Richmond.com ran an article about the Tea Party, saying it offers more questions than answers. While there is much I could respond to in the article, I will focus on what, to me, is the most fundamental issue and easiest to clarify:
While there are reasons to expect the Tea Party to eventually run out of steam, what if it doesn’t? If the Tea Party continues to gain strength, where would its brain trust want to take America? And, what does the now familiar slogan, “I want my country back,” really mean?
No doubt, plenty of conservatives wouldn’t mind going “back” to the Reagan-dominated 1980s. There are others who might like to undo the entire FDR era (1933-45), which reacted to the Great Depression. The ideal time for them might be the days with Calvin Coolidge or Herbert Hoover in the White House. Still others would probably like to go all the way “back” to the Gilded Age, before trust-buster Teddy Roosevelt advanced the cause of government regulation.
So, isn’t it fair to ask if the Tea Party phenomenon isn’t more of a collective longing for another time, than it is a reaction to the challenges of today’s fast-moving world of borderless economies? If that’s the case, might the Tea Party be more appropriately named the Nostalgia Party?
I can’t speak for every Tea Partier, but to me “I want my country back” doesn’t refer to any specific era in American history I want to replicate when I thought things were perfect (that era never existed). Instead it represents a broader commentary on how far our nation has strayed from the founding principles that made us unique and a haven for the oppressed.
“I want my country back” is shorthand for “WE THE PEOPLE want our country back from WE THE GOVERNMENT.” America was set up on the revolutionary principle of self-government: “of the people, by the people, for the people.” Government answered to the people, not the other way around.
Gradually, though, politicians expanded their power enough to flip the system into one resembling that which we originally fought a war to separate from. The people now indeed answer to the government.
The Tea Party wants to flip it back. We aim to remove the corrupt career politicians who seek only greater and permanent power, and replace them with honorable individuals who seek to humbly serve their constituents and communities instead of themselves. Then, We the People will again be in charge.
And we will have our country back.