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A Tea Party Weekend

The movement for smaller government was still alive this Independence Day.

by
Mary Grabar

Bio

July 7, 2009 - 12:35 am
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I had missed the original tea party on April 15, where about 20,000 gathered around the state capitol in Atlanta, Georgia.

On July 3 I came braced for heat and hardship. But the Cobb Independence Day tea party was held in the horse arena of the Jim R. Miller Park in suburban Cobb County, where we planted our lawn chairs and bought our dinners from the concession stand. I saw three of the six Republican candidates for Georgia governor shaking hands.

During the national anthem and invocation, the arena remained about one-third empty. But more people started coming in as Debbie Dooley, coordinator of the Atlanta tea party, read Ronald Reagan’s 1981 Independence Day speech, which focused on those of the 56 signers of the Declaration who left families and fortunes to fight in the Revolutionary War — to never see their deserved credit.

The speech seemed appropriate inspiration for overwhelming odds, but multiple opportunities for citizen involvement.

After a presentation by Jay Wallace, owner of a local gun shop, Jonathan Krohn, who at fourteen years old was billed as “speaker, political analyst, columnist, author of Define Conservatism,” came on stage. You would have thought that by the way he was lauded for his performance at CPAC 2009, this would be a reenactment of the twelve-year-old Jesus speaking to the teachers in the temple. Instead, what I found was a kid aping the mannerisms of political speakers while reciting four points that would have made a good essay response on a test. But even better would have been the credit to Russell Kirk’s principles, among them the principle of prescription. We are “dwarfs on the shoulders of giants,” Kirk said. Somewhere in there I think would fall a lesson for mortal children.

But it was the much older Herman Cain, candidate for U.S. Senate in 2004 and now a radio talk show host, who stirred the crowd, by 7:00 p.m. filling up the arena and numbering at around 7,000, he said. I remember reading in the Atlanta papers back in the 1980s and 1990s about how supposedly bigoted Cobb County was. But then again the local paper disapproved of Kennesaw, a Cobb County city that had an ordinance requiring citizens to own firearms. A sign from among the almost all-white audience read, “Herman Cain for President.” During the one-minute “rapid fire” question-and-answer session a man referred to Janeane Garofalo’s remark that tea parties are about “hating a black man in the White House.” His statement, “We would not mind having a black man by the name of Herman Cain in the White House,” was met with resounding cheers.

Cain quipped that he did not need a teleprompter. Born in the “hood” of Atlanta, he shared his street smarts, saying that the way to fend off bullies is to “put them on notice.” After reciting the outrages of the Obama administration, he said, “People will say I sound like an angry black man.” He urged citizens to contact Congressman Tom Price of the Republican Study Committee with their ideas.

Like the Obama first 100 days tour, I found this event to be educational. During the broadcast breaks, Michael Opitz, chairman and creator of the Madison Forum, gave a lesson on how the Constitution provides for the dismissal of federal judges for unconstitutional opinions. “How about presidents?” I wondered, as I saw a sign calling to “Impeach Obama.” Opitz also cited a bill, based on a correct interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, being promoted in Georgia to deny automatic citizenship to babies born of foreign parents. I was persuaded to buy a copy of the reprinted edition of the 1927 The Constitution Explained by Harry Atwood at one of the tables.

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