Sutter Buttes tea party group sets sights on local issues
September 02, 2010 12:11:00 AM
By Ben van der Meer
After their beginnings as a grass-roots organization making a national stand against big government and for fiscal responsibility, the tea party movement is looking to go ... back to the grass roots.
A new group — Sutter Buttes Tea Party — met Wednesday night in Yuba City to take the next step in conservative political activism, with an approach resembling that of former U.S. House speaker and big-government advocate Tip O'Neill: All politics is local.
"You're going to have all sorts of things you want to do, and you have to figure out what you will do," said Erin Ryan, a tea party activist from Redding who counseled 61 attendees of mostly older folks on how to take their work to a locally focused, organic level.
Larry Virga, a Yuba City resident who helped form the new group, said they are not a breakaway faction of the Yuba-Sutter Tea Party Patriots. Rather, the emphasis in the Sutter Buttes group will be driven by members and directed toward local topics, he said.
"We need to get something done on the local level," Virga said, while still supporting and participating in conservative activism at the state and national levels.
Such involvement could take several forms, from playing a role in governance of cities, school districts and water di tricts to doing more voter registration and education activities.
Ryan said her tea party group in Redding has gone in several directions, from a subgroup interested in survivalism to one focused on prayer and religious outreach. By getting more involved, she said, party activists both strengthen the movement and expand its reach.
In addition to Ryan, the meeting featured a short speech by Bob Van Oosterhout, a Yuba City resident who attended a rally last weekend in Washington, D.C., organized by tea party banner carrier and conservative talk show host Glenn Beck.
A former resident of the-then-Dutch East Indies and later the Netherlands, Van Oosterhout said his experience in those countries helped convince him the values in the United States were important to work for.
"I have been asleep, like most of us," he said of his political involvement before becoming involved in the tea party 18 months ago.
Though populist movements like the tea party have risen, then faded numerous times in U.S. history, Virga said he didn't believe there would be a similar pattern for his group.
Conservative political principles, Virga said, don't end.
"It's about holding the feet to the fire of those who are elected," he said.