in•de•pend•ent
1. expressive of a spirit of independence; self-confident; unconstrained: a free and independent citizen.

Since the Tea Party Movement is now one year old, it’s time to celebrate a movie about the independent spirit. What better film to acknowledge than the 2003 flawless western Open Range? Directed by Kevin Costner and starring Robert Duvall, Costner, Annette Benning, and Michael Gambon, Open Range appears to be a simple tale about the 1880s Montana range war between cattle baron Denton Baxter and free-grazing cowboys Boss Spearman and Charley Waite. This gem sparkles among all the crown jewels that are associated with the western genre: men who are uncompromising in their own sense of moral honor, fearless women, and the timeless struggle to find a safe haven in a perilous world.

A perennial story of people caught between changing times and moral convictions, Open Range explores the clash between the unfettered spirit that remains free and the weak spirit that sells out. The juxtaposition of the former, embodied by Robert Duvall (Boss Spearman) and Kevin Costner (Charlie Waite), collide time and again against Michael Gambon’s ruthless town boss, Denton Baxter. The fury which Baxter hurls at the heroes reveals a rage at what he has become – a corrupted soul who still clings to the remnants of his shredded spirit.

Baxter: I got the biggest spread around. Bigger than any three or four put together. Built it up with me own two hands, piece by piece, along with this town. And there ain’t no free-graze cattle gonna take the feed off my cattle on this range.

Winner of the 2004 Western Heritage Award, Open Range warns of the inherent danger in allowing morally bankrupt leaders to co-opt the independent spirit past the point of complacency. When the eventual showdown between cowboys and land baron occurs, it forces the townspeople to embrace their forgotten courage, in order to stand up to Denton Baxter and his henchmen.

Mack: Shame what this town’s come to.
Charley: You could do something about it.
Mack: What? We’re freighters. Ralph here’s a shopkeeper.
Charley: You’re men, ain’t you?
Mack: I didn’t raise my boys just to see ’em killed.
Charley: Well you may not know this, but there’s things that gnaw at a man worse than dying.

Through it all, Boss Spearman is unwavering in his commitment to the independent ideal. His character serves as a clarion call to remain true to the ideals of the Tea Party Movement in the midst of political diversions and the shallow promises of self-serving politicians.

Charley: You reckon them cows are worth getting killed over?
Boss: The cows is one thing. But one man telling another where he can go in this country’s something else.
That rancher sat in that jailhouse, sneering and letting his lawman lay down the law till he figured it was time to show us that he gave the orders around here. Ooh, sticks in my craw.

Happy Independence, Tea Party Citizens!