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April 17, 2009

Tea Party 2009

Roy Meachum

The story made all the papers: Washington Post, New York Times, etc. In Frederick, the News-Post slapped it across the front page: "Tea Party" Brews on Tax Day."


Pushkin and I meant to go, at least to support friends Bob Miller and Blaine Young, whose WFMD broadcast Wednesday was dedicated entirely to the sentiment that spawned the protest. But, as all Frederick knows, the boy English pointer doesn't care for the rain. And when we fielded our first phone call about the Tea Party, it was raining cats and some other breeds of dogs. Maybe, even, normal pointers.


Instead we stayed dry inside and watched Heaven's juices pelting our newly planted posies. I turned on the radio and failed to catch my Friday morning chat buddy; we talk about movies and such. Blaine seemed to be having the time of his life. And I was glad! I disagreed with much of what was said but loved the tumultuous triumph for free speech.


Don't get me wrong: I think the level of taxation has been pushed too high. I'm also a Jeffersonian Democrat who believes government governs best when it governs least. There's nothing lower in my vocabulary than "bureaucrat." Holding a public job is not the same. Bureaucracy's shadow collapsed on my life this week. But I resolved the issue by refusing to be intimidated.


Intimidation has everything to do with the public's reaction to governmental rules and those who push them. I will not go into details about my latest crossing swords with bureaucracy. It's not fair and very boastful to brag that I walked right by; in fact, there turned out to be a rule I tested many times, and always won.


Instinct tells me that what the turnouts in 1500 towns and cities were all about was the difficulty to swallow huge sums to keep the backbone of America's businesses afloat: the banks. Many like to quibble about who first started the mess. Bill Clinton seems the leading contender with softening rules during his terms.


But the Bush Administration easily walks away with the trophy. Led by Vice President Richard Cheney, early in its days of power the GOP White House followed G.M.'s former boss. "Engineer" Charlie Wilson declared that what was good for his once-mammoth corporation was good for the country as a whole. The vice president passed the word along at a meeting less than a month after he and the president were sworn in. This was a pro-business administration and he proved it.


Some of the WFMD speakers shouted so much their words were lost in distortion. But not their feelings: They are mad and won't take it anymore, to paraphrase Peter Finch's line from the film "Network." I share the frustration, and so does the newly elected president. While the tea-less parties were roaring away Barack Obama announced a wholesale reduction for 95 percent of Americans taxpayers.


Sitting in this old North Market Street house, I wondered how much the march on Winchester Hall had to do with taxes and suspected the major reason was Mr. Obama's November victory. From the demonstration before the White House, The Washington Post reported signs: "The Audacity of the Dope," "Tax Slavery Sucks" and "Obama bin Lyin'."


The general theme of the Frederick protest was taxes. But The News-Post quoted citizens that seemed more worried about the lowered economic atmosphere than taxes specifically. A couple from Libertytown told a reporter they are concerned about their grandchildren. The owner of a Walkersville sign making company said "her business is not doing well and she has lost some longtime customers," according to the local paper. General Motors lost more.


But the tea party celebrants did not want to hear about the nationwide unemployed and the country's sagging economy; that's not why the April 15 rallies were summoned. They stood tall and four-square for Americans' right to shout their disapprovals and disappointments in government. That's what I enjoyed and celebrated Wednesday.


All my fellow citizens should applaud the conservative, chiefly Republican, groups that braved rain and other inconveniences, to show disapproval of any and all excessive government spending.




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