Democracy in action

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Tea Party movement is something I have watched with interest since Cassville hosted a gathering last year. The Tea Party network started small with locally organized protests in communities all across the country and now the effort has grown to the point where Tea Party followers from across the country have staged several national rallies in Washington, D.C., and other cities. These gatherings, like the most recent Tea Party Nation convention held in Nashville, Tenn., are gaining momentum as well as national media attention.

I do not want to focus on the politics behind the Tea Party movement, but I do want to speak to the spirit of democracy these gatherings represent. We don't have to agree with the ideas voiced during these gatherings to appreciate the grass-roots political effort these "parties" represent.

No matter what your party affiliation, I think we can all agree that the Tea Party movement is an example of American democracy in action. I think carrying homemade protest signs and rallying together for a common cause is an exercise in freedom. Again, we may not all agree with the message, but I think we can agree they have a very distinct right to express their views in this manner.

One of the purposes of gatherings like the Tea Parties is to grab people's attention so they will listen to the message. Originally, Tea Party organizers complained that the "mainstream" media was not giving their rallies enough coverage, but as the number of the gatherings increased across the country and the numbers of those attending swelled, the Tea Parties became big news.

There are many people in this country, from both parties, who are fed up with politics as usual and want a change in Washington. It's interesting to me how the pendulum swings. President O'Bama represented change, and his election was a rallying cry for all those who felt they had never before had a voice in politics. Now, citizens who do not like the change proposed by the President are speaking out, and the tide seems to be turning their way. This shift in public opinion has been demonstrated in recent off-year elections and exemplified in the election of Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts.

In general, I think Americans are sick and tired of partisan politics. I believe we will see more and more voters identifying themselves as Independents, and maybe eventually, there will be more candidates running as Independents if they believe they can capture the support of the vast number of Americans who desperately want a change in Washington.

I am one of those Americans who would like to see decisions made as a result of two parties working together to come up with a compromise that is best for the majority of Americans. I'm tired of special interest groups winning out while average Americans suffer, and I don't hesitate to say that both parties are guilty of letting special interests sway their decision making. Politics as usual isn't working, and if it takes a Tea Party to bring this to the attention of the nation tean so be it. Again, this editorial is not an endorsement of the Tea Party message but instead a show of support for what the movement represents, which I believe is democracy and the American people's right to peacefully protest.

Lisa Schlichtman