Nine years after the Tea Party movement roared into the American political scene, a lot of people are asking if the era of the Tea Party is over.
The first rumblings of the Tea Party began in 2008 but it exploded after Rick Santelli’s famous rant from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile in February 2009. The issue that electrified the movement in early 2009 was government spending.
The Obama Regime was spending at a shocking rate. A month after the inauguration, Mr. Obama was pushing a stimulus package that was unprecedented. The movement had a couple of core principles: fiscal restraint; and moving the government back within the constraints mandated by the U.S. Constitution.
Last month, the U.S. Senate voted on the Rand Paul budget. In Washington, the government calls a reduction in the increase in spending a “cut.”
Sen. Paul had a revolutionary idea. A budget that would actually reduce government spending.
Some conservatives expressed concern about the Paul budget. It did cut defense spending and after eight years of the Obama Regime trying to completely destroy the military, those concerns are justified. The military needs an infusion of cash to help its people and to replace equipment that is worn out.
Rand Paul’s proposed budget failed 21-76.
Two months ago, in March, Mr. Paul raised his objections to the proposed $1.3 trillion spending bill President Trump complained about and vowed he would never sign another bill like that. The 2,232-page bill busted the budget on every front. It rewarded government agencies with new money and cut nothing.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed cutting the Department of Education by $9 billion. Republicans, since 1979, have been vowing to abolish the Department of Education. Instead of cutting the appropriation for the Department of Education, the Republican Congress increased it by $3.9 billion.
When the movement began in 2009, the Republicans promised the Tea Party that if they just got back into power, they would be good. They would cut spending. They would be fiscally responsible.
But when the Republicans took the House in the famous 2010 Tea Party wave, those promises were forgotten. “We need the Senate,” they said and, in 2014, they took the Senate, too. But then, they said, “We need the White House.” When President Trump took office, the stage was set. There was a president who would sign bills that cut spending. All the Republican-controlled Congress had to do was send them to him.
The Tea Party should have seen a resurgence in 2016. Ted Cruz represented what could have been that resurgence. But instead, the Donald Trump populist wave took much of the energy of what would have been the second wave of the Tea Party.
The government cannot continue to spend money and engage in unlimited cronyism. The national debt continues to climb to unprecedented heights.
The national debt is now more than $21 trillion.
Real Americans understand something fundamental. A nation cannot borrow money indefinitely. That is something the nation’s leaders in Washington have not realized.
In the early days of the movement, the activists who helped launch the movement decided that they did not want the Tea Party to become a political party. History will render the verdict on that decision. But one thing is certain: The Republican Party is ignoring its base, the group that saved it from political oblivion and fundamental economics.
The Republican Party must embrace the fiscal sanity that Rand Paul and the original Tea Party represent.
Conservative activists are split on whether the Tea Party movement is finished. If the Tea Party is over, then more than a movement has failed.
The nation has failed.
• Judson Phillips is founder of the Tea Party Nation.