Dr. Harold Pease
The great majority of our establishment press almost gleefully speak of the plummeting Tea Party image over its support of defunding Obamacare, which was linked to the partial government shutdown. This should not surprise us, as the vast majority of the press, excepting FOX News, has never been friendly toward this movement. The view that it instead may be soaring is treated nowhere in their coverage. That Senator Ted Cruz, a Tea Party senator, received an eight minute standing ovation from a large crowd when he returned to Texas is unheard of and certainly supports the view that many seem favorable to a member of Congress finally willing to fight; that he isn’t just there to protect his party or job.
So who is the so-called Tea Party? I know a little about it because I helped form it—as did you. It was one of the most spontaneous political movements in U.S. History somewhat similar to the spontaneous rise of the Republican Party, where people united in the 1850’s in their opposition to the extension of slavery; or the Populist Party movement in the 1890’s, based largely on its opposition to the gold standard and supported the Free Silver movement. In each, as with the Tea Party, there were no known original leaders. Tea Party founders, you and I, loved the Constitution, which limits government, and the free market philosophy, that together made us the freest most productive and prosperous nation on earth. Understood also was that both parties must get back to these philosophies lest freedom and prosperity be lost to future generations.
Actually the movement began in opposition to George W. Bush’s $700 billion stimulus bailout package at the end of his term, which received bi-partisan support from President-Elect Barack Obama and the Democrats. Both parties were on the same page and taking us in the wrong direction—bigger government and debt insanity. Tea Party groups began to spring up everywhere in early February 2009, each with their own leaders. Three city leaders in the East, learning of the simultaneous rise of sister cites, contacted each other to compare notes. They liked the name Tea Party because they wished, by that name, to emulate our founding philosophy. Even so, they were uncertain what their core values should be so they invited Internet submissions from the thousands who felt similarly. Still, there was no known single leader. My daily submissions encouraged getting back to the Constitution. The three most frequently submitted core values, and the one’s selected, were: limited constitutional government, free market and fiscal responsibility—precisely the collective views of our Founders.
In my community the leader of the movement was Julie Demos, a second grade teacher, who had had no prior political experience. She was perfect. This was the gathering of the people who no longer wished to use political party, but the Founders core values, in promoting good government. Between three and five thousand folks gathered at the Liberty Bell in April 15, 2009, many spoke, including myself. Over 600 cities throughout the nation had similar gatherings. The movement was not party based. We wished to attract those who wished to get back to these core values. Our own Congressman Kevin McCarthy and House Speaker John Boehner, were denied the podium for that reason. They attended and viewed the proceedings as spectators as did everyone else. This was not a Republican Party rally! Fifteen thousand heard myself and others speak on getting back to the Constitution at the Tulare Ag Center on July 4th in support of over a million who gathered in Washington DC. Two other times such numbers gathered in the capitol before years end.
When I was young I assumed that I would have been with the patriots at Lexington and Concord when the British came to take their guns, or with Patrick Henry when he gave his famous speech that was highlighted by the phrase, “Give me liberty or give me death.” I would have been at Valley Forge with George Washington. When I learned much later that only a third of the people were patriots, another third too apathetic to care, and yet another third Tories, who actually assisted the British during the war, I wondered whether I would have had the clarity of thought to have picked the right side. Would have you? It comes to this, if you share the core values of the Founding Fathers you will befriend the Tea Party movement, then and now; if you do not, then it is likely that you would have been a Tory, then and now.
The Tea Party fight is not just about defunding Obamacare, which turns over to the federal government one-seventh of the economy, it is this and so many other things that have been taken over by the federal government without clear constitutional language as per Article I, Section 8. Any other approach weakens the Constitution. It is about over-taxing one part of the population to feed the other. It is about over-spending to the point that the entire economy collapses. It is about liberty itself. Tories in the American Revolution could not see any of this and opposed liberty. Tories today, from both parties, are equally blind. Some of us value movements and people, like Ted Cruse, that actually fight for liberty and that is why he received the eight-minute standing ovation. So please don’t be angry at the Tea Party for standing for our founding principles, instead be angry with those who demean them.