About 20 protestors stood dressed in red, white and blue outside the Forsyth County Probate Court on Monday waving American flags, holding signs and celebrating 10 years since the Tea Party movement, including the Forsyth County Tea Party, was launched.
“This is our 10th year anniversary,” said Sharon Briggs, who held a sign reading “So Proud of America.” “Ten years ago today, my husband and I were here doing this very same thing: anti-taxes. That was the beginning of the Tea Party, and it was national.”
In 2009, the Tea Party came on to the scene championing conservative stances such as lower taxes and reducing the national debt. Since then, it has become a powerful faction of the Republican Party in favor of those principles.
Briggs said she is happy to see how far the movement has come both locally and nationally since its inception.
“We’re very proud of how we have reached out to the community,” Briggs said. “We have some very loyal patriots. Nationally, I think the Tea Party has done wonders on the national political arena, brought attention to different issues and led the fight for preserving American freedoms.”
The theme of Monday’s event was “Stop Socialism,” which Bill Donnelly, president of the Forsyth County Tea Party, said was on the rise.
“This is a nationwide event that the Tea Party Patriots put on. Stop socialism is the theme of the event,” he said. “Obviously, there is a rise of socialism in this country with Bernie Sanders and [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez], and we want to stand for freedom, we want to stand for capitalism, which is economic freedom in our opinion.”
Donnelly said the event was also important to remind the public that the Tea Party was still fighting for conservative goals.
“The biggest challenge we face right now is keeping the momentum going,” he said. “The problem is we’ve had a number of victories, and with those victories, that causes complacency. Trying to keep people fired up and engaged can be a challenge, so that’s what we’re trying to do is show people that we’re still out here, we’re still around, alive and trying to bring in new blood.”
Among those who have shown interest in continuing the fight is Blake Bassham, an 18-year-old who was holding his own sign with the slogans “Rescue America,” “Freedom” and “Fight Socialism.”
“I think it shows how it connects with the people because the people are fed up with the government trying to get into their lives and the government trying to take their money,” Bassham said. “People want freedom and people want to fight for that freedom. I think that’s how the Tea Party came about and why I think it is still here. The fight for freedom is more alive than ever, especially with Donald Trump elected president, it’s just added gas to our fire.”