Let's hope 'Tea Party' protests lead to responsible alternatives
Someone crossed out the "Republican" on the sign marking the river at McCook's Barnett Park, and substituted a cardboard sign, "Democrat" Wednesday night.
It was, doubtless, someone at the "Tea Party" which was hastily moved to one of the picnic shelters nearby after a misguided attempt at a windy-night roadside rally at the other Republican River bridge a mile and a half west.
The cardboard sign was an homage to partisan satirical observation of the river's shallow, meandering route, following the most expedient path. State GOP officials like chairman Mark Fahlson were quick to claim the rallys around the state were aimed at Democrats, Sen. Ben Nelson among them, and their "support of an unprecedented expansion of the size and scope of the federal government and the increased tax burden being heaped upon Nebraskans as a result."
Democrats countered that the tea parties were just "a gimmick to provide some cover to the overtly partisan rhetoric coming from Republican leadership."
Yes, there were probably more Republican than Democrat voters among the two or three dozen protesters at Barnett Park on Wednesday night, and issues like abortion and gun control brought many of them out.
But there was a conspicuous absence of many of the usual local activists from either party. Past Republican administrations took their share of criticism and at least one speaker announced plans to switch his registration from Republican to Independent.
Other speakers decried assaults on the Constitution, lack of appropriate education in the school system and civic ignorance of upcoming generations. While denying racial motives, still others compared Obama's charismatic leadership to the early days of Hitler's rule, complete with a "Hitler Youth"-type compulsory national service.
Such overblown rhetoric wasn't unexpected at a rally where participants carried protest signs and flags declaring "Don't Tread on Me."
But, coupled with hundreds of other tea parties around the nation, the Barnett Park rally is evidence of genuine concern about the sweeping "change" ushered in by the Obama administration and the long-term effects it will have on our nation.
Let's hope the movement results in a real leadership and an actual plan to restore fiscal and moral responsibility rather than simply attacking those who are now in power.