Tea Party expansion includes weekly meetings in Mount Shasta

Karen DeRoss
Erin Ryan, a Tea Party representative from Redding, speaks to the Mount Shasta Tea Party group on Thursday, where she emphasized their non-partisanship and desire for everyone to be involved.

Weekly Tea Party meetings in Mount Shasta have been attracting about 30 people, all with different motivations for joining but also similar interests.

As participant Ron Wagner stated, they are “working together to accomplish common goals.”

Tea Party groups have recently formed throughout the country, including Redding, Red Bluff, Fall River, Corning and Alturas in the north state.

The group is something “not written in pen” and that helps people become active, said Erin Ryan, a representative from the Redding Tea Party group who comes to Mount Shasta regularly to help with meetings.

Their approach is “action not reaction,” she explained. Giving people the ability to participate prevents anger and disagreement from “blowing up into unpleasantness,” Ryan said.

Candidate for Sheriff Jon Lopey spoke about the importance of defending the Second Amendment during last Thursday’s meeting.

He explained his stance as a proponent of the right to keep and bear arms, stating that any law-abiding citizen has the right to a concealed weapon, and he emphasized the entitlement of the people to their own defense.

The Tea Party’s three guiding principles are: limited government and free markets; fiscal responsibility and paying off the national debt; and adherence to the Constitution and our country’s founding principles.

Ryan said meetings are an opportunity for concerned citizens to take action on issues they are passionate about. No matter what the interest, there is an avenue for involvement.

“The goal is to present real information so people can make up their own minds,” participant Wayne Lougee said. “We don’t want to tell people how to vote, we just want them to vote.”

Participants are organized into special interest groups called action groups. Currently the Mt. Shasta Tea Party is comprised of groups focused on sovereignty, the Second Amendment, environmental issues, and special events.

There’s a Minute Men Brigade action group that was created with the goal of providing support at a moment’s notice for events such as rallies and city council meetings.

Participants are encouraged to join a group in order to take action on issues that concern them. If a particular concern is not already represented, those who wish to become involved are welcome to create a new action group.

Ryan identified the difference she sees in people’s opinion of the Tea Party since its birth as a “mindset shift.” She said rather than dismissing it, some people are realizing its legitimacy and understanding its mechanics. Many people came to the group initially “just to see if it was weird,” she said, but she is pleased that people are interested.

Ryan said being a Republican or a Christian is not a requirement.

Lougee notes the variance of those interested: “Joe Everybody is looking for alternatives,” he said.

Lopey said, “The Tea Party isn’t about a political group, it’s for all good Americans and patriots who want to save our nation.”

The feeling of patriotism is strong among those in attendance. After pledging allegiance to the flag, one participant said, “I still get goose bumps every time I say that.”

“The purpose of the Tea Party is to have people be heard,” Wagner said.

They keep the big picture in mind and concentrate on attainable goals at a local level. Emphasis on bettering local communities is important, Ryan said. “If everyone did that, our federal government would be fixed. If it can’t be done here, it can’t be done there,” she said.

Ryan said she is encouraged to see so many “reputable, thoughtful community members” involved. 

For more information about the Mt. Shasta Tea Party, visit ReddingTeaParty.com.