Tea party

Theresa Dickerson stood among nearly 1,000 Tea Party protesters on April 15 with a common complaint.

She was tired of another misconception in the media about the movement she had heard earlier in the day. Dickerson, of Middleville, said a commentator was chastising Tea Partiers for not wanting any taxes.

"We don't want to abolish all taxes," Dickerson said. "We want to cut out all the waste and all the favoritism that goes on."

[Theresa Dickerson] used to give money to the state and national GOP, but stopped doing that in 2004 because “I was tired of the party putting their money behind weak candidates.”

Thousands of Tea Party activists came out on April 15 all across Michigan. Dickerson said she thinks she is typical of the Tea Party movement.

She understands a third party is not "viable."

She is disillusioned by the GOP but has not abandoned it. She used to give money to the state and national GOP, but stopped doing that in 2004 because "I was tired of the party putting their money behind weak candidates."

Now, she does her own research and gives directly to candidates and the Tea Party organizations she supports.

"I still consider myself a Republican," Dickerson said. "But that's not the first thing I am anymore."

Dickerson said she is a patriot first, then a conservative and then a Republican.

And she researches who she will vote for.

She says a central theme of the Tea Party movement is self-education on political candidates.

"A great deal (of this) is know who you are putting in office," she said. "That is how we got here."

"The thing I look for is: Who will do the least amount of damage to the Bill of Rights and Constitution, and who is going to grow government the least?"

Deborah Shreve-Cowalcyk of Hudsonville said the crowd of 1,000 was just 'the tip' of a growing movement that is angered by how it is described in the media and by politicians who don't listen.

"This is a fraction of what the movement is," Shreve-Cowalcyk said. "There are a lot of people who are sick of this. ... This country is not what the Founding Fathers envisioned."

"It's not the Tea Party anymore. It's the pissed off party."

Earlier in the day, about 900 people showed up in a mall parking lot in Hudsonville.

Hillsdale College student T. Elliot Gaiser was one of the event's speakers.

Gaiser said the Tea Party movement has become unprecedented in terms of anything he's studied involving a conservative movement.

"The Reagan Revolution didn't have anything like this," Gaiser said after speaking. "The Contract With America didn't have anything like this. People standing in a parking lot at noon to have their voices heard on a hot day like this."

The original version of this story was posted online on April 16, 2010.

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