Election season is getting creative in North Carolina with candidates putting some pageantry into their policy. Anyone who accuses the Tea Party of not being artsy-thespy must have missed the Asheville chapter's constitutional read-a-thon, poetry recitation, sing-along, and candidate pow-wow on the lake. With a dressed up Patrick Henry reciting his 1775 speech to the Virginia House of Burgesses to a half-hour poem and sing-along on American military conflicts that would give a conservative Allen Ginsberg a run for his money, the Tea Party proved capable at putting on a show--a variety show, if you will, for constitutional minimalists.
The event kicked off with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer. Afterwards, a man dressed as Patrick Henry gave a dramatic rendition of Henry's 1775 speech to the Virginia Convention, only flubbing a few lines, his "Sorry, I'm totally blank," drawing nearly as much applause as "Give me liberty or give me death."
Dr. Carl Mumpower, a 2008 11th District Republican candidate gave the fifty-odd attendees a presentation on ten things supporters could do to preserve the constitution. Mumpower called "culturalists, capitalists, and conservatives," Tea Party "friends," and "crony capitalists, crony socialists, crony politicians, racists, and absurdists," Tea Party "enemies." He went on to frame the particular "culture war" the Tea Party was facing as "God's Ten Commandments" on one side and "The Seven Deadly Sins" on the other.
A retired high school teacher took the podium next to read his poem "On Liberty." The piece was basically a list of America's armed conflicts including the War Between the States (sic), The World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and was hard to follow thematically, describing in detail (and not always positive terms) the various wars interspersed with so much repetition of the word "liberty," it was unclear if the irony was entirely unintended. The highlight of the recitation were the numerous musical breaks, with the audience singing along to "Deep in the Heart of Texas," "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" and "Aloha 'Oe."
The keynote speaker of the afternoon was North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby, who opened his remarks by assailing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for her support of the South African Constitution and concluding with a warning about the judge in Wisconsin who overturned Governor Scott Walker's anti-union legislation. In a nod to judicial activism, Newby urged Tea Party members to get out the vote for his reelection to the North Carolina Supreme Court by spreading his slogan, "Scooby Dooby, Vote for Newby."
Hot dogs, brownies, and soda were available for a donation. Miniature constitutions and constitution handbooks* were given out for free. Children's books such as "America IS Good" and stickers such as "Comrade Obama" were available. A volunteer made the rounds handing out invitations to the Asheville Tea PAC's next big event, a Machine Gun Social where $50 buys 30 rounds with an M16.
*From the "Restoring the Constitution Handbook" published by Freedom Works Foundation
Build. Organize. Collaborate. And as you do, think carefully, tactfully, and be mindful of the American revolutionaries who did so first, in the attics and hidden rooms of the thirteen colonies, talking and organizing as they prepared to risk their lives fortunes, and sacred honor for the cause they believed in.
Today, we call this practice "networking."