Dallas Tea Party Founder: "We Truly Are Made Up of Normal, Regular People"
National Public Radio just posted a piece of its All Things Considered piece on the Dallas Tea Party; the audio, of course, won't be available till this evening for those who aren't going to listen live sometime after the show's 4 p.m. kick-off on KERA-FM (90.1). What do we learn so far? Not much we didn't already gather from our own conversation with 47-year-old Dallas Tea Party founder Phillip Dennis, highlights from which you'll find after the jump.
But there is one intriguing gem from Lorie Medina, described by NPR as "an emerging leader for the Dallas Tea Party." Says Medina of President Obama, "If you look at the way he speaks, the way he talks about our country, if you look at the programs and the things he tries to put into place, it really appears that he does not love our country like most Americans do -- and like past presidents do."
So before Robert Siegel's piece runs, we thought it was a fine time to debut the highlights from our interview with Dennis. Jump for it.
What's the main thing people should know about Dallas Tea Party members?
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It's very individual, and a funny thing that we hear from the left is that they try to paint us as that we're being controlled by the Republican Party or the insurance companies [laughs]. I get this guy that writes me an e-mail every week saying, 'Oh, did you get your big check yet from the insurance company?' And I go, 'No, would you please tell them I haven't got it yet and send it!' I haven't made a dime off this so far...But we truly are made up of normal, regular people. If you go to the events, it's kind of funny...Look at our people and look at their signs. You see that everything's home made. If you look at the other side, well, they bussed in all these people from all over the place. They've got these professionally printed up signs. And they're very well organized. These people know how to do that kind of thing. We're not. We're just regular guys getting off work and going down to say, 'I don't agree with this.'
How many members do you have [as of August 2009]?
We have now about 13,000 in the Metroplex area.
And it started off as just you?
Believe me, I wouldn't have thunk it either. Only in America.
What's your goal as you continue to build membership?
Primaries in March. That's when the incumbents are at their weakest and most vulnerable, and we want to assemble millions of people across the country that have never voted in a primary, such as myself, to get out and do that and get rid of the big-spending politicians in both parties.
So are you trying to become a political party?
No. We're just wanting people to get out and instead of sitting back on your couch and throwing your shoes at the TV, to get out and do something about it.
But also to become a strong political force that politicians court?
Absolutely. We would like that. In fact, we're seeing that. After we protested Kay Bailey Hutchinson's office to let her know how we felt about the Obamacare, she called for a meeting with us. We met with her and said that we expect you to vote no on this, and we expect you to vote no on that.
And you want this to be a national program too, right?
We're light years ahead of other tea parties in organization. Our philosophy is the events -- the protests themselves-- they're great; they're fine; they're fun, but they come and go and don't mean anything. What really means something is organization and getting people out of their houses and into the voting booths on primary day. That's really what we want to do. And we see the neighborhood coordinator group growing the organization [and] then in March [we'll] have a positive effect on the election.
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