They Just Don’t Get the Tea Parties

The tea parties are now the issue of the day. What do they mean? Were they a true grassroots efforts or simply top-down “astroturf” as Nancy Pelosi said? For my part, what I saw in Albuquerque was a group of people organizing from the grassroots, with housewives who had never done anything political before leading the charge.
This is why neither side (neither Republican nor Democrat) understands what the tea parties mean. For starters, there is Eugene Robinson whose column appears in both the Washington Post and the Albuquerque Journal. Robinson leans to the left and denigrated the rallies, claiming they were “generally small, and the only thing they proved conclusively is that that some Americans don’t much enjoy paying taxes.”
Then there is former Bush right-hand-man Karl Rove who wondered in his column how Republicans can harness the movement. At the same time, Rove didn’t attempt to explain and never really questioned why the tea party movement has arisen at this moment since we hadn’t seen a federal tax hike for 15 years until Obama’s tax hike on tobacco recently.
First and foremost, both writers miss the point. The rallies, while they did take place on tax day, were not really about taxes. Rather, they were, I believe, an expression of frustration at Republicans and Democrats, both of whom have supported out-of-control spending, bailouts, government takeovers and subsidies of private business, and unbelievable increases in indebtedness levels for the better part of the last decade. The unfortunate truth is that the Obama Administration has simply continued and expanded upon many of Bush’s policies and the people who work every day and make this country great are not happy. That is the message I got from the tea parties (at least in Albuquerque where politicians were specifically kept out of the limelight).
I wasn’t able to go to other tea parties because I did four hours of live radio (available here) from Albuquerque, but if the other tea parties had anywhere near the grassroots leadership that Albuquerque’s had, April 15 was the start of something big.