- The Washington Times - Friday, July 3, 2009


The tea party movement has become more than a one-time tax protest. The grass-roots political crusade is growing and expanding. As “tea party” organizer Candace E. Salima notes on our facing page, more than 1,300 parties are scheduled nationwide to mark the Fourth of July. This popular uprising against oppressive big government is in the best tradition of the American independence movement that we are celebrating this weekend.

The tea parties are a genuine expression of the American democratic spirit. The April round of tea parties - held to protest tax day - was studiously ignored by President Obama and ridiculed by liberal critics, no doubt in hopes the movement would go away. But the party keeps on rolling.

Like the contemporary movement, the 1773 Boston Tea Party was not just about taxes. The original party started when the bankrupt British East India Co. was given a 1.4 million pound bailout by the British Parliament and granted a tea monopoly over the Americas to help them shed their “troubled assets.” Politically well-connected consignees were given exclusive rights to sell the tea and were set to drive local merchants out of business. When the first tea ship sailed into Boston Harbor, a flyer was posted declaring “the hour of destruction, or manly opposition to the machinations of Tyranny, stares you in the face.”

Today’s tea party movement sees the same dynamics writ large. The federal government has become a vast enterprise of influence peddling, backroom dealing and special-interest politics on a scale unprecedented in our nation’s history. The tea partiers are upset about a $3 trillion Troubled Asset Relief Program, the largest government program in history, that cannot trace where all the money has gone. They are concerned about the $787 billion off-budget stimulus bill, which amounts to a wish list of set-asides for special interests and political insiders. They are astonished by this year’s $1.8 trillion budget deficit that will saddle taxpayers with unsustainable debt maintenance.

They view with concern the government hand over of automotive companies to unions and special interests at the expense of bond holders and auto dealers. They object to the “cap-and-trade” bill that will raise energy costs for every American, stifle economic growth and job growth, and create a new class of wealthy insiders trading “carbon points” and “offsets” and other products of the bureaucratic imagination. Tea partiers are suspicious of the looming health care reform effort that will raise costs and empower special interests and the government.

But the tea party movement is also intent on proposing positive solutions. Lisa Miller of the March for Liberty Coalition told us that the government needs to pursue policies that result in “more choices for consumers at lower costs, and with more convenience.” Market-based reforms, respect for Federalism, government openness and transparency, lower taxes and an end to special interest dominance in Washington are nationwide tea party themes. But this change can only happen with persistent, broad-based grass-roots activism. Americans need to “get involved, get educated, pitch in to the extent you can, and definitely vote,” Ms. Miller said.

The D.C. Tea Party will be held at Upper Senate Park on Constitution Avenue on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. Details are at Teapartywdc.ning.com and Marchforliberty.org. July 4 is a perfect day for a tea party, a true expression and celebration of American liberty. We urge our readers to get out, get involved and celebrate our spirit of independence.

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