Mesa couple a driving force in tea party - East Valley Tribune: Columnists

Mesa couple a driving force in tea party

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Posted: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 4:26 pm | Updated: 2:44 pm, Mon Sep 16, 2013.

Egypt's upheaval provides dramatic contrast to the most recent, orderly American revolution. And, as we approach two years since the tea party explosion, one can be awed by its success at shifting our American political poles. Especially notable: How the grass-roots movement has conducted its business. With rare exceptions, it's been the role model of revolutions.

Our own East Valley tea parties have played a strong role in Arizona's revolt against the intrusive feds. Combined with others within the state, it can be said, they have evolved into some of the strongest in the nation. How strong? The state's new Republican party chairman, Tom Morrissey, an East Valley resident, is reported to have tea party affiliation. He definitely has tea party backing.

I turned to a tea party power couple in the East Valley for an assessment. Steve and Denna Ray of Mesa, a retired couple with 10 children, were drawn to the front lines out of concern for their 20 grandchildren's futures.

"How important is the tea party movement today?" I asked. Their answer: "Remove them from the political picture and who is left, that wasn't there before? The Republicans and Democrats - pushing us right into socialism."

They point out even conservative media couldn't force the tipping point.

The Rays won't take credit for their success: "We could no more give an account of the history of the rise of the tea party movement without recognizing divine intervention than can legitimate historians tell the story of the establishment of this nation without acknowledging our creator's involvement."

Steve summarizes their journey: "Our first tax protest on April 15, 2009 at Gilbert Town Hall, we hoped for 150-300. We feared no one would show up. One-thousand to 2,500 did. Mainstream media reported over 1,000; supporters claimed 2,500.

"During that first year we started weekly meetings using Dr. Skousen's best seller, ‘The 5,000 Year Leap,' as our text to study the 28 principles of responsible government incorporated into the U.S. Constitution. We started with 40 to 50 in weekly attendance and grew from there.

"In October 2009 we moved from Gilbert to Mesa and founded the Red Mountain Tea Party Group with Randy Hatch.

"During 2010 we co-founded or assisted in the establishment of the Mountain View, Pioneer, Glendale, Tempe and various other tea party groups.

"Currently we are assisting in the battle to return the Republican Party to constitutionally conservative candidates. This pits us against the John McCain cabal of R.I.N.O.s."

But, the Rays gladly note that Randy Pullen, (then Arizona GOP chairman) and Rob Haney (presently the Maricopa County GOP chairman) have been supportive.

"The work is far from over as we encourage precinct chairmen to teach constitutional principles," Steve says. "How can we be successful in supporting good candidates if we don't understand the principles of good government?"

Steve and Denna offer fruits from their hard earned journey to others who are anxious to get involved. At no charge, they will assist any group, under any name, how to teach the constitution and promote responsible government. Those interested can contact: teapartybuilders@gmail.com.

The Rays see this movement as "a state by state battle. Each will rise or fall depending on their commitment to the constitution (natural law) and jealously preserving the balance of power (the 10th Amendment)." They point to strong families as the foundation to strong communities and states: "Healthy states will establish a vibrant and peaceful nation. There is no other solution."

Critics of the tea party's amazing, violent-less challenges to decades of crippling policy, sneer at and belittle the movement. But, I implore the naysayers to offer viable alternatives in the same spirit. Go ahead. A nation is waiting.

East Valley resident Linda Turley-Hansen (turleyhansen@gmail.com) is a syndicated columnist and former Phoenix veteran TV anchor.

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