The Rise of the Tea Party Movement

The Rise of the Tea Party Movement

Shortly after President Obama’s inauguration last year, the Tea Party movement took shape as a result of local community efforts across the country in response to the perceived growth in the power and reach of the federal government not to mention perceived runaway federal spending. The group, consisting overall of a leaderless coalition of conservatives and libertarians, has rapidly evolved nationally and tends to additionally include in its mantra a call for the end of many of President Obama’s policies. Coalition members typically claim to have no allegiance to any particular political party. In fact, the Tea Party movement even appears to include moderate Democrats among their ranks in addition to its majority of independent voters and disenchanted Republicans. Still, despite the unity against “big government,” federal spending beyond economic means and Obama policies, the Tea Party movement is diverse and frequently divided over most issues including who their leader(s) should be.  Further, determining the underlying cause and motives of this political movement often depends upon who is doing the analysis.

The size and passion of the Tea Party movement initially caught both political parties off guard.  Its continued growth continues to perplex. In fact, a recent Washington Post poll asked: “Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of the political movement known as the Tea Party?” The results indicated that more people view the Tea Party movement favorably than unfavorably.

With fall mid-term elections around the corner, Republican politicians have been racing to get to the front of the Tea Party protest in an effort to incorporate this growing voting block into their ranks in hopes of ousting the Democrats without losing voters in the process. The recent Washington Post survey additionally affirmed the movement’s benefit to the GOP in that only 23 percent of respondents felt the Tea Party movement “has too much influence on the Republican Party.”  In other words, most participants favored the effect that the Tea Party movement is having on the GOP.

Conversely (and nearly from the movement’s beginnings) Democrats marginalized (if not ignored) the Tea Party foundation.  More extreme Democratic observers continue to decry this movement as motivated by both the anger and even hatred felt by white Americans as they see their country changing and their opposition to the very real progress towards social justice that the country has been making. They see that change personified in the person of President Obama.

President Obama has been cautious around the Tea Party topic.  Recently on NBC’s Today Obama stated that he believes the Tea Party is built around a “core group” of people who question whether he is a U.S. citizen and who believe he is a socialist.  However, the president appeared to recognize the movement’s momentum by acknowledging “there’s a broader circle around that core group of people who are legitimately concerned about the deficit, who are legitimately concerned that the federal government may be taking on too much.”

Ironically, both Democrat and Republican leaders appear recently to have no choice but to wonder whether or not to engage Tea Party activists at all out of fear of it backfiring against them in November.

The Tea Party movement appears, for now, to be here to stay. In fact, the Dayton Tea Party will host a “Freedom Rally” Tuesday, April 13 at the Nutter Center at Wright State University. Former Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes will be among the speakers.

Left Opinion

A Movement Toward Terrorism

By Rana Odeh

In Tennessee, a man has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to carry out a killing spree targeting as many African-American students in a particular high school as possible, then killing his main target, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.

The day after President Obama’s inauguration, another man from a suburb of Boston, walked out of his house and started to murder black people. He told police later he intended to go on that night to murder as many Orthodox Jews as possible at a local synagogue. The man later told police that he had been reading white supremacist Web sites that state that the white race in America was being subjected to genocide.

Nine members of a Michigan-based Christian militia group known as Hutaree have been charged with conspiring to kill a law enforcement officer, then to bomb the funeral service killing several other law enforcement officers.

Why has the rage on the right known as the Tea Party movement taken such a violent turn? Well, there are two types of members of the movement and different reasons for their anger. First there are those who have an agenda and create the propaganda about the government, and then there are followers of the first group. The leading group is an elite group that benefits from a free market type of government with lower taxes and no regulations. They have a very successful marketing strategy to sell their ideology to the masses by exploiting the fears of different audiences. If their audience is a group of white supremacists, they trigger their temper with racial hate propaganda. If they are poor they blame their economic misfortunes on government regulations. If they are religious they play on issues like abortion in the health care reform, and fear of the antichrist. The propaganda blames everything on the government, hence the broadening of an anti-government movement.

Mainstream figures in the media have played a significant role in promoting this propaganda. Congressman Steve King (R-IA) has been a vocal supporter of the Tea Party and openly blessed them for what they are “willing to do.” King has openly ridiculed immigrants, particularly Mexican immigrants, and gave false statistics when he stated in 2005 that “the lives of 12 U.S. citizens would be saved who otherwise die a violent death at the hands of murderous illegal aliens each day. Another 13 Americans would survive who are otherwise killed each day by uninsured drunk driving illegals.” It is those kinds of lies that strike fear in the public’s mind and drive people to extremist thoughts and actions, especially when the lies are propagated by an elected official in the United States Congress.

The Tea Party has capitalized on the good old propaganda combination of fear and ignorance: Fear of “the other”, the immigrants, the non-Christians, the seculars, the social democrats, and the government in general, and ignorance of the real facts through the mainstream media spreading misleading information.

The Tea Party movement is not about health care reform, but rather the culmination of the neoliberal political movement that started in the 1980s. The recent financial crisis and the wave of government regulations that ensued from it have challenged the supremacy of neoliberal free market ideology. The rise of the Tea Party movement is an attempt to prevent the resurrection of the welfare state that has actually strengthened the American middle class during the golden age of the 1950s and 1960s.

President Barack Obama’s racial, ethnic and cultural background is even more intimidating to the political right. When you throw in the fact that by 2050 less than 50 percent of the United States population will be Caucasian, you have fertile grounds for hate propaganda that is spread by Glenn Beck, Steve King and Sarah Palin. The Tea Party propaganda’s statements of fear even include lies about whites becoming the oppressed minority, the imposition of martial law, FEMA-run concentration camps, and the invasion of the southern parts of the United States by the Mexican government.

