The View From the Bunker
March 31, 2014
“….from a bunker located in an undisclosed location in the forest of Southwest Michigan” has been my signature line on gmail since 2001. It was based then, upon the media always pointing out that Vice President Cheney was “located in a bunker in an undisclosed location” on 9/11 when no one was sure what was going on when we were attacked.
In April of 2009 it was disclosed that the Department of Homeland Security considered military veterans and members of patriot groups (such as a Tea Party) to be potential terrorists. Since I was one of the organizers of the first Tea Party rally in Kalamazoo and a veteran it seemed that my byline had been preordained.
I had been a charter member of the Republican National Committee since it formed in 1980, but dropped out of the GOP in 1996. I currently bill myself as a ‘Republican Under Protest’. I am a non-partisan constitutional conservative who believes in the unalienable rights that this nation was founded upon and enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. In other words, I am a Tea Party Patriot, one of the millions of Americans who had finally had enough of a federal government that seemed to have no connection with reality and was hell bent on fiscal destruction.
Rick Santelli on CNBC from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, during a rant on February 19th 2009 about the crazy things that the feds were doing, said we need to have a Tea Party on Lake Michigan the next July. By February 27th the first named Tea Party rally took place in several cities across the land. On April 15th rallies took place in hundreds of places across the nation, many on court house steps as was ours in Kalamazoo. We had about 1,000 show up in Kalamazoo and people were still in line to give us their contact information for 45 minutes after we had packed up the audio and cleaned up the area to leave.
We knew we had been a part of something big. It was an astounding feeling, not unlike that what many must have felt when they first heard Patrick Henry’s “Give me Liberty” speech and realized that someone else had that longing for Liberty deep in their breast also and ‘I am not alone’. So, what do we do now we wondered.
There were 14 other rallies in Michigan on that Tax Day, 2009 and the organizers of 12 of those events met in early May and began a relationship that lasts to this day for many of us. We determined that we needed to organize this energy that we all saw on that day in such a way as to turn this ship away from crashing on the rocks of fiscal insanity and complete loss of Liberty. We were bound together in brotherhood to lean on each other for strength and support to continue the work.
In Kalamazoo this took the form of a group of committees formed from the folks who had shown up for the rally that were charged with such things as determining what our mission or reason to exist was, as well as the principles we were based upon. Many times we met in Gallagher’s Pub in Kalamazoo for meetings on the patio. Hmmm, sound familiar, citizens meeting in taverns planning how to control this dangerous thing called self-government? There was much discussion and argument but it came down to the basics of the goal of a fiscally sound, small government that allowed for the maximum Liberty for us citizens to go about the business of serving each other in our day to day activities.
It was realized that in order to accomplish that we needed to become politically active. After looking at the landscape it was determined that some of us would have to volunteer to enter the Republican Party as it has strayed the least from what our founding principles were. By bonding with conservatives already in the party we could then be able to elect those who would help turn the ship.
Then the fun began. Politics is not for wimps. However our fellow citizens are depending on us who are in political parties to always act in their interest, not in the interest of ‘the party’ first and the citizen as a second afterthought. Political parties have usually pretended to be responsive to their ‘base’ but in fact many times are driven from the top down. Tea Party folks are driven from the bottom up as seen by how we started our organization in Kalamazoo and the other counties in SW Michigan.
So ‘what we have here is a cultural clash’ (from the immortal words in ‘Cool Hand Luke’) and the grass roots folks in the party (greatly strengthened by the new members ‘under protest’) are in conflict with the top down ‘the party is always right’ adherents. We are now in the fourth year of battle for the heart and soul of the GOP from border to border. Sometimes quietly, sometimes noisily.
My Grandma was born in 1880, and as the wife of a small business owner absolutely hated the Progressive Teddy Roosevelt but nonetheless raised me to be a good Republican. I left the party mentally with the nomination of George H.W. Bush and fiscally with the nomination of ‘good old boy’ Bob Dole because it was ‘his turn’ in 1996. I dabbled in Libertarian Party politics a while and even voted for the guy with the ‘crazy aunt in the basement’ and all the charts.
But now in my twilight years, things seem to appear more clearly to me. It is my intention to reflect on things from time to time with the prospective of a ‘View from the Bunker’ not cluttered with party politics, but instead shining the light on the dark corners of the political world and seeing what scurries away. I will always seek to defend those whom I personally know and trust and abstain from speaking ill of anyone because of rumor and innuendo.
In 1787 America set out on a path to be the first Republic that was ‘owned’ by the citizens. No one knew if it would work but it seemed worth a shot. The jury is still out, but I will do my best to make it work and honor those gentlemen (who were all Type A’s by the way) who debated, discussed (and cussed) through that long hot summer in Philadelphia to give us our Republic (‘If you can keep it!’).
God bless them and God bless America.