The party of ‘inclusion’ – for members only

The so-called “tea party” must be doing something right. The rhetoric from Democrats is intensifying and it is starting to get downright ugly. U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida sent out a fundraising email letter with a heading that described it as “no more popular than the Klan.” The email included a graphic that depicted the “T” in tea party as a burning cross. Quoted in the Huffington Post, Jennifer Burke, national outreach director of, said “as a black Tea Party activist, I could say that there’s nothing more offensive than equating the Tea Party with the Ku Klux Klan. The hate speech uttered by sitting congressman Alan Grayson is deplorable.”

I couldn’t agree more. Perhaps someone should remind Grayson that historically, the Klan has been linked to the Democratic Party. Grayson’s attempt to link the tea party to the Klan isn’t accurate, historically or otherwise. As to his reference to the tea party’s popularity, those who identify themselves as tea party outnumber liberals by a significant number. According to a recent Gallup Poll, 22 percent of Americans identify themselves as tea party, while 19 percent identified as liberal. Grayson’s statement is not only malicious in its intent, it is factually wrong.

U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid said of the tea party from the floor of the senate, “the anarchists have taken over.” Here in West Virginia, the president of the state Senate, Jeffery Kessler recently tweeted “Ted Cruz is an IDIOT & Tea Party is NUTS!”

This hateful rhetoric coming from elected representatives is simply bad behavior. It is the politics of exclusion. While driving around with bumper stickers that say “coexist,” what is being practiced is intolerance. Intolerance is the root cause of racism in the first place. As tea party critics scream “racism” in their crowded theaters, what then can be said of their disdain for Ted Cruz who is Hispanic? That is a rhetorical question.

Sadly, the intolerance has filtered down to the local level. Last week the Jefferson County Democratic Association held its monthly meeting at the Charles Town Library. The subject of the meeting was running for office. When the JCDA discovered that there were members of the local tea party group, We the People of Jefferson County, in attendance, they were asked to leave by Delegate Stephen Skinner. On local television news, Skinner said, “We have a constitutional right to assemble and we have a constitutional right to meet without the other party in the room.”

One of the problems with Skinner’s argument is that the JCDA was using a public meeting room. One of the rules, as stated on the County Commission’s website, is that all meetings held there must be open to the public. I’m assuming that those rules apply to Democrats. Inexplicably, the president of the County Commission, Dale Manuel, strongly defended Skinner’s actions. In checking with officials of the Jefferson County GOP, its meetings are usually held on private property but on occasion they use the room. However, in contrast, that group’s meetings are always open to the public and no one has ever been ejected from a meeting based on their party affiliation. Only members can vote, but anyone can attend.

The tea party is not a political party, and it is nonpartisan. The local group includes members that are Democrats. Ironically, We the People had sponsored a similar tutorial about how to run for office prior to the 2010 elections. In attendance were Democrats, including Virginia Graf, who ran for Congress.

The end result of this incident is that the Democrats lost an opportunity to show that they are civic-minded and inclusive. Rather than expand the tent and embrace diversity, the local leadership instead chose to discriminate against certain members of the community because of their affiliations. Delegate Skinner opined that those he evicted were glad because “they want to embarrass Democrats.” This is obviously not true, since We the People includes Democrats among its ranks and has in fact endorsed Democratic candidates in the past. If Democrats are embarrassed, and they should be, they shouldn’t blame the tea party; Skinner accomplished that all on his own.

