Just a year ago, a political phenomenon liberals tried hard to dismiss began gaining strength throughout the United States. It is the "tea party" movement, and Wheeling is one of the places where it first flexed its muscle.
Loosely organized in a true grassroots movement, a group of Ohio Valley residents held a "Tax Day Tea Party" last April 15 in Wheeling. A second one is set for today, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Wheeling Park amphitheater.
During the past 12 months, the tea party movement has become more sophisticated and better organized. Now, for example, the local group is called We the People - Ohio Valley.
But tea party protesters throughout the nation have accomplished something at which many similar campaigns in the past failed dismally: We the People organizations consist of Republicans, Democrats and Independents. The initiative is a true bipartisan one.
Its adherants have refused to be hijacked by politicians from either of the two major parties. That in large measure is a reaction to the fact that much of the trouble our nation finds itself in can be blamed on both Democrats and Republicans.
We the People groups continue to focus on what is building to a crisis for our nation - runaway spending. Fiscal irresponsibility is rampant in Washington and in some state capitals. The national debt stands at $12.8 trillion and is projected to grow to $20 trillion within just a few years.
Washington's response to complaints about bigger government has been expensive new regulations, including the federal takeover of health care. It has been plans for new deficit spending at an unprecedented level.
Again, big spenders in government at first attempted to ignore the tea party movement. Then they began accusing its active participants of somehow being dangerous.
That is a demonstration of the movement's growing power, in our opinion. It is not a reflection of the overwhelming majority of people involved in the movement.
We the People - Ohio Valley continues to take an important stand for the good not just of Americans today, but of future generations. In translating what once was a protest movement to a campaign with political muscle, the tea party organizations are doing an important - and necessary - service.