Thursday March 24 , 2016
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The Reality of the First Amendment

Yesterday, in Dakota City, NE, several hundred people turned out for a Tea Party/9.12 townhall meeting.  We started on time, finished on time, did not leave a scrap of trash and had a great time letting each other know how we felt about the country and the direction our government was taking us.  We had flags, songs, the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem.  We had bikers in leathers, veterans, small business owners, at least three generations of attendees, press coverage and a lot of fun.  I was so proud of everyone and was particularly honored to be part of the festivities.  The gathering was empowering.

Our local newspaper got it right.  The event should be noted for not what happened, but also what did not happen.  There was not a single word advocating any violence of any kind.  There was not a single word about civil disobedience.  All the words were about learning and gaining more knowledge about what is going on in this country.  I left the meeting with a great deal of hope for the future, particularly if everyone follows through on doing what they can to seek real change in America through the political process.

The greatest lesson of yesterday is that the Tea Party movement must focus not only on national politics but also concentrate on local and state elections as well.  The movement can have its greatest impact by ensuring that candidates seeking office, regardless of the level of government, must adhere to the principles of the movement if they expect to get support.  It matters even at the lowest levels of government.

This week, I will be in DC broadcasting from the Heritage Foundation.  The folks from KSCJ travel with our local chamber of commerce when those folks go on their annual lobbying trip.  We expect to talk to John Thune, senator from South Dakota, Charles Grassley, senator from Iowa, Steve King, congressman from Iowa, John Fortenberry, congressman from Nebraska, Ben Nelson, senator from Nebraska, and Fred Thompson, former senator from Tennessee.  We will also be chatting with a host of scholars from the Heritage Foundation about the topics of the day.  All in all, we ought to have a great week.

The events of last week, put into perspective, highlight the great strength of our Constitution.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans assembled peacefully to exercise their freedom of speech.  The movement can no longer be denied, and those that do so are taking a tremendous political risk.  Starting in November, America will get real change--change we really can believe in, because we will return to our foundation and begin to build a great nation again.