Tea Parties Aren’t Just For Kids

My four year old is obsessed with tea parties right now. If she were aware that tomorrow was National Tea Party Day, she’d be absolutely delighted. Once she realized that meant little in the way of fancy dresses, she’d be pretty disappointed. Thousands of taxpayers across America, however, are energized about the National Tea Party Day.

National Tea Party Day will take place on Tax Day, April 15. Organizers hope to see high numbers at the Taxed Enough Already (TEA) party rallies across the country. There are, as of this writing, 2,027 cities hosting tea parties – you can find one near you on their web site.

While I’ll admit to being intrigued at the idea of a tax protest, I was quickly disappointed when I visited the site. I agree that our deficit it out of control. I am concerned about selling our debt to countries like China. I am not a fan of special interest groups. And those of you who follow the site know that.

It was, then, dispiriting to see an opportunity to have a conversation about real tax policy (something I’d love to see in this country) devolve into a political diatribe. On the front page, mixed in with concerns about tax, there are such tidbits as criticizing the Congress and the President who would “appoint a defender of child pornography to the Number 2 position in the Justice Department” and “want to force doctors and other medical workers to perform abortions against their will.” Abortion and judicial appointments? Really? There are also concerns rallying against immigration, universal health care and more – though at least those parts could arguably be linked to tax.

Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. I’m not criticizing the politics (though I clearly don’t agree with all of them). I’m just surprised that the organizers of the event have passed on the occasion to make a unified statement about our tax system that would have appealed to the general population – and instead let it become a shockingly disjointed display of “values” (however you define those).

Why can’t we just talk about tax? Wouldn’t that be a great thing to do at a Tax Day Tea Party? All that stuff that organizers buried on the News Page? Tax effects on the middle class? Charitable contribution limits? Skyrocketing deficits? That’s the stuff that will get people talking. That would have made for an awesome Tea Party on Tax Day.

I tried to reach out to some tea partygoers on twitter – but no takers for an interview. (Quick update: I’ve been promised some feedback from one of the parties – come back for the scoop!)

Comments

  1. Urbie

    I’m as disappointed with these clowns as you are. For weeks, people have been sending me forwarded announcements about this protest — but they’re all from right-wing mouth-breathers who are convinced that President Obama is responsible for everything that’s wrong with the world right now… despite his having been in office less than 3 months. TARP, they seem to forget, happened last year. Obama was elected to clean up this mess — he did not cause it.

    Urb

  2. Kate

    I agree that there is plenty wrong with how taxes are levied, and I would love to see the government review the tax code. However, at this time of year and any time that I get grumpy because of paying taxes, I try to remind myself of all of the good things that my taxes provide-roads, schools, parks, social services, and so on. Like the tax system, none are perfect, but it amazes me the value that I do get for the fairly small amount of money I put in, especially when you compare it to what I’d have to put in if I had to educate myself or build the road in front of my house.

  3. garagefather

    I agree with the tax girl in regards to staying on message. The tea parties should be about taxes and the tax code. The talk often extends out to subjects like abortion, due to the organizers other political views, but the argument on abortion should be restrained to opposing public funding, not the morality of the act. I would think that most people are against paying for abortions with tax payer dollars, even if those people are pro choice. That is where we can find common ground and attract supporters to the cause of tax and spending reform.

  4. TaxRascal

    I think the organizers overestimated how much enthusiasm they’d get. If you look at sites like zombietime.com, it’s clear that any time a protest gets big enough, people like to throw in every cause they can think of — if Iraq is unpopular, somebody is going to march in the Iraq protest with a placard complaining about overuse of pesticides.

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