April 16, 2012

Local Tea Party has had impact

DALTON — Three years ago, Tea Party rallies across the country drew hundreds of thousands of Americans to protest the increasing size of the federal government and the growing debt and taxes needed to pay for it.

The rallies have become less frequent and generally smaller. But if the Dalton and Murray County Tea Party groups are any indication, the Tea Party movement is alive and well. Those groups generally draw dozens of people to their monthly meetings. By contrast, most local school board, county commission and city council meetings draw only a handful of citizens.

Those Tea Party meetings usually feature state and local elected officials or other experts speaking about the issues facing the group. They also include updates from Tea Party activists in measures of concern.

Local Tea Party activists have also played a key role in Atlanta, prodding the General Assembly to pass a health care compact that calls on the federal government to allow Georgia and other like-minded states to manage their own health care systems. And local Tea Party activists took the lead in urging the Legislature to carve Georgia’s new 14th Congressional District, which the state gained after the 2010 census, out of Northwest Georgia. That effort paid off last year, when the General Assembly created a 14th District that looked largely like the map that Tea Party activists suggested.

You don’t have to share the generally conservative political philosophy of the Tea Party members to agree that the movement, at least here in Northwest Georgia, is a model of grassroots, citizen activism.

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