Vigorous political debate is what really makes America great

Feb 04, 2017
TEA PARTY ON THE RISE — This file photo shows Haywood County residents who took to the courthouse lawn to speak out on issues important to them and gain support for their views.

The protests in Haywood County sparked by the election of Donald Trump are not unlike the ones staged in 2008 after Barack Obama was elected.

Those vowing to change the status quo back then started out in Haywood County as the 9-12 Project, a name chosen to bring back the patriotism felt in America the day after 9/11/2001.

The  change-makers eventually became the Haywood County TEA Party, which stood for Taxed Enough Already.

The group spearheaded efforts to elect new leaders in towns, the county, regionally and nationally. Petitions were circulated to roll back taxes and reduce spending. The members made sure the early voting polling sites were staffed with volunteers who handed out cards advising voters which candidates were conservative.

Issues such as county capital projects, efforts to expand health and safety regulations, property reappraisal and school choice were a few of the issues that helped rally those of like mind.

In just four years, the effort had made significant inroads in elections and by 2016, the years of hard work resulted in a sweeping victory for conservatives in Haywood County, the state and across the nation.

Along the way the Tea Party rolled into the Republican Party, but not without a few growing pains. Internal party struggles occurred as the moderates and those on the far right battled for control of the party. The struggle is still ongoing and will be on display Saturday at the Republican Party precinct committee meetings where two opposing philosophies will be put to the test. One faction held an inaugural celebration where Republicans, Democrats, independents and even those who didn’t care much about politics joined together. Organizers said it was their wish to work together with all people for the betterment of Haywood.

Republican Party stalwarts not part of the private gathering attended by many of their fellow party members spent the days leading up to the event challenging party leaders who decided to split the precinct meetings and the county convention, which have been advertised to take place on Feb. 4 and Feb. 11.

As the Republicans govern, those with opposing views are now the ones struggling to make their voices heard. As they shape their version of how the government can be better and devise a plan to gain influence, The Mountaineer will be there to chronicle their journey, just as we were there to cover the Tea Party/Republican party rise to power.

After all, that is what really makes America great — our ability to shape our destiny through freedom of speech and the ballot box.