With all the talk these days about the Tea Party, and all the misinformation and innuendo propagated by the Left toward a genuinely organic movement, one must search long and hard to find the true identity of the people who consider themselves a part of this spontaneous and loosely-affiliated movement. The Tea Party is not made up of Sarah Palin types, as MSNBC would have you believe. Nor is it made up of racists or homophobes frothing at the mouth. Many Tea Party members will even tell you that they loathe any sort of affiliation with the Republican Party. So who exactly are the people who have planned a rally on the Diag for 7 p.m. this evening?
The Tea Party, of which I am a participant, observer and organizer, began early last year not as a response to Rick Santelli’s angry outburst on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade and not in response to the calls of conservative politicians or radio talk-show hosts. It is instead a release of pent-up anger over the size and scope of the federal government. Many “Tea Partiers” were genuinely concerned and upset about the deficit spending in President George W. Bush’s later years, and this concern continued on into the current administration.
The defeat of President Barack Obama’s radical agenda is one of the main focuses of this movement, which seeks to restore limited-government Constitutionalism to its proper place in our society. Tea Party members view the massive deficit spending and growing size of the federal government (with all of its new regulations that are supposed to protect people from themselves) as directly in conflict with the principles espoused by our Founding Fathers in our founding documents.
We view higher taxation as an imposition upon economic prosperity. A man’s right to earn, create and own property is the essential building block of a free market society. We view governmental mandates to buy healthcare as an imposition upon personal freedom and choice. We view cradle-to-grave entitlement programs as irresponsible and as “generational theft,” a term invented by Sen. John McCain (R–Ariz.).
The Tea Party movement is all about personal responsibility, hard work, and the ability of the individual to improve his or her own condition through their efforts. We see bankrupt entities like Social Security and Medicare, and then listen to D.C. politicians promising newer, bigger programs that will “work”. And we don’t buy it. At least someone hasn’t fallen for the sugar-sweet but nevertheless insubstantial and poisonous rhetoric of “hope and change.”
So what does the Democratic party and the drive-by media do in response? Pick out a few protestors who dare compare Obama to Hitler. Make up stories about “homophobic slurs” or “racial epithets” barely based in reality and make these rare occurrences into the face of the movement that has given millions of Americans a voice for the first time in their political lives. And most notably, the opponents of the Tea Party launch cowardly ad hominem attacks on its members — everyday Americans who are simply fed up.
How is it that during the Bush years, the Left in dissent was “the highest form of patriotism,” yet when the Tea Party raises its head today, they are labeled as somehow “un-American” and must be crushed? And why is the Left, the supposed bastion of tolerance, so intolerant of Tea Partiers speaking their minds? It is clear where the double standard lies. And it is interesting to see the leader of the College Democrats on campus speak about the movement as being justifiable and a perfectly decent method of expressing opinions one month and then create a Facebook event to bash it the next. Apparently the Left would rather rail against, belittle and carry out character assassinations against members of the Tea Party instead of addressing their real concerns.
The Tea Party represents Middle America. It is not a conservative movement. It is not a libertarian movement. It is not a Sarah Palin movement. It is not a Nazi, bigoted, fringe or racist movement. And it is certainly not a Republican movement. It is instead an American movement, quintessentially seeking to return to our founding principles of limited government at their very core.
The Tea Party views the current agenda and big-government policies as a trade-in of liberty for security promised by a federal government that doesn’t have that great of a record of keeping its past promises. They see it as fundamentally un-American. That’s why Tea Party members are exercising our First Amendment rights of assembly, free speech and petition. The Tea Party sees a need for a fundamental shift in the direction of this country and the role of the government in our lives. And it is right.
Brian Koziara is an LSA freshman.