Last week, the Wall Street Journal published a neat story about a meeting between two typical Americans with something in common: tea.
Bruce Richardson is a Kentucky resident, author and host of tea parties — the kind where you sit down and actually drink fine tea. The article also reveals that he is concerned about the alleged damage being done by humans on the environment due to global warming. He was in Lexington, Ky., on a book tour and visiting a business owner who serves tea for a living but hadn't yet learned the finer points of properly preparing the beverage.
The business owner is 25-year-old Mica Sims. She and her husband John are two owners of "Bar None," a sports bar that does not serve alcohol, so as to provide a refuge for families that want to bring their kids along to watch the big games. After slinging more potent drinks as a traditional bartender, Mr. Sims decided that sports fan teetotalers were customers who were not being serviced properly and decided to try and make a buck filling their needs. When the business opened at the beginning of the football season, these unique young entrepreneurs were the subject of a profile on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."
A young couple during the Obama years sitting down for interviews on NPR talk shows and pleasant chats with tea connoisseurs who worry over global warming might lead you to make certain assumptions about Mr. and Mrs. Sims. Those likely wouldn't fit well with what NPR left out and what the Wall Street Journal decided to tell us about Mica Sims:
She is 25 years old, and a Kentucky tea-party luminary. Last January, "watching politics" while caring for her year-old daughter at home, she started a blog.
On tax day in April, she organized two tea-party protests and has since been offered her own radio talk show. Meanwhile, she opened the sports bar.
An organizer of that kind of TEA Party?
Apparently, she's not one of those politicians or right wing billionaires that Paul Krugman warned us about:
... it turns out that the tea parties don’t represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They’re AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects. In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey, the former House majority leader, and supported by the usual group of right-wing billionaires.
Or that Nancy Pelosi mentioned:
“This initiative is funded by the high end; we call it AstroTurf, it's not really a grass-roots movement. It's AstroTurf by some of the wealthiest people in America to keep the focus on tax cuts for the rich instead of for the great middle class,” Pelosi said.
And, if you were sensing a common set of organized talking points about people like Mica Sims (dare we call it "AstroTurf"?), this was no accident either:
Other House Democratic leaders took a different tack: One senior aide has been circulating a document to the media that debunks the effort as one driven by corporate lobbyists and attended by neo-Nazis...
In addition, the tea parties are “not really all about average citizens,” the document continues, saying neo-Nazis, militias, secessionists and racists are attending them...
But on the other side of these wild allegations, there is a young mother of a one-year-old in Kentucky. She is married to a bartender, she started a blog and a business this year, and she's willing to have a civil conversation with just about anybody.
And one day she decided to do something rather than just get angry.
She's typical. The TEA Party organizers in Michigan that I have met include a small-business owner and blogger from Traverse City; an Army wife and school board member from Howell; a single mom from Holt; and members of a church in Hudsonville. There are dozens of others that I haven't met but whose stories I've heard, and they all sound just as mundanely middle-class American.
Not a billionaire in the bunch, and all their grass is real.