By Jessica Chasmar (8/17/11)
“I bought the groceries and kept the kitchen stocked,” said Laurie Newsom, “but the kids make their own lunch. If they forgot their lunch, they didn’t get lunch.”
It was this parenting structure that Newsom — wife and mother of four, an ophthalmology clinic owner and the president of the Gainesville Tea Party — believes gave her children a sense of personal responsibility at a very young age and made them the successful professionals they are today.
Newsom is not your run-of-the-mill, stay-at-home, June Cleaver mom. She was very hands off, letting her kids make their own decisions. They eventually learned responsibility and accountability through trial-and-error. It’s this type of mentality that Newsom believes most young people in the United States have lost, and it’s the same mentality that she, as president of the local Tea Party, is trying to bring back.
“The Tea Party is really best described like what our chair of the Alachua County Republican Party describes it as: It’s a ‘state of mind,’” she said.
It’s a “state of mind” because the Tea Party invites everyone who shares the same values — free markets, limited government and fiscal responsibility — to have a voice in politics.
“We’ve had a variety of conservative Democrats switch into the Republican Party,” Newsom said. “Libertarians face a problem because of the social issues. The Republicans need to understand that those issues have their roots in individual freedom. We’re trying to bridge that gap by saying that our values have nothing to do with social issues.”
Newsom believes that if you have a limited government, then you have an opportunity to make your own decisions on those social issues.
“We don’t care about abortion,” she said. “It’s none of the government’s business. See, we’re not fringe, yet we’ve been perceived that way. The Republicans are the ones who are fringe Right when it comes to social issues. It hasn’t been Tea Party people up there promoting pro-life. We won’t even go there.”
Newsom doesn’t want the Republican Party denigrating Tea Partiers as fringe. Not only is it inaccurate, she said, but conservatives can’t afford the rift. It’s her responsibility, as president, to advise against voting for a third-party candidate or a libertarian candidate, such as Ron Paul. Newsom supports and admires Ron Paul, but she agrees that a vote for him is a vote for President Obama — a vote she isn’t willing to make.
“We need to vote for people that we can actually envision sitting in that seat,” she said. “I really am a libertarian, but I’m also a pragmatist.”
She also agrees with many Tea Partiers that I’ve interviewed in the past that a vote for Mitt Romney is not a vote for him, but much more a vote against Obama.
“When McCain won the nomination, it was obvious there was a push from the left because they knew he would lose,” she said. “That’s why the media are pushing Romney. He’s the Democratic choice for a Republican candidate. Romney is not a good candidate. He will lose.”
GOP candidate Herman Cain is Newsom’s favorite at this point. Cain attended more than 40 Tea Party rallies last year, including one that Newsom attended. Minn. Rep. Michelle Bachmann is her second-in-line, but she also believes that electability and name recognition are working against both candidates.
Newsom never meddled in her kids’ lives. She never made their decisions for them. She never bothered with telling them what courses to take. She never told them what they could and could not pack in their lunches. She simply expected them to do their job appropriate for whatever age they were, and if they didn’t perform at that level, they faced the consequences. Her laissez-faire parenting produced a doctor, a lawyer and two successful businesswomen. It was that type of individual choice and responsibility that she used in her parenting that translates into how she feels about the public education system.
“Government should not be in the education business, period,” she said. “Compulsory schooling is not conducive to individual freedom. If they can’t afford to educate their children, they shouldn’t be having them. If they have them, they have to face the consequences of raising them.”
She believes that parents don’t feel the responsibility now to take care of their own children, because the government has safety nets in place for them. In her opinion, there’s nothing more optional than childbearing, and education is not a right for any American.
It might be a hard thing for people to understand: Education that’s not free? But the truth is, we have lost a sense of personal responsibility. If we, as Americans, knew that we had no one else to depend on other than ourselves and ourselves only, can’t it be assumed that we would make different choices? After my interview with Newsom, I couldn’t help but wonder: Where does government responsibility end and personal accountability begin? What happened to the individual liberty that our Founding Fathers intended for us, and how do we get it back?
