YUCCA VALLEY, Calif. | Bill Warner is hardly a naive man.
He ran his own engineering firm for three decades, and sold the assets just before the economy tanked. He built his dream home on a majestic hill abutting a national park, back when the housing market was steady. While some neighbors have since been foreclosed upon, Mr. Warner is resurfacing his flagstone deck.
And so he understands that in the world of politics, his little group - the Lincoln Club of the Morongo Basin - is but a molecule in the figurative drop in the bucket of power and influence.
Its stated purpose is “to promote, educate and advance conservative principles of fiscal responsibility, small limited government, free enterprise, the rule of law, private property rights, and the preservation and protection of individual liberty.” The organization has some 25 members and has raised $10,000.
“It’s our way of doing what we can do,” he says.
Mr. Warner is 65 and soft-spoken, the kind who asks questions before making decisions. He doesn’t consider himself a rabble-rouser or “tea partier.”
There were, as his friend put it, some “wackadoos” among the masses: The Barrel Man wearing only a barrel and a hat, the guy dressed like Jesus.
There were also plenty of people just like Mr. Warner, who held a coffee mug instead of a sign.
Concerned Americans trying to find their voices, and a way to channel their disgust. For some, anger has now turned to action.
It is the kind of action that helped tea party favorite Sharron Angle capture the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Nevada, now challenging Majority Leader Harry Reid. And that helped tea party darlings Raul Labrador in Idaho and Todd Lally in Kentucky win their Republican congressional primaries. And that helped libertarian favorite Rand Paul beat out a Republican establishment candidate in Kentucky's Senate primary.
In Bullhead City, Ariz., it comes in the form of an ex-PR agent who runs the Republican women's club and holds candidate meet-and-greets to help get out the vote.
In Las Vegas, it’s an Internet marketer and his friend, the blogger, working from a rented condo to oust Mr. Reid and other incumbents.
These four were all in Searchlight that Saturday in March. They’ve heard, time and again, the characterizations in the news media, from some Democrats and, in certain cases, from their own friends and relatives - about how “those tea partiers” are just angry voters venting about economic hard times, or they’re confused, uneducated and easily influenced, or they’re extremists, or, worst of all, they’re racists.
Months after Searchlight and other rallies, plenty of questions remain about just what the tea party is, whether it can endure and how much influence it will have on elections this year and in years to come. Part of the answer is this: In communities across the land, citizens-turned-activists are digging in in different ways to wield whatever power and influence they’re able to muster over this thing called democracy.View Entire Story
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