Well, the Tea party movement is not even a year old, and already it is holding its first national convention. I was honored to be asked to speak at the West Los Angeles event on September 12th of last year, so unlike most of the talking heads you see opining on the Tea Party movement, at least I am one of the very few to have been to one personally.
Now the most remarkable thing about that remarkable experience is something that is very hard to put into words. It’s the quality that makes me reluctant to try and tell you what it is, because it clearly is so many different things to so many people. And that grass-roots, “never-done-this-before” sense of excitement and empowerment is the first thing that really hits you.
These are the most regular, decent people you’ll meet, and with very few exceptions not one of them has been involved in politics in any way. It’s just that — like so many of us — They’ve just had enough!
Of course, the media coverage has tried very hard to portray the normal, average, every-day Americans of the Tea party rallies as dangerous and angry racists and Wal-Mart knuckle-draggers, while identifying the mass-produced signs, the mass-produced T-shirts, the mass-produced members of bused-in wiccan nihilist anarcho-Maoist lesbian eco-weenie anti-war protestors as somehow the genuine voice of the American people.
So as a person who has been there, let me try and explain what I think this whole movement is about.
The people I have met at these events were generally the happy, decent, hard-working people that make up the vast middle of Silent America. They are not bitter, and they are not “consumed with rage.”
But they — I mean, we — are angry. We have a right to be angry. As a matter of fact, we not only have a right but in fact have an obligation to be angry. The spending orgy in Washington brought on by the Democratic control of both houses of Congress and the election of the most liberal member of the Senate to the office of the Presidency is taking the country off the edge of a cliff and everybody knows it.
This spending is so monumental, so out of control and so beyond the pale that huge numbers of what were honest, decent, hard-working and unassuming citizens no longer feel like taxpayers but rather like host organisms: we find ourselves staggering around in shock, like victims of a plane crash or some natural disaster, looking around at the destruction of the work ethic that gave five percent of the population an economy four times the size of its nearest competitor. We watch, horrified, at the government takeover not of businesses or industries but entire sectors of the free market. That’s why there’s a Tea Party.
You know what this reckless, Imperial orgy of spending feels like? It feels like coming out of the shower in the morning, dazed and exhausted after a good night’s sleep, and stepping in front of a mirror to find yourself covered in leeches that are sapping not just the blood it takes to make government function, but rather all of it — every last living drop of it — to fund entitlements and work projects and boondoggles of every description: congressional “climate change” junkets that include skiing and snorkeling days in New Zealand, and Bridges to Nowhere, and the use of Air Force jets as the personal chauffeurs not only of the Speaker of the House but for her families and business cronies, too. We see a President who talks about sharing hardship but who then decides to go out on date night and catch a show in New York City and ends up spending every single tax dollar you and your kids will make in your entire life: gone!
Gone! What did you get for it? Nothing. What service did it do the country? None! So why did they spend it? Because — listen now — they spent it because that’s not your money. That’s their money. Just because you got up in the morning, sat in traffic, and worked all day before sitting in traffic again to come home exhausted… that doesn’t mean it’s your money to these bloodsucking, leather-winged, Big Government entitlement-mongers. No, that’s their money to spend as they see fit — and not just all the money you send in taxes today, or next year, or the next ten years — they — Democrats and Republicans too — have spent all the money you will make in your lifetime, and then spent all of the money your kids will make, and the pool of work that your grandkids will do in 2060 or so — that’s mostly been spent too.
You want to know why we’re angry? What once was a social compact between the people and their representatives has rotted away into this: a people no longer paying a reasonable price for the limited number of things that only a government can provide, but rather victims of identity theft — people who open a monthly credit card statement only to discover fifty thousand dollars of vacations not taken, and jet skis and plasma TV’s paid for but never delivered. That’s why there’s a Tea Party.
Now some critics of the Tea Party movement say it is hypocritical to complain about Democrat spending without complaining about Republican spending as well. Well, there are two things to say about that: first, that is a profound insight from someone who has obviously never been to a Tea Party event, because if they had been there, they would know that the real thunderbolts thrown in response to this spending orgy is aimed not at the Democrats but rather the Republicans; the people who should know better, the people, in fact, that we thought would be standing guard over our hard-earned treasure, not shoveling it out the door by the fork-full.
Secondly, I’ll just let this graph do the talking.
The grey bars are Bush’s Deficits. Notice that they were declining yearly in his second term, until TARP — which President Obama claimed as his own personal miracle — drove them up during his last year. Now look at the red bars: that’s Obama’s spending: four times Bush’s last year — the spike of TARP included — and not for an emergency fix of the banks, but rather to buy things like ATV trails on one hand and General Motors on the other, all in the name of “stimulus,” which, we were promised, would cap unemployment at 8% instead of the nine or 10% we would see without the line at the government cash trough. The official unemployment rate is now at least ten percent; some analysts say the true number may now be half again that, or even double.
Oh, and by the way, shocking and damning though this graph is, it’s a little long in the tooth. The fact is, this President and Congress have been waging a year-long war against business and the evil, evil wealthy, who, needless to say, have decided to keep their heads down, produce less, and pay less in taxes.
Here’s a graphic that better illustrates the real effect of the decreased revenues as a result of this war on the private sector:
That’s why there’s a tea Party.
So what’s ahead? Well, no one knows, least of all me. But I do have a very strong sense of what should be ahead.
Despite the authentic and wholly justified sense of betrayal that many conservatives feel at the hands of the GOP, I think that talks of a third party are suicide: not only permanent minority status, but also handing the store over to the people most intent on robbing it — forever.
The Tea Party Movement is really the conservative movement. It’s like a soul that has somehow been cut off from its physical body, and now both wander the landscape, trying to decide what to do. Because if the Tea Party movement is the grass-roots, common-man philosophical soul of small government and personal liberty and responsibility, then the Republican party is the skeletal structure — the bones and arteries and sinews needed to live in the real world.
The only road to success and recovery from this rocket-sled of ruin is to re-unite these two elements. We tried that, actually: Tea Party passion and internet fundraising, plus GOP ground operations, call centers, networks and so forth, and this was the result:
Pretty damn impressive!
Now, was Scott Brown the perfect conservative candidate? To many — even many who supported him — he was not. That’s not the question we should be asking. The question we should be asking — and did ask, it seems — is not whether Scott Brown is more conservative than Ronald Reagan. The question is whether or not Scott Brown is more conservative than Ted Kennedy or Martha Coakley.
He is, and by a very wide margin. That’s a win!
Victory is a ratchet. To retake this country we need every gain we can get — no matter how small — and to give up as little as possible. If Scott Brown — Republican senator from Massachusetts — turns out to be the most liberal man in the Senate then we’re living in paradise. That’s why there’s a Tea Party. And that’s why being a part of the Tea Party movement is, when it is all said and done, just plain fun.
And a final note: do you know who we owe the remarkable success of the Tea Party movement to? We owe it to Rachel Maddow, and Keith Olberman, and Chris Matthews. We owe it to Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, and Barack Obama — not just for the political motivation, but because they decided to make it personal.
By calling us Tea Baggers, and racists, and Nazis, and rubes, and hicks… by pretending we’re just a fringe group of dangerous radicals, or saying — as the President did, twice, and apparently with a straight face — that he was unaware that tens or hundreds of thousands of hard-working American patriots were clogging the streets of the city he lives in — well all of these geniuses poured can after can of lighter fluid on to what might have been some old, wet charcoal — nearly impossible to light — and turned it into a wildfire that will likely remake the landscape of this country. That’s why there’s a Tea Party.
So thanks, you big-brain, sneering, socialist ninnies! We couldn’t have done it without you.
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