After viewing Tom Tancredo’s address at the Tea Party Convention in Nashville this past week, where he spoke about using a “literacy test” as a requirement for voter eligibility, I became concerned that the initial clarity of purpose that crystallized this movement could get lost in the bog of directionless messages.
As an independent I have been intrigued with the convection of the Tea Party faction and I acknowledge its significance. As I understood it originally, the Tea Party band of brothers and sisters were borne of frustration with the overreach by government and its century long spree of spending, entitlements and taxation.Yet the Nashville convention entertained fringe elements of the conservative movement looking for a stage to voice their complaints and conspiracies that were not necessarily related to the wanton economics of progressive governance.
Birthers, border fence builders, and those seeking to change the basis upon which we can vote in this country found a stage with media coverage. Progressives and the MSM have and will continue to use sound bites from the convention to paint the movement as “fringe.” Hopefully, those in attendance paid little attention to the far right side shows and will continue to trumpet the principles that formed the group.
Thomas Jefferson sums up the thesis of the movement best as he said….
"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our selection between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts as that we must be taxed in our meat in our drink, in our necessities and comforts, in our labors and in our amusements, for our callings and our creeds...our people.. must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live.. We have not time to think, no means of calling the mis-managers to account, but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow suffers. Our landholders, too...retaining indeed the title and stewardship of estates called theirs, but held really in trust for the treasury, must...be contented with penury, obscurity and exile.. private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as by private extravagance.
This is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of society is reduced to mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering... And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression."
The Tea Party movement is fed through the strength of growing public distrust of government overreach. Opinion polls show that the public is increasingly restless and fearful of growing federal and state government entitlements and the tax burden to support them. It is all about unabated spending and that is a strong enough issue to support this movement. In a June, 2009 article published by the National Council for Public Policy, Pamela Villarreal raises the facts that the National and local Governments face an unfunded liability that has hard choices.
“The 2009 Social Security and Medicare Trustees Reports show the combined unfunded liability of these two programs has reached nearly $107 trillion in today's dollars! That is about seven times the size of the U.S. economy and 10 times the size of the outstanding national debt.
The unfunded liability is the difference between the benefits that have been promised to current and future retirees and what will be collected in dedicated taxes and Medicare premiums. Last year alone, this debt rose by $5 trillion. If no other reform is enacted, this funding gap can only be closed in future years by substantial tax increases, large benefit cuts or both.”
With these heavy burdens in mind, the health care debate stirred more fears as those citizens following the process in the House and Senate for Health Care Reform became lost in and atrophied by fiscal implications of HRC and the perverted process to pass the measure. Many of those voicing negative views of health care reform may be doing so because they don’t trust the intentions of those trying to crash it through the public opinion firewall. As recent elections have proven, ‘Pass it first and then we will tell you why it is a good thing’ proved to be a flawed strategy at best.
For the Tea Party movement to continue its momentum it must maintain a commitment to the principles that inspired the original fight for US independence. Samuel Adams said, "If taxes are laid upon us without our having a legal representation where they are laid, we are reduced from the character of free subjects to the state of tributary slaves."
While the Tea Party organization is said to be leaderless, the committees that organize these events can continue to grow the movement by maintaining the consistency of the message. They must continue to tap into the ripe emotions that an uneasy public harbors about the price of growing our government.