The Movement is beginning to take shape as more and more average citizens get involved and begin to translate their sign waving and hand clapping into what that really want. For what it’s worth, as a Tea Party Organizer myself, here are the general themes I see emerging from this group:
First, it’s not about a political party. Sure, sure, the groups are undeniably largely populated by disenfranchised republicans, conservatives and libertarians…this is unarguable. But there are democrats and moderates who are uneasy about where the country is heading and are attending these meetings as well. With that stated, very few that I speak with, and I speak to hundreds of people, are looking to a political party to solve the problems were in. In fact, the phrase I hear over and over and over again is this; “I’m a republican but I’m thinking of leaving the party and changing to independent.” When I ask why, it’s clear the average citizen sees both parties as essentially one in the same and both will lead to further infringement on liberty.
Second, most in the Tea Party Movement see their fundamental liberties under assault by an ever expanding BIG GOVERNMENT. They may not be able to quote the legislative act that encumbered a particular freedom, but something visceral, way down in their gut tells them that something is very wrong. This translates into action for them as they fear for their children and grand-children’s future.
Third, they’re willing, unlike the average politician, to take responsibility for the mess we’re in. While the average politician is always looking to the next election and how to capture a particular demographic, they rarely look back at how they contributed to the mess (click here if you want the pants scared off you). On the other hand, the average citizen attending a Tea Party is perfectly willing to accept the fact that they were asleep at the wheel, didn’t pay attention, voted based on party loyalty and generally only cared if something was happening in DC that affected them directly. Now that they’re no longer asleep (a posture by the way that politicians love the average citizen to be in), they’re beginning to study (typically Madison, Jefferson), read their pocket Constitution, and get acquainted with the Declaration of Independence. Somehow, these charter documents feel like a safe harbor, a place where a free people were born and they long for a reappearance of Thomas Jefferson to guide them out of the mess we’re in just as he did when British tyranny existed.
Fourth, now that they’re willing to accept their responsibility for the mess we’re in, members of the Tea Party Movement are willing to get to work AND sacrifice to fix it. As I’ve personally told the group I’m involved in, we’re at a “pick you pain” moment in history and most people in the audience noddingly approve the statement. We all “get it” that any solution at this point will involve pain and we largely ignore the political class that tries to tell us that “everything will be ok.” We know they’re not telling us the truth.
We’re all coming around to the idea that it’s really not Obama we’re angry with; people are beginning to see that BIG GOVERNMENT is the play-ground of BOTH parties. Thus, you’re seeing fewer and fewer anti-Obama signs and more and more Declaration of Independence and Constitution signs at rallies…this should tell us something about the views of the Movement. Recently, as a talk-show host on 930 WFMD, I went to the rally in DC regarding healthcare reform. Sure there we’re many anti-Obama folks there, but the majority of the folks that I interviewed from across the country were troubled by the extra-Constitutional healthcare legislation…that’s right, EXTRA-Constitutional. Not a person I spoke to, and I spoke to dozens and interviewed many, were there because they were republicans, rather they felt the Constitution was somehow under attack. Admittedly, only one person could clearly articulate which provision in the Constitution they believed was being violated, but that misses the point of this movement’s evolution; these folks, just average citizens, were able to clearly identify that Congress was about to way overstep its authority with this vote and they wanted to make sure their voices were heard.
Fifth, and perhaps most importantly, the real antagonist in this drama is slowly being revealed and coming into focus…BIG GOVERNMENT. People, hard working average citizens who carry the burden of paying for Washington are plain ole’ fed up with it and know that the only real solution is to somehow radically reduce its influence. Most are content to look to the State’s Rights movement and the 10th Amendment for their solutions right now and are hopeful that personalities like Judge Napolitano and websites like the Tenth Amendment Center can provide direction. But the people I spoke with aren’t content with simply writing letters or making phone calls or even just attending rally’s. They’re willing to hold their powder dry for now, but they’re beginning to see that the solutions to America’s problems lays in their hands; not the elite political class only thinking through the myopic lens of the next election and how to get their turn at the helm of BIG GOVERNMENT (see the recurring theme in the article?).
Finally, for now, the Tea Party Movement is organic and independent; which is a really good thing. It has not allowed itself to be co-opted by a political party, at least at this point, and resists any attempt to promote a particular candidate. In fact, recently, the tea partiers in Florida took the step of actually forming a new party in their state as a way to ensure the parties, especially the republican party doesn’t co-opt it. I have no idea whether or not a majority of the tea party members in Florida support this or not. But clearly, this demonstrates the independent nature of this movement; it want’s to be heard and not identified with the very system that has created the mess.
Will it succeed? Will the Tea Party movement see its promised land of flourishing freedom, keeping one’s own property and hard earned income, the ability to wildly succeed or just as spectacularly fail in a venture, the freedom to chose who to give charity to rather than being forced to though BIG GOVERNMENT mandated entitlement programs? I’m not sure. One thing I am sure of though, I’m hearing more and more clarion calls from history in the people I talk to and it goes something like this:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”
Immediatly followed by:
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
The real question is, will another Thomas Jefferson emerge and make the government “fear the people again?”