Recently, I argued that what is fueling Tea Party anger is fear of tyranny and, thus, a vigilant defense of liberty. ("Political Evil This Way Comes," April 16, 2010.) Well, perhaps it's obvious, but it's not obvious to many who are reporting on the protests.
Michael Barone makes his own argument ("Tea Partiers Fight Culture of Dependence," April 19, 2010), much better of course, that the Tea Partiers are not fundamentally concerned about taxes. They are defending a culture of independence against a culture of dependence that has been rushing in on us with great force this past year.
The Obama Democrats see a society in which ordinary people cannot fend for themselves, where they need to have their incomes supplemented, their health care insurance regulated and guaranteed, their relationships with their employers governed by union leaders. Highly educated mandarins can make better decisions for them than they can make themselves. That is the culture of dependence.
The tea partiers see things differently. They're not looking for lower taxes -- half of tea party supporters, a New York Times survey found, think their taxes are fair. Nor are they financially secure -- half say someone in their household may lose their job in the next year. Two-thirds say the recession has caused some hardship in their lives.This fire doesn't die over night.
But they recognize, correctly, that the Obama Democrats are trying to permanently enlarge government and increase citizens' dependence on it. And, invoking the language of the Founding Fathers, they believe that this will destroy the culture of independence which has enabled Americans over the past two centuries to make this the most productive and prosperous -- and the most charitably generous -- nation in the world.