By: By Emily Chan, Grade 12
Looking for some easy-to-understand information on the Tea Party? You’ve come to the right place. The Tea Party is a political movement in the US, whose members have been in the news lately because of their controversial views and protests. They’ve been labelled as racist and homophobic, but who are we to judge? Throughout this article, you should be able to conclude your own opinions on this movement; these are merely the opinions of some. The name has come from the Boston Tea Party (long story short. British colonists destroyed tea instead of paying a tax that they believed violated their rights in 1773).
This party isn’t a national political party, nor has it appeared on any ballots to date. However, they have held various “protests” to express their points of views. And what are they? Here are a few statistics for you, from a University of Washington poll of 1,695 voters: 73% of Tea Party supporters disapprove of Obama’s policy of engaging Muslim countries, 82% don’t believe gay/lesbian couples should have the legal right to marry, and 52% believe that gays/lesbians have too much political power. A very small percentage of supporters believe global warming to be a serious problem, a smaller percentage than the general public. Hmmmm.
By the way, guess who’s on the band wagon? That’s right, Sarah Palin. According to writers Rasmussen and Schoen, Palin is “the symbolic leader of the movement, and more than anyone else has helped to shape it.” A large portion of their funding has come from an anonymous donor in September 2010; $1,000,000 to be precise. Sarah Palin was also a large contributor for four of their bus tours (a way to fundraise for candidates). But who really runs it? Dick Morris, a political analyst, says that the movement is made up of smaller local groups. The teapartypatriots.org group has 2,800 members, with only 7 paid employees.
They wanted the Democrats and Republicans to sign on to their contract, “The Contact of America,” which was made through an online voting process. The contract, according to one of the leaders, is based on individual liberty, limited government and economic freedom; but no Democrats have signed on and the contract has also met large resistance from the Republicans. Here are 5 out of the total of 10 agenda items on their contract.
1.) Identify constitutionality of every new law: In other words, the Congress will need to identify which specific part in the Constitution allows them to pass every new law.
2.) Reject emissions trading: Stop “cap and trade” to control carbon dioxide, and instead give money for reducing CO2 emissions.
3.) Demand a balanced federal budget: Institute a balanced budget, with two-thirds majority needed for tax modifications.
4.) Simplify the tax system: Get rid of the Internal Revenue Code and replace it with a simple, single-rate tax system that’s the same length of the original Constitution (4,543 words)
5.) Repeal the healthcare legislation passed on March 23, 2010: Get rid of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Since then, this contact is still as stands. It has gotten very harsh attacks from the Democrats, paraphrasing the contract to support the following (copied directly from the Democrats’ website):
1.) Put the big banks back in charge of student loans and put an end to federal assistance for public schools.
2.) Gut the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act — which together protect our kids from air pollution and keep drinking water safe — and disband the watchdog that holds polluters accountable.
3.) Take away your right to pick your U.S. Senator.
4.) Put insurance companies back in charge and repeal tax credits for small businesses.
5.) Phase out and end Medicare as it presently exists for future generations of seniors — ending Medicare’s guaranteed healthcare benefits for more than 40 million American seniors — and replace it with a voucher system which will result in higher premiums and fewer services for seniors.
To be honest, I wasn’t even able to match up these two completely different interpretations of this contract; the first from the Tea Party, and the second from the Democrats. I’ll leave that up for your judgement.
This movement is more Republican-friendly than Democrats. The New York Times reports that 138 candidates running for Congress have significant Tea Party support – and all 138 of them are Republicans. Think about that: it’s a pretty large majority. As well, a Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll reported 35% of voters were Tea-party supporters, in which 94% supported Republicans and 10% supported the Democrats.
Mark Mardell of BBC News has an interesting view on this party, claiming, “fury tends to dissolve into concern, worry about the economic direction of the country, worry about the size of the government and the level of taxation.” His interpretation of this movement goes so far as to foresee economic and governmental destruction. This is no small grassroots movement. It may have started that way, but it’s growing. And fast.