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Tea Party – serious or circus act?

April 22nd, 2010

What a buzzkill. Maybe I was naive to expect anything more than the usual conservative talking points and propaganda at last week’s Tea Party. But Tea Party supporters are naive if they think they’ll ever be able to make any sort of meaningful contribution to society simply by bashing the government and predicting the downfall of America under Pres. Obama and the Democrats.

It’s obvious that Tea Partiers think there are a lot of problems with the country today. The debt, deficit, taxes, stimulus and health care reform all received their fair share of criticism at the rally. And according to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, while 46 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Obama is handling the economy, that number jumps to 91 percent among Tea Party supporters. 

But amid all the criticism and complaining, what I didn’t hear at last Thursday’s rally were solutions. In fact, the Tea Party in general seems to be completely lacking in the solutions department, which is a shame because the problems they’re trying to highlight are some of the biggest issues facing the country today. 

With the economy in the pits and the deficit and debt at record levels, the Tea Party has the opportunity to bring a lot of fresh ideas to the table. But “fiscal responsibility” and “limited government” aren’t policies – they’re principles. And it seems as though the Tea Party is quite content on “Easy Street,” playing the role of Monday morning quarterback and criticizing the policies of both Democrats and Republicans alike.

But it takes a lot of guts to seriously take part in the political arena, particularly because putting forth a policy automatically makes you vulnerable to criticism. Perhaps leaders of the Tea Party have seen the way its members have torn up other government policies and are afraid to submit any of its own?

If that’s the case, then the Tea Party will remain nothing but a circus act that gives out free hot dogs and American flags on Tax Day. And you can be sure that as soon as the economy recovers, it will fade into the pages of history, just as so many other fringe political groups have before it.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way. Many Americans support the Tea Party’s principles of fiscal responsibility and limited government. If the Tea Party were to simply apply those principles to the way it confronts the problems facing the country, it could probably come up with a pretty solid platform.

So pay attention to what I’m about to say, Tea Partiers, because you’re going to have to make an important decision very soon. Your party is currently stuck at a fork in the road. One path leads to certain irrelevance. The other has no guarantees of success, but definitely has a lot more potential. According to the same poll mentioned above, Tea Party members are more educated than the average American, so you’re completely capable of making the right choice. You’re also capable of coming up with a policy or two.