The Tea Party doesn’t have a national headquarters or unofficial governing body. Nor is there a reliable count of its members, because there is no formal way for adherents to sign up. It is a collection of unrelated local groups: six people gathered in the living room to talk and complain over whiskey and soda.
Indiana has 72 such affiliates, many named after Johnny Appleseed. Name variations often include the phrase “small government.” The local groups buy Tea Party golf balls, Tea Party cigars and children’s coloring books.
Loosely bound for serious political combat, this unimpressive group has 60 members in the US House of Representatives where they exercise their leverage in the Republican Party to change the focus of the nation from the crisis of widespread unemployment to cutting taxes and balancing the federal budget.
Only a few months ago, the consensus in Washington, in the media, in the Democratic Party and in the White House located the American crisis and in the vast and growing need to create jobs for the millions of Americans living outside the American dream. This humanitarian goal has been replaced by the bankers’ issues: balancing the federal yearly budget and reducing the long-term federal deficit. A serious jobs program would put funds in the hands of the poorest. The current national dialogue does not include a serious jobs program to increase production and put funds in the hands of the unemployed. An effective program for deficit reduction would cut the military budget, increase taxes on the wealthiest and limit US military adventures around the world.
The Tea Party agenda fits the ideology of the Reagan Republican Party supporting military intervention abroad and opposing social intervention for the unemployed at home. The masses of American workers are disappointed in the motivation of the Democrats that moves them to switch priorities from Social Security to deficit reductions, from a massive jobs program similar to the Roosevelt New Deal to a banker support program.
What happened to Obama? In this moral and economic crisis, the media cry out in virtual unison, expecting the president to rescue his constituency as headlines scream, “As corporate profits rise, workers income declines.” As unemployment staggers the nation and social programs are cut, there is no FDR in this administration, so stop looking for one.