On a bitterly cold March day, 40 of us braved the elements to hold Rochester, New York’s first Tea Party protest. Governor Patterson was in town, just down the street, and we wanted to let him know we were unhappy about his budget for 2009. New taxes, new fees, and the same old politics as usual in Albany.
We also were angry about the actions of the Obama administration and our elected representatives in Congress. Spending bills had shot through Congress without time for evaluation and consideration, and without any effort to include the Republican minority. Promise after promise that Barry Obama had made during his campaign had already been broken in less than the first 100 days of his administration.
We listened to speakers, sang patriotic songs and marched with our homemade signs. We received a little local press but the leftists demanding tax increases were far more numerous and they received most of the attention.
The dedicated volunteers who put that Tea Party together resolved to join the national movement and hold a second on April 15. It was a workday, but it was also the day income taxes were due to be paid to both New York State and the Federal Government.
A great deal of work went into the April 15 event. The day was sunny, but a cold wind was blowing. That might be seen as a prediction of the future for all Americans if the current policies and trends are not reversed.
We rallied first at a park, and over one thousand strong we marched. A second ralley with speeches was held at the County Office Building. We marched again, to City Hall where the final set of speakers addressed the thousand plus standing there.
Why go to all this trouble? Just what were the concerns of the people who protested at Rochester’s Tea Party?
The protesters came from all over the political spectrum. Amidst those differences, there were some common themes.
We are concerned at the amount of debt that the United States is going to incur, and the tax payments that the next generations will be forced to pay to service that debt.
We are concerned that state and local governments continue to raise taxes and fees.
We believe that government is being conducted in the same old way when it has to change.
We are upset that so many political appointees and politicians are tax cheats and corrupt.
Term limits were a popular subject. Cutting government spending was another.
The people at the Rochester Tea Party were mostly folks that had never been to a protest in their lives. Mark that statement. Never been to a protest. Imagine the anger and worry that would impel these people to come to the Tea Party.
Governments, at all levels, have come to a place where voters and taxpayers feel left out of the process. The people who marched feel that they no longer control the people who are being elected. They are bewildered and anxious about the changes that they have seen in the practice of what is supposed to be a free and democratic political process. Wry jokes were being made about ending up on some government list for being at the Tea Party.
Politicians and bureaucrats routinely ignore most taxpayers and voters. Once you are elected to office, you have an overwhelming chance of staying in office until you choose to leave. If you are a bureaucrat, practicly nothing can be done to remove you from your position or deny you a raise. For the people at the Tea Party, government has become something to distrust, perhaps an enemy, but certainly no friend.
That is not what our Founders intended. This must change and it will change. July 4 is the next set of Tea Parties on the schedule nationally. Between now and then, the movement will grow and July 4 will see Americans exercising their rights like never before and vowing to take back their government.