The Tea Party movement has been the target of vicious verbal attacks recently, and they seem to be escalating. Indiana Congressman Andre Carson, a member of the Black Congressional Caucus, said, “Some of them in Congress right now with this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me… hanging on a tree,” and Carson’s spokesman wrote, “The Tea Party is protecting its millionaire and oil company friends while gutting critical services that they know protect the livelihood of African-Americans, as well as Latinos and other disadvantaged minorities.” Vice President Joe Biden condemned Tea Party Republicans for “acting like terrorists” during the fight about raising the debt ceiling. Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California topped them all by declaring, “As far as I’m concerned, the Tea Party can go straight to Hell.” This almost hysterical rhetoric makes me wonder if the liberals and progressives making these accusations have bothered to learn what the Tea Party actually stands for. Let’s find out.
First, though, it’s important to remember that the Tea Party isn’t a political party, which is just fine with its supporters, many of whom have expressed frustration with the current two-party system. The Tea Party is politics as it was meant to be, not a multi-billion-dollar organization funded by Political Action Committees and beholden to lobbyists. Members may be Republicans, Democrats, Independents or supporters of any other party (or no party at all). In the best tradition of grass-roots politics, they are ordinary citizens like you and me who disagree with where the country is headed and want to do something to change its direction.
The Tea Party has no central leadership and no official spokesperson. Instead, any group of citizens who want to be associated with the movement can set up their own organization, decide on a mission statement and goals, and recruit others to join. Certain basic principles unite the loose affiliation of national and local groups. The Tea Party Patriots, one of the largest groups, lists its core values as Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government and Free Markets. Here are some excerpts from its Website:
– Fiscal responsibility by government honors and respects the freedom of the individual to spend the money that is the fruit of his or her own labor.
– We regard the Constitution of the United States to be the supreme law of the land.
– We support a return to the free market principles on which this nation was founded and oppose government intervention into the operations of private business.
– We support the strength of grassroots organization powered by activism and civic responsibility at a local level.
An Internet search for “Tea Party Core Values” reveals that affiliated groups support personal liberty, equitable taxation, stricter immigration policies, energy independence and recognition that elected representatives serve the people rather than the people serving them. They oppose socialized healthcare, over-regulation of private enterprise, unchecked growth of entitlement programs and deficit spending. Do any of these platforms sound dangerously radical to you?
The far left wing and the media that support them have gone to great lengths to demonize and ridicule the Tea Party because they fear its growing influence. What are they so afraid of? The answer seems to be, “traditional American values.” In the ongoing war for the hearts and minds of Americans, Tea Party supporters are on the front lines, opposing those who believe in big government, socialism and fiscal irresponsibility. The Tea Party is a reminder of the principles that made our country great in the 1700’s and can make it great again in the 21st century. No amount of name-calling and fear-mongering can change that.
Originally published in Nevada Business Magazine: