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This morning, Matt and I headed downtown to check out the Tea Party rally in Acacia Park. Though we’ve never been shy about discussing politics, up to this point, the extent of our public political involvement has been at polling venues casting our votes, and in recent years even avoided that in lieu of mail-in ballots. So for us, we wanted to see first-hand what this rally was all about rather than try to gain understanding through the prism of radio, print, and TV media.
The first thing we noticed was the signs, lots of signs. Most of them pithy, some poignant, all trying to convey the concern, anger, or hope of those holding them. My personal favorite was “Silence is Consent,” as it spoke to my own resolve to get involved in the political process. Some made me chuckle, like “Grandpa’s Against Taxing Grandkids” (the acronym doesn’t really work for organizational purposes). The most prominent motto was “Don’t Tread on Me,” which seemed to most accurately represent the overall angst.
Overall there were folks from all walks of life—a mix of ages, ethnicities, unemployed, retirees, business men and women, folks with their name on their shirt stopping by on their lunch hour, business owners, students, and families—each one representing a slice of the American pie in one way or another. I appreciated the civility in general, but especially so when a group of teenagers, led by an older adult, marched through the park chanting, “We love Obama.” The crowd just chanted back, “U-S-A.” It was the only real scuttlebutt of the event that we witnessed, thankfully.
The speeches were well scripted for the crowd, focusing on liberty, the Constitution, lower taxes, less government, reduced spending, honoring Veterans, and the like. And for the most part I can align with these ideals, though my least favorite part was when someone called-out “true” Americas, that’s when I start to tune out. Anytime labels or names are tossed about, the debate or conversation is lessened. We are all better for exchanging ideas and engaging in conversation that challenges each of us. It is for this reason, I was pleased by the way attendees were encouraged to engage with one another, to talk to their neighbors, and not just listen to people on the podium—how fitting to value the voices of those coming together to be heard.
Admittedly, turning-up at a political rally was not on our bucket list, but as I mentioned in my earlier post, there is a refreshing and inspiring civic interest being rekindled in our country right now. Agree with its premise or not, it is good for any country, state, city, or neighborhood when its citizenry participate in that which governs them.