There’s no doubt the main catalyst for the Tea Party movement and the motivation of other independent voters today is the out-of-control spending, bailouts, trillions in debt, and the unprecedented aggressive expansion of government into our lives, businesses, health care, and earnings, by the Obama administration, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and their allies. The debt in the trillions dwarfs all other deficits in our nation’s history many times over, and, if it is not reversed, it will be the ruin of our country. To preserve the American Dream, millions of freedom-loving Americans are going to stand up on Election Day and demand change.
But it would be a mistake to view the current tide as pro-Republican. People are mad at both parties, and they have a right to be. As I have traveled across Virginia over the last several years, participating in tea party rallies, campaigning for conservative candidates, and doing all I can to help elect people who will save our country from what is happening in Washington, I hear it again and again. People are fed up — not just with one party — but both of them.
Indeed, in the 2009 Summer of Rightful Discontent at town hall meetings and rallies — in addition to opposition to “cap-and-trade” energy tax schemes, “stimulus” spending, and the massive government takeover of health care, all being advanced by the Democratic leadership in Washington — people were stirred and riled against the TARP bailout and disgusted by the 2008 bailout of failing auto manufacturers by President Bush, and those who voted for these bailouts.
Just a few years prior to that, the anger was directed at a Republican president and Congress that failed to bring spending under control. That spending was a fraction compared to what is going on now, but people had a right to expect better of the Republicans when we were in charge. And no one who was in Washington back then can avoid a share of the blame — all of us should have done more. But I will also say this: Many of us have been fighting Washington-style insider politics and pork-barrel spending for years, and have the scars and bruises to show for it.
My governorship was an insurgency based on bringing common sense conservative principles to office, and we turned things around in Virginia. We grew private sector jobs at an unprecedented rate, cut taxes, cut the welfare rolls in half, and actually cut the size of the government workforce by 10,000 employees.
We also stood up for constitutional principles. As governor, I hosted a meeting of all the Republican governors in Williamsburg to get them motivated, organized, and on record in favor of a return to the principles of federalism — changes that would restore the founders’ design and reinvigorate the role of the states in our federal system, like a states’ repeal amendment that would allow two-thirds of the states to repeal federal laws or initiate constitutional amendments.
During our administration, we fought the federal government bureaucracy encroachment into the rights and prerogatives of the people of Virginia. We were in courts and the halls of Congress, fighting the EPA on many fronts and the federal Department of Education, which was trying to dictate to us how to enforce discipline in our schools.