Last night I had the pleasure of spending 2 hours and 40 minutes driving with my Dad through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, to a small, rural county called Calaveras.  You may recognize the name from the famous Mark Twain story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.  As I drove there, it seemed like nothing much had changed since Twain wrote the story in 1867.  Perhaps a few more people live in the area now, but it’s still fairly sparsely populated.  The topography ranges from beautiful rolling hills studded with old oaks, to steep, brushy, forested canyons.  This time of year, it’s all dry browns and yellows, but it’s still an exceptionally beautiful drive, and reminded me of one of the many reasons why I love California, despite our insane government.

I’ve been traveling out of state a lot, so I was looking forward to an event closer to home, and spending some time with my long-suffering California compadres.  As I followed the map on the iPhone, even though every turn matched what we were seeing on the road, I doubted my eyes.  It seemed we were heading into the middle of nowhere, far off the main highway.  As the road shrank from two lanes to one, and wound along the spine of a tall ridge only the signs that pointed to “Moaning Caverns Park,” assured me that we were headed to the right place.  It was the location of the annual barbecue of the Calaveras County Taxpayers Association.   Literally at the end of the road we came to a small building, next to which some pop-up shade structures were assembled with picnic tables underneath.  The tables were in the process of being covered with American flag themed paper covers, and on the front of one of the pop-ups was a 5 ft. banner with the logo of the organization, assuring me that we were in the right place.

When we arrived, there were 10 or so folks there setting up, so I headed over to find my host and the President of the Association, Al Regalla.  As is my custom at events like this, we volunteered to help set up, and were put to work stocking the prize table for the upcoming raffle.  People had donated a variety of items in an effort to help the group raise funds for its activities.  After setting up the table, we began to make the rounds, introducing ourselves to the people in attendance.  This is my favorite part of every event.

Wandering through an event like that is a chance to meet great Americans; people who aren’t on TV, who you don’t read about in the newspapers and who may never be celebrated as heroes.  But they’re among my heroes.  They’re the people who come out on a hot Wednesday night in a small town in American flyover country and assemble voluntarily to learn a thing or two about what ails the nation.  They get together to hear proposed solutions, share camaraderie, have a laugh, and encourage each other to get involved and stay involved in civic life.  They are the fabric of America.  They built this country, and they will save it from the ruling elite who are tearing it apart. 37. No deposit bonuses are usually given by the casino to the player as a gift, mainly to attract new players. The main objective of these no deposit bonuses is to promote the brand of the casino and to get an email address or phone number from potential players. These contact details will most likely be used by the casino for marketing purposes.

Ultimately about 40-50 people showed up at the barbecue.  As is often the tradition at meetings like this, we sang the national anthem, in this case accompanied by local patriots on the keyboard and cello.   We recited the Pledge of Allegiance together (I still get chills every time).  And we were led in prayer by a local tea party activist, a young father of three, who with his wife and beautiful 8 year old daughter Morgan, was the volunteer who was manning the drink booth for the event.  It was catered by a local restaurant, which operates in the local historic hotel (probably where Mark Twain stayed).  It doesn’t get any more grassroots than this.

The speakers before me were a local property rights activist who talked passionately about Agenda 21, followed by the local, elected County Auditor / Controller, Rebecca.  Rebecca was clearly passionate about protecting every taxpayer dollar, and openly admitted that local officials find her “somewhat difficult” because she keeps an eye on how they spend the funds.  I loved her, and couldn’t help but thinking that she’d be a far better Treasury Secretary than “Tax Cheat” Tim Geithner.  I asked later to make sure she had indeed paid her own taxes, letting her know that if the elections went well I thought there might soon be a high level opening at Treasury for someone with her ethics.

When it was my turn to speak I stood under the shade canopies and stepped out from behind the podium, trading a microphone for a loud voice.  The sun was just fading over the beautiful hills creating the silhouettes of age old oaks on the ridge in the distance.   I looked out across those picnic tables festooned with American flags, and saw the faces of my fellow Americans.  I was inspired by them.  I am always inspired by them.  They are real American heroes.  They are the hard working men and women and children of our communities.  After work and school, and soccer and baseball practice, and the myriad of other obligations they have, they come out to engage in matters of civic importance.  And I know from experience, they are everywhere.

I have been with these people in upstate New York.  I’ve met them in Flagstaff, Arizona.  I’ve had breakfast with them in a diner in Kalispell, Montana.  I’ve met them at a Starbucks in Seattle, Washington, and at a rally on the streets of San Francisco.  I’ve meet them in Manhattan and Los Angeles, Toledo and Dallas, Texas.  The same kinds of people, and the same kinds of communities are everywhere.  These are the type of people, and the type of communities that created this country.  They are the people and communities that have always saved America when America needed saving.  And they are stepping up today.

The engaged American citizen is alive and well.  They are out there, working hard for the salvation of the nation.  They give me faith that indeed the nation will be saved.  But if I am ever in doubt, if I am every overwhelmed by the cynicism and evil that I see in Washington DC and in our state capitols, I need only go back to Calaveras County, California, and the thousands of other places in this great nation that are home to everyday American heroes.   They always refill my personal tank with optimism and inspiration.

I arrived home late, and my family was long asleep.  I kissed them goodnight and crawled into bed, still glowing with the energy of the great Americans I had met earlier that evening.

Today I woke with a smile.  It is a new day, and thanks to the great patriots of Calaveras County I am again filled with optimism and faith for the future of the nation.

Mark Meckler

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

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