Right to the Point

Enter the third party

Oct. 28, 2010

By Kayla Purvis

Democrats. Republicans. Teas? America’s flawed, two-party system is being pushed away by the emerging powerhouse called the Tea Party. Inspired by the 1773 protest against the British government in America, the Tea Party’s main request is this: smaller government, please!

We have our Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. We have extremes on both sides, and we have happy mediums in the middle. But what it really comes down to are two parties: Democratic and Republican. In America, these are our parties, and they are the immodest majority.

Parties are inevitable. James Madison wrote in “The Federalist No. 10,” “As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed.” And naturally, people with like opinions congregate. Madison was afraid of factions, or interest groups, but was under no impression that they could be properly prevented in the United States of America: “There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects,” Madison wrote. In America, good luck conforming the populace to the same opinion and taking away its liberty!

Taking Madison’s reasoning that parties are unavoidable, I do not protest their existence. I do, however, disagree with how divided our country has become because we only have two main parties. Most of us, and I am sometimes guilty of this myself, will dismiss a politician based on his or her proclaimed party affiliation. There is such a rivalry between our parties that we are extremely divided on issues. This also makes it quite easy for one party to gain control of the Senate and the House, as well as the presidency.

The Tea Party has disrupted this long-standing system. There is now a third party, though it is not officially recognized as a party. And the Tea Party makes waves. Tea Partiers know what they want, and they will not hesitate to let you know exactly what that is: smaller government, fewer taxes, more power given back to states and the people. It is, after all, rightfully ours.

I attended a Tea Party rally in Montpelier my sophomore year of high school, when the Tea Party was just starting to get some attention. There was a giant (and I mean giant) list of taxes the party had on display. I was shocked to learn that there is a death tax. Yep, you are taxed for dying. I was also enlightened to the idea that the government had overstepped its place. I had never studied nor questioned the government prior to listening to the voices at that rally.

Today, I agree that the government is growing too big and that it intervenes in too many places that are, constitutionally and historically, not its place. I also agree that the government has a bad habit of raising taxes unnecessarily.

So I embrace the Tea Party, not just because I agree with some of its views, but because it is making waves in American politics and I appreciate the change.

One of the Tea Party’s recent public happenings was Christine O’Donnell’s misunderstanding of the Constitution in her recent Delaware Senate debate against Chris Coons. Arguing that it should be the decision of local schools whether or not they choose creationism as an equal theory to evolution, O’Donnell asked where in the Constitution it establishes separation of church and state. Even though the First Amendment doesn’t use those exact words, it is clearly implied that the separation is what was intended.

Being the very first sentence in the very first Amendment, O’Donnell’s question got a lot of publicity. Being a Tea Party candidate, O’Donnell’s gaffe was both good and bad for the party — got their name out there, but in an embarrassing instance.

I think the rise of the Tea Party will make positive, and maybe drastic, changes to America’s political disposition. It is good for our divisive two-party system.

I would like to use the end of the column to remind everyone to go out and vote on Election Day, Nov. 2!

Williston resident Kayla Purvis is a senior at Champlain Valley Union High School.