In 2009 a few strangers, actually more than 100, from around the Lehigh Valley got together for a viewing party of a special, conservative talk show host, Glenn Beck event centered around the theme, “We Surround Them”.
Basically, this means that there are more of us, the voting public, than there are of them, the politicians in Washington DC.
Beck’s event became known as the 9/12 Project and subsequently, small groups formed almost simultaneously across the country wherever Beck had an audience. Upon meeting each other these folks realized they had very much in common.
They weren’t all from the same neighborhood or high school. They held different views and came from various political backgrounds. They didn’t assemble to be a cheering squad for politicians of one party or the other. They didn’t meet to debate party politics or even discuss their differences. In fact a lot of these concerned Americans had not been politically active beyond the routine duty of voting.
No, this group came together to unite as the people we all were on September 12, 2001. The idea was to once again put aside ideological differences and remember that we have more in common with each other than those few things which divided us.
Meanwhile, on February 19 of that same year, a Chicago stock trader named Rick Santelli, went on a tare while on the trading floor about how over taxed we have become and suggested we have another tea party like they did in Boston.
In no time at all Mr. Santelli’s idea spread like wildfire across the nation. Everywhere there was a group of concerned citizens, like the small group of Lehigh Valley residents who came together, Tea Party groups began to pop up across the country.
Some were joined in thought with the 9/12 Project that Glenn Beck put together and others were just Tea Party groups fashioned after the idea Mr. Santelli proposed. In every corner of America, both on-line and in person, people gathered in these small groups to meet other like-minded folks who were tired of being ignored by politicians, sick of being taxed at every opportunity, and disgusted with the ever growing government and its intrusions into their personal lives.
These 9/12 Project and Tea Party groups were the beginning of a truly grass roots movement that organized to remind our elected officials that they work for us, and to restore our great country to its founding constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and individual rights. And so, here in our little corner of Pennsylvania, “The Original 9/12 Lehigh Valley Tea Party” was formed.
These groups started small with hand made signs and tax day protests on April 15th . They began to hold meetings and make plans to stay focused on restoring our nation. Getting educated on history, the constitution, and our founding fathers were just some of the common themes taking place in these groups. Then on September 12, 2009 millions, yes millions, of energized citizens from 9/12 Project and Tea Party groups from all over the country converged on Washington DC in a show of peaceful unified strength like our nation’s capitol had never seen before.
At first the media tried to ignore what was happening around the country at these events. The most egregious attempt to stifle this movement was the lack of main stream media coverage of the huge DC rally on 9/12/2009. Reports claimed small numbers even as low as a few thousand. Even FOX NEWS’ Bill O’Reilly grossly under reported the attendance at about only 65,000. Anyone who was there will testify to the crowd size, the enthusiasm, and the fervor with which a nation of strangers had come together that day to send a message to the politicians that we would be silent no more.
A lot has been said about the Tea Party since that time. Whether you’ve attended a meeting or have never even checked us out on line, you’ve probably heard something about us. Unfortunately, much of what has been reported by national media outlets about Tea Party groups across the country has been misinformed, incorrect, and sometimes just plain lies.
Tea Party members have been called racist, bigoted, old fashioned, bitter, dangerous, out of touch, and even un-American. We’ve been called horrible names and we’ve been accused of starting trouble. We’ve been ignored by reporters and parodied by comedians. We’ve even been called domestic terrorists by the current administration in DC.
However, what people find out for themselves once they attend one of our monthly meetings is starkly different. For the record, here are some facts you may not know about The Original 9/12 Lehigh Valley Tea Party and similar groups around the country.
It has been said that the Tea Party is nothing more than an extension of the Republican Party. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the LVTP has been harder at times on Republicans than on members of other political parties both in Harrisburg and DC. Members of the LVTP come from all political affiliations and enjoy the same friendly, informative, and educational experience regardless of their party affiliations. The LVTP has had speakers from across the spectrum and we do not endorse any candidates from any party for any reason.
When reporting on this grass roots movement of limited government and fiscal responsibility, the media tends to lump all such supporters under “Tea Party” banner. This practice had led many to believe we are a national organization with local chapters that promote our own political candidates.
The truth is that there is no national Tea Party headquarters to which we all report. Each 9/12 and/or Tea Party group has been formed individually by concerned citizens in their own regions and neighborhoods. Each group has different by-laws and mission statements, if any at all.
The Tea Party is an ideology of limited government, individual rights, and fiscal responsibility. It is not a nationally registered political party, nor is it an extension of any other organized political party. Though some Tea Parties do choose to endorse a candidate based on his or her beliefs, the LVTP does not endorse any candidates. Our mission is strictly education and action on issues.
Several specific “action committees” have evolved within the LVTP since its founding providing something for everyone. For example, we have book discussions and on-line forums. There is a Second Amendment group for those particularly interested in gun rights. We have a Tenth Amendment group focusing on states’ rights. We strongly support our troops by hosting a drop off table to send items to our troops serving around the world.
There are special events throughout the year for which we sometimes run bus trips. We plan some events, such as the annual Pig Roast in the spring and the Christmas Party in the winter just for our members to have fun with like-minded friends. Close to election times our Candidate Committee assembles an informative survey and asks all those running for office to respond both in print and in person at a Candidate’s Meet and Greet so that folks can get up close and personal and make their own well informed decisions.
Some committees have grown so large in scope that they’ve branched off into their own groups, like the Lehigh Valley Health Care Coalition which has a laser like focus on the problems with “Obamacare”. Our Compassion Committee puts together “Random Acts of Kindness” where they show up unannounced throughout the Valley and hand out food to the needy which has been donated by members of the group.
There isn’t much the LVTP members won’t tackle so long as it fits within the mission of limited government, individual rights, and fiscal responsibility. And, we have a good time doing it.
So, now that you know a little more about us, please consider joining us on the first Friday of every month at the Charles Chrin Community Center in Palmer Township. Our guest speakers are chosen for their knowledge and expertise on issues affecting every citizen throughout the various levels of government here in the Lehigh Valley and at the State and Federal levels. For even more information please contact us at lvtp.org.
We look forward to meeting you soon.