— Elliot Simon writes from Harpers Ferry

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5 Responses to The party of ‘inclusion’ – for members only

  1. Is this a bad joke?: The “Nonpartisan” Jefferson County Tea Party President, Mrs. Rucker, along with twelve of her Tea Party members, show up at a Jefferson County Democratic Association program on “Democrats running for office” and she expects to attend. It is like Tea Party Sen. Ted Cruz crashing a meeting on electing Democratic Senators occurring in a Capitol meeting room. Exceptions are permitted for political parties. As for Simon’s assertion that these Tea Party members are “Nonpartisan,” who is he talking about?According to the Jefferson County Clerk’s voter registration record, “Nonpartisan” JC Tea Party President Rucker is registered Republican. Their leader is a registered Republican and not one of the other twelve was a Democrat. But it is a “Nonpartisan” group innocently needing guidance from Democrats. Having just come out of the horrible federal government shutdown, which even Republicans blame on the Tea Party, one can’t reasonably expect the Democrats to welcome Tea Party Members with open arms into a meeting specifically for Democrats. Especially when the same Democratic disdain preached by Tea Party Sen. Ted Cruz has been preached by JC Tea Party President Rucker in print and on the radio airwaves. Yet, Mr. Simon wants the Democrats to accept the “Nonpartisan” JC Tea Party President and her members into their meeting. And so what if it was held in a public facility! Democrats aren’t allowed to use a public facility? Aren’t allowed to use one of several public meeting rooms, which are open for reservation by community groups. Meeting rooms used by Jefferson County Republicans who have used them for Republican-only meetings. This should be a nonissue! The Democrats, like the Republicans, need to have Party-member-only events from time to time. Further, if a Republican Tea Party member wants to learn how to run for office then she can attend the Republican Association’s meeting on Republicans running for office. And the JC Tea Party can host another event on how to run for office like they have in the past. Further, any Jefferson County citizen can ask their JC County Clerk how to run for office or read about it on the Clerk’s website. But the “Nonpartisan” JC Tea Party President Rucker would rather force the Democrats out of their monthly meeting space because she and the members she recruited were asked to leave one of the few Democrat-only events hosted by Democrats.

  2. Pingback: Tea Party Minorities and Democrats Fired Up Over Grayson’s KKK Fund Raising « Tea Party Headlines

  3. Thank you Mr. Simon for putting that experience into eloquent words.
    I was one of those forced to leave the public meeting, based solely on party affiliation in violation of Commission rules and Democrat Association bylaws.

    The shock has been followed by head shaking amazement as the guilty blame those they wronged. I read the contrived fairy tales our elected officials use to justify their actions and it saddens me. Not for myself, for all of us.

    I agree that for one to feel embarrassment implies they have done something wrong that has been brought to light. Being accountable is what citizens deserve from our community leadership. They are not above the rules they themselves make.

    My opinion of our local officials is forming, as well as our local media. Thankfully WHAG did a good job in covering the story fairly.

  4. Elliot Simon is wrong. The Tea Party is not doing something right; it is simply irritating nearly everyone else who pays even a single iota of attention to politics in this nation, whether Democrat, Republican, third party, or independent. Most Americans are too smart to fall for the Tea Party’s shenanigans. Mr Simon also shouldn’t infer that the growing popular disdain for Head Teabagger Ted Cruz is based on him being half-Hispanic. No, it has NOTHING to do with his ethnicity. (BTW, don’t play the race card on behalf of someone else. It is very inept and offensive.) Most Americans don’t like Cruz because of his arrogance and hypocrisy, including the stance of being a Canadian-born son of a Cuban immigrant, yet also being anti-immigration reform. That is the ultimate level of hypocritical ideology, and this man wants to be U.S. President? Right. Good luck with that. Oh, and question: since when is the Tea Party “nonpartisan”?!? Not even one of the Jefferson County Tea Party members who attempted to crash the JCDA meeting last week is a registered Democrat, including their very-vocal Republican-registered mouthpiece. You would be extremely hard-pressed to find more than a few folks anywhere in the United States who would label “tea party” as anything other than ultra-conservative Republicanism.

  5. Honestly, Ted Cruz was not there. Sarah Palin wasn’t either. But that hostility like we see in D.C. politics was, thanks to Skinner with his D.C. ties.

    Meeting room rules apply and should be followed. So does integrity. (see D.C. comment)

    If you don’t believe non-partisan events exist then there is no hope for our county or country.

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