Saturday, June 11, 2011

Changing America - One County at a Time

June 10, 2011

My Dear Fellow Patriots;

It's in the first paragraph of our Mission Statement, written more than two years ago, before I even knew what a Mission Statement was supposed to be. The words flowed from the heart; the anger from the gut, a reaction to a man who had a dagger pointed at the heart of the American economy and our way of life - where it remains poised today as we continue to work to pry it from his fingers.

What it says is this: "The Staten Island Tea Party was organized to give ordinary American citizens a platform from which their voices could be heard by their government..."

In those hectic and highly emotional days, as we together gingerly waded into the turbulent waters of political activism, our voices were heard by projecting them through a bullhorn, or an amplifier and a pair of speakers. Tea party fervor took to the streets, swept the country, and ultimately, the passion and energy of the movement swept the liberals out of Congress as we flipped the House in November of 2010.

Those were heady days, but we also knew that it wouldn't do to stand still. The platform from which we spoke on that first rainy April day was cobbled together and wouldn't last through the years of hard work required to make a lasting difference - sooner or later it would grow rickety and weak, lose its strength, collapse beneath us.

If we were to remain a viable presence on the American political scene, if we were going to have a truly permanent platform from which our voices could be heard, we had to cement for ourselves a more permanent solution - we needed a seat at the table. We needed to be heard without shouting, to present our case without demonstrating, to advance our cause from within.

The County Committee Project represented that effort, because it is through local county committees that America will be transformed. Yes, the national scene gets the attention - but it all starts at the grass roots; it all starts with us, right here, on our soil, on our streets, in our county.

And we have succeeded. In a victory no less stunning than last year's congressional race, the Staten Island Tea Party has accomplished the goal of placing hundreds of its members on the Republican County Committee - a large bloc of independent committee members who share tea party values. Our goal? To support those men and women who support those values.

Make no mistake. Our success in navigating this confusing, convoluted and contorted process would not have been possible if we had, as we had originally envisioned, attempted it completely on our own. Without Bob Scamardella and his support team, who asked nothing in return except that we nominate thinking, intelligent people who would vote their conservative consciences, this would not have come to pass. Working with them did not represent compromise - it represented a courageous willingness to unite for a cause, a concept firmly rooted in our history and tradition.

Many of the faces you've seen at tea party rallies you will now see sitting at the decision-making table. What we - WE - have accomplished in just over two years almost defies description. Yes, it is happening all over the country, but nowhere with greater success than right here on our Island. You guys are nothing short of magnificent - I don't think there's another tea party in the country that has accomplished more than you have.

So congratulations, Staten Island Tea Party. Together we have come a long, long way - and I pledge that we will continue to look for opportunities to expand our membership and our influence, and to remain a viable and vocal force in local politics. God bless you all.

Yours in Liberty,

Frank Santarpia

Staten Island, NY