People who believe they have been Taxed Enough Already (TEA) will gather Thursday for the fifth Bulloch County TEA Party rally, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Bulloch County Courthouse, said TEA Party advocate Heather Merritt.
"This is the fifth rally of this kind in Bulloch County," she said. "There were 250 participants at the first Tea Party and it has grown ever since." The Bulloch group has 357 "friends" on Facebook and more than 400 on its mailing list, she said.
Vandy's Barbecue will offer plates and "TEA" available for $7. A voter registration booth will be set up, and for people interested, a candidate check list based on the TEA Party's principles will be available as well.
People will be able to pick up supplies to make their own signs n site, or they can use signs already made, she said.
What is the TEA Party all about? Merritt said there are a great many misconceptions. One is the rumor that the TEA Party is racist and, because of that, is anti-Obama, she said.
"Most in the current TEA Party movement are people who started becoming aware of how far our government had gotten away from our founding fathers intentions when Bush passed the ‘had to have it now' $700 billion bailout," she said. "After pleading with our elected officials and subsequently being ignored by Bush, McCain and Obama, we knew then for certain the government no longer did the will of the people, they crammed it through on the will of their own."
She said many TEA Party members are asked why the "see only white people at the rallies.
"Our rallies send open invitations to all Bulloch County residents. We post it publicly and even run commercials inviting all citizens to join us if they believe in our four principles - limited government, free market economy, fiscal and personal responsibility. We don't bribe people to attend. We don't pay people to attend. We specifically promote those four principles and sometimes people are shocked that we aren't anything like what the main stream media has accused us of being.
Merritt said there were Hispanic, African-American and Cuban participants at the last rally, "most of which utilized our open mic forum for that rally ... the only ones who make race an issue are those who see things through already racially tinged eyes and who haven't actually joined us at a rally or haven't paid attention to what we have been saying."
TEA Party supporters come in all races, ages, and from many different backgrounds, she said.John Hoffman, a Georgia Southern University student, is an active leader of the Bulloch County TEA Party movement.
"Like many people, I was unhappy with the direction I felt our country was heading, and worried about what this meant for my future," Hoffman said. "After watching all of the rallies on the news and reading about them I became moved by what was happening across this country and understood that I could make my voice heard.
Unable to make the trip home for a rally during school, he discovered the Bulloch County TEA Party, and decided to attend a rally.