The Washington Times - October 13, 2010, 08:57AM

Guest Post by J.D. Thorpe

Tea party activists are constantly subjected to character assassinations by liberal elites.  Interestingly, most of their detractors are not able to clearly define what the movement represents.  When commenting on it, they generally become flustered with rage and sputter out inarticulate sentence fragments containing the words “extremist” and “racist.”  So what exactly does this group believe?


TEA forms the acronym “taxed enough already.”  Movement activists are primarily focused on the issues of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free-markets.  This includes a hatred of paternalistic government and rule by self-righteous elites.  These “extremists” audaciously advocate for balanced budgets over trillion dollar deficits and faith in the individual over the government bureaucrat.  In addition, they are fed up with the arrogance of politicians who ignore the will of the people.

When interviewed on MSNBC’s Hardball, Dallas Tea Party founder, Phillip Dennis said, “We are fiscal conservatives and that is what we are calling on both parties, Republicans and Democrats, who have not acted responsibly in spending our country’s money.”  Dennis further argued that the group’s concern over fiscal issues did not originate with the swearing in of President Obama.  The seeds of discontent were sown during the Bush administration and intensified with the explosion of debt that was the result of the stimulus bill.

The pursuit of Big Government policies by both parties created this grassroots movement that is inherently anti-establishment.  It is comprised of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats who are disenchanted with public officials in Washington and our political system. 

Negative connotations associated with the tea party are the result of frustrated liberals who cannot stand the sight of average Americans protesting the federal government’s absurd spending practices and paternalistic policies.  These narcissistic societal elites are offended by the lack of idolatry directed at them.  In April the President said, “I have been a little amused over the past couple of days where people have been having these rallies about taxes.  You would think they would be saying thank you.”

More recently, in a Rolling Stone interview, President Obama stated that the tea party’s “anger was misdirected.”  By implication, Obama thinks that tea party activists are too stupid to know what is good for them.

This condescending attitude represents the very worst element of government.  Our nation was founded on the idea of representative democracy.  The current ruling elite are treading on the path of dictatorship with their insistence that the people don’t know what’s good for them.  In their world, society should be run by the intelligentsia who will make decisions for everyone else.

This is the reason the tea party rallies around the country are filled with signs labeling Obama and his friends socialists.  The elite’s hatred towards private enterprise and the concept of individualism has not gone unnoticed.

The tea party movement embodies the core principles that liberal elites despise and their failed policies force them to paint a false narrative about their opponents.  The crux of the issue is liberal elites want a society where the state controls everything down to the most minute decisions.  The tea party on the other hand wants a society structured around a small and limited government that allows individuals to have control over their lives.

The fight between these two groups is a fight for the preservation of America’s limited government heritage versus the liberty usurping ideology of statism.  What will the American people choose?  Patrick Henry had an answer when standing up to British tyranny in 1775.  Perhaps we should revive his famous statement in our own battle, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”

J.D. Thorpe is the Assistant Director of Programs at the Patrick Henry Center