|Boston Tea Party
S. Paul Forrest
In reaction to the modern age of cynicism, media slander, and growing distrust in our government; new ideas, opinions, and political messages have begun to appear and grow with zeal as Americans clamor to restore a country that once offered great promise to all. New movements are growing like weeds in the driveway of the American Dream in an attempt not only to navigate through the chaos of today’s social disarray, but also to create a venue of reason in an unreasoned environment. One populist movement in particular, which stands today as the brightest star in the political sky, is the Tea Party. Widely misunderstood and radically misconstrued, it stands as the exemplification of the effects of financial perversion and ideological stratification that is currently inundating the political landscape.
Some say the Tea Party Movement (TEA is an acronym for Taxed Enough Already) began in 2009 when Rick Santali let out a rant during a segment on CNBC calling for Americans frustrated with Obama’s mortgage bailout “solution” to stand up, make their voices heard and do something about it. Thousands of Americans answered his call for a new Tea Party, in the spirit of the Boston Tea Party, in a show of force that the country as a whole wasn’t in step with Obama’s plans. Others claim it began when Ron Paul, during his campaign for President at an Austin, Texas rally in 2003, voiced his displeasure with the taxation of American business owners. Voters and demonstrators expressed dissatisfaction at a proposal to raise taxes by chanting “no more taxes, no more taxes!” Reacting as they thought was representative of the historic Boston Tea Party, protesters tossed tea bags at politicians who they thought represented the in-place establishment in hope of real change.
Ron Paul, who I personally believe to be the founder father of the Tea Party Movement, is America’s leading voice for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound monetary policies. Paul has said, “The big challenge is taking on the establishment and the process that is so well entrenched. But we can’t beat the entrenched elite without the alliance of all those who have been disenfranchised.” As a Liberal, I applaud this philosophy. I stand in great admiration of the way this man thinks and consistently behaves. Unfortunately, the Tea Party movement seems to have been hijacked by radicals who have perverted these simple ideals and have used the platform to pursue their own personal agendas.
In a statement about governmental control over industry, Paul has stated, “In less than 200 years, the free market, property rights, and respect for the rule of law took this nation from a rough frontier to a global economic superpower. Today, however, our nation and our economy clearly are headed in the wrong direction . . . the best approach to our economic woes that will help the most people is simple: get back to the Constitution and demonstrate respect for free markets, private property, and the rule of law.” The rule of law is set in place to protect America from greedy corporations, but it is supposed to be done without interfering with free-markets, while the Constitution is there to protect Americans from governmental abuse of power. Unfortunately, not all Tea Party candidates hold the same consistency as Ron Paul. Some, seemingly charting their own course on the Libertarian Sea, are muddying the waters of an otherwise clear course set by Paul.
The Tea Party, as it stands today, is so far from Paul’s straightforward vision that it physically pains me to listen to their comments. In the hands of people like Palin and O’Donnell, and even the younger Paul, it seems to have become a platform for corporate entitlement in America. Coupled with FOX News’ xenophobia-generating commentaries, and the radical imaginings of Beckism, the party floats from one confused soap box the next, never actually making a plan of action to combat what they have called the destruction of America. Talking points are good for attention generation, but after the attention has been gotten, the Tea Party solutions remain unclear and somewhat unrealistic to me.
So many statements by the Tea Partiers have been about restoring the government of old by empowering corporations, and have denounced natural preservation and industry operation standards with slanderous statements about environmentalists or, as Palin called them, “the extreme Greenies.” These statements stand in direct conflict with one another. The purpose of government, or rather, American government, is to protect the public’s individual rights from all oppression — including rampant crony capitalism. I am deeply confused when the talking heads of the T.P. movement insist on returning to old government, but advocate the release of restrictions on mega-corporations. To me, this seems to be a direct affront to the American system that has led the world for so long.
The most evident proof of this contradiction was seen when Palin stated that BP had been drilling deep because they were forced to by the Greenies. This is so far from the truth that it frustrates most true environmentalists greatly. The truth of BP’s drilling is something they don’t want us to know because it implicates not only the Bush Administration, but reveals that their policies of resource allocation have become detrimental to the health and safety of Americans. It also stands as proof that she and others like her were wrong to keep touting “drill baby drill” and not offer any other solutions.
The truth of deepwater drilling is as follows: In 2003, the Bush Administration offered incentives to oil companies to explore deep water reserves in an effort to increase our stockpiles to prepare for the impending oil peak outcome. The MMS released a report on the subject calling for deep water drilling to be enhanced. In a 2004 report — titled Deep Water: Where the Energy Is — the MMS stated that “our best source of new domestic energy resources lies in the deep water Gulf of Mexico and other frontier areas.” MMS reported that due to “declining production” in “near-shore, shallow waters” in the Gulf of Mexico, “energy companies have focused their attention on oil and gas resources in water depths of 1,000 feet and beyond.” The MMS estimated that “the deep water regions of the Gulf of Mexico may contain 56 billion barrels of oil equivalent, or enough to meet U.S. demand for 7-1/2 years at current rates.
