A new poll by Rasmussen Reports found that only 8% of Americans now identified themselves as members of the Tea Party. While that still equals more then 25 million people, this is a startling drop from the 24% who answered same question just 4 years ago. Of course, the liberal media in this country were first to publicize the poll results. I could almost hear the chorus of left wing politicos singing, “Ding Dong the Tea Party is Dead,” while giving each other high fives.
Why would someone identify himself or herself as a Tea Party member these days with a label that has virtually become a curse word in the public eye? Thanks in part to the constant barrage of negative reporting by the media as well as the spiteful jealousy of the moderate wing of the Republican establishment, it looks as though the general public has bought the propaganda that being a Tea Partier means you combine the opinions of a homophobe, raciest, bigot, sexist, redneck all in one.
On February 19, 2009 CNBC’s Rick Santelli’s “Shout Heard Around the World” reignited the same fire that those in Boston felt almost 240 years before. Santelli’s remark to organize a Chicago Tea Party as a revolt to the mortgage bailout was how the residents of Boston felt about onerous taxation by the British.
Within weeks, millions of folks were united under the founding principles of the Tea Party: limited federal government, the protection of individual freedoms and choices, personal responsibility and accountability, returning political power to the states and the people and most important a free market system.
The need for those principles is only more urgent four years into the Obama presidency. I believe the number of Americans who believe in those tents has increased over that time period, even if they do not call themselves members of the “tea party.”
When millions of Americans educated themselves and protested en masse about how big our Government had grown and delivered a stunning verdict at the ballot box in 2010 by sending dozens of Tea Party candidates to Congress, the liberal elite and GOP establishment took notice. They knew the movement was a mortal threat to their political existence in a center-right country.
The only option they had was to demonize Tea Partiers. It is only human nature to point at someone else just to make sure no one is pointing at you.
So how does the Tea Party survive? The Tea Party could just change their name, as it seemed to work for ACORN. But this would be portrayed as a sign of resignation and defeat.
What the Tea Party needs to survive – and thrive – is to reintroduce its mission and philosophy to the public.
The Tea Party is meant to be an organic grassroots movement. While this is the genius behind its original success, it also has drawbacks in that without structure and governance it is nearly impossible to have a clear set of rules and an agreed upon agenda. Any “Tea Party” member can offer their own opinion, which is often taken as the belief of the entire movement (look up Akin, Todd and Mourdock, Richard). The more crazy the opinion, the more it confirms the stereotype of crazed wing nuts carrying pitchforks, the more excited the liberal left and the media is to promote it and label it as Official Tea Party Opinion.
Instead of being caught in blind alleys on social issues that inflame and provoke, the Tea Party needs to go back to its founding issue: America’s economic agenda and standing athwart the big government agenda pushed by Obama Democrats and complacent establishment GOP members.
I don’t care about Bob and Ted wanting to marry in Maine. I do care if both are responsible, legal, tax paying citizens who have health insurance and are not reliant upon the Government for any entitlements or federal subsidies. As a Conservative Christian, I might not agree with legal homosexual marriage, but as a Tea Partier, my personal values should not be apart of my argument.
If America’s fiscal peril wrought by out of control spending were the central focus, self-identified Tea Party members would be not only Republicans, but libertarians, independents, and yes, even Democrats. 8 percent of Americans wouldn’t identify with the Tea Party. Close to 50 percent would.
We must save the Tea Party movement and reestablish the positive perception of what we believe amongst all demographics. If I may be so bold, I’d venture that America’s survival as a free, capitalist nation depends on it.
I would bet that in Michael Moore’s own home, he washes out the mouth of anyone who says the phrase Tea Party in anything but a derogatory way. I fear that absent a radical change in how the rest of America views us, other households will do the same.