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March on the Tea Party: To Rome (Georgia) and Moscow (Idaho)

Oct 04, 2013 | Updated Dec 04, 2013

The attempt to de-fund Obamacare by the Tea Party caucus and its members in the U.S. House of Representatives is no longer about the tradition of rules and congressional procedure. There is no logic to their demands to dismantle a fully vetted law. It is about another signature American tradition -- civil disobedience. It is about their anger and their willingness to take action, however inappropriate or even illegal.

Who would have thought a half-century ago in, say, Berkeley, CA, that right-wingers would ever endorse such disrespect for government and the rule of law? Times change.

Even so, members of the U.S. House of Representatives, egged on by the the likes of the junior senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, are running freezing and provoking plays (notably Jams and Peacocks) to shrink the system they've come to despise.

Thanks to population sorting trends and gerrymandering, there is little consequence for the handful of lawmakers who are playing their game of chicken with fellow mainstream Republicans as well as Democrats and The White House. Their districts are homogeneously conservative, generally in rural corners of the homeland. So why, in fact, showcase their messengers? Why not showcase them? While Cruz is keen to remind us that these efforts are to "make them listen," perhaps it's time to help them see who they are hurting.

MARCH ON ROME AND MOSCOW (Georgia and Idaho, that is)

By this logic, one approach is to go to the source of the problem, not the Tea Party politicians but the small towns and electorates that have sent them to Washington. Since they have frozen the national system for which they harbor such distaste, it would be fair enough to flood the local systems with which they are presumably more content.

One answer, in other words, is to march on the Tea Party and specifically to their street corners, cafes and city halls. But where and with what strategy? The targets would no doubt need to be nestled in the districts of the most prominent Tea Party obstructionists. And the chosen towns would need some symbolic significance or irony to propel the narrative and media interest. Two come to mind:

Rome, a southern hamlet of 36,000 in the center of Georgia's 14th congressional district, and the home of U.S. Representative Tom Graves, an unapologetic leader of the Obamacare de-funding stare-down.

Moscow, a rugged northwest outpost of 25,000 in Idaho's 1st congressional district and the roost of U.S. Representative Raul Labrador, another out-spoken opposer of Obamacare.

The tactics are for seasoned activists to figure, but paramount to any considered sit-in or social disruption to these modest municipalities is to practice what Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached to his civil rights followers -- peaceful and non-violent means. The Romes and Moscows of America have done plenty to make us listen, so it's appropriate and in fact patriotic that they should also be made to hear. Let's pay them a visit, en masse.

This is not a call to occupy small town parks or hack civic websites. In fact, it is a call to bring the America that small towns are not seeing to their remote doorsteps. It is a call for symmetric dialog, not the asymmetric legal warfare that is being waged in Congress.