When Rick Santelli, from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, stated on CNBC (Feb 19, 2009) that traders ought to engage in a "tea party" to protest the insanely irresponsible mortgage bailout, which was rewarding poor economic decisions at the expense of everyone else, I was a bit moved. At least some people on the national scene were getting just how reckless the Obama/Pelosi/Reid machine was and the level to which Americans ought to be resisting. To be fair, Bush signed TARP with a few Republican supporters, including McCain, so the Democrats were only accelerating the large-scale looting of the efforts of taxpayers started a few months before. And, while TARP was unprecedented in its scope and scale, it was the logical progression from all of the travesties mainly tracing back to FDR's authoritarian meddling in the economy in response to the Great Depression.
All of the political horrors being splashed across the news from the start of the new administration convinced me that in order to dissuade the government from trashing the free market with more of these legislative abominations, it was going to take the kind of determination and courage shown by the Sons of Liberty, who carried out the Boston Tea Party. Widespread non-violent civil disobedience could have warned the politicians away from going as far as they did, but that sort of movement never materialized. People were content to hold rallies and rely on elections, rather than demonstrating their resolve to shut down the machine of government through non-compliance.
When I saw news footage of tea party rallies in the days which followed, I quickly realized from the placards and t-shirts being shown that a good number of these people were rather ignorant, or at least hopelessly naïve. They had all sorts of different agendas, most of which were recycled Republican/"conservative" positions, rather than more principled advocacy of individual rights and across-the-board opposition to government abuse of power. Many were able to enumerate the misdeeds of the Democrats, but few had the insight to recognize that the vast majority of the GOP politicians were similarly unethical, but just in slightly different ways. At best, the tea party movement has targeted RINOs. Unfortunately, it hasn't done anything to weed out the more irrationally religious candidates and pundits, or the law-and-order types.
When the immigration stupidity in Arizona became associated with a large number of self-proclaimed tea partiers, I saw no reason to hope that this "movement" was going to accomplish anything for liberty, but could turn out to be a net loss—if for no other reason than people who could have taken a stand for individualism against the Democrats were going to be drowned out in the debate. The media focuses on the more vocal, more sensational, oversimplifying the issues and pigeonholing people. And, when political opportunists like Sarah Palin and Mark Williams hoisted the tea party banner for their own agenda, I realized that the people who were sincerely interested in liberty and reining in government on principle were going to lose the opportunity to debate the important moral questions. Instead, people are distracted by Cordoba House ("Ground Zero Mosque") and other irrelevancies.
Meanwhile, Democrat supporters have happily cherry picked the most irrational, ignorant self-proclaimed tea partiers as being representative of the movement, in addition to playing the race card because a few idiots (or perhaps agents provocateur) showed up at rallies with signs which were racist (or, at least, which could be portrayed as racist). But the race thing started before the tea party became hot, as one liar after another cynically accusing anyone who opposed Obama's agenda of only doing so because he was black, and not on the principles of freedom.