Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tax Day Tea Party - April 15, 2009

I’ve only been an activist one other time in my life.

When I was a kid, my mom homeschooled me in 5th and 6th grades, and we once took a field trip to Jackson from our hometown of Clarksdale for a pro-life rally. I vaguely remember standing inside the state Capitol, surrounded by other pro-life folks, listening to elected officials talk about their support of the movement. This was in early 1987, when the pro-life movement was largely still in its nascent days.

On April 15, 2009, I returned to the Mississippi Capitol more than 20 years older but not a whole lot different otherwise. I was a child on that cold January day, but even then I knew in my heart that what I was doing was important. I knew that what I believed was right. I heard family and other pro-lifers around me talk about the battle being long and hard, but I knew, even then, that it was worth it.

That battle still rages, and will become even tougher in the coming months and years, but yesterday, I stood with my fellow Americans on the cusp of a different battle, and my changed season of life brought it so much more into focus.

This time, I’m an adult. This time, I pay taxes. This time, I have a mortgage. This time, I have a husband. But most important of all, this time, I have a son.

I went to the state house on Wednesday for my child. I went for his future. I went for his children and his grandchildren. I went for your children, too.

I stood side-by-side with other Mississippians ready to begin the process of taking this country back. No, we’re not the rightwing extremists the Department of Homeland Security would have you believe. There will be no riots. There will be no violence. There will be no burning effigies or flags. There will be no acts of treason against our government. Anything even appearing violent or treasonous will not be accepted by us, because we love our country, we respect our leaders, and we wish no physical harm ever to come to any of them.

What there will be is prayer. There will be groups of people joining together to stand before the Lord and beg His forgiveness and intercession. They will ask Him to go before us into the fight, because they know there will be no lasting success without Him.

What there will be is knowledge. There will be reading, and discussion, and study of our history and our form of government. There will be careful, serious thought and scholarship.

What there will be is action. There will be more people joining whichever party most closely lines up with their beliefs. There will be campaigning, and questioning, and letter-writing, and phone-calling. There will be running for office. There will be change.

I couldn’t wait to get to the Capitol yesterday. My aunt graciously came from out of town and kept my sweet son at our house so we could be totally focused on the event. I arrived at the Capitol before 1:30, ready to work. I helped sell t-shirts. I carried a walkie-talkie for the first time ever. My bright green STAFF shirt and credentials garnered lots of requests for assistance and information. I was in my element, apparently!

The crowd started to gather, and I noticed especially the groups gathered around our Pledge of Allegiance and Declaration of Independence tables. We asked fellow patriots to sign the Declaration as a symbolic gesture, a reaffirmation that our allegiance as Americans, after God, is to the republic. The scroll was 100 feet long, and by the end of the event, the paper’s end had been reached. Every inch was filled with signatures.

About five minutes before the start, I ascended the Capitol steps with my husband and looked at the crowd. I got tears in my eyes and said to him, “We did it.” My expectations were exceeded. On February 27, at our first tea party, there were 12 of us there. I didn’t yet know how many we had this time, but I knew the number was far greater.

The event began with the Pledge of Allegiance and our national anthem and my tears fell again. We heard from a variety of speakers, from elected officials, to businessmen, to a conservative radio show host, to a minister. We heard from a microcosm of the real Mississippi, both black and white.

Each speaker drove home the point that this is not Republican vs. Democrat or conservative vs. liberal. This is not about black or white. This is about freedom and fiscal responsibility. This is about elected officials doing what their constituents send them to Washington to do: Keep us safe, adhere to the Constitution, and vote fairly. No more, no less.

This will not be the end of the Mississippi Tea Party, or the greater movement nationwide. This week, the silent majority has been awakened from its slumber. This is only the beginning. We went from 12 people in Jackson on February 27 to upwards of 3,500 people on April 15. That’s less than seven weeks of time. Imagine how this will continue to grow in the coming months. Imagine the change we will bring in 2010 and 2012.

My growing involvement in the political process probably gets my name written in the DHS book of rightwing extremists. So be it. I’m doing this for my son, and there is nothing in the world that will stop me. This is my county. I’m taking it back.