The political “party” getting the most attention right now is not the Democratic or Republican Party. It is the tea party. The tea party, which stands for “Taxed Enough Already,” has shaken up the political culture in America. The Democrats see it as a microcosm of how the Republicans are becoming more and more radical and out of touch with regular people. The Republican Party sees it as a fringe conservative group that could help but will probably hurt the GOP in November.
Both parties ought to see the tea party for what it is: a force. Tea party backers are building a coalition to get their message out and effect some real change in Washington. But what will that change be?
The tea party lists major goals on its 10-point “Contract From America” that it encourages congressional candidates to follow. These goals include balancing the federal budget, ending runaway government spending and stopping the tax hikes. The bottom line is that all of these goals are easier said than done. In reality, these are promises that cannot easily be kept, and Washington is becoming more and more polarized because of groups like the tea party.
The tea party, with the zero to seven representatives political experts estimate that it will send to Washington after the election, will not be any more effective than the Republicans were when they made the Republican Contract with America in 1994. In 1994, the Republicans took control of Congress and promised to shrink government, and they also promised to push for term limits for representatives and senators. They did not shrink government, and 16 years later most of those people still remain in Congress.
It has become popular for candidates to run against big government. Candidates preach on the campaign trail that government has overstretched its limits and has become out of touch with the American people, but when the candidates get into office, the last thing they want is to reduce the power of their office. With such an ambitious agenda in mind, the last thing that the tea party will deliver on will be shrinking the size of government.
The Republican party has a unique opportunity to win up to 45 seats in the House of Representatives, according to many political experts, and so far it is not capitalizing as much as it should be. It is letting the extremists of the tea party take over, and the GOP has presented few details about its “Plan for America.”
One of the proposed ideas by the Republicans and tea party this year has been a program called “YouCut.” According to a Politico article titled “GOP “Pledge:’ tax and spending cuts,” this is a program that allows citizens to vote online for programs they think should be cut. Also according to the article, “Republicans say they want to alter the way Congress does business by encouraging lawmakers to read bills before they get a vote and ensuring legislation adheres to the Constitution 8212; a role generally reserved to the courts.”
If the legislative branch takes over roles of the judicial branch, the “Plan” will not reduce big government. In fact, it changes checks and balances that have existed since the Constitution was written.
The tea party movement is sweeping America, and the greatest part of the American political system is when people are upset with politicians, they can sweep them out of office. Voters should just be careful about who they are sweeping in.
Alex Apple is a freshman political science and journalism major from Nashville, Tenn.