The birth of the Tea Party movement is generally traced to February 2009, just a few weeks after President Obama’s inauguration. While Rick Santelli’s famous rant on CNBC was the spark that ignited Tea Party gatherings across the nation and gave it its name, the movement’s genesis was in progress long before that fateful day.
Its inception was not a reaction to President Obama taking office, and it certainly has nothing to do with the politics of race. If Sen. John McCain had won the election, the Tea Party movement would have arrived on the scene just as quickly. The movement has nothing to do with Democrat versus Republican politics and power. It has everything to do with the American people versus the hubris of politics as usual in Washington.
The existence of the Tea Party movement is Main Street America’s indictment against the ruling class.
The movement was in gestation for years, in the hearts and minds of a multitude of citizens concerned about the path down which progressive policies have been taking us. The pent-up reaction to our progressive government is enormous, with only a small portion now revealed, just as warm earth and a trickle of lava may presage a volcanic eruption. We are seeing the early stages of the eruption - not of violence and harsh words, but an eruption of sanity and reason, of stewardship and goodwill.
We witness the dawn of the Tea Party movement not because someone has directed its members to participate in it through the machinations or stratagems of any political party, lobbying group or activist organization. Participants have emerged for one reason only:They know in their hearts and they feel in their souls the unalienable rights endowed by their Creator - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. At the same time, Tea Partiers sense that our present government seems increasingly antithetical toward these natural rights, and a threatening enmity exists.
Look around at the Tea Party movement and its members, and you will see that those truths spoken of in the Declaration of Independence concerning our natural rights truly are self-evident. What our Founding Fathers spoke of so eloquently more than 200 years ago is both a personal, invigorating interior revelation and a living, shared corporate experience. These are real natural rights, not just nice words on a historic document. Likewise, they are not rights bestowed on us by our government that can be altered or adjusted, decreased, repealed or constrained because their source is our Creator, not the government. They are ours by virtue of our humanity and are not subject to the caprice and schemes of legislative bodies, the judiciary or members of the executive branch.
The Tea Party is not a flash-in-the-pan political movement that will evaporate and disappear. It emanates from the deepest part of men’s and women’s souls and unites them with the highest values and purposes of our nation in an unbreakable bond. Progressive ideology seeks to intercede, to dismiss and break that bond.
What the progressives fail to recognize is the power of the sublime truth within our Constitution and Declaration of Independence, and the power and clarity it awakens in our souls. It is not simply political; it is spiritual. It is not merely academic or historic in nature. It is a living truth, compelling and empowering today. It is knitted into our souls, woven into our lives. This is the progressives’ fatal flaw, their Achilles’ heel: They grossly misunderstand and underestimate the dynamic with which they are dealing.
Sen. Jim DeMint recently observed, “The Tea Party is the tip of the iceberg of an American awakening of people who want to take back their government. It’s not a matter of ‘right’ or ‘left.’ It’s really a matter of success or failure as a country.” That success or failure hinges on dealing with our grave internal threat - the Leviathan that our government has become, the unsustainable entitlements, the incomprehensible enormity of our debt, the conceit of social engineering and command-and-control governance, the profligacy of Washington spending and the resulting confiscatory taxation to pay for it all. Most of all, it is the annihilation of our children’s future prosperity and liberty.
In a Rasmussen Report released Wednesday, 91 percent of the political class said they thought the Democratic agenda in Congress is in the mainstream, but 70 percent of mainstream voters judged that same agenda as extreme. There is a Grand Canyon-sized chasm between the mentality of Main Street America and that of our ruling class.
Through the Tea Party movement, we are witnessing the rightful and necessary ascendancy of Main Street America over the Beltway, K Street and Wall Street. The ruling class in Washington - a cadre of legislators, members of the executive branch, lobbyists, union leaders, chief executives of for-profits and nonprofits, elitist members of media and academia - is at last being called out. Its hubris and cronyism are the catalyst for the Tea Party movement. And underneath it all, the onward march of Washington governance acting in complete disregard of constitutional limitations, rather than within constitutional limits, has Tea Party members on guard, ready, willing and able to stem the tide and turn back decades of progressive government growth.
The very tyranny our forefathers departed their home shores to escape we find confronting us today. In 1773, it was the imposition of taxes and regulation without representation that provided the tipping point that produced the Boston Tea Party, a prelude to the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution. Just as that Tea Party was a stirring, a preview of the will and strength of the resolve of the American people against the tyranny of the British Crown, so, too, is our current Tea Party a stirring, a preview of that which is to come. While the Tea Party of 1773 was spawned by straightforward issues of taxation without representation by those beyond our shores, how much greater will the growing response be to the aggressive cancer of malignant government growth that has taken hold in our land?
How much dead weight and cost has been added to our society through the creation of enormous government bureaucracies that employ millions, robbing the private sector of both capital and human resources? How much has our economy suffered and how many families have struggled over the years because government eats up our corporate and personal income through confiscatory taxation in order to feed the Leviathan that Washington has become? How much hard work and ingenuity has been stifled over the years because of oversized welfare programs? How many people have been robbed of self-reliance and the joy of achievement because of entitlements? Just how much liberty, freedom and prosperity have we traded away over the years in order to fill the progressives’ voracious hunger to engineer our society through command-and-control in order to bring about their impossible vision of Xanadu?
Rising up from every corner of our land, from every city and town, from farms and condos, people are standing tall, with complete conviction of heart and clarity of mind declaring “No more. The insanity must end.” These are not troops being marshaled by detached ideological leaders. These are vast legions of confident, autonomous individuals who have experienced deep in their souls a very personal calling to preserve, protect and defend their nation.
Doug Mainwaring is a member of the National Capital Tea Party Patriots.