On Wednesday, over 200,000 ordinary Americans gathered at nearly 1,000 locations around the country. Fed up with high taxes, increasing debt, and expanding government encroachment into their private lives, they gathered to express their displeasure with the Obama administration’s policies and to rally around conservative ideas to push for a new way forward for America.
From the 400 people squeezed onto a tiny grassy plot in Macon, Georgia, where I spoke at noon, to the 15,000 gathered in downtown Atlanta, grassroots activists and community leaders at every location joined together in the Peach State and across the country to spread a message of American values: individual responsibility, equality of opportunity, fiscal responsibility, and governmental accountability.
The reaction from liberal media and pundits to this widespread demonstration of and for traditional American values was predictable, to say the least. With that most ingrained and dependable of leftist traits — projection — on full display, liberals from California to Capitol Hill, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D), declared these hundreds of grassroots gatherings to be “astroturfed” — events funded by “corporate front groups” — and (according to one senior Democratic aide) attended by “neo-Nazis,” “secessionists,” and “racists.”
How far we’ve come from 2008, when “community organizers” were being compared to Jesus (and government executives to Pontius Pilate) and dissent and protest were being hailed as the highest possible forms of patriotism!
Perhaps the biggest misconception about the tea party movement was that it was focused solely on “anti-tax” protests. This perception was egged along by the mainstream media, which referred to these rallies in print exclusively as “anti-tax tea parties” and attempted to restrict the focus of television interviews with attendees to tax matters alone.
This attempt to cast the nationwide grassroots tea party phenomenon simply as an “anti-tax” movement demonstrates that the media are as clueless about the source of mainstream Americans’ displeasure as folks like Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill (D), who posted to Twitter that she was “confused” why people were unhappy with the state of the nation and its government.
“The tea party thing confuses me,” wrote McCaskill, whose Twitter username is ClaireMC. “We’ve just passed one of the biggest tax cuts in American history & we had a record turnout in Nov.”
What McCaskill and those like her clearly fail to understand, beyond the fact that a paltry few extra dollars a week in “savings” is a poor exchange for tens of thousands of dollars in government-imposed personal debt, is that these modern-day tea parties weren’t so narrowly focused as to simply be protests against taxes.
The protests were about prohibitively high tax rates, yes. But they were also about exponentially increasing debt; the punishment of hard work and success through confiscatory government policy; the replacement of age-old American equality of opportunity by government-mandated equality of outcome; and — perhaps most importantly — the current attempts by liberal politicians to inject government into the daily life decisions of ordinary American citizens.
McCaskill and her Democratic Party ilk can be as confused as they want. Those who participated in any of the thousand tea parties held around the country Wednesday get it. When this movement grows through 2009 and into 2010, and when its momentum is felt at the polls next year, those elected Democrats and media personalities who attempted to downplay the significance of what happened Wednesday will begin to understand just how large a sleeping giant they awoke with their profligate spending, their spreading of the wealth, and their encroachment into people’s personal lives and decisions.
April 15, 2009, was simply the beginning. If carried through and built upon into the 2010 elections, real change — not simply a rhetorical device used by another machine-politics-as-usual Democrat — may have an opportunity to come to Washington, D.C.
It will be long overdue when it arrives, but in this case the old axiom “better late than never” holds absolutely true.