Following some bad business decisions nearly five years ago, Jenny Beth Martin and her husband lost their home, cars and lifestyle.
That loss, however, only served to fuel the Georgia resident’s passion.
“I’m so afraid that if the government — if we don’t get the spending under control now, while we have the opportunity … where we can figure out and actually solve the problems with a calm and reasoned head — that we’re going to see what happened in our personal life and our business life happen in our country,” she said.
Martin, one of the co-founders and coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots movement, was the guest speaker Monday at the local chapter’s monthly meeting in the Central Park recreation center.
Addressing a crowd of about 50 members of the Forsyth Tea Party Patriot Alliance, she offered a timeline of how the movement has grown since forming in 2009. The focus remains on fiscal responsibility, a constitutionally limited government and free market economic policies.
Martin, who grew up in Rome, highlighted messages and battles the nonprofit organization has waged to reduce spending and promote fiscal responsibility. She said that fight continues today, as congress soon will take up a measure to increase the debt ceiling.
“We have to make sure that our message and the actions we’re taking right now — especially in the next four weeks and then in the next eight weeks beyond that — are focused with laser-light precision on the battles that we need to be fighting,” she said. “It’s very easy to be distracted because so much is coming at us.
“We have to make sure that we’re not pawns for either party and that we get our message of fiscal responsibility out.”
Several people addressed Martin during the question-and-answer portion of the meeting, but largely to offer advice, opinions or to provide support.
It was Bruce Stevenson’s first alliance meeting, but he was impressed with the speaker.
“She was brilliant. She was just trying to convey the tea party’s strategy in organizing it … and it was inspiring to hear the effort, commitment and passion,” he said. “It’s a needed movement in the country right now.”
Sabrina Mao found Martin “right on target” on her effort to cut spending.
“It’s not a matter of limiting the debt or raising the ceiling, it’s not. That’s not how we’re going to solve the problem,” Mao said. “We have to stop spending.
“[Martin] was wonderful. We need people like that to get people to know the message and to know what’s going on. Because a lot of people are just not happy about it, but they just don’t know what to do. Jenny came over and let us know what they are doing and what we can do and I think that helps a lot.”
Among Martin’s messages was to avoid past distractions such as 99 percent rallies and birth-control issues. She said even the gun control battle, which followed a mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school last month, should take a back seat to fiscal issues.
According to Martin, even if President Barack Obama decides to use his executive power to alter gun control laws, the fight is out of their hands. The alliance movement, she said, should stop reacting and be on the offensive.
“We got distracted and when we got distracted, it allowed the opposition to gain control of the messaging,” she said. “And if we’re not careful right now — if we don’t look at what we did right and where we fell short and how we can do better — we’re going to fall right back into that trap.
“Let’s focus on the right battle at the right time with the right message. And then when we get through with the battles that we need to fight, we can come back and go to those other battles.
“It’s going to take a lot of work, but I’m not going away and I don’t think you guys are either and together we can and we will restore our constitution.”