I have to admit that I did not attend one of the many “tea” parties being held across the nation. Oh, I certainly agree with the main contentions, that our present tax system is not only absurd but allows government to act in a very reckless manner. While liberals and democrats might consider this mere whining at the moment, since the government is firmly in their hands, they might do well to consider how they felt when the other side ran things not so long ago, and both liberals and conservatives, democrats and republicans alike might do well to consider how seldom government is really accountable and responsible in its conduct. Should we accept threats from individuals elected to represent the people, who now do as they please with the warning that if we get in their way, things might get nasty? Is our best hope merely that we do not end up with ‘someone worse’, which has been the sub rosa message from both parties for quite a while now. The TEA is supposed to mean ‘Taxed Enough Already’, but for many of us I believe the real message was ‘Tricked Enough Already’, maybe taunted, maybe we should say our politicians are ‘Tainted Enough Already’. We are all of us sick of the hypocrisy, the blatant lies and backroom deals. Don’t tell me only party ‘x’ does this, we’ve seen it across the board for most of our lives. I do believe the republicans do this less often than the democrats, but that hardly means it’s something to tolerate, much less encourage, just because “our side” is doing it. I admire and respect George W. Bush because, mistakes and all, we had an honest man in the office. Democrats claim the same thing about Barack Obama (while denying it about Bush), which I do not see, but at least we can agree that what we seek is transparency and integrity. Once we start looking at Congress, it gets difficult to find integrity. It’s there all right with some members of the House and Senate, but it’s clearly an endangered species on the Hill.
And that brings us back to the Tea Parties. Whether or not you think the programs included in the Stimulus and the bailouts were good or not, the plain fact is we citizens were steamrolled by them; no one really asked the people what we thought or were willing to pay for. Now, trillions of dollars have been committed to things that, good or not, do not really do a single thing to help folks save their homes, help banks offer loans more freely, or save jobs at major companies. The plans were nothing more, in practice, than politicians using crisis to advance their personal ambition and help their buddies. And that fact should really make you angry. You’ve been lied to and robbed, and only a great fool would pretend otherwise. That’s what the protests were all about.
So why didn’t I join in? First off, I’m not one to waste time on spilled milk. That money is spent, its not coming back, and history tells me that there are better ways to work for effective change than hold a rally and make noise that the politicians will either ignore or pretend is aimed at someone else. Second, it will sound cynical to say so, but there are a great many fools in the world today, willing to fall for a shiny promise or a scary story. The only way to change things is to educate people, and that is a one-on-one thing, and it takes time, patience, and a willing student. Frankly, a lot of folks are not ready for that lesson. And third, the bad thing about these protests is that folks do them and then go home and think they’ve done something, that they can get back to normal. You can win football games that way, but you cannot change the nation that way. This is a long fight, and we’d better be ready for what it takes to win, because right now the other side has a powerful system and a lot of force at its disposal. How many politicians are serious about tax reform? How many Senators really grasp what it means to balance raising your family, paying for your home, your kids’ college, and still saving something significant for your retirement, in an environment where ‘job security’ is fiction, where ‘financial planning’ is a faraway ideal, and where ‘accountable government’ is an oxymoron.
My country, my money, my rights. I will defend them because I want them to be around for my children. What about you?