Whitestone resident Lauren Whalen wasn’t always a political person. But, two watershed events of the past decade helped to dramatically alter her politics and her views.
“After 9/11, when most everyone’s life changed forever, I became very interested in politics,” said Whalen, who is the founder of the Northeast Queens Tea Party Patriots, a conservative political movement that adheres closely to Constitutional ideals — as its members see them.
Whalen, who attended Queens College and now teaches deaf children, said that even though her civic awareness and political consciousness was raised in the aftermath of Sept. 11, it wasn’t until the pivotal 2008 election of President Obama that she took decisive action.
“I always wanted to volunteer for a cause and I felt that I needed to do something besides just listening to conservative talk radio and reading newspapers,” said Whalen, speaking from the office of the Queens County Republican Club in Whitestone.
Whalen explained that soon after the 2008 election, she began volunteering with the Queens County Republicans, helping out with campaigns and fundraisers for Republican and Conservative candidates such as Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), who is running for Congress in the newly drawn 6th District.
Halloran, who like most Republicans has been highly critical of Obama’s economic and foreign policies, has reportedly attended several of Whalen’s Tea Party meetings since the group’s founding via Meetup.com in October of last year.
Meetup is a website that helps people with similar interests form groups and connect both on- and offline.
“No matter what you call them, there are thousands of New Yorkers who are fed up with President Obama and the Democrats’ failed policies,” Halloran said through his spokesperson, Steven Stites. “I am proud to have their support and I join them in demanding job creation, lower taxes and responsible spending.”
Whalen describes Halloran as a “great Tea Party candidate and great constitutionalist who fights the battle every day.”
And, although she admits that the group still only has a handful of members, she says that almost anyone can join regardless of his or her party registration.
“Anyone who is feeling frustrated about the way our government is being run can come to our meetings,” Whalen says. “No party affiliation needed.”
Moreover, Whalen says that yet another reason she decided to start her group is that the image of the Tea Party in the media has been distorted, especially in the cases of high-profile Tea Party candidates such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Congresswoman and former Republican presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann.
“The Tea Party has been bashed in the media,” Whalen said. “There is a misconception of who we are.”
At her Meetup.com website, she lists the group’s core values as less government, free markets and upholding the Constitution as the supreme law of the land.
A general description of Tea Party values can be found at Teaparty.org, which details the organization as “a grassroots movement that calls awareness to any issue that challenges the security, sovereignty, or domestic tranquility of our beloved nation, the United States of America. From our founding, the Tea Party represents the voice of the true owners of the United States: We The People.”
Other candidates Whalen supports include Army veteran Stephen Labate, who is running in the 3rd Congressional District in an attempt to unseat six-term 2nd CD Congressman Steve Israel, who was “drawn into” thenew 3rd after the Census.
Whalen and her Tea Party are also supporting Manhattan attorney and Conservative activist Wendy Long as she attempts to take on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
Not a fan of the president, Whalen believes that Obama “doesn’t uphold the Constitution.”
“Our government works best when there is less government,” she concludes.
Meetings of the NE Queens Tea Party Patriots are the last Thursday of every month. For information, contact Whalen at: firstname.lastname@example.org.