On April 15th I was visiting Denver and decided to visit the Tea Party Rally at the State Capital. I seek out Tea Parties around the country as I travel.
It was a large gathering and a big mix of people. There was even a handful of protesters (protesting against the Tea Party) on the other side of the street, as well as an abundance of police.
I like the Tea Party moment. I identify with them. As an Independent I lean very conservative and libertarian in my views. I listened to the speakers as I moved about the crowd and was having an enjoyable time, until, one of the speakers ranted about “latte-drinking, iPhone-carrying socialists”, and the crowd there erupted in supportive noise. I stopped; I listened more; I looked around at the crowd. I set my Starbucks latte down and reached for my iPhone. Could it be that I was just lumped into the group of people they think are destroying our country? Maybe even profiled? The crowd really seamed to identify with this speaker’s comments. I quickly felt out of place.
I was becoming more disappointed by the second. Could I be one of ‘those’ people that they were chanting about? Am I supporting socialism by being a consumer supporting two great and successful American companies? Wait. Aren’t I fueling the economy with my purchases of American goods and services? This was troubling. For a few minutes I was in doubt. Then I snapped out of it, and got over it. It’s free speech and I support that. But, for the first time, I felt alienated at a Tea Party – and that will hurt the movement and the cause. I support them because the idea has been to win people over to the side of liberty – not pigeon-holing them and pushing them away.
Instead, win people over by welcoming them with open discussion and education about the Constitution and Bill of Rights; about thinking and voting your ideals. We are ALL AMERICANS. We must unite and not divide. United we save our great country! The message that day was lost to some of us. I was not alone in that crowd.
I hope my message today is a wake-up for those in the Tea Party or any party. There are thousands of us latte-drinking, iPhone-carrying freedom lovers and I am proud to be lumped into the same group as another iPhone and Apple-fan, Rush Limbaugh. Think before you speak! We are all listening! I accept you, wont you accept me? We have more in common than you think.
– Steve Thompson