Do you feel that?
If you finally got your taxes done, you know that feeling of relief
today unlike any other. Whether you got a nice refund or had to fork
over a chunk of your cash to Uncle Sam, it feels nice that it’s all
over… at least until next year. Tax day can be a poignant reminder of
the influence that government has in our lives, for better or worse.
For a lot of Americans, perhaps you included, the influence has gone too far.
What was all the fuss about?
The people were complaining about high taxes, overregulation, a sour
economy, bailouts for mega corporations, and voiced general discontent
with the way things were. Fast-forward five years later and things don’t
seem to have changed much. In fact, you can add to that list of
negatives such contentious issues like the Obamacare rollout, NSA phone
tapping and spying, and foreign policy mishaps.
Now, with five years of history to review, a seemingly more polarized
political environment, and your taxes done, it’s a great time to reflect
on the question: has the movement succeeded or failed?
I’m not out to indict the ideals of Tea Party movement. Nor am I
blissfully unaware of its shortcomings. I consider myself a keen
political observer who doesn’t agree 100% with the Tea Party or want to
throw the baby out with the bath water. So, here are four lessons I
think we can all take to heart:
1) Leadership matters – From the beginning, the Tea Party movement
lacked definitive leaders. Its decentralization is part of what made it
unique, but can also be its most glaring failing. Local leaders have
emerged, but have not been sustained. Is Senator Rand Paul the new face
of the Tea Party? We will see. Personality is almost as important as
ideals, which means definitive leadership is very important for any type
of political movement to sustain itself.
2) Freedom is great – Freedom can be really awesome in its ability to
bring about tremendous prosperity and success. To its credit, the Tea
Party lit or re-lit the desire for freedom in the heart of many
Americans. But freedom can be a nebulous campaign platform because it
can lead to stark conflicts. What if one person’s freedom comes into
conflict with another person’s? Where does one freedom end and another
begin? The Tea Party has reminded us that freedom is great, but has not
been as clear as it could be as to where limits must necessarily exist.
3) The Third Party – The Tea Party has not succeeded in becoming a true
“third-party” that many thought it could be. This is partly due to a
lack of leadership and partly to a lack of definitive party ideals.
Simply being for freedom and against bigger government is not the best
platform for a movement. For now, the Tea Party more-or-less lives
within the ranks of the GOP, effectively keeping it grounded to basic
principles of freedom and small government. Is that enough? Can it grow?
Again, time will tell.
4) “The people” can make a difference – If the Tea Party experiment to
this point is one thing, it is a shining example of how even a loosely
organized, organic, and semi-unified group of Americans can make a big
impact. The sweeping Republican gains in the U.S. Congress in 2010 were
due almost entirely to this movement. However, the failure to win big in
2012 may have been due to the exact same movement. Yet, the mere fact
that this discussion is even taking place today proves that average
Americans can and do make a big difference in the political landscape,
which is why America is so amazing in the first place.
What do you think?
This post was originally written for The 9s. Please visit their website and consider buying a subscription.