Seven hundred or more Tax Day Tea Parties were held beginning at 7 am somewhere on the east coast and ending at 7 pm local time in Hawaii, the home state of our 44th president. Throughout the morning, the Paul Begala pit bulls were dispatched to discount the activities. The president tried to have his own Tax Day event talking about all the progress he’s made with the tax policy of this country.

What started out as a dare by Rick Santelli of CNBC in February may have turned out to be the beginning of something.  The attendees of these Tea Parties were of all ages, backgrounds and income levels and they looked like America.

In Gainesville, Georgia, the organizers — libertycalls.org — thought there would be about 50 people there.  When I arrived about 45 minutes before the event, there were already several hundred there.  Many of these folks traveled an hour or more to get to Gainesville and were planning to continue on to Atlanta for the rally there later in the evening. This was old fashioned politicking with hand made signs and soap-box speeches.

When my turn came to speak, I kicked my shoes off and stepped up on the bench.  By that time the crowd was close to 1000 people with others lining the streets waving their signs at the traffic.  My goal was to impress upon them the continuation of this kind of activism coupled with letters to their representatives.  My theme was, “It starts with your vote.”.  You can’t just vote and go home, you have to keep pushing.

This was a home spun, home grown gathering. And they wanted answers.  They wanted to know about local politics and how their money was being spent.  They wanted to hold state legislators accountable.  However, their primary goal was to get the federal government streamlined and a simpler, fairer tax system with the lowest rate possible.  These were working folks and retired folks who don’t want to continue to bail out banks and deadbeats.

In the last election it is clear many Americans lack an understanding of economics and have little grasp of American history.  That has to be changed and yesterday we started to change.  For a generation, Americans have been made to feel that we were not worthy of all the great things this country has accomplished.  We were lead to believe in the pop culture, they were some how ill-gotten gains.  

We were told by the pundits and politicians we weren’t as good as we thought we were.  These people would list all the problems with America rather than tempering them with the good that America does.  The wonderful, average Americans around the country finally said “enough.”  They took off from work and school; they picked up their children and grandchildren, loaded them in their SUV and headed to town to lift their voices.

As the president said on the campaign trail, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” His words may become the battle cry of the Tea Party Movement — they are for me.  We are the ones we have been waiting for.  If we don’t take our country back, we have only ourselves to blame.  Tax Day 2009 was a day for rhetoric and the measure of the success will be what happens next.