By EARL WATT
When Barack Obama was elected president two years ago by a 10 million vote margin, most of the nation was focused on the message of hope that was the cornerstone of his campaign.
Obama promised a new, nonpartisan approach in Washington and to “fundamentally transform” America.
Two years later, unemployment has risen, Washington is as divided as ever, and many that were looking for hope are now looking for answers.
Those that have been disillusioned by a government that has substantially grown in the past two years have joined a political movement known across the nation as the Tea Party.
One of George W. Bush’s biggest critics, Glenn Beck, has been critical of Barack Obama as well, and the lightning rod radio personality has been pushing for a government more focused on the original intent of the founding fathers.
On Aug. 28, Beck hosted a rally called “Restoring Honor,” and he drew a crowd estimated at 300,000 to 500,000 to Washington, D.C. not to be critical of politicians, but to challenge Americans to show faith, hope and charity.
“We got there at 6 a.m., and the area around the reflecting pool was already full,” Kevin Meek said. Kevin and his wife Donna, along with his mother-in-law, son, and other family members made the trip from Kansas to see Beck.
The family showed up four hours before the rally, and they spent the time talking with other attendees.
“We just talked to people,” Kevin said. “They were like your next door neighbors.”
“There was a good spirit there,” Donna said. “You felt good about what you were there for.”
And they were there to support a message that they believed has been missing in America.
“We didn’t know what we were going to hear,” Donna said. “There was kind of an echo, so we couldn’t here it very well. But we were there for support for those who want to see change — not Obama’s kind of change — to get back to what the founding fathers wanted.”
Kevin, Donna and Donna’s mother Willie Mae Eagan felt a true disconnect with what they believed was the image of America and what was taking place in the American government.
“This was about getting back to the Constitution,” Willie Mae said. “They are trying to break up the Constitution and not let it mean what it means to us. It has a whole different meaning to them.”
Kevin said that was what Glenn Beck’s message is all about.
“He just wants to bring America back to its original plans,” he said. “Everything has gotten so out of balance. The government thinks that we work for them instead of the other way around.”
Donna said she trusted the people in Washington to do their jobs, and that it was a lack of attention to politics by those like her that led to what she believed is an overreaching government.
“We’re busy working, not paying attention, and you think they are doing the right thing,” Donna said. “They are passing laws they don’t know about. Glenn Beck is waking people up, the people that will listen.”
Many Tea Party supporters showed up at the rally as well, and despite being defined in the mainstream media as a racist group of hate mongers, and yet there were no acts of violence. The local family saw no incidents even though Al Sharpton had a rally a few blocks away to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Ironically, King’s niece was at Beck’s rally, and said that the message of America coming together was exactly what her uncle was trying to accomplish — a far cry from the ridicule that has been thrown at those involved with the Tea Party movement.
“My take is the reason they are called everything in the book is because they are scared of them,” Kevin said.
Glenn Beck requested no signs, but Willie Mae said there were still messages on T-shirts. Some said, “Don’t Tread on Me.”
She also didn’t believe that trying to classify those who want to see America return to founding principles as being an angry group was accurate.
“They are accusing us of being angry,” Willie Mae said. “They are trying to create chaos so we will start fighting, and then they will blame us.”
“The liberal side of politics, they are calling us hate mongers,” Kevin said. “But they are the ones throwing mud.”
Throughout the day, there was prayer and a positive message of restoration for America. No political jabs. No hateful rhetoric. Just hope for a better tomorrow.
Now that they've heard the message, Donna, Kevin and Willie Mae have been sharing their experience with the people they know.
“We can certainly vote,” Willie Mae said. “That’s one way to share the message. But to restore honor we need to build these things in our mind and hearts — faith, hope and charity.”