This deception from Palin uncovers the bigger issue of corporate hijacking of populist movements. Shamus Cooke has stated in his article, Why Are Corporate Groups Funding The Tea Party?, “…does a “constitutionally limited government” allow the economy to be dominated by giant corporations? Does “fiscal responsibility” mean that the U.S. should spend hundreds of billions of dollars annually on foreign wars? Does “free markets” mean that Wall Street should be allowed to do whatever it wants, whenever it wants? The answers to these questions, according to the National Tea Party Federation, will all be YES!” This is not restoring America to anything other than the days of Robber Barons and support of out-of-control business. Sounds very much like the standards of the GOP to this liberal.
Greg Sargent says, “It’s striking: Tea Party supporters and Republicans are almost in lockstep agreement on what constitute the biggest threats to America’s well-being: The size of the Federal debt; the power of the Federal government; terrorism; and illegal immigration. The percentages are almost the same on all those issues.” Newt Gingrich has been quoted as saying that he hopes the Tea Party will become the militant arm of the Republican Party. It appears that is exactly what is going on. In an effort to derail the policies and tactics of the Democratic majority, the Tea Party has been promoted as the extremist side of the GOP without detracting from its conservative base. At the end of the day, it is really just political tactics without the radical backlash of the rational voters toward the Republicans. One thing is for sure, the Tea Party isn’t a unified front of angry Americans, but rather a confused collection of fringe groups that are increasingly being forced to share much of the same establishment GOP ideology that brought us George W. Bush.
Most recently, the movement has created a surge of anti-immigration sentiment which stands in direct conflict with the basic principles of this country’s Founding Fathers. I agree that the immigration issues in the Southwest have become a problem, but their harsh “solutions” and rhetoric is a divisive attack on Mexican Americans in Arizona and elsewhere. Also, the Christian Conservative fringe in the Tea Party, personified by Palin and O’Donnell, have stoked hatred toward Muslims and a desire to continue the immoral wars. This is more than just national restoration methodology; it is a purposeful assault on entire cultures, taking America back 50 years in foreign policy. The actions they undertake and the words they use are purposeful manipulations to feed off the frustrations of the American public and only serve to boost their poll numbers. The long-term effects still do not seem to matter to them.
When I listen to Tea Party candidates like Palin and O’Donnell, I am reminded of my college days when a bunch of rich kids would sit in a dorm room filled with resinous smoke, dressed as hippie Dead Heads, expounding upon the injustices of the world without even (a) knowing what they were speaking about and (b) never actually having any clue as to how to do anything to change it or wanting to change it. These Tea Party candidates are no different than the establishment GOP. They expound upon the philosophy of American Governmental Restoration and make populist statements like “I am you” as talking points only. When the smoke finally clears and graduation comes, or in this context, election to office, they’ll settle into the same old corporate enabling and upper-class principles that they truly embody. Americans should be aware of the dichotomy they are promulgating.
We as a Nation need to recognize the interests that the Tea Party candidates represent as well as their personal actions. Some candidates seem to know nothing of a real America where unemployment has destroyed families and homeless numbers are beyond imagining. They only seem to know what they are getting paid to know. I applaud their ambition and efforts to profit in a free-market society but doing so by lying and deceiving the American public is not acceptable — it’s too late for that.
Ron Paul had a vision; a dream of a renewed America. Less government control and less taxes seem great to me, but not for the elite corporations who ship jobs overseas and catastrophically pollute our environment. I, for one, support Ron Paul’s vision, but in the hands of the Tea Party this vision has become perverted to the point of posing a danger to our common goals of peace, social justice, fair and free markets, and personal liberty.
Some “Tea Party” candidates who have been promoted this election season seem to be trampling upon the platform Ron Paul built. Their dream can quickly become America’s nightmare if allowed to proliferate. My perspective is as simple as the original precepts of Ron Paul’s 2003 campaign: America deserves better than to be the playground for Tea Party ambitions and some of their exceptionalist ideals. Real, plausible solutions are needed to bring back the greatness of America, but the reality is that (though I wish it did) the Tea Party, as represented by their crop of candidates, is not the movement that offers them.
Recent Articles by S. Paul Forest:
A Liberal’s Awakening to the Reality of Obamacare
Where Has Journalism Gone?
5 Key Principles That Unite Populist Progressives and Tea Party Libertarians