Tea partiers won't go when fun ends
By ED FEULNER & SEN. JIM DEMINTIn only 21 months, the tea party has exploded from a handful of scattered, spontaneous rallies into a full-fledged national movement capable of throwing out incumbents. Challenging entrenched Washington habits, it is a force both parties must reckon with.
Skeptics and opponents, however, continue to ask two basic questions. First, does the tea party have any real philosophical depth, a historical pedigree? Second, will its force dissipate after the elections?
In short, critics accept that the tea party has a present — but they question whether it has a past and a future.
Yes and yes. Yes, the tea party has a pedigree as old as our nation, and yes, we think it is likely to continue to play a significant role in politics after Nov. 2. People in both parties who hope to wish it away and continue business as usual had better think twice.
Americans have been disappointed by leaders in both parties who campaigned to right past wrongs and then, after getting to Washington, cared more about power than promises. Tea party supporters care more about principle than party labels or politics.
Tea party members voice the kinds of concerns that even some of President Barack Obama’s former supporters are beginning to raise. As one Obama voter asked the president at a recent town hall, “Is the American dream dead for me?”
These are the questions Americans are asking nationwide — in their kitchens, church halls and ballparks. These are the concerns expressed at tea party rallies everywhere.The tea party seeks answers to such questions not in the dictates of Washington today but in our country’s founding principles. There, it finds a prescription for constitutional, limited government based on God-given rights — not a Utopian blueprint for bureaucratic-managed change.The tea party, in other words, is that inner voice that speaks to us when things go wrong — the conscience of the nation at a crucial point in our history.
What has gone wrong is clear. The “stimulus” package has failed to get this country back on its feet. The latest unemployment figures show that we still have anemic growth and nearly 10 percent unemployment. As Americans suffered, Washington wasted its time on a gargantuan, unmanageable and unaffordable health care package. No wonder many Americans feel frustrated.But underneath the frustration, the tea party has roots that are deeper and aim higher. Deeper because it is within the best tradition of popular movements in our history — from the Great Awakening that gave rise to the American Revolution to the conservative revival that helped elect Ronald Reagan. Higher because it aims to recover our moral compass, bequeathed by our Founders and preserved ever since.http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1010/43547.html