On Tuesday, September 8, 2009 our local newspaper ran a front page story about the first meeting of a group called the Winona Tea Party Patriots. The event was advertised as non-partisan. I decided to check it out.
As I chained my bike to the porch railing in front of the Country Kitchen Restaurant, I noticed a full parking lot. There were even more cars parked along the frontage road. Upon entering I was presented with a small pocket copy of the Constitution of the United States. The meeting room was packed with about 125 people. A couple of people gave brief remarks and a state representative from Wabasha, Minnesota gave a short speech.
What surprised me the most was the diversity of the group. I’ve never seen a meeting or a group like this one. None of the local “big wig” republicans were there. The two young men who called the gathering were in their late twenties or early thirties. They had not previously been politically active, saying that they called the meeting because they were concerned about the future for their children in an era where there seems to be no ending to government spending, debt, and coercion.
I didn’t know most of the people; it was like they came out of nowhere. There were truck drivers, blue collar workers, university professors, retirees, business owners, and even government employees! They were upset about cash for clunkers, unemployment, proposals to change health care, the bailout of wall-street bankers, Cap & Trade, and the government takeover of GM, just for starters. They came as Americans, not Republicans or Democrats. Many expressed that they felt betrayed by both parties. They no longer respect political labels or stereotypes. They unanimously agree on one thing; government is the problem, not the solution.
These Americans from southeastern Minnesota were particularly concerned about the debt and spending plans of the Obama administration. “Particularly concerned” doesn’t adequately describe it…”mad as hell” would be a better description of the mood of these folks. Keep in mind that virtually no one knew about this meeting until about 13 hours before the event. There was no contrivance or manipulation here, just a bunch of citizens who realize that government at almost all levels is out of control.
Out in Washington, D.C. these people are represented by Democratic Congressman Tim Walz. He’s in a relatively rural congressional district with a lot of sensible voters. A full 14 months before he runs to keep his office he’s got a crowd of upset constituents at the Country Kitchen in Winona, Minnesota who are going to spend a lot of time and money to send him back to his teaching job at Mankato West High School. I would be worried if I was Mr. Walz. In fact, I think that Walz is toast come November 2010.
For me the meeting at the Winona Country Kitchen was my first hand realization that a political revolution is occurring in the United States of America. The aloofness and outright stupidity of our elected leaders has reached a zenith. The great silent majority are starting to awaken from their apathy, not willing to sleep or shut up. At least for now, a new era of political awareness has begun.