MAINWARING: A tale of two Tea Parties

Washington’s is a mad frolic; America’s is a common-sense caucus

Two Tea Parties grip the nation in two very different ways. The first is the Tea Party movement, which traces its origins to a watershed historic event as its members attempt to bring sanity and sustainability back to government. The second finds its origins in literature - Lewis Carroll’s “The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland” - and is descriptive of the surreal governance of the progressives in the White House and Congress as they continue their push toward governmental insanity and unsustainability. Like matter and antimatter, positive and negative charges, they are set in polar opposition to each other.

In Lewis Carroll’s story, Alice finds herself in a bizarre, nightmarish world where the basic laws of logic no longer apply and familiar beings take on strange, unreasoning personas. More and more, many Americans view our progressive leaders on Capitol Hill and at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. as the insane hosts of an ongoing Washington-style mad tea party. Those leaders act not just counterintuitively, they act outside the bounds of logic, reason and historic precedent that normally tether this country to safety. They behave as political elites who think they know better than the American public what’s best. They are ludicrously out of touch.

The madness of this Washington tea party is displayed in myriad ways, but most profoundly in the nearly limitless demonstrations of stunning disconnect between the political elites and the American people. Congressional approval hovers around 20 percent, while disapproval is around 70 percent. The president’s approval rating has been in decline for a long time, now at about 45 percent and sinking. Despite the fact that a majority in this country disapprove of the work being done by the political class, the political elites continue to pass gigantic, overreaching, outrageously expensive legislation.

A Rasmussen survey released on Friday finds that 59 percent of likely voters are embarrassed by the nation’s political class and its behavior while just 23 percent are not. A stunning 64 percent see the political class as a bigger threat to our nation than legislation such as Arizona’s new immigration law. Just 20 percent say the opposite. In general, the nation sees the political class as both an embarrassment and, in some ways, a threat by about a 3-1 margin.

From the point of view of the ruling political class, it has racked up tremendous achievements: the stimulus package, health care reform, education reform, Wall Street reform and so on. While the elites lift their champagne glasses to toast themselves, outside the Beltway, no one is popping corks.

Most of the country looks on with jaws dropped, wondering: What are you folks on Capitol Hill thinking? Twenty-four-hundred pages of unintelligible health care reform and another 2,300 pages of unintelligible financial reform signed into law. Stacked together, they create a legislative Tower of Babel. How dare you pass this massive legislation while you lack the confidence of the American people by a 7-2 margin?

Undaunted, their mad tea party continues.

A recent CBS Poll reports that 74 percent of the population thinks the nearly $1 trillion stimulus package either hurt or had no impact on the economy. Simply put, that means three-fourths of the American people think the stimulus package was a $1 trillion waste of money. The same poll reports that 2.5 times as many people think the health care reform bill signed into law by Democrats will hurt them (33 percent) rather than help them (13 percent).

Many Americans are seized with fear as what might normally be a benign, lame-duck session of Congress looms in November. Will this be used as a window of opportunity for progressives to pass more unwanted legislation? “Cap and trade”? Card check? This could be their intention.

Our progressive leaders don’t get it, and what’s more, they don’t care. They don’t understand how starkly different, how irrational and just how unhinged they appear to folks outside the Beltway. While Lewis Carroll’s mad tea party is literary fantasy, sadly, the progressives’ mad tea party in Washington is very real.

Robert Weissberg offered his view in the American Thinker on April 29: “I finally realized that the Obama administration and its congressional collaborators almost resemble a foreign occupying force, a coterie of politically and culturally non-indigenous leaders whose rule contravenes local values rooted in our national tradition. It is as if the United States has been occupied by a foreign power, and this transcends policy objections.”

Dorothy Rabinowitz, writing in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks later on June 9, shares a similar sentiment: “A great part of America now understands that this president’s sense of identification lies elsewhere and is in profound ways unlike theirs. He is hard put to sound convincingly like the leader of the nation, because he is, at heart and by instinct, the voice mainly of his ideological class. He is the alien in the White House. …”

Interestingly, the progressives’ mad tea party in Washington is what has given rise to the august Tea Party movement. Washington leadership has abandoned the venerable, common-sense, salt-of-the-earth center and right of our nation. The movement has emerged to fill the gaping void in center-right leadership to stem the tide of this Washington madness. Republican leaders have been either clueless or unwilling to lead bravely and skillfully. When Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, they also spent profligately. With such a huge vacuum of leadership in Washington, the Tea Party movement has burst forth to lead the way.

The people at this country’s admirable, sustaining center have been ignored, trampled and tyrannized for too long. They have been marginalized through political correctness and the constant motion of the dividing line between progressivism and conservatism far to the left. We now live in an upside-down, Alice-in-Wonderland, house-of-mirrors world where the most basic of mainstream American sensibilities are considered to be radical right-wing thought. This has led Americans from sea to shining sea to announce: Enough is enough.

Tea Partiers seek to end the madness in Washington and establish fiscal sanity and sound, reasonable, constitutionally limited government.

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