The Manteca Patriots are off and running.
And if attendance is any measure of future success, it’ll only be a matter of time before the organization – which champions fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets – becomes a force in Manteca politics.
Before a packed house at the group’s inaugural meeting at Chez Shari Thursday night, group co-founder Bruce Lownsbery talked about how he became disenfranchised with the Manteca City Council when trying to seek answers to an issue he felt crept dangerously close to being against the law.
It was the scenario that awoke the political aspirations, he said, in somebody who had never before felt the need to get involved in that arena.
“Lots of us have been asleep at the switch while our government has gone haywire,” Lownsbery said. “Our government thinks that its job is to keep getting bigger.
“So I went to a meeting in Modesto to meet the leaders of the Tea Party there and to see what we could do here.”
Lownsbery teamed up with David Marks and John Kramer to form the initial brain trust. The trio then reached out to other groups in the area to seek advice on the best way to form a cohesive and productive unit that operates under the ideals of the Tea Party Patriots – the nationwide organization with more than 3,300 chapters and 23 million members.
They turned to Ginny Rapini of the Nor Cal Tea Party Patriots for her guidance, and then invited her to be the guest speaker at the group’s first meeting.
Rapini touched on a variety of topics, and keyed in on the power of the Tea Party members to nearly force a shutdown of the federal government during the discussion on whether to raise the debt ceiling – something her daughter considered a move by a “powerful” organization.
She rolled out a 40-year-plan that the organization has and must stick to in order to keep working towards the vision of the future, and she pointed out the differences between the Tea Party Patriots and the other three organizations that sound similar in name – describing them as GOP “shell” organizations used to back candidates.
“A lot of people consider us to be the party of ‘no.’ I consider us to be the party of ‘know,’ and we know that the debt ceiling is not in the best interest of this country,” she said. “And compromise is no longer an option.”
Because the organization is non-partisan and accepts anybody who believes in the three core principles the group was founded on, Rapini stressed that they will never publicly support any candidate.
But just seeing the sheer number that came out Thursday night was enough to give Lownsbury a reason to believe that not all hope in the system is lost after all.
“We know that Manteca is a very patriotic city, but unfortunately there are a lot of people out there who have come to believe that their voice doesn’t count,” he said. “They feel like their vote doesn’t count. And I think everybody that was here tonight can see that we’re not alone and how we feel does matter.
“It’s encouraging to see so many people coming out to our first meeting.”
The group will meet every second and fourth Thursday of the month at Chez Shari – located upstairs at the Manteca Golf Course. The meetings will run from 7:30 to 9 p.m. For additional information visit www.mantecapatriots.org.