If you didn’t know, or care, about the Tea Party movement before Tuesday, September 13, 2010, it is obvious that after Primary Tuesday, everyone wanted to know “What is the Tea Party?” This question was one of the hottest questions in Google Searches on Wednesday, the day after Tea Party candidates stunned Democrats and Republicans alike by winning primaries in Delaware and New Hampshire. Five percent of those hits came from New York, NY, possibly due to the Republican nomination of Tea Party-backed candidate Carl Paladino to run against sitting New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo.
So, What Is the Tea Party Movement?
Much like the original Tea Party that took place in Boston in 1773, the self-proclaimed Tea Party Patriots speak out against “excessive government spending and taxation” (Tea Party Patriots, Mission Statement and Core Values). The Tea Party holds to three core values: fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets, and it is these core values they use to “attract, educate, organize and mobilize” against the policies of the Obama administration, which they feel are in direct opposition to their core values.
Fiscal responsibility, according to the Tea Party, requires the government to allow “the individual to spend the money that is the fruit off his or her own labor” and to be accountable to the citizens when taxation climbs to restrictive levels. The deficit spending of the Obama administration is one of the primary targets of the Tea Party and their candidates.
The Tea Party holds fast to the premise of the Constitution of the United States as the overriding “law of the land,” contending that any power not specifically given to the federal government by the Constitution should be maintained by the states. Personal liberty as given by the Constitution is a primary tenant for the Tea Party.
Tied closely to the values of personal liberty is the free market. According to the Tea Party Patriots Mission Statement and Core Values, the founding fathers saw personal liberty and economic freedom as inseparable. The Tea Party contends that the Obama administration “distorts the free market and inhibits the pursuit of individual and economic liberty”.
As the election of President Obama was a direct response to the policies and actions of an administration thought to be ineffective and harmful to our nation, so is the Tea Party. President Obama’s campaign drew on grass roots activism and discontent, as does the Tea Party. It is actually refreshing to see people using the political system to forward their values and beliefs, regardless of what side they represent. The reason Washington is filled with corruption and cronyism, and has been for decades, regardless of what party is in control, is because most people have fallen to a position of complacency. And when that happens, we get what we have now, a government acting in complete disregard for what the majority of Americans value.
The Tea Party wants exactly what President Obama promised, change. Republicans are showing up at the polls in record numbers to vote for their kind of change and much of that change is represented by the Tea Party. Democrat voters have chosen to stay home.
It seems that Barack Obama’s administration was exactly what was needed to shake the average, conservative American from his complacency.