Tea Party's Carender Promotes, Inspires Activism

Uploaded by mountholyokenews on 17.12.2010

Students at rally: "No how! No way! No tea for me!"
Though they may not have agreed with her stance on issues like tax cuts and health care,
a group of Mount Holyoke students welcomed the opportunity to engage Tea Party activist Keli Carender
when she came to campus to discuss the movement's evolution and women's leadership role within it.
Keli Carender: "I am a fierce proponent of free speech, I believe the only thing better
than free speech is more speech. And I think it's incredibly fantastic that you expressed yourselves
before this event tonight, and I hope that me being here will help you understand a little more about the values
that I and the Tea Party express."
This wasn't the first time that Carender had publically expressed her--or the Tea
Party's--views. In fact, she organized the first modern--day Tea Party rally, held
in her hometown of Seattle in February 2009, to show her dissatisfaction with the federal
government's $700 billion dollar bailout of banks, as well as the Obama administration's
stimulus package.
Keli Carender, Tea Party activist: "I decided, Well, my representatives aren't listening to me,
and I can either give up, and just stay home and let things happen the way they are
happening, or I can do something about it.' So I decided to organize a protest, and we
had it on President's Day, February 16, 2009, and then three days later, Rick Santelli
had his rant on CNBC.
Rick Santelli: "You know, the new administration's big on computers and technology. How about
this, president and new administration: why don't you put up a website to have people
vote on the Internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers'
mortgages', We're thinking of having a Chicago tea party in July. All you capitalists who
want to show up to Lake Michigan, I'm going to start organizing."
From that point, the Tea Party movement grabbed national attention-and a following to match.
James Harold, Weissman Center director: "It became very clear early on in 2010, if not
earlier, that the Tea Party was going to have an enormous impact on the mid-term elections
and on the larger political landscape."
That's why the Weissman Center for Leadership, which director James Harold says aims to foster
campus dialogue on important public issues--wanted to invite a Tea Party representative to campus.
James Harold: "We also took an interest in Keli Carender because of the Weissman Center's
role in promoting women's leadership. Here was a young woman who had taken an important
leadership position in a new, powerful, grassroots political movement. And we thought this was
a great opportunity to learn more about it."
Student at seminar: "You're clearly a very prominent woman within politics. So,
as a woman in a position of power, would you consider yourself a feminist?"
Keli Carender: "I do, but I think it depends on your definition of feminism. I think people
have different definitions. I mean, I'm learning that people have different definitions
of freedom, different definitions of liberty, different definitions of--I mean everything
has a different definition, and if you come into a conversation thinking you have the
same definitions of these terms, I think it's going to blow up in your face."
Mount Holyoke students had a pair of opportunities to learn more about Carender and the Tea Party--first
at an intimate student leadership seminar, and later that evening at her public lecture,
delivered to a crowded Chapin Auditorium.
Keli Carender speech: "Journalists have tried to say: "Well, you started the Tea
Party movement. "No. To me, the tinder was there, the brush was there, it was dry, it
was ready to go, and maybe I helped spark it."
Though Carender discussed Tea Party history rather than the movement's issues, some
students, like rally organizer Emma Angus, still felt compelled to question Carender's positions.
Emma Angus '11; Geography major, English minor, "It wasn't in protest of Keli
Carender being invited to speak at Mount Holyoke. We were very happy that the Weissman Center
actually invited her here, and we felt that it gave us a unique opportunity among colleges
to make a statement about the Tea Party."
Though she and the other students who rallied may not have agreed with Carender's politics,
Angus said she still learned a great deal from Carender's visit.
Emma Angus: "Mostly that one person can make a big difference on a campus and in a
political movement. That's what Carender talks about as well, and ironically enough,
if she hadn't come here, I might not have done all this that I put in motion. So I thank her for that."
And Carender, as she alluded at the start of her speech, would certainly thank anyone,
like Angus, for standing up for his or her opinions.
This is Max Pearlstein for the Mount Holyoke Office of Communications.