Will The Tea Parties Matter?
by Newt Gingrich (more by this author)
Posted 04/22/2009 ET
by Newt Gingrich (more by this author)
Posted 04/22/2009 ET
The elite media tried to ignore us.
The government labeled us “extremists.”
But on April 15, more than one million Americans came together, spontaneously, to defend fairness and freedom.
I know because Callista and I were there. Here is our story.
A Reaction to the Left’s Effort to Create a Radical, Secular, and Socialist America
Callista and I spent last Wednesday evening at the New York City Tea Party in City Hall Park. We had a terrific time, as did the crowd that the New York Police estimated numbered 12,500 fellow citizens.
The Tea Party in New York was a great example of the nature of the entire movement: It was a grassroots citizens’ initiative aroused in reaction to the left’s aggressive effort to create a more radical, secular, and socialist country.
The force behind the New York Tea Party was Kellen Giuda, a 26-year-old small businessman (three employees), who decided on his own to organize a protest.
A Modern Day Sam Adams
At the New York Tea Party, I called Kellen a modern day Sam Adams.
Like the original 1773 Boston Tea Party, the nationwide Tea Parties of 2009 were held in response to a government treating Americans as subjects to be commanded rather than citizens with God-given rights.
Kellen Giuda is a citizen, not a subject. His first internet-based effort led 300 people to get together. These 300 then reached out and organized an effort which drew 12,500 people to City Hall Park. It was a bubbling-up of the grassroots comparable to anything the left-wing anti-war movement had been able to achieve in the last eight years.
More than One Million Americans Held Tea Parties.
Dave Ryan, the head of American Solutions, had a great time with Fox News’ Sean Hannity and 20,000 fellow citizens in Atlanta on Wednesday evening.
My friend and co-author Bill Forstchen estimated there were 1,500-plus citizens at the Asheville Tea Party.
Rick Tyler, founding director of Renewing American Leadership, helped drive tens of thousands of people of faith out to Tea Party Day rally sites around the country.
Will the Tea Parties Be a Moment Quickly Forgotten or the Start of Something Big?
Adam Waldeck, the Tea Party coordinator for American Solutions, reported that the Tax Day Tea Party effort organized in at least 850 sites, with more than one million people all told.
An impressive showing, especially considering that the elite media virtually ignored the movement, no big donor or organization was behind it, and right and center-right leaning Americans generally have jobs and lack the professional protest and “community organizing” prowess and funding of the left.
Still, David Axelrod, President Obama’s chief strategist, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” last Sunday that the Tea Party movement was potentially “unhealthy.”
So what does this movement really mean? Will the 2009 Tax Day Tea Parties be a brief moment in time quickly forgotten or the beginning of something big?
Dispelling the Media Myths about the Tea Parties
Liberal politicians and pundits did their best to discredit the Tea Parties by describing them, first, as a partisan Republican movement, and, second, as a revolt of greedy rich people who don’t want to pay more income tax.
But as Callista and I saw -- and anyone who went to a Tea Party with an open mind would have seen as well -- the Tea Parties were not essentially Republican. People were as disgusted with big spending under President Bush as they are opposed to big spending under President Obama. This was a powerful movement of Americans fed up with the irresponsible politicians of both parties. In most cities they did not have a politician speaking. In some places, politicians were barred from speaking and forced to listen.
Alarm at the Growing Burden of Government on All Americans
Second, Tea Party participants were not simply angry about higher federal income taxes. Like Kellen Giuda, they were alarmed at the growing burden of government on all Americans, and the America we are leaving to our children both born and unborn. Taxing future generations to pay for our irresponsible spending is the epitome of “taxation without representation” which was precisely in line with the spirit of the Boston Tea Party in 1773.
What the elite media missed is that state and local taxes are going up for everyone. Add that to higher gasoline taxes, corporate taxes, death taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, and the threat of an energy tax. All of these combine to convince people that the general burden of government is getting bigger.
