Tuesday, April 13, 2013, Opinionesque • I’m all for assembling, seeking a little redress

Publisher’s note: This story originally appeared in the Tuesday, April 13, 2013 edition of the Lassen County Times.

Every eighth grader in California knows the First Amendment to the Constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Later this week, Lassen County’s Tea Party Patriots will exercise their constitutional right to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. They will line up and march on Main Street to protest many of the policies of the Obama administration and the Democrat-controlled Congress, and I say, “Way to go.”

I’m saddened, disturbed and perplexed that freedom-loving Americans of every ilk — liberal, moderate and conservative — can be so easily branded red or blue, splintered into apparently diametrically opposed camps and then loosed to ravage and feast on each other like packs of warring, blood – thirsty wolves. Methinks that’s the plan — rant and rave, divide and conquer and pump up the ratings. Would you be so kind as to pass the Nielsens, please? Thank you, so much.

I believe the Tea Party Patriots and I could find an astonishing amount of common ground if we could figure a way around the ideological sloganeering and the reduction of complex arguments to a few choice words that can easily fit on a bumper sticker.

So, someone tell me — who could have foreseen protest marches in our provincial Susanville — and by the conservatives no less? Oh my, I can only imagine what good old Archie Bunker would have to say when Edith, Gloria and Meathead catch him trying to sneak out the front door to run off to join the Tea Party protest. Now those sputtering malapropisms would be pretty darn funny!

You see, I firmly believe in the free marketplace of ideas. When we give ideas a place to grow and nurture them, we all get a chance to kick them around a little bit and see how they suit us. The sound ones will eventually survive, and the crummy ones will simply die and fade away. It’s a marketplace. We go shopping. We buy an idea or we don’t. Most Americans can tolerate the differing opinions among us. We can separate the right from the wrong, the good from the bad. We can decide on the direction and steer the ship of state. We can hang on as the pendulum swings back and forth — left and right — and then make corrections when the time comes.

Our country will survive no matter what, I’m quite sure of that. Even Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller together in one administration couldn’t bring us down. Neither could Jimmy Carter. Remember them and the mess we were in? I do.

The Tea Party Patriots have my undying respect and support. They’re out there on the street exercising their God – given rights, and I applaud them for it, despite whatever differences we might have, real or imagined.

I say make your signs. March to your heart’s content. Get mad and protest. Yell. Scream a little bit. Try to persuade the rest of us to see things your way. That’s how we do it in America. And besides, I’ll bet you’ll feel a whole lot better about yourself, your country and the whole dang world by the end of the day. You’re out there expressing yourself, being heard and making a difference. And we’re all a little bit better for it.

Best wishes, y’all. Go get ‘em.