As Washington continues to steamroll our freedoms in its quest to control every aspect of our lives, members of the Richmond Tea Party continue to stand in united opposition, fighting for our constitutional rights.

So far, we have focused on our federal representatives-petitioning, e-mailing, calling, faxing, protesting. And our actions have achieved a positive impact. Had we not come out in shocking numbers (to Washington, anyway) against the health care bill, it would have become law months ago. As of now, it still may not. So we need to keep the pressure on. But, we also must accept that though our actions are slowing the government takeover, Washington clearly intends to do everything possible to ignore the will of the people and grab as much power as it can anyway.

So where does that take us?

The states. This is where a strong holdout for freedom can and must occur. We will stand up and say, “No, Washington, you do not speak for us and you will not steal our freedoms through middle-of-the-night bribery sessions with morally bankrupt politicians.”

On this front, we bring you encouraging news: in Virginia, we are finding our representatives are far more willing to act on our concerns. With their support, we can defend ourselves against an overreaching federal government and in turn demand constitutional responsibility.

With this in mind, the Virginia Tea Party Patriots has created a list of legislative priorities (http://virginiateapartypatriots.com/legislative-agenda), two of which will be our primary focus for the upcoming legislative session running from mid-January to mid-March. They are the Health Care Freedom Act (HB 10) and the Virginia Firearms Act (HB69). The former will prevent a health insurance mandate in Virginia and will protect Virginians from being imprisoned for not purchasing health care they don’t want, and the latter will dictate that firearms manufactured and purchased in Virginia are beyond federal control. Both acts are direct challenges to the federal government’s unconstitutional power grab and stand a real chance of passing. House Speaker William Howell has already pledged to support our agenda.

But we need your help.

It is critical that our representatives – especially the various committee members involved – in the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate hear from as many people as possible in support of these two measures. The Senate will be our greater challenge to influence, because Democrats control it by two Senators. They’re not used to hearing from us, though, so if we overwhelm them, we stand a good chance of swaying them to our position.

But they aren’t the only ones we need to speak to; we must make the case to our neighbors as well. While most probably aren’t as informed and aware of the stakes as you, they are taking note of what’s happening. And many are confused and looking for answers. They are willing to listen to people like us who can present a straightforward message of freedom and accountability.

One of the quickest and easiest ways to speak directly to them on a wide scale is through letters to the editor at the Richmond Times-Dispatch (letters@timesdispatch.com). The newspaper is willing to publish short letters that clearly communicate a specific point of view. If readers learn that we are putting into action a well defined plan that will achieve positive results, they will be more likely to get involved.

So we encourage every one of you to write a letter to the editor, citing the two bills, why they are important, and which representatives to contact to gain their support. And with our neighbors’ help, let’s strengthen Virginia and stand up for the United States Constitution.