Understand the Tea Party

I often get dirty looks when I mention that I’m a part of the Tea Party movement. For some reason, some people seem to think being a member of the Tea Party is akin to being a member of the clan, and that to support it I must be a racist, a bigot and an idiot. Tea Partiers are accused of being intolerant nd indifferent to the suffering of the poor. And even worse, we’re accused of supporting Sarah Palin — a capital offense inside the liberal bastion that is Andover. Well, I’m here to say that none of that is true, except the last bit of course. Whether you despise or love it, the Tea Party movement has defined this year’s midterm elections. No other group or movement has had more influence on more elections—and the results are clearly shown with this past Tuesday’s elections. Before I discuss why the Tea Party has been so influential this year, I think it is important to define what the Tea Party is, and what the Tea Party means to me. Unless you’ve lived under a rock for your entire life, you probably know that the Boston Tea Party was a protest staged by young, libertarian leaders to protest the British tax on tea during the lead up to the Revolutionary War. These young revolutionary leaders pioneered the tradition of opposing governmental authority and excessive taxation on the citizens. The modern day Tea Party springs out of conservative frustrations with the taxing and spending policy of the liberal Congress, and the last days of the Bush Administration. In less than two years, the Tea Party has exploded from an idea of a few individuals fed up with government spending to one of the largest grassroots political movements this country has ever seen. What defines the Tea Party? We Tea Partiers have many different opinions regarding social issues, wars and the environment. What unites us is our common hatred of large, bloated and inefficient government with the obsessive tax burden that it entails. Why are we so angry? We are angry because $700 billion of our tax money was used to bail our financial firms in the TARP program. We are angry because another $800 billion that was poured into a stimulus bill that did nothing to stimulate the economy. We are angry because Washington used our money to rescue GM and Chrysler from bankruptcy. We are angry because Congress poured hundreds of billions into AIG, most of which we will never see in return. We are angry because the tax code is complicated and unfair, and Congress continues to levy new taxes on us. We are angry because the federal deficit has ballooned to more than $1.7 trillion, and our national debt stands at almost 100% of our GDP. But most of all, we are angry because our government has refused to listen to its people. What is the Tea Party not? We are not, as the NAACP has charged, a racist organization. We are not an anti-immigrant organization. Members of the Tea Party come from every major race and ethnic group in the United States. We are not a collection of old, angry, white men, as the liberal news media might have you believe. The Tea Party is committed to fairer and lower taxes for everyone in the country—rich, poor and everything in between. We support shortening the tax code to 4543 words, the number of words in our Constitution. Perhaps then, even Charlie Rangel, the liberal Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, will be able to understand the tax code that he helped write. We support a return to fiscal responsibility and responsible government spending. We support a limited federal government, with more powers and rights delegated to the states and towns where citizens can more easily watch their government. Most of all, we support the rights of the individual citizen, and his right to vote and force the government to listen to him. We support citizen law-makers, regular people who are not career politicians or party hacks. We support term limits on all governmental offices, because no one should be so powerful as to be a law-maker for life. We support free enterprise, economic freedom and the right of competition without fear of government intervention. We reject cap and trade, which would punitively and unfairly tax certain individuals and businesses at a time when the science behind global warming stands in doubt. We reject the notion that the government knows better what to do with our money and resources than we do. We reject Obama-Care, the horrid invasion of liberty that the Obama administration has shoved down our throats and has paid for by robbing us at gunpoint. We support any measures which increase our liberty, and reject any which would deprive us of it. This past Tuesday, the American people spoke– and they were furious. Americans are fed up with the increasing tax burden and size of government, and they are sick and tired of a government which refuses to listen to its people. They elected dozens of Tea Party candidates who have promised a return to the principles stated above, which when examined closely, boil down to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Make no mistake, the Tea Party movement is not over. Rather, it’s just beginning. This Tuesday’s election was a step in the right direction for this country, but there is still much to be done before we can declare a true victory. Chris Kent is a four-year Senior from Lynnfield, MA.