“No matter what Obama or [Rep. Nancy] Pelosi say, we are Americans,” Newsom said. “We are different from any other group of people. We still have gazillions of people, be it from Germany all the way down to your third world countries, who want to be here. It’s not just because we have iPods, it’s because we’re us. You can see the difference. The Tea Party has showcased that ‘exceptionalism.’”
By Jessica Chasmar (7/27/11)
The Tea Party Movement got its name from the Boston Tea Party of 1773, but it’s important to understand our history in order to accurately interpret the movement’s platform and goals. As is the case with most historic events, there are several different accounts of how the Boston Tea Party actually occurred and how it is to be interpreted. What follows is a brief summary of that event according to Eyewitness to History, Boston-Tea-Party.org and Benjamin Carp’s “Boston Tea Party” in the 2006 Encyclopedia of the New American Nation.
The Boston Tea Party of 1773 occurred in response to the rising financial crisis of the British East India Company, but more importantly, it was in protest to the “taxation without representation” by the Parliament on the British American colonies.
Parliament passed the Townshend Revenue Act of 1767 in hopes of offsetting the revenue lost due to the ongoing smuggling of Dutch tea. The act levied a new tax on several commodities, British tea included, but instead of the tea tax solving the smuggling problem, it renewed a controversy about Parliament’s right to tax the colonies.
Whig colonists began to boycott the goods and protest against the taxes. Parliament was forced to repeal the Townshend taxes in 1770, but it kept the tax on tea. In 1772, Parliament passed the Tea Act that actually lowered the tax on tea that was imported into Britain, however it kept the tea taxes that were imported into the colonies the same.
In 1773, four ships carrying East India Company tea were sent to Boston, and one ship each were bound for New York, Philadelphia and Charleston. Opposition to the Tea Act began to mobilize the Americans colonists. Protestors of every colony except Massachusetts, where Gov. Thomas Hutchinson had convinced the tea consignees not to back down, were able to successfully turn the ships back to England.
After the tea ship Dartmouth arrived in the Boston Harbor, Samuel Adams called for a meeting on Nov. 29, 1773, in which thousands of colonists arrived. Where British law required the ship to unload and pay its taxes within 20 days, the mass meeting passed a resolution urging the captain of the Dartmouth to send the ship back without paying the taxes.
Gov. Hutchinson shot down the resolution, and two more tea ships, the Eleanor and the Beaver, arrived in Boston Harbor. On the last day of the Dartmouth’s deadline, roughly 5,000 people gathered around the Old South Meeting House where it had met before. After receiving a report that Gov. Hutchinson had again refused to let the ships leave, people poured out of the meeting house and headed to the harbor. That evening, a group of as little as 30 or as many as 200 men, some dressed as Mohawk Indians, boarded the vessels and dumped all 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor.
A common misconception about the original Boston Tea Party is that it was a protest of high taxes, but the price of tea was actually reduced by the Tea Act of 1773. The Boston Tea Party was instead a response to the extent of Parliament’s authority on the colonies, including the right to tax on goods, without giving the colonies any representation in the legislature.
A modern-day Tea Partier would most likely argue that today’s American federal government and the 18th century British Parliament are comparable. There is an overwhelming pushback by Tea Partiers on what they see as an overreaching government into their personal lives, and they see rising taxes as damaging to their quality of life. However, while the Founding Fathers indeed favored limited government, and were skeptical of executive power, they clashed sharply over the extent of those limits.
Many Tea Party groups and individuals have taken this event and made it their own. Rick Santelli’s “Rant Heard ‘Round the World” sparked Tea-Party mania across the nation when he called for a “Chicago Tea Party” in protest to the government’s “bad behavior,” including its mortgage rescue plan. But instead of British tea, he proposed dumping derivative securities into Lake Michigan.
Judson Berger of Fox News makes some interesting comparisons of today’s Tea Party Movement and the outrage of the colonists of yesteryear against the British Parliament. Berger compares the Stamp Act to the Wall Street bailout, the Tea Act to the $787 billion stimulus package, the Quartering Act to the “pork-filled omnibus spending bill,” and the Boston Massacre to $3.55 trillion 2010 budget proposal at that time (April 9, 2009).
