Since early 2012, when Mitt Romney emerged as the front runner in the Republican primary, many in the mainstream media declared the Tea Party weakened. Once the November elections protected proponents of overspending and higher taxes in federal office, the Tea Party was declared dead.
However, now the media is waking up to two facts: their preconceived notions about the Tea Party are wrong, and that the Tea Party’s concerns and complaints about overspending, corruption, and constitutional abuses are correct. Consider the following:
On December 17, National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar pointed out that Republican diversity is being “fueled by [the] Tea Party.” This directly contradicts accusations of deep-seeded racism within our movement, though media organizations could have looked at the study by Democratic operative James Carville in 2009, which found that racism is not a factor in our principles. Better late than never.
On December 23, National Coordinator Jenny Beth Martin and State Coordinators Marianne Gasiecki and Joe Dugan were quoted in a front page Washington Post article on the Tea Party’s relative absence from the fiscal cliff fight. As the article noted, the Tea Party was not willing to waste time, effort, and other resources on a fight to implement real spending cuts and avoid tax hikes when both parties were aligned against it. Gasiecki put it well:
“We’re thinking, ‘instead of wasting our time with these people, maybe we should go home and actually enjoy our families for the holidays,’’ said Marianne Gasiecki, an Ohio tea party activist. “We’re saying, ‘You can’t blame us for this one.’ But they’ll blame us anyway. Someone has to be the scapegoat.’’
Since its inception, the Tea Party has been treated like political know-nothings. Yet with these tactics, strategies, and efficient utilization of resources, the Tea Party is sounding more like a sophisticated political movement and less like an incoherent mob.
On January 2, National Journal published an op-ed by Chief Correspondent Michael Hirsch pointing out how principles of the Tea Party stand on their own merit – or, rather, the lack of merit in Washington’s spending habits:
Crazies. Cliff divers. Nihilists. Nutjobs. Those are just a few of the descriptions being applied to the 151 House Republicans who broke with Speaker John Boehner—they included his own supposed wing men, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Whip Kevin McCarthy—to vote against the fiscal cliff deal Tuesday night.
In truth, what the fine print of the bill demonstrates is that the Republicans who refused to vote for the fiscal compromise had every right to be disgusted by it—that is, if you expect legislators to hold true at all to the beliefs that inspired them to run for office in the first place. The last-minute deal exposed Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as creatures of the old system, and it ripped the scab off whatever healing had occurred between the Republican traditionalists and the tea partiers since then. Make no mistake: The divide within the GOP will continue, demonstrating that the tea-party rebellion lives on in the new House.
Despite all the talk about the demise of the Tea Party post-election, even the Huffington Post had to acknowledge on January 3 how influential the Tea Party will be in the 113th Congress:
The new Congress still faces the ideological disputes that plagued the dysfunctional 112th Congress, one of the least productive in more than 60 years. Tea party members within the Republican ranks insist on fiscal discipline in the face of growing deficits and have pressed for deep cuts in spending as part of a reduced role for the federal government.
While Huffington Post may not approve, this kind of “dysfunction” was intentionally created and encouraged by our Founders. They knew the dangers in having a federal government with too much power, with no checks on an increase in power. The media tends to view “dysfunction” and “productive” relative to the number of bills that passed Congress, but those who support limited government use the lens of the constitution to define “dysfunction”. Passing bills for the sake of “productivity” is often harmful.
With a new Congress, Tea Party-minded Members are more aware than ever of bipartisan opposition to Tea Party principles. Fortunately, some in the media are belatedly recognizing the facts about our movement. The real fiscal cliff of massive debt obligations is coming ever closer, and all fiscally responsible Americans must work to prevent us from falling off that cliff. Hopefully, as the facts become ever clearer, the media and American people will recognize how important the Tea Party principles of fiscal responsibility, Constitutionally-limited government, and free markets are to a free and prosperous America.