RoseAnn Salanitri, founder of the Tea Party Caucus in New Jersey, discussed her new organization with your editor yesterday.
Who is the Tea Party Caucus?
The Tea Party Caucus comprises several New Jersey TEA Party groups and like-minded organizations throughout the State.
Does the Tea Party Caucus speak for all New Jersey TEA parties?
Absolutely not. The Tea Party Caucus speaks for the members of the caucus, as all corporations speak for their own members.
How is the Tea Party Caucus different from other TEA Party groups in the State?
RoseAnn Salanitri, head of the New Jersey Tea Party Caucus
Each Tea Party entity is fiercely independent and they choose their own agendas and who they wish to associate with. The goal of the Caucus is to act in concert with as many Tea Party groups as possible to bring about the changes in government and policy that hopefully would be of the greatest benefit to all New Jerseyans and others committed to adhering to constitutional principle while governing.
Our objective is to bring together as many groups throughout the State as possible. We believe that if we want to do anything, we need to develop a strong core group. We can then open it to the rest of the State once we do the ground work. Many in the group were active in New Jersey’s first Tea Party Convention, The Battle for Trenton, and we used this same philosophy. It worked well for us with the Convention and we believe it will work well for us in this attempt. We are finding that we must make decisions on a daily basis so the organization stays fluid and able to make decisions. Large groups tend to bog down to the point where even the simplest decisions can result in agonizing and non productive debates. New Jersey is at the crossroads and action needs to be taken when critical issues arise. We simply don’t have the luxury of running every decision by 100 people to come to a consensus. Corporations that are successful are nimble in their approach and philosophy.
We are people who are fiercely independent and value our liberty and autonomy. It is a common thread that runs through every Tea Party. Every Tea Party is also very different, in that they have different aims and goals. For example, the Bayshore Tea Party and the Essex Tea Party recently concentrated on the redistricting maps that were being created in NJ. While most of the Tea Parties supported their efforts, this particular project was something they really took the lead on. They received support from groups in all counties in the state and some groups actually signed onto the lawsuit. All, Tea Parties, however, have conducted their fair share of rallies, letter campaigns to our elected officials, and the like. They’ve also done an excellent job of inspiring interest in our Constitution and communicating information that threatens the principles founded in our Constitution. This is precisely where NJ TEA Parties are most effective. Individual groups take the lead and others support them. We cannot take upon our shoulders all the needed work. There is simply too much that needs to be done. So, each group adopts the issues they name as the most urgent and for which they have the expertise among their membership. Other groups either join in and help them or spearhead another initiative that may interest them more.
The Tea Party Caucus, at this point anyway, will not engage in those types of activities. Our focus will be to take the things that are happening and things we believe to be threatening our NJ and US Constitutions and taking action. Our members are already informed, so communication of current events will not be our objective, although we certainly share information.
What is the objective of the Tea Party Caucus?
Our objective will be to escalate activism to another level. For instance, we have a Committee devoted to analyzing the problems we are facing with our Judiciary and will be developing a multi-faceted plan to reform this branch of government. We will also be analyzing the problems with education and creating a strategy to reform that as well. This is an action group that will not beg for the crumbs government is willing to throw our way. We’ve all heard the phrase talk softly but carry a big stick. Well, the Caucus intends to become a really big stick. We all believe as Ronald Reagan did that government is not the answer to our problems, government is our problem.
How do you answer critics who accuse you of using the Tea Party Caucus for political gains, since you are running for the New Jersey Assembly?
No matter what I say, there will be people who will be critical and misunderstand. As is often the case, some people have hidden agendas and others fall prey to those agendas. The Tea Party Caucus was an idea that was discussed with many several months ago. It did not then nor does it now have any bearing on my decision to run for office. Whether I win or lose, this is something NJ needs. We intend to fight to restore the principles this country was founded upon using any tool we can use. We are all tired of nothing getting done – despite all the well-intentioned “proposals’ out there and we are tired of all the empty promises. Perhaps having a member of the legislature be a party to this effort would give another opportunity to actually get something done.
The bottom line is very simple. We have to stop looking to government to solve our problems. If this is our government, that it belongs to We the People, then We the People have to be sure it remains free and prosperous. Our elected officials have not been able to do that for us – regardless of what they tell us at election time. And if and when legislation was introduced, most of it fell by the wayside or was so compromised it tended to do more harm than good. Our hope is to restore our government and not rely on the hands of our elected officials. It lies in the hands of We the People. The Tea Party Caucus is an outgrowth of that philosophy, which all its members share.
Featured image: the Christopher H. Gadsden “rattlesnake” flag, unofficial symbol of the Tea Party movement. Photo: User “Vikrum”/Wikimedia Commons