From the opening scenes of “Tea Party: The Documentary Film,” one thing is perfectly clear: the “Tea Party” movement is not about Republicans or Democrats; it’s about ordinary Americans shocked into action by their government’s intervention in the market, Wall Street bailouts, and a path toward national health care.
That action took the form of a grassroots movement of men and women across the country, motivated to take back their government and make their voices heard to their representatives in Washington. In “Tea Party: The Documentary Film,” that story is passionately told through the eyes of six ordinary Americans who found a common cause in making a pilgrimage to their nation’s capitol on September 12, 2009.
Those individuals were on hand at the movie’s premier last night in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington DC, along with former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Senator Jim DeMint, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Rep. Tom Price and Rep. Joe Wilson. They were greeted by a crowd of 200 men and women, young and old, who celebrated the triumphant spirit of the movie and the Tea Party movement that inspired it.
In the film, each of the Tea Partiers shares a strong sense of duty to country – an obligation to reclaim their government. But the movie is more than a series of caricatures or skin-deep profiles of a few people who came to the “party.” There is more to the story.
There’s Nate, a young black man from Detroit, who voted for Barack Obama but was moved to protest when the new president’s liberal agenda became clear. He feels alone in his cause, but is committed nonetheless.
Dr. Fred, a urologist, led an army of physicians to Congress in order to deliver a message that though health care reform is needed, it shouldn’t come at their patients’ expense. William, a Vietnam veteran, Revolutionary War performer, artist, and self-described “white pastor in a black church,” led the 9/12 march down Pennsylvania Avenue, dressed in full costume.
Jack is a young father and little league coach who recruited others in his community to the Tea Party protest, including Dave, a young professional who never protested anything before. Jack laments his failure to be politically active for much of his life but zealously embraces his new cause, in large part to ensure that his young children enjoy the freedoms he holds dear. While in Washington, he pauses to pay tribute to a fallen friend at the Vietnam War Memorial, captures a rubbing of his name with charcoal and paper, and breaks down in tears. Veterans, he says, hold a special place in his heart.
Most remarkable is Jenny Beth, a national leader of the grassroots Tea Party movement. She and her husband lost their multi-million dollar business and their home, turned to housekeeping to make ends meet, and were stunned to see taxpayer bailouts for companies who couldn’t keep their own houses in order. Her political beliefs led to action, her action became a cause, and in nine months she would stand on Capitol Hill, delivering her message to countless like-minded Americans.
Theirs are stories not unlike millions of others across the country. “Tea Party” is a documentary about those stories and a movement, and it captures the spirit well. For those who attended the 9/12 rally, they will likely see themselves in the film. And for those who could not make it, they will understand what drove so many to Washington.
As Rep. Armey noted last night, Ben Franklin famously was asked at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 whether he and his compatriots created a Republic or a Monarchy.
“A Republic, if you can keep it,” Franklin replied.
Those in the Tea Party movement are striving to keep it. This is their story.
For more information on the film, visit: http://www.teapartymovie.com/
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