The Obama budget being negotiated in a House-Senate Conference Committee this week projects an astounding $9 trillion increase in federal debt over the next eight years. Since no one expects the liberals in control of Washington to cut spending, this level of debt virtually guarantees either higher taxes for the middle class or higher inflation. Higher taxes or higher inflation -- either path means declining incomes, declining savings, and fewer economic opportunities for every American.
The elite media didn’t get this. The Americans at the Tea Parties last week did. They understand that more government means more taxes and more taxes means less freedom. That’s why we came out.
The Real Meaning of the Tea Parties: Fairness, Responsibility, and Freedom
But more important than understanding what the Tea Parties were not is understanding what they were. I believe there are three much deeper meanings to the Tea Party movement that the elite media completely missed. The first is fairness, the second is responsibility, and the third is freedom.
Fairness is the great Achilles heel of the left. As Callista and I travel around the country, more and more people tell us how unfair it is for the government to pick winners and losers.
More and more people tell us they are disgusted that the government is subsidizing those who bought houses they couldn’t afford while making those who worked hard, lived prudently and saved for a home they could afford help pay for the transfer of wealth to those who chose to live beyond their means.
Responsibility vs. Irresponsibility: The Choice of the Next Generation
The Obama Administration’s new budget document is entitled “A New Era of Responsibility,” yet there is nothing responsible about increasing the size of the federal debt by $9 trillion over the next decade. This means that the average 21-year-old college graduate will have to pay $114,000 over the course of his or her lifetime just to pay for the interest on the new Obama debt.
Burdening the next generation with this much debt is the height of irresponsibility. It’s akin to the parents of today buying and driving a mid-range Porsche 911 and stiffing their kid with the bill. It’s going to get harder and harder for new college graduates to pay down school loans, their first car, a down payment on a mortgage, and start a new family if part of every paycheck has to go to pay for their parents’ $100,000 sports car.
The Most Radical Administration and Congress in American History?
The ultimate underlying force behind the Tea Parties is the cause of freedom.
There is increasing recognition that this is the most radical administration and most radical Congress in American history.
This is a left-wing team that wants to raise taxes, undermine charities, churches, and synagogues, (see my piece in Christianity Today) impose a radical secular agenda (eliminating the conscience clause protecting doctors of faith from being compelled to perform abortions is just one example), create bigger and bigger bureaucracies and take control of more and more of the private sector. This is a left-wing team dedicated to centralizing power in Washington.
The Difference Between Subjects and Citizens
The Democrats, Republicans and Independents who went to Tea Parties last week want the same thing that the patriots of 1773 wanted: To be treated as free citizens with inalienable rights, not indentured subjects of an all-powerful government.
Subjects don’t complain when government makes their lives more secular and more socialized.
But citizens demand the “right to pursue happiness” as their Creator endowed them in the Declaration of Independence.
Citizens do not want to be told that they can earn up to $250,000, but above that, they are illegitimate possessors of the “people’s wealth” and should expect to have it taken by the government.
Citizens do not want to be told that members of Congress or bureaucrats in the Treasury will set salary schedules and decide income for Americans in private business.
The Tea Parties were a reaction to all these threats to the American way of life.
Will the Tea Party Movement Matter? July 4 May Tell the Story
All that said, if the Tea Parties prove to be a one-time event they will probably not matter.
But if the Tea Party movement is the beginning of a larger, broader and deeper dialogue about the future of America then they will matter a great deal.
People are wondering what they can do next. American Solutions has an easy answer: Contact your representatives in Washington and urge them to oppose the big spending, big deficits, big government, big taxes, and big debt Obama Budget. Visit www.americansolutions.com/teaparty to learn more.
Then, we should make July 4, 2009 “American Freedom Day.” Tea Party activists across America should plan to go out and recruit supporters from every Fourth of July celebration in their community.
If one million freedom-loving Americans work from now to July 4, the size of the Tea Party movement will grow dramatically.
As Tea Party leaders around the country email, chat, and call each other, they should learn the lessons from this past week and begin laying plans to make July 4, 2009 a day that goes down as a decisive turning point in the history of defending freedom.