At the Owatonna Tea Party last month, we collected signatures for a petition asking our Congressman, Tim Walz, to work to repeal the stimuless bill and put an end to government bailouts of private businesses. I never used to be a fan of petitions because they always seemed like such a liberal hippie thing to do. You know, sign a petition to save the whales or stop an evil corporation like Walmart from building a new store in your neighborhood.
But when I got involved with the Appeal for Courage while I was in Iraq, I finally got it. Petitions are as much about the person signing as they are about the end result. Signing a petition gives an ordinary person a chance to feel that they are doing something. So when people were signing the petition at the Tea Party, I made a casual promise that turned out to be a small adventure-I promised to put the petition in the hands of Congressman Walz personally.
Having invited Congressman Walz to speak at the Tea Party by phone and snail mail and gotten no response, I looked to his website for contact info. I was pleasantly surprised to see a page titled-"Request a Meeting". It's a simple contact info page that routes directly to the Congressman's office. It was anything but simple, but that's another story.
So when I got a phone call from Congressman Walz's office on Friday to arrange a meeting time, I was pleased. Although the venue for the meet was a little odd, (the parking lot of the Kwik Trip on highway 14 coming into Owatonna) I was just happy to get a few minutes to speak to him and deliver the petition.
The entire thing lasted less than 2 minutes. I explained that I had gathered the signatures at the Owatonna Tea Party and we were asking the Congressman to oppose any more bailouts, as well as work to repeal the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. I got no further when the Congressman took over, talking about how much money the stimulus was bringing home for veterans in the district and the 42% of the stimules money devoted to tax cuts, which 'we haven't had in a decade'.
He ended the conversation (monologue?) by assuring me that he is a strong supporter of veterans issues, and that when I need anything I should call his office. He handed the petition to his aide and ran inside the Kwik Trip to use the bathroom.
Now, as far as the petition is concerned, I got what I wanted. I put the signatures in Congressman Walz's hands personally and explained briefly where and how I collected them. Bu for me personally, I was extremely disappointed.
Rather than listen to what I had to say, Walz interrupted me to say what he thought I wanted to hear. Rather than understand the spirit of the Tea Party movement which is frustration with big governement spending, he pointed out the pork that he was bringing home for veterans. Rather than ask if I have issues related to being a veteran that he could help with, he assumed that I do and offered to use his office to help.
He's a politician, in the negative sense of the word.