Tea Partiers Are Not Going Away

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - August 17, 2011
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In 1773 the British Parliament established the “Tea Act,” which taxed the American colonies for tea imported by the British. Many colonialists resented this tax since they had no representation in Parliament: i.e., “taxation without representation.”

The Royal Governor of Massachusetts refused to let the tea be returned, so on Dec. 16, 1773, a band of colonialist protesters only a few disguised as Indians (contrary to the famous Currier lithograph depicting many would-be Indians) boarded the British ship loaded with tea and threw the cargo into the harbor. This event became known as the Boston Tea Party.

Parliament then closed Boston Harbor until the destroyed tea had been paid for. This caused further protests and demonstrations, which led to the first Continental Congress. Ultimately the crises escalated, leading to the beginning of the American Revolution near Boston in 1775.

(My apologies to readers over age 35 for reviewing what you probably learned in basic American history before schools in Hawaii public and private and across the Mainland began to lose sight of its importance.)

Now we have the contemporary “Tea Party,” which I fear many younger Americans think of as another political party, i.e., the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, the Tea Party! The fact is, of course, it is not a political party but a spontaneous movement of many loosely knit organizations across America that collectively became known as the Tea Party because of its protest nature, like the 1773 anti-tea-tax protesters in Boston.

The 1976 movie Network comes to mind, where aging news anchor Howard Beale loses his ratings, is fired and yells out his window in the middle of the night: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore!”

That, essentially, is the rallying cry of the Tea Party: “We’re mad as hell and we aren’t gonna take this anymore!” “this” being the federal government’s unchecked growth in size, cost and power, yet an inability to not only solve the nation’s problems, but to keep them from compounding even more.

According to one website, teapartypatriots.org/Mission.aspx, the movement’s mission statement reads as follows: “The impetus for the Tea Party movement is excessive government spending and taxation. Our mission is to attract, educate, organize and mobilize our fellow citizens to secure public policy consistent with our three core values of Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets.”

This website is virtually a single page. It elaborates briefly on each of the core values, and then within the final section, “Our Philosophy,” it reads: “Tea Party Patriots, Inc. is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of individuals united by our core values derived from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States of America, and the Bill of Rights as explained in the Federalist Papers ... We recognize and support the strength of grassroots organization powered by activism and civic responsibility at a local level ... The Tea Party Patriots stand with our founders, as heirs to the republic to claim our rights and duties which preserve their legacy and our own ... As an organization we do not take stances on social issues. We urge our members to engage fully on the social issues they consider important and aligned with their beliefs.”

I urge you, my reader, to check out this site and consider the strident anti-Tea Party rhetoric of the left within the context of what you see there. They have blamed the Tea Party for everything they couldn’t blame on George W. Bush. They have blamed the Tea Party for the deadlock on the recent debt negotiations. They have blamed the Tea Party for the recent downgrade in America’s credit rating. U.S. Sen. John Kerry, one of the most shrill critics, even calls it “the Tea Party downgrade.”

It was Tea Party-backed U.S. representatives in the House who helped push passage of the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” act which, according to some credible commentators, if passed, may have precluded Standard and Poor’s credit downgrade. But the Harry Reid-led Senate wouldn’t give it a sniff.

The Tea Party movement may be the most generally misunderstood political phenomenon of our time. And certainly, by some, the most feared. Rightly so.

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