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April 17, 2009

The Tea Has Been Tossed

Joe Charlebois

Just as a beaten dog will eventually turn on his owner, or a slave endeavor to escape the bondage of even the most benevolent master, a people can only be suppressed so long before they cry “No more!”


Today’s governing bodies, the White House, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have long dismissed the relevance of “The People.” The People have had enough.


Members of both major parties have continued on a course that takes dead aim at individual liberties. Most recently the federal government has taken over segments of private industry, mortgaging our future to fund the misdeeds of the financial class and mismanagement of the automobile industry.


These changes in policy, we are told, are for the greater benefit of society. The change promulgated by this and the past administration are immoral. This move in effect saddles our children and grandchildren with an obscene amount of debt that they will never be able to repay.


In response to these continuing infringements, a movement called The Tax Day Tea Party has brought together individuals from all backgrounds who wish to restore the individual liberties to the American citizen.


In an attempt to either dismiss this movement as inconsequential, or portray it as a concoction of right-wing radicalism, Paul Krugman, The New York Times op-ed columnist, recently wrote about the Tax Day Tea Parties in a manner so condescending one would think he was the donkey flicking the idea away like a fly with his left-hanging tail.


In his column he attempts to belittle the Tea Party movement by folding it in with every right-wing conspiracy theory over the past 20 years. Mr. Krugman, who is celebrated as one of America’s preeminent columnists, shows his true colors as he adds no credence to link the average Tea Party participant with those on the lunatic fringe.


The voice of the Tax Day Tea Party participant is not one of a right-wing reactionary, but rather one of strong disagreement with the economic policies of our federal government over the past few decades, but in particular the past few years.


There can be little dispute that with the advent of Social Security, SSI (Social Security Income), Medicare, Medicare Prescription Drug Program, Medicaid, food stamps, TEFAP (Emergency Food Assistance Program), Section 8 housing, SCHIP (to name a few), and the ever increasing number of recipients of these programs, our federal government has moved us from a market economy to one that can only be described as “soft socialism.”


There are those who would be quick to brush off the term “soft socialism,” as incendiary, but, I ask, how do you define a society with this amount of government involvement in the economy?


The Tea Party movement has captured the libertarian sentiment in us all. CNBC on-air editor Rich Santelli, fed up with the financial mess linked to mortgage-based securities, led an on-air rant calling for a modern day “Chicago” Tea Party with Chicago area traders cheering in the background.


Mr. Santelli claimed that “the government (was) promoting bad behavior” when referring to the mortgage bailout plan. This rant got nationwide attention and a rebuke from the White House. Other Tea Parties were quickly organized in support of Mr. Santelli’s message.


Whatever has been spawned from the rant of Mr. Santelli, or the stirring calls to liberty of Bob Basso – who portrays Thomas Paine in videos available on YouTube – can only be defined as a true grass roots movement.


Whether someone has financially supported the establishment of a web-based site to launch these Tax Day Tea Parties has little to do with those who protest the government’s actions regarding the abuse of the taxpayer. These are real Americans giving up paychecks and closing the doors to their business to show up publicly and air their displeasure with the White House and Capitol Hill.


In contrast to the accusation by Mr. Krugman that this is just a well-funded, right wing show, the rallies of protest that come from a leftist perspective are the true well-funded, manufactured bits of showbiz. A typical leftist manufactured protest includes people who are bused in, paid to attend, and given time off by their like-minded employers to demonstrate.


The rallies that have happened this week have been mocked and derided as a futile attempt by Republican operatives to castigate the Obama Administration and its policies. Although the Obama Administration has lit the fuse of this bomb, the fuse was laid by previous administrations.


This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. This is not a sudden response to the presence of a Democrat in the White House. This is a response by the same citizens who spoke out against the largest social expenditure (Prescription Drug Benefit) the federal government has instituted since the Johnson Administration. This response comes from the same citizens who spoke out against the original bailout last fall. Both the expansion of benefits and the bailout, it should be noted, took place under the administration of George W. Bush.


The majority of people who voted for “change” didn’t vote for a systemic change toward a benevolent socialist state. Their vote was a repudiation of the policies of President Bush.


The people of the Tea Party movement aren’t the elites, and they aren’t the fringe; they are Republican, Democrats and Independents, who don’t want to be held hostage to the outrageous spending of an all consuming federal budget and stimulus package. These people are not the elites. This is not a multi-million dollar propagandist dream. This is a true grassroots movement.


As I stated last week in my Tentacle column, the move from “street theatre” to true change will be the measuring stick of success. Success will not be determined on April 15th by MSNBC or The New York Times, but rather on the continuation of this burgeoning rally cry and implementation of an actual return to fundamental individual freedoms.


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