|Enthusiastic group of concerned residents turns out for ‘TEA’ |
|Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 9:29 pm |
|By GLENDA CAUDLE |
Special Features Editor
When 140-plus people show up on a Monday night …
When $700-plus ends up in the donation basket …
That says something about organizational skills.
But it says far more about something else — locally, it says people have had enough and they are ready to do something about it.
That’s the message that was conveyed at the TEA Party organizational meeting at the Obion County Public Library this week.
The overflow crowd was entirely orderly and well-mannered, but there was no mistaking the sentiment.
Videos showcasing the trillions of dollars in debt added to the federal budget in the last 21⁄2 years by President Obama in what conservatives say has been a futile and wrong-headed effort to solve the nation’s economic woes, clips recalling the negativism directed toward America by those closest to the chief executive, replays of the nation’s highest elected official’s publicly announced disdain for America’s Christian heritage and his celebration of what he has purposefully showcased as the Muslim advancement of civilization — all were greeted with rumblings of concern by a crowd representing a cross-section of political backgrounds.
Likewise, there was widespread contempt expressed for the political effort to score points and gain political advantage by encouraging class warfare as an approach to winning elections.
John Miles, chairman pro tem of the newly-organized Obion County TEA Party, welcomed the large turnout and asked, “Why can’t we be loyal to our nation?”
The question was aimed, clearly, at leaders of the nation and not at those who were on hand to hear what a TEA Party presence in Obion County would mean.
Among those were Billy and Geneva Vaughn, whose grandson, U.S. Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn, is a model for the ultimate loyalty to America. Vaughn was killed by enemy fire from the Taliban in Afghanistan Aug. 6. The couple’s presence, Miles said, meant more to him than anything else that occurred at Monday’s meeting.
The Union City attorney and others publicly committed to spreading the objectives of the organization locally say the acronym TEA stands for “Taxed Enough Already,” but the name incorporates, as well, a larger concern for America’s problems. Specifically, TEA Party members say Washington has turned its back on the Constitution of the United States of America and engaged in ridicule of the Judeo-Christian principles that underwrote its founding. At the same time, they assert, those in power have refused to secure the borders of a sovereign nation in protection of its citizens, have threatened the rights of law-abiding men and women to bear arms supported by the Second Amendment, have embraced socialism in a variety of forms as a solution to the nation’s economic problems and have negated states’ rights that are guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment. Their concern extends to the systematic failure of an educational system to adequately and truthfully provide information about the rights, privileges and responsibilities of being an American citizen. TEA Party members say they are disturbed, too, by signs and signals that the nation’s military may be subordinated to other countries or to global organizations such as the United Nations, if Liberals have their way.
Meeting the challenges posed by these problems will be the objective of the organization, which Miles said would meet at least once each quarter but rarely more often than every month.
“We just want to follow the Constitution and particularly the Bill of Rights — that basically summarizes it. We oppose legislation that impedes people’s rights,” Miles said in explaining what the group will be focused on.
In one portion of the program, he detailed the breakdown of the actual tax burden, as summarized by the non-partisan National Tax Payers Union for tax year 2008. Liberals, including the president, consistently claim that wealthier Americans are not paying their fair share of the tax burden and their wealth should be directed toward eliminating a large portion of the nation’s debt woes.
In clear contradiction of their claims, Miles pointed out that the top 1 percent of taxpayers carry 38 percent of the tax burden, with the top 5 percent paying more than half of all income taxes at 58.72 percent. The top 10 percent account for 69.94 percent of the tax burden and the top 50 percent pays 97.30 percent, with the remaining 50 percent of citizens covering less than 3 percent and many of them paying no federal taxes. The percentages are based on figures supplied by the Internal Revenue Service.
“The new tax code Obama has come out with is a tax code he says is based on all ‘paying their fair share,’” Miles noted and asked, “What’s fair about this?”
He added that there are 1,000 billionaires in the United States, with an average wealth of $3.5 billion.
“If the government steals everything every one of them has, we still won’t be able to pay down a third of our national debt. Plus, that would be a one-time payment. After that, they would have nothing more to contribute,” he said. “So we don’t have a tax problem, it’s a spending problem. And can you imagine the devastation if the government starts reaching out and taking everyone’s wealth? I know what I would do.”
TEA Party future
Also on hand at the Monday session was David Nance, a resident of Gibson County and one of the Volunteer State’s earliest Tea Party activists. He is seeking to establish an Eighth Congressional District Tea Party coalition with representation from each county. As of Monday evening, there were already nine active groups, with two more due to come into the fold within the next few days. Carroll County and Obion County, which were hosting interest meetings with strong support, would raise the total number to 13 in the congressional district. State-wide there are almost 70 Tea Party and 9/12 Project groups.
“Sometimes I think the harder the media and the Far Left attack us, the better it is,” Nance said.
He noted there will be a fourth annual state-wide Tea Party leadership summit Oct. 1 and a week later, in Nashville, there will be a state-wide Tea Party rally and concert to support Gibson Guitars, which is being threatened by the federal government in what critics say is a gross over-reach of authority.
Nance said Tea Party leaders are also working on a location for a proposed Oct. 14 event in West Tennessee to welcome Republican presidential candidate and business magnate Herman Cain, an African-American conservative who is a favorite draw at Tea Party events across the country.
“The Tea Party movement is alive and well. We aren’t Hobbits and we aren’t terrorists. We are no one’s enemies except the enemies of America. That’s it,” Nance said in a rebuke to politicians who have voiced strong criticism of the movement recently. “The federal government has come to ignore our Constitution; that’s because we’ve ignored it.”
Nance suggested that such disregard for the nation’s premier founding document was at an end for those who support the TEA Party — no matter what contempt Washington shows for the principles embodied in it.
He explained that Tea Party members will receive “calls to action” briefings from time to time that are designed to encourage citizens to take a stand against “small minds and big government.”
“We are all conservatives, but we may not agree on everything. You can opt out of what you don’t agree with, but please stay involved (in the organization). If you don’t, we don’t accomplish anything.”
Interim leaders for the Obion County TEA Party include Miles, secretary-treasurer Becky Gookin and technical officers Ryan Ellegood and Scott Ellegood. Their official service will be over in December, when the group will welcome newly-elected leaders. The Ellegoods are creating a website and say a Facebook page that can be accessed at Obion County Tea Party will be up and running later this week.
“We had a big response Monday night. But it was exactly what I expected. And I had calls from other people who wanted to be there and couldn’t,” Miles said. “People are ready to take action.”
Published in The Messenger 9.21.11