Stuart Dodge needed something to do when he walked away from his career as an arson investigator nearly a decade ago.
And as he began to look at the political happenings around him, it didn’t take long before he figured out where his efforts would best be utilized. So he sought out an organization that was actively trying to stop what he saw as the country’s dangerous downhill trend.
The Tea Party, he said, filled that void in a hurry.
“When I was working I didn’t give it much thought because I thought that as a country America was too big to fail,” said Dodge – an Auburn resident that got active with the NorCal Tea Party Patriots. “But as I thought about it, all of the world’s greatest civilizations have failed. I asked myself, ‘Why would we survive?’
“Our founders ensured our survival with the constitution and the republic that we have today, but it only works if people are engaged. That’s why I got involved the way that I did.”
Thursday afternoon Dodge joined a contingency from the NorCal Patriots on the “The California Revolution Rise Up” bus tour during a stop in the parking lot of Manteca Bowl and Family Fun Center – hoping to get the word out to voters during this election year.
As the chair of the group’s education committee, Dodge chatted up prospective members and spoke about the group’s core tenets – fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets – and to apply them in November.
The tour stop was encouraging for Manteca Tea Party Patriots co-founder David Marks who stopped by to see the turnout and take in the scene. It is something, he said, that shows the movement is growing throughout California.
“I think something like this shows that the Tea Party is established everywhere and that people want to see change,” Marks said. “Our elected officials today made promises that can’t possibly be fulfilled, and something like this brings awareness about that – it allows people to recognize that some of the views held aren’t realistic.
“And it’s not just a conservative group. At the street fair I stopped by the Democratic booth wearing my Tea Party shirt, and talked with a gentleman over the course of two days and we realized that we both basically wanted the same thing – we were just coming at it from different directions.”
Seeing the activism locally also gave new residents a chance to network within an organization that they’ve long supported but knew little about on a local level.
Elaine Bashford said that she was very active in the group where she used to live but just started to dip her feet in locally with the foundation of the Manteca Tea Party Patriots and the emergence of a regional scene – something that Thursday’s event underlined.
Sitting on the sidelines, she said, simply wasn’t an option.
“I think something like this motivates people,” Bashford said. “A lot of them feel that they’ve been idle and passive for too long. We’re losing our constitutional rights, and this isn’t a Democrat or Republican thing – this is an America thing.
“I’m worried about the future we’re leaving for our children and our grandchildren. This is important to me.”