The Tea Party at 5.

by David Veloz

This weekend, I think, marks the fifth anniversary of the Tea Party movement. As someone just told me the Tea Party is five! I’ve always believed that most members of the Tea Party were children, I just didn’t realize they were all 5 year olds. Anyway, the other night on Bill Maher’s show, Bill Krystol of the Weekly Standard angrily rejected the notion that the Tea Party’s opposition to Obama was purely based on account of the President’s race. “Bullshit,” an indignant Krystol shouted at Maher’s suggestion. I found the whole thing comical since I can’t say for sure what motivates an entire group of people, especially the Tea Party.

So for me or anyone to say that the entire Tea Party is racist would be ridiculous. I’m sure there are many within that movement who are genuinely concerned about the policies of the White House and would very much love to see a change in administrations. But however genuine the believes of the Tea Party are, there is a troubling few within the movement who clearly resent the President because of his race. All you have to do is read Ted Nugent’s offensive comments about the President; or see the picture of the Confederate flag waver in front of the White House last September during a Tea Party event, just to name a few instances of overt racism. Yet to be fair to the Tea Party, I don’t believe it’s race and for that matter the President’s race the factor which motivates this movement. What drives the Tea Party is what drives the Conservative movement when it is out of power, and that is the desire for power.

Frankly, I don’t care much for the inanity some of the members of the Tea Party bring to the table, or for most of their crazy ideas. What I do care about is whether or not this five year old movement is actually sincere about what they purport to believe in.  Is the Tea Party really concerned about deficits? If they really are, then the Tea Party should be happy with Obama because the deficit has decreased in the last four years, and will decrease to $514 billion in 2014 according to the CBO. Instead of calling for Obama’s impeachment, or some other crazy demand to continue frivolous investigations, why doesn’t the Tea Party caucus in Congress use this time to strike a “grand bargain” with the President? If normalizing the budgetary problems of the country is a major concern for the Tea Party, this is the perfect time to compromise with Obama. Yet the Tea Party is silent on this, wasting an opportunity to put America on the path towards fiscal stability. 

On Constitutional issues the Tea Party’s criticism of Obama is mostly correct. As Jonathan Turley indicated in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, President Obama has overstepped his authority several times and placed us in a Constitutional tipping point. Yet, the encroachment of the legislative branch by the executive didn’t begin under Obama. So I ask, where was the Tea Party when the Bush administration was running roughshod over the Constitutional boundaries of executive power? I don’t remember the Tea Party protesting torture, a clear violation of presidential authority.  Nor do I remember the Tea Party demanding the Bush administration stop the illegal NSA surveillance on Americans. Why is it that there was no Tea Party when the Constitution was clearly under assault in the 2000’s?

It is hard to believe that the members of the Tea Party had enough of the government’s abuse of power in 2009 when such abuse was at its worse in 2004. They were either wilfully blind, or didn’t care as to what was happening during the last administration.  Yet for some reason, 2009 became the tipping point, the year when this group of Americans became mad as hell and had enough of the big government that was operating in Washington. Now, the current administration does give the Tea Party reasons to say the administration violating the Constitution, and I agree with some of the criticism. But here is what concerns me about the Tea Party: will this movement in the future hold a conservative President to the same standard it holds Obama to? My guess would be no, but once in power who cares about being consistent.