GOP Hijacks Tea Party

by Jason Gonella



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Jason Gonella's below article originally appeared in the May 2009 issue of the now defunct California Freedom.



I hope that most Tea Parties in the U.S. are more representative of a true anti-tax and anti-government attitude than in Lancaster, CA. Despite the best efforts of the Campaign for Liberty and Libertarian Party, the Antelope Valley Tea Party in Lancaster, held on April 11th, was little more than a GOP pep rally.

Perhaps I shouldn't have expected much, given that prominent local politicians were involved. Attending were two State Assemblymen and one State Senator, all Republican, and the chairman of the local GOP. The mayor of Lancaster was supposed to have been there, but bowed out at the last minute.

The mayor of Palmdale, a relatively better Republican, was conspicuous by his absence in any of the event literature. Not that he's better enough to be Libertarian, but better than the average Republican. Kind of like saying "taller than Deep Roy," but I mean it in a nice way. He did have the gall to oppose a ruling family Republican in a primary race, not long ago.

Event planners ensured there would be no question and answer session. I should have known politicians would not have appeared if they'd faced the risk of an unprepared question with the press there to cover it.

I started distributing flyers with twelve pointed questions about the GOP's support for the recent California tax increases, and ballot Proposition 1A, which would extend those increases from two years to four years. Then I was told that I could not distribute flyers in the official Tea Party area, but had to do it in the parking lot.

It was good to see that people heckling Assemblyman Steve Knight. He'd voted to put Prop 1A on the ballot.

The next speaker, Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, seeing how Knight was fiercely heckled, instead talked only about our valiant troops overseas defending our freedom. I "heckled him," trying to get him to explain why he voted to put Prop 1A on the ballot. Someone nearby hushed me for "not supporting the troops."

I later cornered Assemblyman Knight. Seems he knows my name, because as soon as I introduced myself, he talked to everyone but me. But I can be patient, and after every single last distraction had finished talking to him, he angrily defended his voting to put tax hike Prop 1A on the ballot. He said the bill had good stuff and bad stuff, and for the sake of the good stuff, he voted for it. He added that he endorses the Republicans who voted to raise taxes, because otherwise the Democrats would get 2/3 in the legislature and taxes would be raised.

Most of the rally, after the speakers had finished, focused on how illegal immigrants were causing all our financial problems, or how we should concentrate all our attention on the Democrats in Washington. Almost no attention was paid to the Republicans and Democrats in Sacramento. It would seem natural for local politicians to discuss local issues, but that would reflect too poorly on their own behavior.

The last thing on anyone's mind -- except for LPers and C4Lers -- was how the GOP contributed to this mess. This pep rally was mostly Republicans trying to convince themselves that they are not to blame for the mess they made.

Sorry, I didn't fall for it. I hope other Tea Parties are better, but Antelope Valley is where ideas go to die.


Jason Gonella is Chair of the Antelope Valley Libertarian Party. He blogs at Ayn R Key, where he continues to correct the Tea Party's historical record.

For additional eyewitness accounts of the pro-war Neocon takeover of the once-libertarian Tea Party movement, see this on-the-ground report from Lawrence K. Samuels.