For those who are well informed, the recent activism of the movement known as the Tea Party is only a national version of what started in Liberty County in 1994. The purging of the entrenched good ole boy system led by runaway unaccountable elected local government officials and characterized by a tax and spend mentality is nearly complete here in Liberty County. This is not a declaration that we are anywhere near having a perfect government here or perfect elected officials. But this is a sigh of relief because gone are the days when whoever a handful of leaders of the Liberty County Democrat Party chooses to run in their primary are the unbeatable winner in the November election and the defenders of a system of wink and nod politics that had no oversight. Gone are the days when the entire media served as more of a guard dog than a watchdog for the status quo.
For local people who have become more politically active in the last five or six years, it may seem like change came quickly and relatively easily. And they may not know or care about the history of the war that appears we will win in the final battle coming up in November of this year. But it is important to know for a couple of reasons.
First and foremost, whether it sounds like self congratulatory hubris or not, if activists do not realize the role Liberty Dispatch played in holding people accountable and keeping the good ole boy system from using their pals in the media from doing what they did for decades, then they will be blind to the need to push harder for our local traditional media to stop picking winners and losers and forming unsavory cozy relationships to politicians.
Please pay attention. You may have come along at a time when someone else had dulled the knives of what had been an undefeated enemy to the conservative/Republican cause, but if we do not use this period of time when we have a new political beginning in this county to do what we can to fix this, then when we are not so unified and when new kingdoms have been built within our political structure – the media may again protect interests of the politicians instead of the people. It has not been that long ago when the media would broadcasts any and everything negative about Republicans and try and make Democrats look like they were God’s gift to problem solving – even if they had to blinders on to not know that some of the same Democrat they were promoting were scandal-ridden good ole boys that were more like bloodsuckers than public servants. If you were not involved then, you may have been the ears the media was assaulting and you may have been the mouth they were hoping to use to carry their message – “keep the status quo, Democrat ‘good’, Republican ‘bad’.” We all see a faint reminder of this in the radio station still working to whitewash the FEMA scandal and Phil Fitzgerald’s contribution to the county.
Rather than pat myself or my colleagues on the back, I am myself am hereby recognizing and saluting Ray Akins for taking the heat (including plundered mail boxes, selective prosecution, and all kinds of invalid unwarranted demonetization) at a very high cost. Of course, the openly liberal socialistic policies of Barack Obama and the statewide surge of the Republican party has had a huge influence on Liberty County politics, but Liberty County was fortunate to have in place an opposition political party active and outspoken and already equipped and experienced at running candidates. And Akins, with all of his unconventional and unafraid moves, was ready to force the media and unscrupulous politicians to think twice before doing what they have done around here for years. If you meet him, pat him on the back and listen careful. He is battle tough and you have to get past the same crust on him that enables him to keep slogging forward no matter how much is thrown at him, but his contributions, though distorted by our political enemies and the misinformed, have been crucial to our success. When our victories seem easy and our battles bloodless, you might want to remember the pathway has been blazed to a large degree before the last election.
Second, those of us that have been around for years have at times been frustrated in what has sometimes seemed like a lack of interests and sometimes seemed like wrongheaded uninformed ideas of exactly who the enemy of the change we desire has been. We fought on the front lines and worked hard to begin a foundation for the future we are now in and when the ones that received the proverbial bruises and cuts in the political arena have found common ground in a few of the people who were thought to be lifelong political enemies, we expect at least enough deference to be listened to rather than have new activists adopt without question the motivations assigned to us by those we all oppose. It has, at times, been exceedingly frustrating to hear people (who were not anywhere to be found until this century) allow some of our Republican leadership that has as its priority (by definition) the promotion of Republicans and the defeat of Democrats pick and choose who they were going to use their influence to help. We had a chairman of our party helping Democrats and much of the leadership of the party had to be circumvented in order to replace the misguided chairman. If the newer activist would have been known more about politics, we might still have the counterproductive leadership that was almost openly supporting some of our most notorious opposition. Worse than that, we had the chairman and some of his lieutenants with very little knowledge of past history, deciding who would be offered an olive branch and be invited to switch sides. And again, without asking longtime Republicans who bare scars from battle that should merit consultation, our leadership never took accounting of what crimes and misdemeanors had been committed by politicians they were courting.
We should all be thankful that we have survived those times when we were working against each other at times. We should all be thankful we are two commissioners and one District Attorney away from doing what the Tea Party has just begun doing nationally. After we have elected people to these positions that are not affiliated or connected to the good ole boys of the past, we enter a new day with new goals and new opportunities to heal this county from its past and to build a better community.
* Please note any attempts to use the Tea Party to promote local candidates in the upcoming Republican primary will clearly be done by people who are using the Tea Party for their own purposes. You may agree or disagree with Liberty Dispatch at times but we hope that you will listen to this warning and help stop all efforts to bastardize the good work the Tea Party has been doing. We welcome comments reporting any effort in any local primary race to try and drape a candidate in the Tea party cause in order to gain votes.