Obama's Tea Party Troubles

What exactly was it about the president that got America so tea'd off?

What is it about President Obama that fueled the emergence of the Tea Party?  Simply put, for the first time in American history, a president does not seem to share the vision held by most Americans about their country.

Obama was elected because of widespread support from Americans of all backgrounds.  They voted for him irrespective of his skin color and his cultural background – and therein lies the problem.  For many whites, there was a need, conscious or not, to assure themselves that they weren’t racists and that electing an unknown African-American with a strange name was not problematic but rather inconsequential.

The liberal-left media, for whom political-correctness is the penultimate commandment, bought into the Obama campaign slogans and neglected to examine every angle in search of the real Barack Obama. Rather than run the risk of feeling guilty for having violated its cherished commandment, it deliberately overlooked Obama’s associations with a racist and anti-Semitic pastor, a Palestinian/Hamas supporting professor, and a convicted ex-terrorist, to name but a few.  Moreover, it failed to dig deep into his past, as it would surely have done with any white candidate.

Obama’s conciliatory keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic convention, during which John Kerry was nominated for President, was how most Americans learned of his existence.  In that speech, he presented himself as the epitome of the American dream: a son of a Kenyan goat-herder and a middle-American mother from Kansas, accompanied by all the familiar buzzwords such as “the Depression” and “Pearl Harbor,” and included the line, “believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success.” And how about his parents, who “imagined [him] going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren't rich, because in a generous America you don't have to be rich to achieve your potential.”

In his 2004 keynote address, Obama also appealed to the political center (while hiding his left-wing views) when he said: “Don’t get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they don’t expect the government to solve their problems.” Really, Mr. President?

An August 2010 poll conducted by Democratic pollster Doug Schoen for the Independent Women's Voice, notes a "fundamental realignment" as independents now lean to the right by 2 to 1. The survey asked Independents what changes they would like see made. The response list makes it clear: Decrease the size and scope of government, cut spending and taxes, balance the budget, reduce the federal debt, reduce the power of special interests and unions, repeal and replace the healthcare legislation, and decrease partisanship.

When asked whether the country is going in the right direction or on the wrong track, 70% responded that America is on the wrong track.  The same question about the economy garnered a similar response - 68% felt the economy is on the wrong track.  81% felt that the government in Washington is out-of-touch with average Americans, and, when asked specifically about Obama, 55% had a total unfavorable view of him against 43% favorable.

The U.S. News and World Report recently observed, “It's no accident that the issues important to independents are strikingly similar to the ones important to Tea Partyers. Despite what the White House says, the Tea Party agenda is more mainstream than the Obama agenda. That's why, by a 52-to-40 margin, a majority of likely voters say their views are closer to Sarah Palin's than to President Obama's, according to Rasmussen Reports.”

To a large extent the Tea Party movement may be about the size of government, the economy, taxes, etc. but it would be a mistake to discount the patriotic feelings held by these Americans and their view of the world.  The Obama administration’s handling of national security and Islamist terrorism, foreign affairs, and immigration have resulted in a level of dissatisfaction among Tea Party champions who consider Obama’s policies a projection of weakness.  All of which will figure significantly in the way Tea Party folks are going to vote in November 2010 and 2012.

Marco Rubio, the Republican senatorial candidate from Florida, who won the 2010 Florida Primary thanks to strong Tea Party support, has ripped Obama for not being tough enough.  In a speech before Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) on June 17, 2010, Rubio asserted, "Today, our nation's foreign policy appears to be based on abandoning our friends, appeasing our enemies, and retreating from our responsibilities." Rubio charged that “We must immediately take steps to abandon our current foreign policy doctrine of Abandon, Appease and Retreat and replace it with one designed to Preserve, Protect and Defend. We must preserve our alliances around the world and our stature in the world. We must protect our ability to respond to any threat that may arise. And we must make it crystal clear that we will defend our nation, our interests and our allies against any group, nation or power.”

Obama’s takeover of major U.S. industries, including the auto and financial services and, his stimulus spending of nearly a trillion dollars (with more to come) has been seen as justification for the claim that he is a socialist.  According to Peter Morici, a University of Maryland business professor, government spending "runs counter to the basic idea of Jeffersonian democracy, that it's the individual who knows best. The government is there to set up a framework for the individual to prosper, succeed and create wealth.” Morici added that, “America is headed for a European-style social democracy of the 1970s.”

At their core, most Tea party members are social conservatives who view America differently than of Barack Obama.  Unlike Obama, they do not want the United Nations or the European Union to serve as a model for America.  It is clear to them that America saved Western Europe from Nazism and Communism, and it is Judeo-Christian values that shaped the U.S. vision of the United Nations at its inception. Today, however, the U.N. reflects the values of the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Countries, most of which are brutal dictatorships, who decide on resolutions and who run most of its agencies.

For Obama, universal/global institutions such as the U.N. and the E.U. are the height of collective achievement. But for average Americans who make up the ranks of the Tea Party, these institutions take away from American individualism and exceptionalism.  The Tea Party Convention organizer Judson Phillips agreed with convention speaker Tom Tancredo, former presidential contender and a Colorado U.S. Representative, who described Obama as a “socialist.”

No other American president has offended American individualism as much as Barack Obama.  Contrary to his 2004 keynote speech, Obama does believe that government has the solution to people’s problems. At least he was right about his promise of Change during his 2008 presidential elections.  He has left millions of Americans hopeless, but if given a second term, he would change America beyond recognition.