Monday, April 19, 2010

Tea Party sentiments went unnoticed

In a recent column, Ron Lederman examines why it took until a Democrat was elected president before people began expressing outrage over how the U.S. federal government has been handling its affairs.

I need to disagree with Mr. Lederman on a very important point: there was discontent and outrage about how government was operating during the George W. Bush years among conservatives. The movement began gaining steam in 2007 with Ron Paul and his supporters in Texas.

I will freely admit that I was one of those individuals who overlooked glaring political transgressions by the Bush administration for the first seven-and-a-half years of his time in office. It finally took $700 billion in bailouts to a very select portion of America's population to shake me free of my Partisan Derangement Syndrome.

Also in 2007, the Ohio Liberty Council was getting off the ground in Columbus.

Undoubtedly, it's easy to dismiss those who have recently joined the Tea Party movement as rank-and-file Republicans who are trying to catch up to a sentiment that ought to have reached this level of furor decades ago. But to lump all of us together with such a small portion of Tea Party attendees is as unfair as those who cherry-pick images of rally-goers holding inflammatory and irresponsible signs and then declaring us all racists.

Now, where I must express not only disagreement but also annoyance with Lederman's column is his tone about why Tea Partiers took so long to get angry and organized. The insinuation (as I read it) is that somehow the Tea Party is mainly a conglomerate of Constitutional attorneys, economists, modern philosophers, and nationally syndicated political analysts who are only now coming alive to decry government abuses and excesses.

Attend a Tea Party and what you will see is average people exercising their God-given and Constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceably assemble. I have attended multiple Tea Parties, other events, and meetings of the Allen County Ohio Patriots -- and I am as unremarkable a person as you can expect to see at any of these gatherings.

What critics of the Tea Party movement are overlooking (unintentionally or deliberately) is the fact we have generations of Americans who have had to spend the past year-and-some-odd months cutting through the intellectual fog that has been directed at their/our minds by reporters, pundits, political analysts, the politicians themselves, (let us not forget the comedians) and the media outlets which for years have been printing and broadcasting reams and hours of nonsense.

And, very simply, everyday Americans (conservative ones in particular) are not natural activists. Bit by bit we have needed to break out of long-held comfort zones in the process of not only calling ourselves Tea Partiers but also writing-up signs and gathering together in public rallies to voice our long-building displeasure.

Getting back to a previous point involving the start of the bailout trend, the vast majority of us who are part of the Tea Party movement (essentially, those of us who do not currently have a stake in the political processes in Washington, D.C., and Columbus) were boiling mad about T.A.R.P.

Then the proposal to include roughly $60 billion more for GM and Chrysler was the straw that broke the camel's back for many who feel the way we do.

But, not being adept at protest organizing, so many of us thought all we could do was what my father had done for decades -- including the first 28 years of my life -- and I adopted right in his footsteps: yell at our television sets and later gripe about it while at the bar with like-minded friends.

That is, it was all we knew until news trickled out of Cincinnati on March 15 of last year about a peculiar event that was being dubbed a "Tea Party." And then the long-overdue proliferation began.

For me, the intellectual awakening into Libertarianism was when I finally wrapped my mind around the altruism that when legislation or agenda items are wrong or flawed when the party with which we typically don't agree tries to push them on us, they are still just as wrong or flawed when the party with which we typically DO agree proposes them.

Yes, Barack Obama -- with the aid of fellow Congressional Democrats -- has accelerated federal overspending at a rate which is undeniably obscene. However, had Bush -- with the aid and blessing of nearly 300 Republican Congressional enablers of his own -- not ramped-up discretionary spending by about 50% during his turn in the driver's seat, Obama and the Democratic Party could not have ascended to such heights of popularity that led to the 2008 elections results -- thus emboldening them to act in the manner they have.

In summary on that point, Bush and his cronies running Washington the way they did paved the way for Obama and his gaggle of '60s radicals to step in and run Washington the way they have.

Now there's something for which people can accurately blame Bush.

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