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Faces of the Tea Party - Faith on fire

Faith Jones had been getting fed up for several election cycles, she says. But one day, it was as if some swaggering cowboy had been foolish enough to challenge the compact redhead to a trap shooting contest.

“I got up off my couch in March of 2009,” says Jones, 58. “I just got tired of e-mailing my elected officials, and I got tired of yelling at the TV.”

In her view, government spending — and overreaching — had reached an intolerable level. She railed at the stimulus packages and the bank rescue and health care reform.

“And who gave them permission to bail out the auto industry?” asks Jones, who raised her daughter on her own while working a variety of public affairs jobs. “I happen to know failure,” she says. “I have failed many times in my life. I think failure is a good thing. … Failure builds character.”

As for health care reform, she shares the common Tea Party view that it violates the Constitution.

“It’s the arrogance of these people, the unlawfulness,” she says. “They have lost faith in the people.”

Starting with no experience in political organizing but a background in public relations and sales, Jones and her fiancé, Vietnam veteran Randy Taylor, organized the first rally of the Northwest Indiana Patriots in Valparaiso on April 15.

“At that first rally, we hoped we would get 50 people,” says Jones. “And then, about 1,000 people showed up — they just kept streaming over the top of this hill.”

As the main speaker, she was shocked and then inspired.

“Patriots!” she began, shouting into the microphone.

The NWIP now has about 1,800 members, and Jones is getting invitations to speak at larger Tea Party events, which she does without a script — bringing her own blend of rugged individualism and charm.

“You just have to speak from your heart. I don’t mind telling people I’ve never done this before … so you can do it,” says Jones. “I hope to be an inspiration, even if they stand on the other side of the aisle.”

She also tries to get people in her audiences to take practical action on issues, learning how politics works as she goes along.

“President Obama is not on the ballot on this election November 2,” she will point out to gatherings. “I say: Please, pay attention to how important the sheriff is. Understand the power of one school board member. Stay focused in your local community, because we will correct this community by community.”

Jones says she is in politics for as long as it takes to make officials accountable to voters and to observe constitutional limits.

“I think it has taken about 40 years for our government to lose the principles of our founding fathers,” she says. “It will take time to correct.”

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