But skeptics, like Bob Cesca of AOL’s WalletPop.com, argue that the modern-day Tea Partiers got it all wrong when they started comparing themselves to the 1776 colonists. They say that the Boston Tea Party was a protest against a corporate tax cut, being the Tea Act that ultimately drove the taxes on the “too big to fail” East India Company down to zero. This caused the smaller colonial tea distributors to suffer, because they couldn’t compete with the duty-free, British tea.
“I’m not sure what Samuel Adams would say about the modern Tea Parties,” Cesca said on WalletPop.com. “I’m positive, however, he’d have problems with all of the corporate tea bags being purchased in stores and used as props — as opposed to the Sons of Liberty deliberately hijacking ships and vandalizing corporate tea.”
While the contemporary Tea Party Movement that I’ve been discussing in previous articles protests big government, similar to the colonists, the movement does indeed have representation in the legislature; protestors just aren’t happy with those who represent them. The colonists were simply protesting Parliament because they weren’t being represented. The Tea Party Movement appears to be largely anti-tax, and whether Sam Adams would approve of it or not is debatable.
By Jessica Chasmar (7/19/11)
“If I could only live up to the glory and grace of the Uncle Tom character.”
Frantz Kebreau, a race relations advocate and grandson of the former president of Haiti, Francois Duvalier, spoke at the Best Western in Alachua June 21 to a crowd of about 150 Tea Partiers. He is married, a father of 5, a Republican and a Tea Party activist. He is also black.
Kebreau gave an hour-and-a-half lecture to the crowd, speaking about the “real” history that public education has failed to teach kids and how “identity politics, race, white guilt, political correctness and racism are what will bring our country down.”
As I’ve demonstrated in my “Who are These People?” article, Gallup has shown that the Tea Party is “representative of the public at large.” But what some people in the media fail to recognize is that many black, conservative and libertarian men and women are joining forces with the Tea Party Movement, contrary to what Chris Matthews may want you to think.
So why are we just now hearing about it?
The answer is a fear of the Uncle Tom Syndrome. Black Republicans are often castigated by their communities. Just look at former Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele. All one needs to do is type “Michael Steele Tom” into a search engine and you’ll see hundreds of articles and blogs accusing him of being just that: a sellout.
A Washington Times article posted in 2005 reported that black Democratic leaders in Maryland defended their racial attacks against Steele because he is a conservative Republican. “Such attacks include pelting him with Oreo cookies during a campaign appearance, calling him an ‘Uncle Tom’ and depicting him as a black-faced minstrel on a liberal Web log… black Democrats say there is nothing wrong with ‘pointing out the obvious.’”
With the risk of being shunned by their peers, it’s no wonder that some black conservatives are fearful to speak up. In his lecture in Alachua, Kebreau often referenced his own experiences of friends and family questioning and criticizing his conservative political stance.
But things are beginning to change. The first black Tea Party held its inaugural meeting this past January at the “This Is It” Soul Food Restaurant in the heart of Houston’s 3rd Ward. The Tea Party group was named after abolitionist icon Crispus Attucks, who died in the Boston Massacre and is often remembered as the first black hero of the American Revolution. The Tea Party’s press release read:
“Our primary objective is to break the cycles of dependency and decay that continue to anesthetize and hold captive too many Black families and neighborhoods… Our objective is to teach all Americans the fullness of the history of Blacks in America and to help Blacks gain control of their lives and the destiny of their children… Spawned in the ’60s, these social engineering experiments, government programs and the arrogant utopian value systems which produced them, continue to produce urban decay, increasing cyclical welfare dependency, increasing tax burdens (for those who pay taxes), the demise of the Black family, fatherless homes, skyrocketing out-of-wedlock births, more abortions than births, a rise in Black militancy and separatist activity and theft of real political power from all of those living in Black neighborhoods.”
Black Americans began to favor the Democratic Party ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” days, when some programs were put in place to give economic relief to minorities. The Democratic Party received widening support by the black community when Democratic Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson supported the Civil Rights Movement. But before the 1930s, black Americans almost unanimously favored the Republican Party.
According to the chairwoman of the National Black Republican Association, Frances Rice, in “Why Martin Luther King [Jr.] was Republican,” Democrats fought for slavery. The Klan was created in 1866 by Democrats who didn’t want to terrorize blacks, they wanted to terrorize Republicans (the party blacks aligned themselves with) so that the Democrats could gain control. Democrats also fought to prevent the passage of the civil rights laws of the 1860s, 1950s and 1960s.
Rice also points out that Republicans Sen. Charles Sumner and Rep. Benjamin F. Butler proposed the Civil Rights Act of 1875 that guaranteed everyone the same treatment in public accommodations. The act was signed by Republican President Ulysses S. Grant. Democrat President Harry Truman’s issued an Executive Order in 1948 to desegregate the military, but Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower is the one who took action to end segregation in the military during the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944.
Eisenhower proposed the Civil Rights Act of 1957, where Sen. Strom Thurmond, a Democrat at the time, gave a record-breaking, 24-hour and 18-minute filibuster speech to keep it from passing.
Democratic public safety commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor unleashed dogs and turned fire hoses on black civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham. And according to Rice, John F. Kennedy opposed the 1963 March on Washington by Martin Luther King, Jr. that was organized by a black Republican, A. Phillip Randolph. Due to a tip by J. Edgar Hoover, Kennedy, through his brother Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy, had King and other members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference wiretapped and investigated by the FBI on suspicion of being Communists.
Historian and author David Barton in the “American Heritage Series” documents the Republican fight to end slavery during the reconstruction era. During the Civil War, Republicans amended the Constitution with the 13th Amendment, granting blacks freedom. The amendment passed with 100 percent Republican support and only 23 percent support from Democrats. Fast forward to 1868 when Republicans passed the 14th Amendment, which granted blacks citizenship. The amendment passed without one Democrat voting for it. Then in 1870, when the question of voting rights came up, Republicans passed the 15th Amendment. After the new Constitution passed, a number of black Americans, mostly ex-slaves, were elected to Congress. All seven were Republicans.
When Republicans were in control of the House, Senate and presidency, 23 civil rights laws were passed in the 14 years between 1861 and 1875. But notice how 89 years passed between the last civil rights law passed in 1875 and the next civil rights law in 1964. It’s not a coincidence that in 1876, Democrats regained partial control of Congress and kept it during that time.
According to Merle Black in “The Transformation of the Southern Democratic Party,” today’s southern Democratic Party has been largely transformed since the ’60s: “A party originally created by racist southern white men to enhance and maintain their perceived interests has now become the political home of African Americans, liberal and moderate whites, and Hispanics.”
“Democrats have been running our inner-cities for the past 30 to 40 years, and blacks are still complaining about the same problems,” said Frances Rice. “More than $7 trillion dollars have been spent on poverty programs since Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty with little, if any, impact on poverty.”
The Crispus Attucks Tea Party was formed to bring the descendents of black slavery to the realization that welfare checks and government dependency are key elements to modern-day slavery. According to the organization, entitlement programs have destroyed lives, families and their neighborhoods. “Government dependency holds blacks hostage. It precludes true liberty and forever blocks full assimilation.”
The bigger picture, however, is that every Tea Party group, black or white, stands for less government in its citizens’ lives and thus, less government dependency by its citizens. We obviously can’t cut people off from government assistance abruptly, so the question is how to instill a sense of pride back into the citizenry who has relied on the government to bail them out in a time of desperation. The truth is, we are a very forgiving and generous nation and more fortunate Americans have always been willing to open their wallets when they see people are in a time of need, especially when those more fortunate Americans are taxed less. Tea Partiers support charities, churches and private organizations to rely on the kindness and generosity of the American public to help support the less fortunate, not the federal government. The Tea Party is not a party of racism, hatred and vitriol; it is a party of personal responsibility and true liberty.
By Jessica Chasmar (7/12/11)
“On behalf of my children and grandchildren, I will vote for whoever is running against the president.”
Jerry Merckel, a member of the First Coast Tea Party in Jacksonville, Fla., as well as many other Tea Party supporters, hold this view that future generations are in danger of facing a socialist America. They see an exorbitant rise in the federal debt, expanding entitlement programs, under-regulated illegal immigration and government encroachment on individual liberty as a less-than-ideal environment for their families to endure.
