Saturday, January 2, 2010

Once in a Blue Moon

Once in a blue moon

by Katherine Heerbrandt

[Originally published January 01, 2010
Frederick News-Post]

Last night a blue moon made a rare appearance. Blue moons aren't really blue, they're just scarce. Another one won't come along on New Year's Eve until 2028. In deference to the blue moon, here's what I like about the local Tea Party movement.

I was initially dubious and questioned the validity of a movement that reportedly embraced everyone and eschewed partisan politics, then invited career politicians like Congressman Roscoe Bartlett to its first rally last April and gave "birthers" time at the mike. I was suspicious of the timing, coming on the heels of the election of a Democratic president, whose job it is to mop up the mess of the last eight years.

After meeting founders Joshua Lyons and Mark Kreslins, I was impressed with the intellectual vigor they brought to their group, We Surround Them, despite its roots in Glenn Beck's radio program. Though we still have fundamental differences over the role of the federal government in the lives of the less fortunate, immigration law, and the need for federal regulation of our financial institutions, one thing is clear: The impetus for a grass-roots rally of disenfranchised voters has merit.

How the movement ultimately manifests itself depends on people like Joshua and Mark to sharpen its focus, offer realistic solutions and welcome people from all walks of life, regardless of party, race or ethnicity.

President Barack Obama hasn't lived up to his mantra of change, but rather extended the policies of his predecessor by taking a middle-of-the-road approach that has diluted his message. We still see our federal government bowing to corporate interests at the expense of middle-class Americans. We still can't see a light at the end of a war-torn tunnel where thousands of young Americans and innocent bystanders continue to lose their lives in a conflict without purpose or resonance. We see our once proud and prosperous economy cracking under the pressure of greed-driven policies and lack of ingenuity and leadership.

And we see petty partisan politics that belittles and diminishes us as a people and a country. We need adults in office who can do the job that needs to be done without compromise by recognizing the serious consequences if we continue on this path. We need statesmen, not career politicos.

We even see the Tea Party movement being usurped by crass opportunists looking to make a fast buck and score points for their chosen candidates in the Republican Party. In a recent article in Mother Jones magazine, a Florida Tea Party organizer cries foul at the hijacking of the Tea Party message by political operatives. "Tempest in the Tea Party" describes how the Tea Party Express is run by a political action committee for the purpose of forwarding the Republican agenda and collecting donations by those sympathetic to the cause.

Lyons agrees.

"This is exactly what Mark (Kreslins) and I have been warning about since this past spring," he said. "A partisan force co-opting the true populist grass-roots movement has been a concern of ours for a long time now."

He urges people to get the facts before being suckered by forces who view the Tea Party movement as a cash cow. Politics as usual isn't serving us well, and it doesn't take a blue moon for us to agree on that. Where we go from here is up to us.

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