Editorials and Opinions

Tea Party zeal distracts from beneficial platforms

By James Palmer
Published: June 2010

Today, when I first clicked on the link to the link for http://teapartypatriots.ning.com/, a Tea Party Movement website, I immediately saw links to posts such as “Impeach Obama Petition Now Online, “UNITED NATIONS TO TAKE OVER IN PLACE OF CONGRESS, and “SAY NO TO MOSQUE BEING BUILT AT GROUND ZERO.
Now, to many these articles seem to be slightly, well, more than slightly, ridiculous. Honestly, a lot of them are. Clearly the president will not be impeached by an online petition, the United Nations will not take over the country, and no one is planning to build a mosque at ground zero (a Muslim community is being planned a few blocks away).
Although these articles may seem absurd to us here in Newton, the fact is that the Tea Party movement is becoming a revolutionary force in politics today, and for good reason. With the economy down, the legislative and executive branches under the control of a single party, and with all the turbulence in the world and at home with issues like heath care reform and immigration, many people feel alienated from the national government and just want to stop (what they see as) the madness.
The movement began in February, 2009 when Rick Santelli, a correspondent for CNBC, denounced a proposition for a $75 billion plan to protect homeowners from foreclosures. Stanelli, speaking from the trading floor of the Chicago Board of Trade asked, “How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage who has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills? He went further saying, “We’re thinking about having a Chicago tea party in July. All of you capitalists that want to show up to Lake Michigan, I’m going to start organizing it.
After Stanelli spoke the movement spread quickly as millions posted videos on Youtube, blogged, and launched websites dedicated to Stanelli’s sentiments. Those who consider themselves supporters of the movement believe that with all the bailouts and stimulus bills, coupled with the growing national debt, and now the new health care bill, government is simply getting too big.
Since early 2009, the Tea Party movement has sprung up as a new powerful influential force in the country, even holding a rally in Boston this last April where Sarah Palin spoke. The the movement has spread to the entire country.
The movement, according to the official website, states that it is “committed to standing together, shoulder to shoulder, to protect our country and the Constitution upon which we were founded. Tea Partiers are in general devoted to lowering taxes, less governmental regulation, closed borders, and many conservative social issues such as a pro-life stance on abortion.
On a national level one of the most controversial aspects of the Tea Party movement has been a suspected association with racism and general ignorance. Throughout rallies and demonstrations there have been a number of incidents where members of the nearly entirely white crowd have displayed signs derogatory language. Although this clearly represents a small portion of the entire movement, in many parts of the country this image has tarnished opinions of the movement.
With all of that said, I do not support the Tea party Movement. That is not to say that I don’t share quite a few concerns about the country today that many of its members do.
I like to consider myself socially liberal but economically more conservative. The way I see it, the country today has a deep and pressing fiscal issues; namely the deficit and the national debt.
At the time that I am writing, the national debt is at a whooping $13,006,961,245,112, going up every second. The more we spend, the more it goes up. In that sense I really do feel like I can relate to the Tea Party movement and what these people are protesting.
Like the Tea Partiers I believe that there should be a limit to big government. Take now for instance with the economic crisis. If you spend money to stimulate the economy and give relief money you can do a lot to help individuals and the economy as whole.
But, if you have a deficit and a huge national debt, if you spend, you need to borrow, if you borrow you will eventually need to pay your lenders back, to pay them back you need to raise taxes, if you raise taxes, you hurt the economy, if you hurt the economy and don’t want to incite a recession, you need to pump more money into the system and provide more relief, if you pump money you need to borrow more¦well you get the idea.
Those who support the Tea Party movement would like to see the cycle end by reducing government spending and cutting taxes.
However unlike the Tea Partyers, I don’t believe that simply cutting all taxes and refusing to provide relief will fix all our problems. If you just cut taxes then you will create an even bigger deficit while if you cut all the programs that they fund that will in turn hurt individuals and the economy as well.
I believe that the answer lies in balance. Throughout the history of the United States, some of the greatest economic prosperity lay within times of balance and moderation. Reagan, Clinton, Eisenhower all led the country through times of huge economic growth and prosperity.
Although their respective parties would like to take credit for the economic growth during those presidencies, it was not a one-sided show. For much of their respective terms in office, Reagan and Eisenhower had Democratic legislatures while Clinton had a Republican one.
Personally, I believe that our current economic and fiscal crises cannot be solved by simply following the will of one party. This is why I hesitate to consider myself a supporter of the Tea Party movement. I fully support their fight against an administration that they do not feel is dealing appropriately with the challenges facing our country, but I do not in any way support their direct attacks on the President who, like the Tea Partyers, is simply doing what he believes if best for the country.
Neither they, nor the president, has the best solution for fixing the economic crisis.
In conclusion I do in many ways support the Tea Party movement for what it represents: a challenge to the current domination of the government by a single group. I believe that many of their arguments are valid though many are not. Although they may seem somewhat militant in their zeal, it is no different than the dozens of other American parties that have existed throughout history. They are simply fighting for what they see as the right path for our country.
I believe the key to our country’s success is not simply the work and beliefs of one side or that of the opposition, but the balance the two groups provide. America, like its constitution, is based on and prospers because of the checks and balances each party provides against the other.
Besides, what fun would politics be without a little arguing?

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