We can speculate that Tea Partiers will vote for virtually any Republican presidential candidate, assuming that the motive of the movement is to deny President Barack Obama a second term. Tea Party supporters who are informed on the election process and two-party politics can understand that to vote for a third-party candidate or even a libertarian running as a Republican, like Ron Paul, would be a waste of a vote in the primaries. A libertarian winning the Republican nomination is very unlikely, but if it happened, it would be a guaranteed second-term for Obama. My interaction with Tea Partiers has led me to believe that the majority will not vote for a Ron Paul candidate because of this reality. This is why there was so much worry from the right over Donald Trump’s speculation about running as an Independent. Splitting the vote would be incredibly damaging for both the Tea Party and the GOP.
Tea Party Express Chair Amy Kremer told Uma Pemmaraju on Fox News’ America’s News HQ this June, “We want to defeat Barack Obama. We will not support a third-party candidate.”
A Rasmussen poll conducted this June on a national random sample of 1,000 likely voters found that in a three-way congressional contest with a Tea Party candidate on the ballot, the Democrat picks up 40 percent of the vote. The Republican earns 21 percent, the Tea Party candidate earns 18 percent and 21 percent remain undecided.
But Tea Partier Michael Bobbitt, of Gainesville, Fla., said a Tea Party member won’t run as a Tea Party candidate.
“If they run a candidate as a third-party,” he said, “it could have a crushing effect on the likelihood of electing a more conservative president.” The Tea Party will rather have a positive impact on the conservative vote in the 2012 election.
The existence of the Tea Party requires Republican candidates to be more conservative in order to get their votes, especially when in November, more conservative individuals mobilized for the primaries, cutting out the moderate candidates like Mike Castle and Lisa Murkowski. If this dynamic remains the case for the 2012 election, it is likely that a very conservative candidate will be on the Republican ticket. A 2010 Gallup poll conducted on more than 8,000 U.S. adults found that conservatives outnumber moderates and liberals in the American electorate. Whether a very conservative, particularly polarizing candidate can beat Obama, however, remains to be seen.
“In our local elections,” Merckel said, “I see most [GOP] candidates for office seek the support of the First Coast Tea Party. The GOP will work to entice the Tea Party into their fold. Likewise, the Tea Party will work to change the direction of the GOP to a more conservative path.”
So who is the frontrunner for the Tea Party vote?
“Looking at the current set of candidates, I would nominate Mitt Romney for president,” said Merckel. “He has the executive experience and has demonstrated his capability on difficult financial situations. However, he has the Health Plan issue and has flipped on a number of social issues.”
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has faced tough scrutiny from the right regarding his healthcare plan dubbed “Romneycare,” that was more or less used as a blueprint for the widely opposed “Obamacare.” He is also accused of flip-flopping on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage.
Bobbitt doesn’t believe a winning candidate has yet emerged from the right.
“Mitt Romney is the presumptive front-runner, but the more the public is exposed to his record, the more they will see little differentiation between his positions and those of Obama,” he said. “I would vote for [GOP presidential candidate] Herman Cain. I don’t see any other candidates that seem committed to reducing the size and scope of government in any serious way. With Mr. Cain, at least the Fair Tax has a chance for more exposure.”
FoxNews contributor and comedian Steven Crowder said that if he had to vote for president today, he would vote for virtually any GOP candidate on the ticket.
“I’m not thrilled to say it, but Romney is likely,” he said. “Politically speaking, he has an earlier head-start. Romney just seems like too much of a politician to me. I can vote for him with a clear conscience, but not a happy one.”
We understand Tea Partiers want less government intrusion and to cut spending, but what should the federal government cut? What should it keep?
Bobbitt said the government should keep the programs that help the legitimately least fortunate among American citizens — “those who cannot fend for themselves, not those who simply choose not to.”
He also believes the government should keep programs that are “reinvestment vehicles for economic growth, such as Pell grants to colleges, Small Business Administration loans and FHA and VA loans for qualified homebuyers.”
Crowder believes the primary responsibility of the federal government should be defense and very little else.
“People act as though it’s a hard question, but when you understand the legitimate, original goal of government, it’s really not,” he said. “My analogy is that of a hockey referee. The role of the government is to keep the players (in this case its citizens) safe and make sure that people are playing by the rules.”