In the media’s narrative of the changing political tide, the mention of the tea party has already been exhausted ad nauseum. This is a trend which has had its run for the past four years, stunning and confusing the pseudo-experts who pollute our televisions at night and our blogosphere during the day. It has been enough to occupy the false outrage of progressive blogs and TV stations, as well as the false advocacy by establishment conservative organizations and groups. Some have made their careers bashing them (Ed Schultz, Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann), while others have made theirs impersonating them (Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Romney, current House Republicans).
This ties in to a vastly important trend in American politics, that being populism centered in Constitutional thought. Instead of clamoring for extended programs or wider mandates, a populist movement of disenchanted citizens has emerged protesting the government for its over-exuberance and its excesses. It has been influential enough to re-shape an entire political party and to inspire a time of great Constitutional debate and discussion, always healthy in a thriving republic.
Those dedicated to a dissensus on limited-government principles, however, view the lasting influence of the Tea Party as deceiving and corrupt. The narrative constructed is that shady multinational corporations have secretly paid fake grassroot organizations to protest and petition the government in order to expand corporate power and enslave the citizenry to Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, and Exxon. So it goes.
For those more interested in political trends rather than fear-mongering, the presence of a populist limited-government movement is a very rare and precious occurrence. Rather than beating the drums for more foreign warfare or calling on politicians to extract more wealth for redistribution, the dominant Tea Party message has been about returning government back to its original modesty. Sound money, limited government, states’ rights, free markets, and individual liberty. As sincere as these concerns may have been, it was only a matter of time before the political strategists sitting in leather chairs and smoking banned Cuban cigars seized upon the collective anger for a little political and monetary gain. This is the same idea which keeps the ideas of Ron Paul, as well as the success of his Presidential run, from ever reaching the broader American populace.
I have written previously on the sudden rise of fiscal evangelicals on the right, those now suddenly solely dedicated and concerned about fiscal issues, but who have been complacent in perpetuating the endless wars and spending paradigm of the past 20 years. Seemingly enough, these individuals are attempting to capitalize on a movement which disdains everything they represent. These are the individuals who wish to use populist anger to support their long, undeclared wars, their suppression of civil liberties of political opponents, and their continued crusade against immigrants and minorities.
In order to revive the true origins of the Tea Party, a look must be afforded to the efforts of several groups which emerged during the 2008 Presidential campaign. These were not the Michele Bachmanns, the Rick Perrys, the Rush Limbaughs or Sean Hannitys, but rather individuals upset at the corporatist political system which had grown government for the benefit of the politically-connected. These were supporters of Ron Paul, the Republican Presidential hopeful deemed “unfit” to be a true contender for President by the political analysts on television. These were groups and affiliations brought together to oppose the deceitful nature of government, ready and willing to bailout trillions of dollars to administration-friendly companies while pensions burst and long-term obligations are erased on Main Street.
This was not a movement grounded in opposing immigration or gay rights, or attacking unions, or even advocating for more military adventurism. This was about restoring America to founding principles which made it, in the words of Alexis de Tocqueville, exceptional. And its origins were not mainstream Republicans, but supporters of current Presidential Candidate Ron Paul:
It can only be hoped that those in power of the narrative, the traditional gatekeepers of today, do not remain (consciously) ignorant of history. For that would prove to be a sad, sad occurrence for an awakened populace.