To the well-informed citizen the Tea Party movement may seem like a shallow group of angry and naive taxpayers. The truth, however, is that it is a movement that may easily lead to social unrest and violence. According the Southern Poverty Law Center, 363 new Patriot groups have appeared in 2009, that is a 244 percent increase from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias). The Tea Party is now planning a massive march on Washington D.C. on April 19, 2010, the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

The important challenge for American democracy today is not how to suppress the Tea Party’s freedom of speech, but rather to work hard to refute the lies that are being fed to the naive followers of this movement.

Right Opinion

Tea Partiers Fight Back

By Mark Luedtke

On December 16, 2007, the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, Ron Paul supporters raised $6 million for Dr. Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign. This movement was based on a simple principle: central planners playing God are doomed to fail in all things. These initial tea partiers championed freedom, individual rights, constitutional government, non-intervention and a sound understanding of economics. Congressman Paul was the only Washington politician who predicted the coming economic crisis and who had an agenda to resolve it.

Little did Paul’s supporters know they were launching the biggest political movement in our lives. The Tea Party movement exploded into prominence after Republicans and Democrats united with George Bush to loot nearly a trillion dollars from taxpayers to bail out the Wall Street firms which had profited from their political connections at our expense for decades. Paul’s supporters understood that the Federal Reserve had looted us for trillions more through the invisible inflation tax by printing money and handing it out to Wall Street firms and failing banks. The Tea Party movement gained more steam when President Obama appointed bailout architect and tax cheat Tim Geithner as Treasury Secretary before looting us for another nearly $1 trillion to hand out to Democrat special interests under the guise of a stimulus bill.

Libertarians have long understood that our government is conquering us. The sole function of government is to loot the people at the point of the government’s gun on behalf of the professional politicians and their patrons. Everything else is a manufactured crisis or window dressing to convince us to acquiesce. In his book Hamilton’s Curse, economic historian Thomas DiLorenzo points to 1913 as the year government put the final tools in place to conquer us in earnest: the income tax, the Federal Reserve and the popular election of senators. The culmination of a hundred year fascist take-over of our health care system opened the eyes of many Americans of all political persuasions to this reality. Feminist leader Naomi Wolf, author of the book End of America about the advance of fascism in America, supports the tea parties and recognizes that Obama is institutionalizing fascism.

The tea partiers are rightly scared of government, and leftists are terrified of the tea partiers. The left has launched a smear campaign against the tea partiers exemplified by Frank Rich’s essay in the New York Times: “The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House – topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman – would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play.” In other words, tea partiers are racist, misogynist homophobes who would otherwise embrace Democrats’ big-government policies. Go tell it to Bill Clinton. Leftists have baited tea partiers since the rally to stop Obamacare March 20, but the tea partiers haven’t taken the bait. Claims by black Democrats that tea partiers spit on them and called them the n-word have been debunked by video of the incidents, but that didn’t stop their media propagandists from sensationalizing those false claims and others.

Unfortunately, because conservatives don’t stand on principle, they invite these attacks. Tea partiers were silent while Bush and Republicans nearly doubled the size of government. Tea partiers were silent when Mitt Romney signed Romneycare in Massachusetts. Like frogs in boiling water, conservatives sit in the pot and boil as long as Republicans turn up the heat slowly enough. Only when Democrats turn it up too fast do they resist. That makes them easy targets for slander.

The smear also paints tea partiers as violent. Coinciding with a New York Times claim that tea partiers are like Obama’s partner, domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, the FBI seduced some yahoos in Michigan into fantasizing about blowing up policemen with improvised exploding devices (IEDs) and convinced one to try to buy one. An army of FBI agents swooped in and manufactured a huge media story about white Christian domestic terrorists as part of the coordinated effort to discredit the tea party movement.

We’re seeing the tip of the iceberg of political violence and secret police actions all fascist countries experience. A leftist shot into the office of Republican House Whip Eric Cantor. Some right-wing loon will attack somebody or make a racist comment. The media will slime the tea partiers with it until November.

For the Tea Party movement to be more than a temper tantrum, conservatives must reject violence and establishment Republicans and embrace the principle of non-intervention at home and abroad. Sarah Palin is the poster child for naked opportunism. Romney is still the Republican favorite despite Romneycare and his Massachusetts assault weapons ban. Tea partiers flirt with Dick Armey, Jeb Bush and John McCain. If tea partiers don’t reject establishment Republicans, they’re nothing but hot air. After a Tea Party last year, an excited local Republican Party leader told me Republicans wouldn’t challenge big-government Mike Turner in the primary. That’s a sure path to irrelevance. Fortunately, Rene Oberer challenged Turner anyway.

The aristocrats in Washington have divided Americans and are conquering us. This is the only war that matters, and we’re on the verge of defeat. Trying to protect ourselves from Obama’s assault is like dodging machine-gun fire. George Bush’s power grabs enabled the most dangerous administration in our lives. Now Obama is driving Americans back to the big-government Republicans who did so much damage before. If the tea partiers stand on principle and force Republicans to boot their big-government establishment, they can help America. If they realize that Ron Paul is still the only Washington politician with a plan to resolve our troubles, we have hope. We must dramatically reduce the size and scope of government to constitutional limits, not merely slow its growth. But if the tea partiers cave to the same old Republican power-brokers, our country is doomed to spiral downward into fascism, socialism and self-destruction.

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