Hello, this is Kim and Ed with the inaugural installment of "The Patriot Corner." Patriot Corner? What is that? Well, we are members of the Lodi Citizens In Action group, which is affiliated with the Tea Party Patriots, and we will be writing about issues and subjects important to Lodians and the American way of life. First, some background:
Ed: Kim, what are the "Tea Party Patriots?"
Kim: There are at least four Tea Party groups nationally, but our Lodi group aligns itself with the Tea Party Patriots (TPPs). The Patriots are unique from the others because we are a 501(c)(4) "education group." That means we are prohibited by federal law from affiliation with or funding from any political party or Political Action Committee. For instance, the Tea Party Express, a totally separate group, is a PAC, and they donate to GOP political campaigns.
In addition, the Patriots are not a third party nor do we advocate one. We are 100 percent voluntary, receiving no compensation. Nationally, there are more than 3,300 Patriots chapters and 23 million members. All are fiercely "grassroots" in their attitude, meaning we do not take direction from anyone. All of our chapters are autonomous; there are no guidelines nor bylaws from the national group. Each chapter pursues what they feel is their strong suit. For example, we in Lodi pride ourselves on education and community outreach.
Ed: When was the Lodi chapter started?
Kim: Our chapter was founded in April 2009 by eight Lodi women sitting around a kitchen table, while planning the first April 15 Tax Day Rally.
Ed: OK, so what do the Tea Party Patriots believe in?
Kim: The Patriots have a three-pronged mission statement of: 1) constitutionally limited government, 2) fiscally responsible government, and 3) support of free markets. A majority of Americans agree these are the important tenets of our day. In addition, as a group, the Patriots avoid social issues because they are divisive.
Ed: What is with this "avoidance of social issues because they are divisive" stuff? Aren't issues like abortion, gay rights, etc. important to you?
Kim: Yes, they are. But social issues drive wedges between people and distract from the issues that unite Americans. As individuals, there is no problem promoting social issues, just not under the banner of the TPPs.
Ed: Why are you involved?
Kim: I am involved because, in my opinion, the country is accelerating in its departure from these tenets, and I fear that our children and their children will not have the freedom and opportunities I did. I also feel that neither political party has been honest or inclusive with their constituents, and has kept us in the dark when it comes to the political process.
We in the Tea Party spend much of our time researching issues and validating facts as a result. We recently started networking with other groups, such as Democrats Against U.N. Agenda 21, the Coalition of Energy Users, for example, to obtain information and facilitate advocacy. Any group that shares a common interest and bases its philosphy on our three main tenets is a potential partner.
Ed: So, are the Tea Party Patriots like the "Occupy Wall Street" activists?
Kim: No, we are not interested in adding to the problems by disrupting other people's lives, politicizing issues or promoting the political agendas of any political party. That solves nothing. Our goal is to be a part of the solution by first identifying issues, then contributing possible solutions while educating the public. Just complaining does not cut it.
Sometimes people will not agree with our ideas but at least people start thinking about their basic assumptions or paradigms and the need for change. In short, a dialog is opened.
For anyone interested in checking us out, we hold a general meeting at 7 p.m. on the fourth Monday of each month at the American Legion Hall, 320 N. Washington St., Lodi. We often have subject matter experts give presentations on issues of interest to Lodi/Stockton area residents. Our website is www.lodicitizensinaction.com.