By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Since its inception the Tea Party movement has been met with considerable criticism from those who are opposed to its goals.
Flowing freely from the pens of some of the nation’s most prominent columnists are charges that it is too narrowly focused, that it lacks depth, that it is unrepresentative of the mainstream, or that it represents the darker side of the American character. One of them, writer and former Crossfire co-host Michael Kinsley has penned an essay in which he complains that Tea Party activists are, in contrast to the altruism of the anti-war demonstrators of the 1960s, “mostly self-interested.”
“They lack poetry: cut my taxes; don’t let the government mess with my Medicare; and so on,” Kinsley wrote on the website of The Atlantic magazine. “There is a nasty, sour, vindictive tone to the Tea Party that certainly existed in the antiwar movement and its offspring, but never dominated the atmosphere created by these groups. “
As usual, he’s missed the bus. Kinsley understates the radicalism of the '60s-era movement and its offspring, which seized buildings on college campuses, blew up others, caused riots in places like Chicago, and attacked police officers, among other less-than-altruistic deeds.
At the same time he overstates the threats posed by the Tea Party movement which is, after all, an almost exclusively peaceful protest. It is, in reality, a popular uprising dedicated to taking power back from a group of elites--most clearly but not exclusively represented by President Barack Obama and those who populate his administration--who seek to upend the cultural values and economic system that has made America a powerful force for good in the world. The Tea Parties are demanding from politicians in both parties a kind of accountability that has been lacking in the national government for some time.
In its latest push the Tea Party Movement has put forward a set of criteria by which President Obama’s judicial nominees, including Supreme Court Justice-designate Elena Kagan, should be evaluated. They are breathtakingly simple and filled with the kind of common sense that has been lacking in such debates ever since Senate liberals added the word “Borking” to the English language.
It is hard to argue against any or all of these ideas. The only way to move the nation forward, to prevent it from becoming a de facto unitary state where all policy is set in Washington but administered out in the hinterlands, is to go back toward the principles the Founding Fathers established when they wrote the Constitution. What the Tea Party Patriots have proposed for judges is as good a place as any to begin the process.