It was ten years ago today that the first nationwide tea party protest took place, as everyday Americans reacted to TARP (the Troubled Asset Relief Program) and the permanent bailout culture Washington, D.C. was advancing. On February 27, 2009, more than 35,000 people organized events in nearly 50 cities.
The movement grew quickly, as more and more Americans came to understand the truism that Washington’s solution – regardless of the underlying problem – is always more, and larger government.
Less than two months later, on April 15, 2009, a second round of rallies took place – this time in 850 cities, with more than a million protesters in attendance.
We were not typical political protesters. In fact, the vast majority of protesters had never been to a rally or protest or public political event before. We voted in elections, but virtually none of the protesters in 2009 had ever taken to the streets before.
From our origins as a protest movement, we came to fill a critical void in Washington – namely, that of the Constitution’s spokesperson on Capitol Hill.
Lobbyists and special-interest groups constantly flood the halls of the Capitol complex with proposals for more government – more regulations, more special favors, more crony funding. We came to Washington with the opposite request, asking for less – less government, less federal intrusion in our lives, less government interference in the free market.
One member of Congress told me directly: “We don’t know what to do with you. You don’t want any money from us, and we’re not used to that.”
Over the years, we asked Congress to cut spending and live within a budget, just as families all over America must. We asked Congress to regulate itself better, and put an end to the cronyism that has corrupted so much of our government. We asked Congress to keep politicians, government bureaucrats, and death panels out of our health care.
We asked Congress to reject both the regulations known as “cap and trade” and the so-called Gang of 8’s attempt at amnesty. We asked for more energy production, and fewer job-killing procedures and directives that had been strangling our economy for too long.
Oh – and we asked Congress to do something about the fact that under President Obama, the IRS was used to target, intimidate and harass Tea Party members and supporters simply because we disagreed with his policies. And we were effective.
So, what’s on the horizon next for the tea party movement? For starters, defeating socialism.
At first, we were accused of making this up. But then, a funny thing happened – government officials admitted that they had, actually, in fact, done exactly that. It was so funny that we forgot to laugh.
Here we are, approaching six years after the IRS’s acknowledgment that it was illegally targeting citizens for their political views, and no one has yet gone to jail.
And when establishment Republicans teamed up – again – with Democrats in yet another attempt at amnesty for illegal immigrants, we shut that down. Sometimes it seems as if we live by a motto borrowed from former President Calvin Coolidge, who, as a 38-year old, noted to his father in 1910, “It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.”
And, of course, who can forget about the election of Donald J. Trump? Ten years ago, the media didn’t take the uprising of Americans who were sick of the corruption, the cronyism, the elitism, and the intrusion into their lives seriously, and as surely as the sun rises in the east, they didn’t take President Trump’s support from middle America seriously either – not until they had a massive, collective public meltdown on election night in 2016.
It was a glorious moment for much of America.
Furthermore, the policies for which we advocated for ten years, now implemented by President Trump, have proven to be exactly what we said they would be: good for all Americans. Record low unemployment, record high job creation, and other incredible economic statistics that indicate that in the real world, free markets and limited government lifts all people.
It doesn’t matter what skin color people have, or their religion, or their sexual orientation, or their gender, or any of the characteristics with which the left is obsessed. In America, when the Tea Party’s policies are implemented, everyone benefits.
So, what’s on the horizon next for the Tea Party movement? For starters, defeating socialism.
At Tea Party Patriots, we have three core principles: personal freedom, economic freedom, and a debt-free future for our nation. Socialism, by contrast, restricts economic freedom, choking off personal freedom in the process, and inevitably leading to massive debt for the country. Socialism is, quite simply, the antithesis of everything the Tea Party embodies.
In Washington, there are two visions for America’s future in circulation: that which the TeaPparty has helped craft over the last decade, centered on personal freedom, economic freedom, and a debt-free future for our nation; and that which the self-identified socialists in Congress envision, with all of the free giveaways that have led many nations to bankruptcy – from free health care to free education to, incredibly, even free money for those who don’t wish to work.
Friedrich Hayek brilliantly argued that the best defense against tyrannical programs is widespread education of what “unfreedom” looks like. Americans can count on the Tea Party to provide exactly that type of education over the next decade.
Our tenth anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate our past victories, while, at the same time, rolling up our sleeves and preparing for the battle of ideas that lies ahead between the retrograde socialist policies and the promotion of individual freedom.