I’ve taken time off from work on April 15 to be at my local tea party. As the tea parties occur, the media will offer their spin on why people are there.
Large events like this are remarkable. In some ways, they’re comparable to baseball games, where you’ll find some people with an agenda aside from the game. If the media applied the same coverage to baseball games that it applies to tea parties, it would assume that, if someone gets through security and streaks across the field nude, most of the crowd are closet nudists.
Of course, most just want to see the game and have no interest in the streaker. Similarly, the streaker has no interest in the baseball game. He simply wants to streak nude in front of a large audience.
Like our baseball streaker, some at the tea parties will have their own agendas that have little or nothing to do with the cause for which most people are going to attend. Most would rather not be defined by the proverbial streaker, and I’m no exception. I’m not going to the tea party to make the case that President Obama is a Muslim born in Indonesia, to advocate secession from the union, or to explain how America’s problems are the direct results of actions by members of the Council on Foreign Relations. I’m not going as a Republican; I’m going as an American.
My party has let the country down with its massive overspending, corrupt career politicians, and willingness to play business as usual when it’s not called for. As much as I’m not a fan of the Obama administration, if he’s replaced in 2012 by a feckless Republican president with a feckless Republican Congress that believes only its own re-election, our country will be no better for it.
Many House Republicans and Senate Republicans are part of the problem. Republican Congressman, House appropriator, and noted earmarxist Mike Simpson (R-ID), sensing the mood of our times, wrote a stirring editorial defending and praising his numerous contributions to our national debt. We have a GOP full to the brim with senators and congressmen like Simpson who believe their job is to bring home federal money for projects that states and communities ought to pay for themselves. These politicians are the antithesis of what the tea parties are about and are the reason why the Republican Party has lost support and enthusiasm. Whether Republicans will put forth the type of people worthy of the effort of tea party attenders will determine whether they’re able to benefit from the tea parties. If not, they’ll wander in the wilderness while the Mike Simpsons of the world help spend the country into oblivion.
Likewise my participation is not an act of opposition to the Obama administration. I go out to the tea party to represent the things that I’m for. I’m for capitalism and the free market, not merely against government paternalism that dictates price controls while determining winners and losers. While not a universal sentiment among tea party attendees, I’m for the fair tax. With the economic mess we’re in, we need to grow this economy and free the engine of free enterprise in a way that no other tax reform can do. Government needs to grasp the idea of affordability. We’ve been led by politicians who believe they are godlike, infinite in their ability to spend money to solve problems. Back in the 1990s, we were told we didn’t need a balanced budget amendment because we had surpluses. We need one now to once and for all put a stop to the overspending.
We also need term limits, because Lord Acton was right. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. After about a decade, even the best members of Congress seem to view themselves as a permanent part of government rather than as representatives of the people. Not everyone will agree with me on these specifics. Some might feel term limits will degrade the quality of our government, though I can no longer imagine that to be possible.
Whatever the specific proposals, our times call not for timid half measures, but for bold, innovative leadership. Some will question whether a tea party will bring about those changes. One sage, a morning talk show host, suggested the tea parties wouldn’t do anything. On one level, he’s right. A tea party won’t balance the budget anymore than the 1963 March on Washington passed civil rights legislation.
Many politicians won’t “see the light” until they feel the heat. Large rallies, when properly leveraged, place pressure on recalcitrant politicians to mend their ways to save their jobs. One splash of tea parties isn’t enough. They must be the beginning of something, rather than a one-time, nationwide event. This is where things become dicey. Too often in grass roots movements today, there’s a large surge of interest that slowly flames out over time; citizens of our ADD nation wander off when the fight gets too difficult.
People will pledge solemnly to fight big government and preserve American liberty and then lose interest. That will happen as it has at every moment of American history as far back as the Revolutionary War. We forget that, in the winter of 1776, the ravages of war led a lot of people to decide this whole revolution thing wasn’t worth it. In fact, it was probably going to be lost, so many soldiers deserted.
My hope is that there will be Valley Forge people for whom the tea party is not an end but a beginning. These are people that will be at the core of efforts to reverse the policies that imperil our Republic. These will be the leaders, writers, and activists who carry the movement forward. This is the way vital changes are achieved.
The great movements of American history have had at their core thousands rather than millions. To go to the tea party is an act of hope, as opposed to the despair sold by the “why bother” crowd. Because America is too great not to make an effort, I’m going to the tea party. I hope to see you there.