Where were the tea partiers during all those years?

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By Jim Flynn

The Boston Tea Party of 1773 was a key event leading up to the independence of the thirteen British colonies in America. It wasn’t fun and games with posters and pops. The Boston Tea Party participants put their lives and livelihoods at risk.

Dressed as natives, the Boston gang dumped a cargo of tea into the harbor rather than allow the appointed British governor to bring it ashore to be taxed and sold. The colonists were waging a dangerous, running battle of refusal to be taxed, because they had no voice in local government.

The tea partiers who gathered last month on income tax day had a big voice in government just a few months ago. Are we to believe they awoke to a bad surprise just 100 days into the Obama administration? If so, they weren’t paying attention during the two-year presidential campaign.

We’ve been reading near-hysterical letters to editors bemoaning the Obama administration’s bent toward liberalism and socialist ideology. No surprise there. If the bemoaners expected a reincarnation of moderate Democrat Bill Clinton, with a balanced budget and a surplus, she didn’t get the nomination.

We read and hear many opinions as to the intent of the recent first national tea party. Among others, there were placards calling for limited government, fiscal responsibility, and open accountability. Makes us wonder which planet those protesters have been on during the past 40 years.

After the Kennedy assassination, we were treated to the guns-and-butter fiscal irresponsibility of Lyndon Johnson — a fifteen-year war in Vietnam accompanied by expensive new social programs which are now strangling our federal budget. Tax-and-spend Johnson became a Democrat hero.

Looking back 30 years, Republicans still ballyhoo the supply side economics of President Reagan. Lower taxes and reduced regulation produced a long prosperity, which included tripled deficits, a ballooned national debt, and bigger government. In the bargain, the U.S. went from being the world’s largest creditor to its largest debtor. Ronald Reagan is a Republican icon of fiscal responsibility.

Then, nine years ago, along came conservative imposter George W. Bush. After spending the $130 billion Clinton surplus, Mr. Bush lowered taxes, abolished regulation, kept the costs of two wars off budget and out of the public eye, didn’t veto any Republican spending bills, and ran up the national debt by $3 trillion, not counting $700 billion more in bailout spending. Latter day tea partiers have never heard of George W. Bush.

The unspoken political intent of the Bush presidency was to lower taxes and run up the national debt to a level that would make social spending and taxing impossible should Democrats ever recapture Congress and the White House. His spending surge has backfired. Major political parties are all about power – spending as much as it takes to get it and keep it.

As soon as Democrats took over Congress in 2006, two Republican nightmares ascended to leadership of the House and Senate – Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. They are also President Obama’s worst nightmares. 

Mr. Obama is stuck with the long-term results of the Mr. Bush’s fiscal irresponsibility. Strangely, he has adopted the tactics Mr. Bush said would clean up the mess he created. Neither administration has had the backbone to let the failures fail and to throw out the people who caused them.

Calling the Obama bailouts and stimulus plans socialism exposes critics’ ignorance of the term. Mr. Obama is practicing the same socialized capitalism the Bush administration reveled in. More of the same is the name of the game.

A hidden yearning for a new political party died when Ross Perot pulled out of the 1992 presidential race. Though he wasn’t much of a politician, for a moment in time Mr. Perot’s popularity was higher than both major party candidates. Perot’s run took the presidency away from George H.W. Bush and gave it to Bill Clinton, who didn’t receive a majority popular vote in two elections.

Short of a significant but unlikely showing by the sensible Libertarian Party, the only hope for American voters is gridlock government – not allowing either major party to control the White House and Congress simultaneously. That requires throwing out incumbents every chance we get.

In the meantime, President Obama is doing exactly what President Bush did as soon as he took office. He’s letting Congress have its spending spree, expecting they will give him his priority programs early in his first term – education, health care, and energy innovation. Counting the cost will come later or never, whichever comes last.

What happened to fiscal responsibility and limited government? Tea partiers have come 40 years and ten trillion dollars late to that question. Sadly, concerned citizens have yet to recognize that our American empire is exhibiting historic symptoms of self-destruction and our politicians don’t give a damn.

Jim Flynn was formerly a corporate counsel, served in military intelligence during the Korean War and once aspired to be a newspaper columnist.