Hundreds if not thousands of gatherings will take place tomorrow that are under the umbrella of “tea parties.” Some ink has been spilled figuring out who started them, and some fevers have swept the left on the subject of who is organizing them.
What matters though is who attends them and what they are communicating by their presence.
There are scores of reasons why a particular tea party protester might show up. Three months into the Obama Administration there is no denying that the president has swung the country hard left from the center-right course that George W. Bush had piloted for eight years. From 1980 until first quarter, 2009, the country had proceeded in a steady center-right direction that even Bill Clinton had generally accepted. With the exception of his commitment to Afghanistan, President Obama has turned the wheel wildly left, and the sudden sharp shift has left millions shaken and confused.
The most obvious sign of the radical change is the president’s budget and its massive deficits stretching out as far as the eye can see. The “stimulus” bill that wasn’t could be understood as a one-time spending frenzy designed along long ago-discredited-but-still-worshipped economic theories of the left, but the budget was different. It commits the country to a doubling of the national debt in five years, and a tripling of it in ten years. Defense gets shorted, of course, and the F-22 is a symbol of the roll-out of the build-down. The president’s progress across Europe reminded many at home of his willingness to blame America for all challenges the world, even as the crazy dictator of North Korea lets fly another missile.
Americans are pressed, and they know their taxes will rise in two years (unless they live in California where they have already gone up dramatically.) They also see government growing and growing, with public sector pensions guaranteeing a comfortable retirement to the relatively few who hooked on to the government in the ’60s and ’70s and have ridden it home. Faith-based voters who care about life have seen the most radical abortion-rights president take exactly the actions he planned, and then be invited to Notre Dame. Hedge fund Democrats seem not to pay much attention to their taxes. The carbon tax and the health care “reform” threaten to overhaul the entire American economy, and not in the direction of robust growth. Gitmo is going to close, but no word yet on where the terrorists will take up residence.
The market slide has stopped, but the Dow is still down 1,500 points from the night of President Obama’s election, and his radical proposals threaten entire sectors of the economy. He fired the head of GM but the company is still headed for Chapter 11 and an uncertain future as a government car-company. The MSM is still in a trance. Even as terrorists are arrested in England, the new Administration is embracing a new language that muffles the threat and downplays the nature of the enemy.
So tomorrow is a collective, giant “We didn’t sign up for this.” It may or may not have lasting significance in terms of energizing center-right campaigns in 2010. The real tests will be in New Jersey and Virginia where November races for governor could be impacted by the infusion of a large number of committed activists.
President Obama eschewed a moderate center-left course and the opportunity to transform American politics. The bipartisan rhetoric was just that –rhetoric. The plan is to push hard and fast and as far left as can be had before the wheel turns again.
The wheel has begun to turn, and tomorrow’s celebrations are the first signs of spring on the right.