It's not about tea

Paul Jacob

5/2/2010 8:08:22 AM - Paul Jacob

Those who adore modern, unlimited government have a problem. A few problems, actually, but biggest is their obvious inability to say “no” to government growth.

Today’s politicians and pundits seem completely incapable of prioritizing anything. After all, in their minds, every need represents a right to government support or a mandate for government action. If a constituency likes a program (and what constituency objects to money being thrown at them?), what can they say against it?

Michelle Malkin

But these folks have a second problem, a practical one. They have opponents. The bulk of the American populace, in a sense. But, in particular, the Tea Party protestors.

These new opponents are not protesting tea, but rather ever-growing government, politics-as-usual for both major parties.

The Tea Party name, of course, comes from a legendary event from the days of colonial unrest, prior to the secession of the colonies as the 13 United States.

But let’s not get hung up on the name. The actual meaning of the historic Boston Tea Party is irrelevant to modern-day Tea Party protestors, who are most concerned with a few core issues, the very issues that the people who are now in charge don’t want addressed.

Indeed, our rulers are in a bit of a panic. That’s why they, their core supporters, and the mainstream media have been so keen to portray Tea Party protestors as racist. It is gutter politics. Just what we’ve grown to expect.

The best they can do is to ask where the protests were in the Bush Administration, when the bailouts began and the budget had gone all out of whack and deficits soared and debt ballooned. Why wait till a black man hit the White House?

First, get real. Does anybody really believe that, if Hillary Clinton had been elected instead of Obama, the Tea Party protesters would be copacetic?

No. But protesters under a Clinton administration would be labeled “angry white males” (remember?) and we’d be informed that men outnumber women at the rallies.

The truth of the matter is that most of the protestors of all genders and races were complaining to their friends and co-workers and congressmen about the Bush bailouts. (Remember, the bailouts were passed over the protest of the vast majority of Americans, a super-majority, but with the support of both parties.) It is not for nothing that Bush’s support plummeted in his second term, and Congress’s hit the toilet and flushed.

And then came Obama — a spender so incredible that he could make Bush seem like the very watchword of common sense and fiscal responsibility.

What happened, Tea Party critics, is that the federal government, united under the Democrats, went on a spending binge to dwarf the already-atrocious fiscal folly of Republican governance. And hence the need for protests. Apparently, the promised Obamaniac “change” was only going to be a whole heckuva lot more of the same-old, same-old.

It would be misleading, however, to focus on the problems of the Democrats and not mention, in passing, the greater problem facing the GOP. Without a leg to stand on, Republicans must come back, somehow, and take Tea Party fervor to GOP success. Which is why Republican politicians are now so amorously courting the Tea Party folk.

Their trouble — if you share Tea Party concerns — is that they cannot be trusted. Tea Party people should respond with all due skepticism. For it is the Tea Party that must change politicians, not allow politicians to change the Tea Party.

Tea Partyers want to cut spending, rearrange priorities. Once in office, Republican politicians will not want to irritate any constituency and will want to use their majority power.

One issue that will test the ability of the Tea Party to maintain its commitment to getting America’s financial house in order is our role as the world’s policemen. That term “the world’s policemen” used to be quickly dismissed as hyperbole. Today, it is so obviously true as to not warrant debate.

America’s empire costs money. And we are going broke. It makes no sense to say we need to cut back on government spending, and then to demand we continue to spend like a Roman emperor on foreign garrisons.

The Defense budget gets listed as 23 percent of current spending, though I’m not sure one can exactly trust our accountants. The mere interest we pay on past war spending is over $57 billion, and the cost of the conquest and occupation of Iraq is over $720 billion, while that of Afghanistan is a by-no-means-small $268 billion. Call me old-fashioned, but over a trillion bucks is nothing to sneeze at.

And, from a political perspective, defending neo-Wilsonian internationalism is just another way to push Bush or back Obama. It is no kind of protest at all.Ê

Indeed, Tea Party folks should come out against eternal meddling abroad. For the Tea Party to follow Sarah Palin’s failed McCain-style foreign policy, rather than the traditional conservative and libertarian position of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), could seal the movement's fate . . . and perhaps America’s, too.

America is fast approaching the Greek Track. This is no Olympiad. We are reaching the last stages of a predictable course of events, when people allow too much of government. Real insolvency follows political brain-death.

It’s time to get back to basics. Stick to the core issues. Advance principles. Consider major breaks with the recent past, for the recent past has been one of outrageous folly.