Conservative to the Core — I was Tea Party before there was a Tea Party

By Tom Seymour | Aug 28, 2014

My contumacious nature puts me in a perfect place to identify with the Tea Party. I’ve always resented governmental authority, or at least what I consider government authority run amuck.

For instance, the thought of government having the right to exercise the powers of eminent domain gives me chills. That’s because I cannot fully trust government officials to act fairly.

How many times have we read or heard on the news about homeowners refusing to sell to the town or city where they live because the government wants to take their home or farm in order to build a shopping center or perhaps even a gambling casino?

The homeowner seldom wins in these contests.

Here in Maine, we have differing opinions regarding the need for and construction of an east-west highway. Landowners in the probable path of the highway have already made their opposition known. And who can blame them?

Imagine living in a place that you love, perhaps on land or in a house that has been in your family for centuries, only to have the government tell you that you must sell because your place is in the path of a new road?

In the mind of a conservative, property rights trump all. This is tied up with the American dream and it is a fundamental building block of our society. But eminent domain can and does usurp that right. It’s scary.

Next, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution means a whole lot to me. In those few words is a guarantee that citizens may keep and use firearms. And firearms are the first means of defense against danger.

A government that seeks to re-interpret the Second Amendment, that says the Constitution is a “living document,” or an “evolving paradigm,” strikes fear and distrust into my bones.

And how about taxes? Here’s a truism. When a municipality wants something it always gets it, by means fair or foul.

Does the district want a new school building? Most times even if voters reject the bond to build the school, the government will continue to push its agenda and eventually the new school, firehouse, town hall or whatever, will get built.

Once the idea of constructing some new part of the infrastructure germinates, there’s no turning back. And property owners must foot the bill.

Which brings me to the subject of property taxes. These, too, are nothing that individual citizens have a say about. The government sets the rates and the people must pay.

Everyone reading this probably knows someone who was forced to move because they could no longer afford to pay property taxes. Elderly people are not exempted, either.

Even if a landowner has no children in school and perhaps never had children period, that landowner is still liable for property taxes.

I mention this about children because children go to school and school funding consumes the major portion of our property tax revenue.

Of course there are a few tax breaks that landowners might take advantage of. The Homestead Exemption, for example. But these are predicated upon someone else paying the money lost because of the tax break.

For instance, the town gives people a break and then the state government pays the state a sum equal to the revenue lost because of the break.

But where does the state get the money? From taxpayers, that’s where.

And often, the state gets the money from the feds. But it’s still all taxpayer money. Nothing is for “free,” although some people like to think so. It’s a shell game, pure and simple.

Patriotism, too, sits on the chopping block. Who would have ever imagined that a municipality could fine a homeowner for displaying the American flag? It happens all the time.

Shared sentiments

All these things that I’ve mentioned and more go against my grain. Hundreds of thousands of other people share this same sentiment. We’re all lumped together as “Tea Partiers.” But what is the Tea Party?

Some liberals would have people think that the Tea Party is an organized political party the same as the Libertarian Party or the Green Party. That’s just not so. The Tea Party is the least cohesive group that ever existed. In fact it’s hardly a group at all. The Tea Party is a state of mind, shared by many.

Here’s an example of a liberal Democrat painting a picture of the Tea Party as some evil entity. Shenna Bellows is gunning for Susan Collins’ Senate seat. Bellows is currently running an online ad that belittles Collins for supporting Tea Party Gov. Paul LePage.

LePage, though, is a Republican, albeit a Republican who supports lower taxes and less government intrusion. The ad, however, could easily convince an uninformed voter that LePage belongs to an organized party called the Tea Party. LePage shares Tea Party principals and goals.

And, in fact, it is somewhat surprising that Susan Collins has given LePage her public support because Collins herself is one of the most moderate Republicans in the field. Susan Collins has voted with Democrats far more than her Republican base back home in Maine would like.

In fact, I vote for Susan Collins not because she represents my personal views, but because she was always the lesser of two evils. The same held true for Olympia Snowe, another Republican-in-Name-Only (RINO).

I once wrote Sen. Snowe a letter asking her why she didn’t do the right thing and change parties, register as a Democrat. Her reply was typical government gobbledygook, as in, “Thanks for writing. We value your opinion and blah-blah-yak-yak." She, or the person writing the reply, never answered my question.

Action words

One of my friends, a Tea-Party type, told me an interesting story of his Independence Day adventure. He and his family were at a camp on a lake, waiting for the fireworks display to begin.

My friend had a microphone and loudspeaker and, cranking up the volume, recited the Declaration of Independence. People up and down the lake reacted. Many hollered for him to shut up. Some booed and a scant few clapped.

It’s hard for me to conceive of people who would go to watch fireworks but who would at the same time scorn the reason for those fireworks.

That simple exercise is illustrative of the breakdown of our society. Those who are patriotic, Tea-Party types, for example, are excoriated. How long can a society exist intact that strays so far from its founding principles?

The Tea Party is nothing more than a contemporary segment of American society that holds to conservative principles.

The name, of course, comes from the original Tea Party of Boston Harbor fame. Those people, too, came from all walks of life. The one and only thing that united them was their desire for freedom and liberty. They railed against taxation without representation, which is exactly what the British tax on tea was.

Like the original Tea Party participants, today’s Tea Party people are gentle but firm, convinced of the rightness of their beliefs. Count me as a Tea Partier. After all, I was Tea Party before there was a Tea Party.

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