Many pundits dismissed them as a passing fad when they began in 2009, but they have made a definite impact on the primaries this year.
History might judge legislators less harshly than what voters are prepared to do, but even that’s not a sure thing.
The systemic failures of public officials have created problems that will take years to resolve. More so than any other recent election, people are ready to clean house.
Nowhere is this more clear than among people in the tea party movement. Several local activists told me how they became involved and what they hope to achieve.
“In February of 2009, Rick Santelli of [CNBC] ranted from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade about his frustration with bailing out people who had made bad decisions,” said Carol Davis of Carol Stream, Ill., with the West Suburban Patriots. “That really struck a chord with me. As a single mom who raised two children on my own and worked two — and sometimes three — jobs to make ends meet, I never looked to anyone to bail me out.”
Rick Newton of Wayne, Ill., with the Tri-Count-Teas summarized the movement’s goals: to promote small/limited government, fiscal responsibility, constitutional adherence, free markets, personal responsibility and individual freedom.
When the overall tea party movement began roughly 18 months ago, many pundits dismissed it as a passing fad. But with its impact in several primaries this year, nobody is taking it lightly now.
What has impressed me most is how much these groups have affected events essentially on their dime.
“We are not connected with any political party, nor do we get financial support from anyone,” said Jerry Schilling from the Freedom Tea Party of Naperville, Ill. “All our activities are paid for out of the pockets of our members.”
How long those in this movement can sustain their drive is hard to tell. Political motivations have a way of shifting directions quickly.
At the same time, whether candidates benefiting from tea party support will govern effectively is anyone’s guess. The give-and-take that is inherent in the legislative process won’t sit well with players who aren’t in a mood to accept compromise.
But the people involved with tea party groups have set a good example. I don’t agree with all their rhetoric, but I truly admire their commitment. The political establishment needs this kind of push back from time to time.
Jerry Moore is the opinions editor for Suburban Life Publications. Contact him at (630) 368-8930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.