Rebooting the Tea Party


By Lee Cary –

“The surest way to destroy a nation is to debauch its currency.”Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

I recently suggested that the Tea Party should engage the same-sex marriage debate. That idea met with opposition.  The basis of it was that the Tea Party’s mission is not to address social issues but to, as one commenter stated, advocate “1) reduction in the size of government, 2) reduction and simplification of taxes (if not all-out tax code change like FairTax or the Flat Tax) and 3) reduction in spending by government.”

Point made. Now, moving on…  

The Tea Party movement, according to one Texas Tea Party activist speaking last August, morphed after the 2010 election as, “We put down our protest signs, and picked up campaign signs.” Those campaign signs meant to influence the election of local-level candidates who share Tea Party principles.

So, the energy of the movement shifted away from the federal government’s fiscal crisis to a local effort to advance Tea Party principles at the state and local level.  

Unfortunately, the federal budget falls largely outside the purview of local- and state-level government officials. A Texas State Representative, while advancing the cause of sound fiscal policies at the state level, does not typically have the ear of Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, or John Boehner. Plus, a State Representative has no vote in the U.S. Congress.

So what has become of the Tea Party’s attempt to influence spending at the federal level?  Has it been abandoned?  If not, where and how is it being pursued today?

The Tea Party street demonstrations, before the 2010 election, effectively directed the nation’s attention to the deficit issue. That public attention has diminished, as trillion dollar deficits have become a routine expectation of many – perhaps most – citizens.  And talk of such deficits going on for several years, sometimes coming from Republicans, doesn’t seem to alarm people as it once did. 

In short, the sense of urgency to rein in federal spending has decreased in intensity. That leads to this suggestion: The Tea Party can re-engage the fiscal irresponsibility of the federal government at the street level, while, at the same time, stay focused on local- and state-level elections. 

In other words, hold the campaign signs with one hand, and the protest signs with the other.  In other words, become an ambidextrous movement.

To that end, here’s a suggestion: Suppose three, or three hundred, or three thousand, or more Texas Tea Party supporters gather in front of the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas, having secured all the required permits, on the 4th of July, carrying signs displaying Monopoly money with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s picture in the middle, and they hand out play money to those who happen by.

The message: The Fed is debauching the U.S. dollar by creating $85,000,000,000 each month out of “paper-and-vapor,” with no end in sight.

Cartoonist Gary Larson drew a picture of two flocks of ducks. One flock was walking in a V formation. Another was flying above the walking ducks in an identical V formation. One of the walking ducks looks up, sees the flying ducks, and says, “Look what they’re doing.”

Perhaps other Tea Party groups would see the Texas crowd at the Federal Reserve Bank and say, “Look what they’re doing,” and consider demonstrating at the other 11 Federal Reserve Banks across the nation on Labor Day.

The British economist accused of being the father of federal deficit spending wrote:

“Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalist System was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some.

Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and it does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.” (John Maynard Keynes)

It’s time to reboot the Tea Party.