Don’t Mistake Tea Party Birth Pains for Death Throes|
August 11, 2014
With, most recently, incumbent Republican Senators Pat Roberts in Kansas and
Lamar Alexander in Tennessee winning their respective primaries, Tea Party
challengers failed in all attempts in this primary cycle to defeat Senate
Now we’re starting to hear eulogies about the Tea Party movement.
But let’s not confuse birth pains with death throes.
The Tea Party is on its way in, folks, not on its way out. Change is hard and
doesn’t happen overnight. The undeniable facts are that America has huge
problems, that these problems have been growing and festering for years while
being ignored by our political class in Washington, and the American people are
very unhappy with the state of affairs.
The failure of any Tea Party candidate does not negate these truths and what
they point to – the profound need for change in America and for political
leadership with the clarity and courage to make it happen.
Three of four Americans say they not satisfied with the direction of the country
and the most recent Gallup approval rating for Congress stands at 15 percent.
Usually, despite disapproval of congress in general, most Americans approve of
their own congressman. But a new Washington Post-ABC News poll reports, “A
majority of people don’t like their own member of Congress. For the first time
For the first time since this poll has been conducted, more than half of
Americans, 51 percent, express disapproval of their own congressman.
The Tea Party captures a groundswell of dissatisfaction with business-as-usual
in how our country is being run. These emotions are as strong, and as
legitimate, as ever.
Typical of deeply misguided analysis about what is happening is a column by
Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank where he writes, “The tea party movement
was a setback because it elevated extreme individualism over collective
responsibilities and because it tapped into nativism and further undermined
trust in American institutions.”
The truth is opposite from every claim made here.
Tea Party sentiments point to troubles in America flowing from the erosion and
undermining of American institutions. It is about restoring strength and
viability to our institutions – certainly not undermining trust in them.
The most central of American institutions is our constitution. A priority of
lawmakers and political leadership should be to work within its framework, not
try to skirt around its edges.
But skirting the constitution defines our political leadership today.
Central to the Affordable Care Act is the provision that uninsured who do not
purchase health insurance pay a fine. But the Wall Street Journal now reports
that 90 percent of 30 million uninsured Americans will pay no fine in 2016
because of the pile of exemptions issued by the Obama administration.
The constitutionally defined job of the executive branch is to carry out the
law, not rewrite it. It is not the Tea Party undermining America’s most
fundamental institution, but our national leaders.
Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff recently wrote in the New York
Times about “America’s Hidden Credit Card Bill.”
Government taxes citizens and promises future pension, health care, and other
benefits in return. Except the future costs to provide these benefits far exceed
the taxes now being paid.
Kotlikoff calls this the “fiscal gap,” which is not formally reported anywhere.
He estimates this gap today to be $210 trillion, which would require an
immediate increase of 59 percent in tax revenue to cover it.
Did America wind up with 12 million illegals living here overnight? This
happened over years.
America is sinking while our so-called political leadership is fiddling.
“Extreme individualism” is about feeding at the public trough indifferent to our
ability to replenish it. Exactly what the Tea Party is not about.
The movement for major change in
America is not going away. Anyone who thinks the Tea Party is history has got to
feel the same way about our country.
Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal
and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based
public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle
Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do