Why is the Tea Party on a roll?


Consider these numbing statistics:

-- More than 6,000 men and women will be married today, and each of their children will be saddled with a $30,000 share of the runaway national debt.

-- More than 15 million men and women will not find a job today.

-- More than 2,900 families will have their homes foreclosed today.

-- Some 2,000 illegal aliens will sneak across our borders today, underscoring the human, arms and drug trafficking that is destroying the quality of life in Arizona, California and a growing number of other states.

At the same time, during the past two years, an ever-expanding federal government has taken over everything from General Motors to the health care system. And the United States appears weaker on the international stage than at any time since we lost the Vietnam War.

As I have said in this column before, our allies don't trust us and our enemies no longer fear us.

No wonder a Tea Party movement motivated by patriotism and adherence to the Constitution, as well as opposition to record high tax-and-spend policies, sprang up to challenge the incumbent candidates of both parties who are presiding over the decline of our country.

Those Democrats who have been painting Tea Partiers as "crazies" do so at their electoral peril. Republicans should beware, too, if they adhere to an attitude of "yes, we want to take you out, but we don't want to date you steady and we certainly don't want to marry you."

The absurd spectacle of a Democrat subcommittee chairman, backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, inviting a comedian to give fake "testimony" and crack jokes during a serious hearing on immigration (as happened with Stephen Colbert recently) is just the latest insult that inflames Americans sick of out-of-touch politicians who fail to address pressing problems.

There is a growing concern, reflected by polling, that the government is taking over the choices that we all once made in life. That explains why a large segment of the independent voters who helped elect President Barack Obama have now abandoned him. A recent Associated Press poll indicates 59 percent of respondents don't like the way the ruling Democrats are handling the economy. Specifically, the failed "job stimulus" and health care policies of Obama, supported by Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, helped drive many people to join or support the vocal Tea Partiers.

Yet, keep in mind that the Tea Party is not Republican, although its supporters will be voting for a large number of GOP candidates this fall. It is an independent, small-government, constitutional movement. Its adherents sincerely believe that all too many elected officials in Washington have evolved from being "representatives" of the people to our dictatorial rulers.

This is why I've said, on many occasions, that Republicans and Democrats who ignore the Tea Partiers do it at their own peril.

Interestingly, Republicans who were seen as helping Democrats advance big government and big spending schemes have been defeated by Tea Party-backed candidates in this year's primaries. Look at the humiliation of Utah's Bob Bennett, Florida's Charlie Crist, Alaska's Lisa Murkowski and Delaware's Mike Castle -- all considered GOP "establishment" types perceived as disrespecting constituents. Then there is Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter, who was a longtime Republican before switching parties a year ago. He still lost his Senate primary.

The Frenchman Jean Jacques Rousseau --14 years before the 13 American colonies revolted against Great Britain in a war to be free -- penned a chilling warning coupled with a summation that amazingly describes America's political landscape today:

"Finally, when the state, on the eve of ruin, maintains only a vain, illusory and formal existence, when in every heart the social bond is broken, and the meanest interest brazenly lays hold of the sacred name of 'public good,' the general will becomes mute: all men, guided by secret motives, no more give their views as citizens than if the state had never been; and iniquitous decrees directed solely to private interest get passed under the name of laws."

This is a description of the ruination of America, evidenced by the trashing of the Constitution, the dismantling of our private enterprise system, the spending and tax-hike spree and the downgrading of our national security when our president can't bring himself to publicly utter the words "radical Islamic terrorism" in identifying our enemy.

But the "general will" described by Rousseau is no longer "mute." There is a nationwide outrage by "We the People" coupled with a love of God, country and the Constitution. It is what spurs the Tea Party to "educate voters" and to fan a political firestorm that has already singed some politicians.

Come November, the movement will defeat even more politicians who have a record of tearing down what our Founding Fathers built.

J.C. Watts (JCWatts01@jcwatts.com), chairman of the consulting group J.C. Watts Companies, is former chairman of the Republican Conference of the U.S. House, where he served as an Oklahoma representative from 1995 to 2002. He writes twice monthly for the Review-Journal.

 

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