Trending
MOST READ
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
\'Most Naked Woman\' Set to Shimmy at San Antonio Burlesque Festival

'Most Naked Woman' Set to Shimmy at San Antonio Burlesque Festival

Food & Drink: The answer came unanimously without prompting or hesitation, as if sent straight from the sexually liberated goddess of... By Melanie Robinson 7/30/2014
Pub: Stay Golden Social House

Pub: Stay Golden Social House

Flavor 2014: Puro meets Pearl-adjacent at this laidback joint that packs a punch with seriously delicious cocktails... 7/29/2014
Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Music: Chris Pérez never saw it coming. “All I ever wanted to do was play guitar,” he told the Current. “I never thought I’d be the subject of an interview... By Enrique Lopetegui 8/28/2013
Profiles in Cosplay from Ivy Doomkitty to Dog Groomers

Profiles in Cosplay from Ivy Doomkitty to Dog Groomers

Arts & Culture: Wizard World Comic Con graces San Antonio for the first time ever. The traveling pop-culture mega fest brings together comic... By Kyla Mora 7/30/2014
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

The QueQue

Incendiary local Tea Party president George Rodriguez lays out his go-local approach

Photo: Michael Barajas, License: N/A

Michael Barajas

San Antonio Tea Party president George Rodriguez: fiery instigator or quiet lobbyist?


The mostly elderly, mostly white Tea Partiers inside the Northside sports bar sit with eyes trained on the wall of TV screens as a conference call organized by right-wing lobbying group the American Action Network is spinning rebuttals by an assortment of GOP all-stars and conservative thought-leaders to President Obama's "liberal tax-and-spend agenda" over the bar's loud speakers. Guffaws, exaggerated sighs, and "bullshit"s start as soon as cameras fix on Obama. Seconds into the State of the Union Address an elderly gentleman saunters up to my table and snickers, "You know everyone's gonna give him a standing ovation. How 'bout we give him a mooning ovation." He turns around and mimes the gesture.

George Rodriguez, the San Antonio Tea Party president, isn't so animated. Shaking his head with an occasional grimace as Obama talks energy policy, environmental protection, immigration, and taxes, Rodriguez is furiously scribbling notes onto a stack of bar napkins. "My goal really is to attack grassroots liberalism," he tells me. "Here, at the local level, that's where you see it start. Then you get some politician that grows into an Obama," he says, pointing up to the glowing TVs. "That's what we want to stop."

To achieve that in San Antonio, Rodriguez and his Tea Party have changed course. No longer are they preaching the gospel of budget cuts, low taxes and no regulation at raucous Alamo Plaza protests with "Don't Tread on Me" flags and pocket-size Constitutions. Instead, Rodriguez hopes to "elevate" and "mature the conversation," putting many of the national Tea Party staples, like the national debt and Obama's birth certificate (which Rodriguez says he still has "questions" about) on the back-burner to dive into local politics and policymaking. He wants to craft a quiet, grassroots lobbying apparatus to push over a dozen local Tea Party "cells," as he calls them, across Bexar County to meet with neighborhood associations, school board members, council members, and county commissioners, all in hopes of shaping the discussion on everything that touches the local taxpayer dollar.

Rodriguez made a splash last year when he became the first Hispanic to lead a major Tea Party chapter, seen as someone who could supposedly transcend race and draw Hispanics to conservatism. Born into public housing in Laredo, Rodriguez's parents moved the family to San Antonio after his father got booted from a job at the Laredo Morning Times for trying to unionize workers running the presses. "Illegals were getting hired over citizens. … American citizens were not getting a fair deal, so my father fought that," Rodriguez told me proudly over lunch last week.

Long before his Tea Party days, Rodriguez was an activist of a different stripe. In college, he became deeply involved with the Chicano movement and La Raza Unida. Eventually, though, he got fed up with the cause. Racial inequality was on the decline, he felt, and he began to view the fight for economic equality as "something more akin to socialism" — something he couldn't square

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus