Last weekend, thousands of Americans rose in a display of dismay for the American government. To symbolize the new and growing political force, these Americans have dubbed themselves the â€œTea Party Movement,â€ a play on the historical revolt that took place in Massachusetts against the excessive taxation the English subjected American colonialists. Likewise, new Tea Partiers have rallied against taxation, along with traditional right wing values.
Though I feel many of the values driving this up-and-coming political force are backward (pro-assault rifles, anti-womenâ€™s choice and anti-love among homosexuals), I find many of their values appealing. I, too, am against big business and big bank pampering and bailouts. I, too, am in favor of legitimate third parties. And I, too, am against foolish government spending.
Everyone seems to be afraid to take leadership of this fractured horde, afraid to be associated with some pissed off right wing extremists. Well, it seems this weekend they may have found their new leadership: 2008 Vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her Grand Old Party. As a keynote speaker at the largest Tea Party conference yet to be held, Palin continued her attack on the Democrats. Likewise, GOP favorite Newt Gingrich has thrown himself in the mix, hailing the Tea Partiers. Many more are waiting at the door.
The hard working people organizing at the grassroots level have created a mobilized political machine just waiting for someone to steer. And the GOP is chomping at the bit to take the driverâ€™s seat. The Tea Party movement will prove to be nothing more than a tool for Republicans and their big business and big bank friends. The Tea Partiers will be counterproductive.
The average working conservative American has a long-standing tradition of voting against their own interests, often voting on social issues like gun control. And these silly conservatives vote against their own interest in good faith. It is in their interest to regulate businesses to protect workers and to raise funds at a national level to create a safety-net capable of catching people before they fall through the cracks. Rather, they vote for people who would rather see these interests operate freely without oversight and governmental â€œintrusion.â€
As the Republican Party continues to infiltrate the Tea Party, these people will also find themselves voting against their own interest. Their hatred for the two-party system will end in an ironic tragedy as the GOP will harness its anger against liberals, and will further the power and influence of big business and big banks. Tax breaks will be sure to come, but not for the people who could use it the most, but for those who already have more money than I would know what to do with.
Case in point, the historical convention held in Nashville this past weekend seems to be counter intuitive. The convention was hosted by Tea Party Nation, a for-profit organization. The Tea Partiers scream for fiscal conservatism, yet were willing to pay $550 to attend the convention.
Furthermore, it has been reported that the Tea Party nation paid Sarah Palin in the ballpark of $100,000. Though many grass root organization boycotted the convention for these exact reasons, it shows how easily such a disorganized movement may be steered in the wrong direction.
It shows how vulnerable this movement is to be infiltrated. With little agreement and collaboration among grassroots organizations that started this movement it will select anyone who seems to sympathize with their anger. They will create a weapon to be yielded by one of the major parties they claim to be disgusted with. And as they have proven to do in the past, they will continue to act against their own interest and continue to elect laissez-faire Republicans.
_Wade McManus is a senior political science major. His column appears on Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. _