What the New York Times and so many other liberal institutions do not realize is that all of this recent political fuss is not about the Tea Parties or the Tea Party members. It is not about the rallies, the signs, the undocumented accusations of off-color or rude or politically incorrect comments, the Tea Party leaders (or lack of same), the candidates they support, or even the candidates they oppose. These are all just symptoms of a much larger frustration and anger.
These political protests are about the people of our nation learning or relearning about our founding principles of limited government (anti-big government), increased individual liberties, fiscal responsibility, free market capitalism, our constitutional republic form of government, and self-reliance for those who have the physical and mental capacity to be self-sustaining.
The Tea Parties are critically important, but there are many more of us who support these principles than will ever go to a Tea Party event. The Tea Parties are just saying out loud that which we are thinking.
We the people, like Tea Party members, are rereading the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Some of us are even reading the Federalist Papers and other writings of our founding fathers. We are studying the long history of big-government failures across time and geography. And we are recalculating the balance we want and need between government “support” and control versus individual liberty and opportunity.
We the people are shocked that anything like 47% of our citizens pay no federal income tax. We all want to help and support those truly poor and needy people, but no one thinks that 47% of the people of America fall into those categories. We the people are dumbfounded and confused as to how Congress and the president can pass and sign a bill that two-thirds of us do not support. Many of us can understand the perception that our economy might have been on the brink of destruction if we allowed our financial system to fail, but very few of us know if the level of government intercession was actually needed, and many are more than just a little skeptical.
But even if some portion of the financial rescue was needed, more and more of us now feel this bailout mentality has spread too far. We are beginning to see that it was not General Motors that was bailed out; it was their union (United Auto Workers). We are beginning to see the bottomless money pit of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the government-sponsored entities designed by Congress to maintain liquidity in the mortgage markets). We are realizing that too much government is often more dangerous than too little government.
We the people are opening our eyes to exactly what “redistribution of wealth” means. It does not just mean taking money from the well-to-do and giving it to the poor; it means taking money earned honestly in the free marketplace and giving it to the politicians or the political supporters of the takers. It is making elected politicians and government employees a preferred class.
We understand just what our elected politicians mean when they talk of “the sausage making” of our legislative process. We now know that they are referring to backroom bribes and payoffs to buy votes, political arm-twisting designed to get the weaker of our political representatives to abandon their principles, and the political bookkeeping chicanery and gimmicks used by Congress and the Administration specifically to keep our citizens confused and in the dark as to our government’s real costs and liabilities.
They hide favors to political constituents and campaign contributors in 1,000-plus-page bills and 70,000-page tax codes that even they do not read. They purposely mislead the public about the content they do understand but do not want to discuss. They use powerful poll-tested words such as fairness and social justice to rationalize taking from one group of Americans to give to a more favored (by them) group.
The Tea Parties and their members may represent the sharp end of the stick, but Tea Parties are just the tip of the iceberg. The more that “we the people” understand why our founders chose to limit government and maximize individual liberties, the more rebellion there will be against progressivism and the more powerful the Tea Parties will become. The more our citizens understand the day-to-day workings and everyday failures of our government, the more they will fear expanding it.
There is a place for government (i.e., in defense of our country, police and the court system, protection of our God-given rights, etc.), but there are many places where government does not belong. As “we the people” become more educated in the political process, the Tea Parties will grow, and we will demand more transparency and a far different brand of representation.
Janie is the author of Don’t Take My Lemonade Stand – An American Philosophy.