California State University East Bay

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California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

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Northern California Tea Party Comes Out En Masse

Last weekend’s rally in Sacramento and other large scale conventions across the nation have many Americans wondering: “Just what is the Tea Party?”

Last Saturday, thousands of Tea Party supporters congregated at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton for a rally sponsored by the Pleasanton/NorCal Tea Party.

Those who attended were clad in American flag embroidered clothing, anticipating the upcoming election on Nov. 2.

Speakers included local conservative talk radio personality Brian Sussman and Republican Congressional representative candidate Rick Tubbs from Vacaville. In an impassioned speech, Tubbs echoed the need to “take back Washington.”

For many, the question remains: what exactly is the Tea Party?

Although the Saturday event was not as large as Glenn Beck’s August “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington D.C., which numbered in the hundreds of thousands, its attendees shared a similar ideology.

The overarching sentiment is one of economic conservatism and discontent with the political status quo.

The Life of the Party

There is no consolidated Tea Party— it is a grouping of different political organizations such as The National Tea Party Coalition and the Tea Party Patriots, which use Americana to support a fiscally conservative agenda.

Imagery of the 1773 Boston Tea Party has been evoked by country for a long time, most notably during the annual “Tax Freedom Day” in April.

In 2009, the Tea Party movement began to spread across the internet like wildfire, coinciding with local and national protests against President Barack Obama’s domestic policies such as the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

During the first national Tea Party convention in Washington D.C. in February, keynote speaker Sarah Palin said that, “America is ready for another revolution,” adding that the Tea Party represented “real people, not politicos, not inside-the-beltway professionals, come out and stand up and speak out for common sense political principles.”

Bay Area Tea Party

The first Tea Party event in Northern California was held on February 27, 2009 at the State Capital in Sacramento. Most of its constituency resides outside the urban areas of the San Francisco Bay Area which is regarded to be heavily left-leaning. However, Tea Party organizations in Alameda County, Contra Costa County, and Santa Clara County have taken shape.

In fact, the Fremont Tea Party Patriots were on hand at Saturday’s event.
John Guerrero, the organization’s president, stated that the local Tea Partiers are driven by a “need to get the rule of law back” by demanding that their political representatives “start obeying the laws.”

Northern California Tea Party Patriots’ Ginny Rapini stated that Tea Party members are not only angry at Democratic politicians.

“I have been disturbed by members of the Republican Party,” said Rapini.

The fact remains, though, that virtually every politician who is supported by the Tea Party this election is a Republican.

The Controversy

Just as the Tea Party movement evokes a strong feeling of grassroots patriotism among supporters who feel they represent the voice of “true America,” it has also aroused serious fears from detractors.

Signs used at Tea Party rallies, most notably one carried by Dale Robertson at a 2009 rally in Houston which equated the taxpayer to an “n-word,” led to criticism by the NAACP and President Barack Obama.

In July, NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said of the Tea Party, “The time has come for them to accept the responsibility that comes with influence and make clear there is no place for racism and anti-Semitism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry in their movement.”

Media Matters has reported the connection between Freedom Works, a Libertarian-themed organization which gives money to various Tea Party organizations, and brothers David and Charles Koch, who are among the wealthiest Americans and are noted for their conservative beliefs.

On Saturday, protestors outside the “Golden State Rally for America 2010” in Pleasanton were confined to a “free speech zone” outside the event.

Dissenters such as Lorraine del Bishop, who held a sign that read, “Bought From You By Republicorp,” alluded to the fact that the Republican Party funds certain organizations within the Tea Party.

Election Impact

The Tea Party members at the fairgrounds knew that the true impact of their cause will be felt in this year’s elections. If incumbent candidates such as California Senator Barbara Boxer are upset at local and national levels, politicians around the country will have to see the Tea Party as a force to be reckoned with. It will soon be seen whether the Tea Party is simply a temporary fringe movement or a significant manifestation of America’s “silent majority.”

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Northern California Tea Party Comes Out En Masse