Right to the Point (3/25/10)

Tea Party is America’s biggest political force

March 25, 2010

By Mike Benevento

A little over a year ago, the Tea Party movement was born out of anger and frustration with elected officials in Washington, especially Democrats. In no time, Tea Parties spread like wildfire across America — capturing the hearts of many citizens fed up with ever-increasing government spending and its intrusion into their daily lives.

For many Americans, once in charge, the Obama administration and Congress immediately sought to change the nation’s direction by increasing the size and power of government and redistributing wealth as they saw fit. They passed a partisan stimulus package full of pork barrel spending and earmarks, continued to bail out Wall Street, took over auto companies, passed cap and trade legislation and started efforts to socialize health care. With Washington spending trillions upon trillions of dollars without an end in sight, Americans wanted fiscal responsibility.

Washington’s arrogance and condescending attitude (they know better than us what is better for us), coupled with putting special interests ahead of representing the voters, frustrated many Americans. No longer apathetic to the liberal takeover, they formed Tea Parties to take action.

Simply put, the movement was a reaction to President Barack Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress determined to implement their liberal activist agenda against the majority of the American people’s wishes.

The movement derives its name from the Boston Tea Party. In 1773, patriots protested against taxation without representation by dumping British tea into the Boston Harbor. In essence, because Washington politicians continue to ignore the will of the people by increasing spending and taxes, today’s Tea Partiers believe they too are being wrongfully taxed without proper representation.

In 2009, Tea Parties held protests across the United States, including on April 15 (Tax Day), Independence Day and the day after the Sept. 11 anniversary. There were also rallies opposing President Obama’s health care reform in July.

Although recently passed by Congress, the Tea Party had a big impact on the health care bill. Last summer, when Democrats were hustling their revolutionary takeover proposal through Congress, individuals questioned its many shortcomings during town hall meetings around the country. The activists successfully slowed the process, yielding a more honest debate on the legislation’s merits and pitfalls.

During the past year, local Tea Parties have been involved with many activities throughout Vermont. Besides calling and writing elected officials, members participated in the Montpelier Tax Day rally, helped organize health care forums, held many sign waves and a candlelight vigil, and successfully campaigned to repeal Burlington’s instant runoff voting.

Although Tea Parties are independently run, they share many of the same conservative beliefs. These include reducing the size, scope and cost of government, lowering taxes, protecting individual rights, restoring states’ rights, fostering capitalism, enforcing immigration laws, limiting the welfare state and strengthening national defense.

Since the Tea Party is a grassroots effort, its various groups are locally run and loosely associated. A growing consensus, however, believes Tea Parties would be more effective by organizing under one national umbrella.

Otherwise, the Tea Party remains a gaggle of affiliated groups, heading in the same general direction, but lacking coordination. Self-professed National Tea Party President Marty RicKard wrote, “We can do far more together as a cohesive well-organized group than we can as a bunch of straggling independent groups.” Coordinating common efforts multiplies the impact on the political scene.

Republicans, who will be the main beneficiaries in November, find common cause with the Tea Party movement. Because it is still relatively young, the movement does not have a political apparatus. Instead, it will align with the Republican Party to elect principled conservatives to eradicate the liberal agenda.

Because it is still in its infancy, the Tea Party movement risks fizzling out. Long-term success for the Tea Parties depends on continuing to grow from the bottom-up while at the same time unifying at the national level. Most likely, even if it falters nationally, the Tea Party will remain influential during future local and state elections.

No longer are the two major political parties the biggest and most active force in today’s politics. It is the Tea Party movement. Politicians who brush off the Tea Party or espouse differing basic principles do so at their own political peril.


Note: If you want to be involved with dedicated people passionate about arresting the national decline, please check out the Vermont Tea Party (vermontteaparty.com) and the local Green Mountain Patriots (greenmountainpatriots.org). Besides continuing to fight ObamaCare, there is an upcoming a rally in Montpelier on April 15 highlighting how the government’s tax and spend policies threaten liberty.


Michael Benevento has a bachelor’s degree in Military History and a master’s in International Relations. Mike resides in Williston with his wife Kristine and their two sons, Matthew and Calvin. Please send comments to VTMikeBenevento@gmail.com.