Jenny Beth Martin from the Tea Party Patriots national organization had some comments about the long-term viability of tea party efforts published in Time magazine on February 27th. Yes, you heard correctly…Time magazine.
Bottom line? We’re not going anywhere!
It was February 2009 when my family hit rock-bottom. Little did I know that, one year later, TIME Magazine would name me one of the world’s Most Influential people for my role as a leader in the Tea Party movement.
I did not feel influential on that cool February morning. I felt like a greying mother of young twins who had just lost her Atlanta family home to foreclosure. Our family was not alone in our suffering. Millions of Americans had lost their homes too, in what was called the worst foreclosure crisis in American history. Millions more, like my husband and I, were also newly out of work, with the U.S. unemployment rate climbing to levels not seen since the Great Depression.
Things looked bleak for our family. But we did not lose hope. We did not lose our belief in the American Dream. Most importantly; we did not lose our sense of responsibility to our children.
Politicians from both sides of the aisle were selling the idea that American families deserved to be bailed out. Government was spending trillions of dollars that our children and grandchildren had not yet earned on so-called “bailouts.” Even though my family was offered one of those government-backed bailout loans to save our family home, we refused to take it. Like most Americans, we believe in taking responsibility for ourselves and for our families — not in taking money from our neighbors’ children and grandchildren.
So we did the responsible thing. We went from a big family home to a smaller rental. From an upscale neighborhood to a modest one. And we created our own job: scrubbing the floors and cleaning the bathrooms of our friends and former neighbors.
Our “head office” was our car. Inside our car was a radio. And it was on that radio — as we drove from house to house on February 19, 2009 — that we heard the words that would change our lives forever: “This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgages [when they have] an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills?”
The contrast hit hard. While my husband and I cleaned our neighbor’s bathrooms to pay our bills, our government was mortgaging our children’s future to pay for the mortgages of those who could not, or would not, pay their bills.
The speaker on the radio was CNBC reporter Rick Santelli, on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, in his now-famous rant that sparked the modern Tea Party movement. “We’re thinking of having a Chicago Tea Party in July,” he said. “All you capitalists that want to show up at Lake Michigan, I’m gonna start organizing.”
The next day, we started organizing, too.
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photo credit to: Gage Skidmore (Flickr: Jenny Beth Martin) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons