The Phantom Tea Party Threat

Given liberalism’s congenital contradictions, its adherents’ depictions of the Tea Party movement as simultaneously over-hyped and a profound threat to our nation’s security are not surprising. 

The truth, of course, is that the current robust opposition to the liberal agenda, of which the Tea Party movement is a large part, is neither. And there is no evidence that enthusiastic criticism of Obama administration policies will lead to violence. In fact, the Tea Party movement is a result–not a cause—of the frustration and anger many Americans feel today. The only threat it poses is to the status quo of big government activism.

It’s been comical to watch the Left try to discredit the Tea Party movement. Is the movement “over-hyped,” as Eugene Robinson argues, or, as Joe Klein alleges, a seditious cabal capable of inciting revolution from within? Are Tea Partiers a bunch of poor ignorant hicks or, as E.J. Dionne argued based on a recent survey revealing that they’re better educated and wealthier than most Americans, a movement of the “privileged”?

What the Left can agree on is that the movement is a violent threat. On the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing this week, Bill Clinton wrote that the “many threats against the president, members of Congress and other public servants” remind him of the atmosphere that preceded the bombing.

By “threats” Clinton was referring to comments like those by Sarah Palin, who incurred the wrath of liberals for exhorting conservatives after Obamacare passed not to “retreat” but to “RELOAD!” Liberal commentators and lawmakers interpreted the remark as a call to violence.

Of course, in order to “re-load,” first you must fire. But the spirited opposition to the liberal agenda has been notable for its lack of violence.

Come to think of it, from the violent anti-war protests of the Vietnam era to the domestic terrorism of environmental and animal rights activists of today, the Left has always been much more prone to violence.

Leftwing lawlessness and violence helped define the last two Republican National Conventions. In New York City in 2004, GOP delegates were routinely accosted by protestors. I was threatened by a mob as I walked to the convention one day.

In St. Paul in 2008, more than 800 liberal protestors were arrested, and many received felony charges. There were riots. On the first day, protestors blocked the entrance to the Excel Energy Center, prohibiting delegates from entering. Some delegates were assaulted. Windows of local businesses were smashed and police car tires were slashed. A police car was lit on fire. One protestor was arrested with Molotov cocktails at the ready.

After California voters passed Proposition 8, that state’s marriage amendment, gay activists went on the attack.

Conservative churches were picketed and vandalized, and church services were disrupted.  Envelopes containing white powder were sent to several Mormon temples.

And a postcard was sent to the homes and businesses of many financial donors of Proposition 8. It read, “If I had a gun, I would have gunned you down along with each and every other supporter.” 

Imagine if any of this had happened at a Tea Party rally. Talk radio and Tea Party activists are condemned for supposedly using hateful rhetoric and inciting violence. But little was said only a few years ago when everyone from Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan to top elected Democrats accused President Bush of war crimes and treason, and when artists depicted the president’s assassination to liberal praise.

Bill Clinton also blames the Internet for prompting “seriously disturbed” people to violence. He wrote in the New York Times this week, “[W]e should never forget what drove the [Oklahoma City] bombers, and how they justified their actions to themselves.”

Then Clinton connected McVeigh’s unconscionable act to talk radio without any evidence. 

The Left’s paranoia over phantom conservative violence is ironic given that it seems not to have given a thought to the motives of those who pose a credible threat to America’s security, radical Muslims.

Liberals seems unconcerned when Muslim imams across the country and in our prisons preach violence against America. With Iran on the cusp of going nuclear and Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad routinely vowing to wipe Israel off the map, we are somehow supposed to believe he doesn’t mean it.

But when a conservative says he wants to “target” a Democratic politician, the Left interprets it not as a call to get out the vote but as a literal call to arms.

Meanwhile, when presidential candidate Obama told supporters in 2008, “If [Republicans] bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” everyone was supposed to understand that the best-selling author was merely being metaphorical.

Even after club-wielding Black Panther members intimidated McCain voters at Philadelphia polling stations, the Department of Justice refused to prosecute.

The Left sees something nefarious in the fact that most Tea Partiers are White, Christian and Conservative. But so is America. They protest because they don’t trust the government. That’s America too: 80 percent of Americans are distrustful of the government according to a recent Pew poll.

None of this is to say that the Tea Party movement is not a threat. It’s a threat to congressional big spenders on both sides of the aisle. It’s a threat to RINOs who are more interested in getting elected than in representing the conservative principle of limited government.

And, come election time, the movement will be an existential threat to politicians of any stripe who advocate for policies that will continue to place unsustainable debt on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren.   But their futures are worth fighting for. That’s not a threat; that’s a promise.