What Happened to the Tea Party?

Guests wave flags before property magnate and reality TV star Donald Trump was introduced at a South Florida Tea Party rally in Boca Raton, Fla., April 16, 2011.
Guests wave flags before property magnate and reality TV star Donald Trump was introduced at a South Florida Tea Party rally in Boca Raton, Fla., April 16, 2011. | (Photo: Reuters/Joe Skipper)

In 2009, the Tea Party sprang up from the grassroots heartland of America.

Mature, patriotic Americans were shocked by the overwhelmingly partisan power grab of the President, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid, and were frightened by the irresponsible, ongoing trillion dollar deficits incurred by the out-of-control government.

The Tea Party sprung up in spontaneous protests at "town hall" style meetings, and then in more organized rallies to push back on the government takeover of their lives. The Tea Party took a principled stand for Constitutional, limited government, committed to the freedom and liberty of the people, and to fiscal responsibility. They did more than protest, they voted.

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In the elections of November 2010, the House of Representatives, the branch of Government in which the founders had placed the center of governing, was stripped from the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi, and given over to the Republicans and newcomers with Tea Party backing. The voters have confirmed their distrust of the Democrats in 2012, again keeping the House away from Nancy Pelosi.

The progressives of the left fought back against the Tea Party, using the "Big Lie" technique. With a gullible press as their amplifier, the left attacked the Tea Party as racists, and a bunch of right "wingnuts". The liberal press parroted these smears as if they were truth. The press entirely ignored the amazing story of ordinary Americans who had had a gutful of taxes, debt and government interference in their personal lives. These were salt-of-the-earth people, with hardly a political bone in their body, who rose up to put a stop to the nonsense they saw coming from Washington, DC. The really BIG story of the Tea Party was missed by the media, who were ensconced in the hip pocket of the progressive movement.

But time changes everything. The ordinary grassroots people, not really interested much in politics to begin with, got back to their lives of working and raising families. The remnants of the Tea Party activists lost their focus on limited government and runaway debt. Other agendas got mixed into the Tea Party, just as James Madison predicted in the Federalist Papers. A strong emphasis on sticking to what the Constitution says morphed into an obsession over "gun rights." And inexplicably, the Tea Party that stands for liberty and limited government, has somehow transformed into a group agitating for bigger, stronger government to build fences at the border, and has become known by its animosity to newcomers to America.

Now I understand there is a problem with immigration when we live in such a welfare-oriented society. It is neither smart nor sustainable to let people into the country, just to have them get welfare benefits. But there are ways to control this problem. Just as people have to pay taxes for 10 years into the Social Security system before they can qualify for benefits, we could require that newcomers have to pay taxes for 10 years before they qualify to even apply for welfare benefits. Surely the deadbeats will have gone home by then, and we will have left the ambitious, hard-working kind of people that built America in the first place.

People, who have the courage and ambition to emigrate to America, are just the people we want. It is people, with brains and skills and ambitions that will start new companies, invent new products, and work in our factories. These are the people who, just like my grandparents were, are willing to make the sacrifices to make a better life for their children and perhaps even for you too.

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