Confession of a Reluctant Tea-Partier
By Luba Sindler
In the Soviet Union any mass expression of public sentiment was by definition a fraud. All organizations got their quotas to provide a certain amount of bodies to march through the town celebrating state holidays. Being a child was no excuse — I remember taking part in an annual May Day demonstration as a 10-year-old member of an ice-skating girls’ group.
My family came to the United States the day before the Thanksgiving of 1987. Being intellectually curious, I immediately began wondering how this country functions and what makes the United States the envy of the world (don’t believe all that criticism from outside — it’s mostly ignorance). As a confirmed bookworm I started reading everything in sight from the Constitution and Federalist Papers to the New York Times to National Review by way of the Economist and the Village Voice. My English improved dramatically but my respect for the media evaporated.
My husband and I applied for US citizenship the day we became eligible. After that we proudly voted in every election, but the idea of venturing a political opinion never crossed my mind (an unfortunate result of being brought up in a totalitarian society where keeping your mouth shut is a basic rule of survival). There was something unseemly in proclaiming my deep love and appreciation of America for all to hear.
When candidate Obama showed up, I realized that I had heard his typical stump speech every single day of my old Soviet life from big and small Communist party bosses — the same structure, the same cadences, the same bogeymen, the same demagoguery, the same targets. The American people had no defense against this rhetoric. The result of the elections was totally predictable. To me it was a “Back to the Future” moment. [Emphasis ours]
[It was like] a terrible nightmare. Running from Communism, finding the safe haven and a new life, and now to have the same wrecking crew coming even here?
In February or March of 2009 my husband, two friends, and I went to the first New York City Tea Party in front of City Hall — more out of helplessness than anything else. I attended a few more Tea Parties in our area (my husband dropped out, not believing in lost causes) just to support a worthy idea, not to expect any tangible result.
The atmosphere was incredible. Complete strangers were talking to each other, taking pictures of thousands of funny posters, smiling, and feeling as one. Contrary to popular opinion outside the United States, here was an ample proof that Americans have a great sense of humor. People were expressing their opinions in a typical American fashion, loud and clear.
I felt as if I had [found a] home. [F]or the first time in my life I felt like a real, full-blooded, free American. It was glorious.
Luba Sindler is not alone. Her sentiments are echoed over and over by immigrants who have come to America from Communist bloc countries. Quite a number are going back home, preferring to live in a land coming out of a Marxist socialist past to one they see trending toward a Marxist socialist future. But as long as there are people like Luba and the Tea Party, America will do just fine.