I want to wrap up the Tea Party talk and, hopefully, address all of the issues that I left out of the last post and touch on the ones that were raised in the comments there.
I found out this morning that Bill Simmon and Steve Benen talked about my tea party post on their Poli-Sci-Fi Radio show Sunday, so I will be responding to what they had to say, as well, though I will not get to everything that warrants rebuttal.
You can listen to the episode online, here. Tea Party talk starts about half-way through.
The first thing I want to address is the common Where were these people the last 8 years? response to the Tea Parties, popular among the left.
Answer: Complaining about Bush and the Republicans in Congress spending too much money.
I was, when I covered national politics. So were other conservatives. Here is a post from March 2006 – just one month after I started this blog on Blogspot – in which I reference a Cal Thomas column entitled, “Spending Obsenities.” (Link is to my post.)
Mr. Guy, in the comments of my previous Tea Party post, claimed that Freedom Works, a sponsor of the tea parties, was not active in opposing spending before now. I don’t know how long he has been a Freedom Works member, but a quick search of my e-mail shows a Freedom Works newsletter from January of 2006, opposing government-funded, universal pre-K and supporting consumer-driven health care, as an alternative to government-funded plans.
Libertarian groups, such as CATO, have been criticizing government spending and corporate welfare all along.
What you have to understand is that the people attending these tea parties, by and large, are not Republican Party defenders. They are citizens who support smaller government, less spending, lower taxes, and more freedom – Libertarians (both big and small “L”), Ron Paul and Bob Barr supporters, Constitution Party members, and GOP voters who are disillusioned with the party’s power-drunk spending spree over the past decade.
Another claim is that the tea parties would not have happened if McCain were elected.
Conservatives did not like McCain’s penchant for spending, either. Conservatives also opposed the bailouts under Pres. Bush last fall. I had a post (actually quite a few) in the fall of 2006 discussing the GOP and its lack of conservatism.
We are sick of the big-government, big-spending, and disregard for the 10th Amendment. There is no longer a place for lovers of small government and people are looking for a way to speak out. This was a long time coming and it would have happened no matter who was elected last November.
On the Poli-Sci-Fi radio episode I linked to, Steve Benen brought up the fact that Bush and Cheney had bad approval ratings – no one was saying, “At least they are not expanding government” – as if some sort of evidence that people do not want smaller government (or less government expansion).
That might have been a good point, if only Bush had not expanded the government’s size and power. In fact, he did. Being a political blogger for 6 years, one would think Steve would have known that.
Benen did raise one good point, though, that the tea partiers did not do a good job articulating their message to the rest of the country. That was unfortunately true. There is a good message to be had in all of this, but without a spokesperson or official group that can put together a platform, people are left to their own interpretation or that of the media, which in the case of the Tax Day Tea Parties, was largely wrong.
It’s worth noting that there were a couple of things said on that PSFR episode that I still need to address, but they necessitate their own post(s).