Tuesday, 07 April 2009

The Meaning of the Tax Day Tea Parties

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Tea Party logoA new grassroots phenomenon is sweeping the nation — Tax Day Tea Parties. One of the leading sponsoring organizations, the American Family Association (AFA), has announced on its website that AFA TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party Day rallies on April 15 are now scheduled in 1,837 cities. Meanwhile, the originators of the Tax Day Tea Party concept at taxdayteaparty.com list hundreds of Tea Parties scheduled for April 15.

The political pundits are taking notice. For example, Peter Roff, former senior editor for United Press International, stated on April 3:

The “Tea Parties” augur the beginnings of a new political movement, it is now clear, that may eventually exceed the power of MoveOn.org and others of the new liberal pressure groups in their ability to influence the votes of politicians in Washington as well as state capitals in every region of the country.

One reason for the rapid development of the Tea Party movement is the fiercely partisan nature of the Obama presidency. On April 2 the Pew Research Center published the results of their presidential job approval poll. They conclude: “For all of his hopes about bipartisanship, Barack Obama has the most polarized early job approval ratings of any president in the past four decades.”

The Pew poll found a 61-point partisan gap in opinions about President Obama’s job performance — 88 percent job approval among Democrats and 27 percent job approval among Republicans. Consequently, even though many brave statements are issued by event organizers and supporters as to the nonpartisan nature of the Tea Parties, you can be sure that most of the attendees will be Republicans and Independents.

As many of you know, this whole Tea Party movement traces back to a rant on CNBC by Rick Santelli on February 19. Here’s the video:



Santelli’s rant led to the first nationwide “Tea Party” event on February 27 in which an estimated 30,000 Americans participated in protests in over 40 cities. Now, less than two months later, on April 15 there will likely be hundreds of thousands of Americans participating in protests in over 1,500 cities.

The main organizing group behind the Tax Day Tea Party movement has been a grassroots coalition of Top Conservatives on Twitter (TCOT), Smart Girl Politics, and the DontGo Movement. As mentioned above, another main player in this movement is the American Family Association. The very new Glenn Beck 9-12 Project is also promoting the Tax Day Tea Parties on its website. Since the Beck organization already has over 400,000 members, this should help swell the numbers on April 15. Fox News will be featuring the Tax Day Tea Parties in a very high-profile way by positioning four of its key personalities, including Beck and Sean Hannity, at four major Tea Party celebrations around the nation and broadcasting their shows live from the events.

Newt Gingrich is the most prominent big-name politician who is heavily involved in the Tax Day Tea Party movement. He is featured in a video on AFA’s website promoting the event and even speaking on behalf of AFA in doing so. Gingrich is also very visible on the taxdayteaparty.com website. If you click on the “Resources” tab at the top of the homepage, you’re taken to a “Tool Kit” consisting of three PDFs from AmericanSolutions.com. If you’re curious and check out AmericanSolutions.com, you find that Gingrich is the  General Chairman of the organization. Clicking on the “Social Networking” tab of taxdayteaparty.com leads to a video featuring Gingrich in which he says his organization American Solutions is partnering with the Tax Day Tea Party movement. Here's that video:

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A related news item from politico.com provides some context for Gingrich’s involvement in the Tax Day Tea Party movement. According to Politico, on April 1 Gingrich gave a speech at the College of the Ozarks in Missouri during which he stated:

If the Republicans can’t break out of being the right wing party of big government, then I think you would see a third party movement in 2012.... During the period I was speaker, the U.S. government — for four years — total growth was 2.9 percent a year. Under Bush, it was 6.1 percent. ... This year, I think it will be 36 percent in one year. It is just literally irrational.

Based on his heavy involvement in the Tea Party movement and his statement above at the College of the Ozarks, it is hard to resist the conclusion that Gingrich is skillfully positioning himself as the leader of the conservative wing of the Republican Party and possibly as the leader of a conservative third party for the 2012 elections.

Veteran readers of The New American magazine know about Gingrich’s key role in placing the United States under the jurisdiction of the World Trade Organization and NAFTA among other internationalist positions he has taken. However, the vast majority of Americans who attend the Tax Day Tea Parties will be entirely innocent of such knowledge.

Nonetheless, the Tax Day Tea Parties promise to provide a very welcome venue for hundreds of thousands of Americans to register their opposition to the trillion dollar bailouts, corporate takeovers, stimulus packages, inflationary deficit spending, etc. Hopefully these Tea Party protests will continue to grow until a mighty grassroots movement coalesces with sufficient clout to ensure either that the present Congress begins adhering to the Constitution or that the political climate is changed enough to bring about the eventual election of a majority of constitutionalists to both houses of Congress. This result would justify the invocation of our time-honored Boston Tea Party and would be an appropriate homage to our Founding Fathers.