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Originally published Sunday, August 22, 2010 at 4:02 PM

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Guest columnist

Why I am a tea party activist

National commentators continue attempts to define the tea-party movement, including some who allege it is a racist organization. Guest columnist Jennifer Holmes of Renton disputes that idea and explains why she is a tea-party activist.

Special to The Times

I AM a tea-party activist, not a racist.

I grew up on the Eastside. I went to college, earned a job teaching school, got married, bought a house, had a baby, and stayed home to raise my children. We live in the same house we bought in 1986. Our only debt is our mortgage. A few months before 9/11, my husband was laid off and for six years worked very hard to bring home the bacon taking on various jobs. We survived.

Every election I have cast my vote. Occasionally, I have written the governor, as well as a few senators and some representatives to express my opinions regarding various issues.

But that just doesn't seem to be enough.

I would classify myself as a conservative mix of the various parties. I want a smaller government, an environment that is cherished, and citizens who take personal responsibility for their actions. I want those in need to be cared for, a military capable of protecting us, and the Constitution to be followed. I want our national borders to be secure and a national balanced budget. I want liberty for all, inasmuch as it doesn't encroach on the liberties of others.

I believe the majority of tea partyers believe as I do.

Both our grandparents and parents wanted their children to prosper; to have opportunities and the chance of a better and more fulfilling life. Not just to survive, but to thrive. I want that for my children, too. But we are not thriving, we are surviving.

We pay our monthly bills and make ends meet. We stick religiously to our budget. But there is never anything left. Camping has been the epitome of our vacations. Eating out consists of Subway and Taco Del Mar. I frequent thrift stores for clothing and household items and we were part of a gleaners group.

Other than my husband's company investment program, we have not been able to put any money away. Money comes in and money goes out to cover the mortgage, gasoline and food. Nothing is left for investing, nothing is left for college.

That is why I have attended various tea-party rallies with my family. The first one was in downtown Renton on April 15, 2009. Then on Independence Day, my girls and I sat in on a rally on Mercer Island. This year on Tax Day, we drove to downtown Seattle to wave our flags and listen to others, like us, who are deeply concerned about the direction of our nation. And this past Fourth of July we were in Olympia.

Our oldest son just completed high school and wants to go to college. What opportunities does he have with exorbitant college costs, a horrendous job market and looming inflation? I don't see his generation as one that will have the same affluence as my parents' generation.

I don't see things getting better. I see them getting worse. That is why I am a tea-party activist.

The current path our nation is on is not right — with diminishing personal freedom, greater government control, less money in our pockets, and perpetual debt that is threatening the future of this generation and the generations to come. My distrust of my government is growing because I see those I have elected as caring more about keeping their jobs than making the hard decisions needed to protect and preserve our country.

America is waning. The changes I see are not the ones I want.

I am a flag waver, not a racist. I am an American who cares deeply for the future of our nation and its citizens. I am a tea partyer.

Jennifer Holmes lives in Renton.

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