Earlier this month, Gregory Brittain of the Redlands, CA Tea Party Patriots was at a City Council meeting, where he encouraged Council members to think about the taxpayers, not just those looking for taxpayer-funded handouts. More recently, he participated in the IRS protests around the country.
Greg, who has been part of the Tea Party movement since 2011, sat down with Tea Party Patriots’ Dustin Siggins to discuss how he got into the Tea Party movement, as well as his experience dealing with the Redlands City Council and his time at the IRS protests.
Dustin Siggins: How did you get involved in the Tea Party?
Gregory Brittain: After the 2010 elections, I watched Republican promises of cutting $100 billion from the budget be broken almost immediately. They went back and forth, and eventually ended up “cutting” $350 million.
So I began to think the GOP was not up to the task at hand, and started going to local Tea Party meetings. After over two years of activism, I recently joined the Board of Directors of the Redlands Tea Party.
DS: What happened at the City Council meeting a while back?
GB: The City Council has a liberal majority who like to spend other people’s money. A few of us went and, during the public comment portion of the meeting, spoke against some of the big spending habits of the Council. We also unveiled a petition with signatures gathered at our Tax Day Rally, a table we had at a local gun show, and local Tea Party meetings.
There were two major spending issues we addressed. First, the city recently put in a bike lane that cost taxpayers $80,000. We made the point that taking money from all to benefit a relative few is not what taxpayer money is for
The other issue was a $35,000 grant from the state for solar-powered trash cans. All of this money only bought the city 5 cans, at $7,000 each. Even if the $7000 solar powered trashcans are “free stuff” from the state of California, they are still a waste of the taxpayers’ money.
DS: Why are these issues so important to you?
GB: This is exactly how a nation goes $17 trillion into debt – by spending everyone else’s money. People are perfectly fine with spending, as long as it’s not their money. The city gets money from the state? It’s accepted because the state’s tax base is mostly not people in Redlands.
DS: What was the reaction to your opposition to the bike lanes?
GB: Nothing, really. We presented our case, bicyclist attendees praised the trail, and we parted on good terms.
DS: Tell us about your participation in the “Rein in the IRS” protests.
GB: I was with what I would guess was 60 to 80 people, in San Bernardino, California. We had no interactions with IRS employees, but two armed Homeland Security officers were in attendance.
A police officer came by at one point to tell activists to move from the street to the sidewalk, but that was the only interaction between us and any authorities. I’m not sure why the DHS people were there – the idea that Tea Partiers would attack an IRS office is ridiculous.
I was in attendance for over an hour, and it was a great opportunity to connect with other area Tea Party groups.
DS: What are the implications, as far as you can tell, of the IRS scandal?
GB: I’m not sure. I think a lot of people would join the Tea Party movement, but they are depressed. They feel there is no hope. We had a special election here in CA to fill a state senate seat, and the big government candidate won because so few conservatives turned out to vote, even though only 10% of eligible voters participated.
The biggest thing today is keeping our members motivated. We talked about this in our last meeting.
Have you seen “Enemy at the Gates?” A character in the military is asked what can be done to win, and he says “Give them [the troops] hope.” When asked for clarification, he suggests filling the military newspaper with positive, uplifting stories to raise morale.
This is what the Tea Party has to do. Conservative radio and other media are always hammering the bad things – because the Obama administration and the Left give us so much negative news to talk about – but why not give an Award of the Week to an activist who does something positive? At our next Tea Party meeting, my task is to present 5 to 10 minutes of uplifting news to “give them hope.”