If you consider the TEA Party movement a political one and support their goals, you’re not alone. A Rasmussen poll taken just before the tax day protests found that 24% of Americans now considered themselves part of the TEA Party movement.
Yet if you look at the actual number of people who have attended a TEA Party, the movement is likely far smaller. While there’s no good accurate count of the number who have participated, it’s safe to assume that the sum total is much fewer than the 69,498,215 people who voted for President Barack Obama. And chances are the circle of TEA party regulars has little congruency with the circle of Obama voters so it’s no stretch either to assume that these are two different and entrenched camps.
Those who favor TEA Party politics tend to be for a reined-in, smaller government which is fiscally responsible, and they’re united on that front. On the other hand, the sector of the Democratic party which most supported Obama is actually made up of far smaller and more disparate groups, which fall in and out of favor quickly depending on the issue of the day.
For example, the recent push for amnesty for illegal immigrants placed the Hispanic advocacy groups and other race-baiters at the top of the heap, displacing environmental groups who were hoping cap-and-trade would lead the agenda once health care passed. Moreover, while unions and other progressive groups were thrilled at the passage of Obamacare, gay rights supporters were displeased with the lack of progress on their pet issues and vocalized their disappointment at President Obama’s recent appearance with Senator Barbara Boxer in California.
Despite their differences, though, the side of those who would consolidate government power in a Washington bureaucracy, back it up with an activist judiciary system, and reduce Congress to a body where favors are bought and sold for plebiscite votes has advanced their agenda at an increasing pace. Over the 80 years since the Great Depression began, government has constantly become a more powerful force in people’s lives – only the pace has changed, depending on who occupies the White House. The statist agenda won victories, even under Reagan’s watch, because Democrats controlled the purse strings at the time.
Those on the left also use the tactic of asking, “where were tea partiers when the Republicans in Congress increased spending and drove up the deficit under President George W. Bush?” It’s a good question, but the pace toward statism wasn’t quick enough to incite alarm and economic conditions were acceptable. In addition, President Bush handled the post 9-11 period well enough to earn a second term.
In retrospect Bush’s biggest mistake was assuming he could work with Democrats inside the Beltway as he could Democrats in Austin. He had no idea the disparate groups which fight amongst each other when the Democrats are in power can speak with one voice when their territories inside the Beltway become threatened. In that respect, these special interests become the image the Tea Parties would eventually mirror because they too took to the streets when that which they believed they’d earned for themselves was threatened.
Yet even if the Republicans win big at the ballot box in 2010, the fight has barely started. Note that the Gingrich-led Republican Congress of the 1990’s couldn’t starve the Beltway beast – eventually they lost their will and their way. But if they don’t succeed we could lose America as we know it, and the Tea Parties of 2009-10 will become a forgotten chapter of the closing days of our nation’s history.
Michael Swartz, an architect and writer who lives in rural Maryland, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer. This article cleared the LFS wire back on April 26.