Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Misconceptions of a Movement

When a "party" that's still in its infancy collects this much attention from the mainstream media, its time to investigate. The tea party movement, barely 2 years old, is one that's generally misunderstood. Being so young, it seems logical that there's confusion. The organization is portrayed as being right wing and associated with the GOP. But let's dig a little deeper and try to analyze the group's true ambitions.

With Obama's massive $786 billion stimulus bill came the start of the Tea Party movement. Disillusioned Americans worried about their liberties and their wallets and their government spoke out. Concerned with Washington's expanding power - seen as an assault upon almost all aspects of life - the group created a doctrine. Here are some of the most important beliefs that capture the essence of the party's primary focus (for further detail, look at the Tea Party Movement website: http://www.thecontract.org/the-contract-from-america/). 1.) Protect the Constitution. 2.) Reject cap and trade. 3.) Demand a balanced budget. 4.) Enact fundamental tax reform. 5.) Restore fiscal responsibility and Constitutionally limited government in Washington. 6.) End runaway government spending. 7.) Defund, repeal, and replace government-run health care. 8.) Pass an "all of the above" energy policy (yes that means all alternative energy sources). 9.) Stop the Pork (reduce earmarks). 10.) Stop the tax hikes. As you can see, it's not as radical an agenda as the popular media would have you believe. In fact it seems like a fair, reasonable and responsible way any decent nation should function.

The Tea Party's philosophy almost has a Reagan-esque feel to it. Reduce taxes, diminish government and curb spending. The grassroots organization is already making its presence felt on the political stage. Benefiting from the wave of popularity are these Senate hopefuls running on the Republican ticket - Sharon Angle of Nevada, Nikki Haley of South Carolina (a 38 year old Indian-American), and Scott Brown of Massachusetts (who had a shocking victory for the Senate seat held by the late Ted Kennedy), just to name a few. However, the party has maintained its independence, as Democrats aim to co-mingle Tea Partiers with the Republican party for political purposes. Recent polls find that 40% of Tea Party members are either Democrat or Independent. Fact is, most Tea party members are political novices - volunteers who just want their country restored to the economic and social integrity it was once known for.

As the important November mid-term elections draw near, the Democrats will paint close comparisons between the Tea Party and several Republican candidates; especially those that are close in pivotal states. Colorado, Nevada, Kentucky and California can all expect a Tea Party-Republican love affair to dominate the headlines. So far the connection, rightly or wrongly asserted, has not hurt Republicans (or Democrats either, for that matter). To the average Tea Party member, that's a good thing. To have their own autonomous voice, free from the noise of both parties, and to deliver a message similar to the one our founding fathers did when they created this great nation is a great accomplishment. Seems to me, they are on exactly the right path.

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