STAGES OF DENIAL: In Reason, Matt Kibbe writes, Take pity on the left as it grapples with the tea party revolt. “Judging from the left’s hysterical reaction, something really big must have happened. But the only way to really understand the left’s misinformed and paranoid attacks is to realize that the protests represent tangible proof that basic libertarian values continue to resonate with the American electorate. That, apparently, is a difficult thing for some to accept.”
What were the tea parties about? Reading the signs and talking to people (unlike CNN’s incredibly hostile Susan Roesgen, I actually let folks answer my questions in their own words), the “agenda” was crystal clear. Tea party activists were worried and angry about government bailouts for the irresponsible, about spending that “stimulated” record growth in government and not much else, and about government borrowing that will place unconscionable burdens on future generations of Americans. My favorite sign of the day: “Give Me Liberty, Not Debt.”
Some tried to diminish the tea parties as misguided tax protests. In reality, the protestors demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of economics that went well beyond objections to higher tax rates. You can’t spend money you don’t have, the tea party attendees understood, and government spending above current revenues must be paid for with higher taxes, more borrowing (to be paid for with higher taxes in the future), or artificial government expansion of money and credit, which can only debase the currency and make everyone poorer through inflation.