Today we’re seeing a similar reaction to an increasingly out of control, distant, and arrogant federal monstrosity. Not only are we witnessing a dramatic increase in the size of government, but we are also seeing a fundamental transformation in the relationship between government, corporations, and citizens.
Just as importantly, there seems to be a shift in the way we think about responsibility. Government now rewards failure and punishes success, by bailing out mismanaged businesses, schools, and states, and even private citizens who have imprudently taken on more debt than they can afford. Americans are tired of it.
While the country is facing difficult economic times, the bottom line is more spending, higher taxes, and bigger government are not the answers to our economic woes.
If Washington – and Sacramento and Albany – want to encourage economic productivity they ought to support policies that encourage work, saving, and investment. They should permanently reduce taxes on savings and investments, lower corporate tax rates, and execute long-term entitlement reform.
Doing this might require a bit more creativity on the part of government. But no one said change would be easy.
It took eight years, the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and a bad economy for President Bush’s approval ratings to bottom out and Congressional Republicans to be decimated. So it would be foolish to think one day of protests will have any immediate effect on President Obama’s poll numbers or the behavior of our legislators.
It’s not just the first months of the Obama Presidency that led normal citizens, many of whom have never before participated in a political protest, to join the tea parties. It was also a result of lingering frustration with Republican leaders, who oversaw their own spending binge and launched the bailouts in the sad last days of the Bush Administration.
It’s not about political party or ideology. It’s about freedom and responsibility. They are powerful concepts and the commitment Americans showed to those principles is potentially very powerful politically.
The Boston Tea Party was perhaps the pivotal event that led the colonists down the road to revolution and ultimately independence. Leaders in both parties ought to take this week’s tea parties very seriously.
Their jobs could depend on it.