Tea, Partying and Politics with Jenny Beth Martin
It is a huge honor for me to interview the founder of Tea Party Patriots. Jenny Beth Martin, thank you so much for taking the time out to speak to me.
JBM: No Problem.
ABOUT TEA PARTY PATRIOTS
JD: Tell me about your group, how it was founded, and how it is different from other Tea Party Groups?
JBM: We are Tea Party Patriots, and have been a part of this modern day tea party movement since 2009. Rick Santelli had a rant on the floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange back in February of 2009, complaining about the stimulus bill and bailouts, and thought it was not the right thing for government to do and he called for a Tea Party. He said our Founding Fathers would be turning over in their graves and we need a tea party like they did. Well some of us heard his rant, got on Twitter that afternoon, had tea party groups a week later, and have been active ever since. We have over 3,000 voluntarily affiliated local groups around the country. Tea Party groups all stand for free markets, so we believe in competition and that competition makes you stronger, smarter and sharper and we are all working towards the same goal of fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government and free markets.
JD: Barack Obama recently said he believes the Democrats have a great chance to retake the House. What is your response to that and how can that be stopped?
JBM: Firstly the people who care about the constitution, freedom and the size and scope of government have to be very active. They need to use Tea Party Patriots and other organizations to start talking to our peers, neighbors and fellow voters and make sure they understand why we are fighting for Constitutional Limited Government, and what it means. These scandals especially the IRS scandal is an overreach of Government. This was the Government using the IRS as a political weapon to target us just because of what we believe in politically. This is why we want the Government to be held accountable, to see what is going on, and to ensure the Government won’t be used as a weapon against us. We have to continue and fight for our values, and if we want to win in the battle of ideas we are going to have to be out there working hard to tell why our ideals are the right ones for America.
JD: Of the 5 Scandals, do you think there is a common theme or should they all be treated individually and separate.
JBM: I think that there is a common theme, Government is so large and that you have unelected bureaucrats who are accountable, NOT to the voters, but to other Bureaucrats within the Government who can abuse the power whether it’s through fast and furious, IRS or the A.P. scandal. They think they can get away with it, so they continue to do more and more to abuse their power and their authority. I think that’s the common theme among all these scandals.
JD: Focusing on the IRS, do you buy the line that this is just a few people in Cincinnati, Ohio who went rogue or do you think it’s more of a cultural problem?
JBM: I know it’s just not Cincinnati; we have letters that match up from Cincinnati, California and Washington DC. This was a coordinated effort on behalf of people in at least the IRS who appear to be running the Treasury Department and it may be further up the chain than that. They were targeting organizations like Tea Party Patriots or individuals like Catherine Engelbrecht with True The Vote, because of what we stand for politically and because of our political ideology.
JD: What advice would you give a Tea Party group that has been targeted? How do they fight it, what can they do, and is there anybody they can get in touch with?
JBM: If you have a group that was affected in one way or the other, or if you are an individual, business owner or organization and you suspect that you may have been targeted individually, go to our website Tea Party Patriots and share your story of what happened with the IRS. We are doing what we can to sort through those and figure out if there are any other trends that are being targeted and to get your story in front of Congress. Our Attorney has answered questions over the years, but the American Centre for Law & Justice has been very good in helping these groups if they need legal assistance. We are supporting the grass roots aspect of it and the American Centre for Law & Justice supporting the legal aspect of it.
JD: When the scandal first broke, John Boehner’s first reaction was someone’s going to jail. Do you think like people should be redeployed or fired in the IRS and if someone goes to jail, does that fix the problem or what has to happen?
JBM: I think the people involved must be held accountable, have to be at the very least terminated and they cannot have any position where they may abuse their authority again in the future. If they indeed committed a criminal act, I want to see those people prosecuted to the full extent of the Law on criminal charges. However that just addresses the immediate problem of what happened to these groups or individuals. We have to address the overarching problem that led to all of these scandals which is what are we going to do to amend the size and scope of Government. We are currently considering whether or not we need to amend the constitution and further limit the powers that Congress and unelected bureaucrats in Washington seem to be exercising. We are asking people to let us know if there are amendments to the Constitution that they think we should be considering.
JD: I believe there is a huge lack of confidence in Washington right now, and some people think a few people will be fired and these scandals will be dusted under the rug and then it’ll just be business as normal. How do you stop that and what would you say to people who think that will happen?
JBM: That definitely is one of my main concerns – we cannot let this end with a few people being fired and a tiny tweak to the massive out of control IRS code. Last week, a senator pointed out that there is 16,000 pages in the IRS code and changing one or two lines or couple of pages will not correct the problem. As a movement, we have to ensure we look at this as an example of the Government being too large and look how can we address what was the root cause that led to these other scandals. So to people who read this we want to hear what you think how we can have a place a reign on government because we want to make sure we are a voice for the grass roots which is the people across America, and that their voice is heard in DC & around the country.
JD: Mark Levin is using his radio show calling for fair or flat tax. Is that a solution?
JBM: Mark Levin is a great American and he is one of my friends and I think he’s right. We are going to have to debate and decide which one works best, and if we go on that route, we have to amend the Constitution amendment that allowed the Income Tax, so that it can never get so out of control again – whether that’s through a flat tax that does not change or with a Fair Tax.
JD: Young Patriots is for under 30’s and we are trying to engage the youth vote. Young people who think politics is boring or who say I don’t know, I don’t care – what would you say to them, how do we get people to care?
JBM: One of the things that we are reviewing at TPP is how can we engage and better equip the younger American voters, so they can go and talk to their peers. I think that we can look at the IRS scandal and engage the youth about it and the Constitution. The IRS asking for content of prayer, the first amendment does not allow the Government to interfere with religion. These groups were trying to petition their Government with a grievance for a reason and the Government was doing all it could to stop this petitioning and in some ways, every word in the first still applies today. If you think that’s important we have to fight for this whole document, and start talking to them not about the old way of how it came to be but what it means today and how it’s still relevant. Freedom is relevant no matter what year we live in.
JD: In the world of “The Daily Show” and “Saturday Night Live,” how can the Constitution and the lessons of the Founding Fathers compete?
JBM: We have to remember that regardless of the age group most Americans are not going to be engaged in daily politics at the same level as you and I are, because you and I probably eat, sleep and dream about what’s happening. We have to sit back and ask what does the average American think about. They’re going to pay a little bit of attention to the news, go to work and enjoy their lives, so how can we cut through some of what we care about to enable them to enjoy their lives but also get engaged. We need to be very creative with it, and if your readers have ideas, we would love to hear them. We have to think outside the box and also don’t be too discouraged when your own age demographic are not engaged, this is the way it is for all America and so we have to figure out how we speak to every group of people.
JD: What advice would you give to someone 21/22 college graduate, loves politics wants to get involved?
JBM: If you are currently in college and if there are groups like Young Americans for Liberty or Young Americans Foundation or Tea Party groups, get involved with them. If there are no groups, go to Tea Party Patriots and sign up and we will send you a toolkit to get started. You also have to pay attention to the issues in the news and what relates to you and engage people. If you have friends who are graduating from college and they are looking for jobs, they should care about the economy, because I want all of us to be able to get a job so we can work and start living the American Dream and saving for our future. Lastly get involved with your local group, and think of new ways you can engage others.
JD: Last week we got the bad news that Michele Bachmann was not going to seek a fifth term. Any thoughts or fond memories because she was a great fighter for the Tea Party.
JBM: Congresswoman Bachmann is a wonderful patriot and a great fighter for the Tea Party. She believed in the Tea Party movement when everyone else was mocking and maligning us. I don’t know what her plans are but her statement leaves the door open to be involved with politics in some way because she cares about our country’s future. So it will be interesting to see what she does next and I’m so thankful she stood by us in the beginning. She never tried to be team leader of the Tea Party movement because there are thousands of Tea Party leaders across the country and I am so thankful for her and the example she set and the inspirations she’s given to so many others.
JD: Thank you very much for speaking with me. I really appreciate it and I just want you to know that I know a lot of great young Americans who are great fans of yours. This is a very important fight for freedom and America has to overcome this disease called Liberalism.
JBM: Thank you. We’re going to keep corresponding and fight here for freedom so that other countries around the world understand that freedom really can exist because if freedom can be extinguished in America it can be extinguished anywhere and we’re not going to let that happen.