Every year, around Christmas time, the networks replay the classic Laurel and Hardy film “Babes in Toyland”. Though as a child I found most of the movie to be fairly boring, I watched every year for one reason: to see the army of wooden soldiers activated and sent out after the “bogeymen” lead by the evil Silas Barnaby. A feeling of excitement and pride washed over me when Laurel and Hardy, seemingly outmatched by Barnaby’s troupe, discovered that they too could call upon an organized force in order to save themselves and their community. As you get older you come to understand, that there isn’t always an overwhelming force for good that comes to your rescue and the movie loses a bit of magic.
I am reminded of this movie now, strangely enough, because of the goings on in Congress, Wisconsin and in similar outbursts throughout the country. In the case of Wisconsin, Silas Barnaby is played by the Union leaders and the bogeymen would be portrayed by the protesters. They have unleashed their army of ignorance on the State house which they occupied for several days, leaving a multi-million dollar cleanup bill in their wake.
Through the democratic process, the republicans in WI voted to remove certain collective bargaining abilities from public employee unions. Something they were never intended to have in the first place as they are “bargaining” for more of our money. They are organized and have strong and influential leadership. Recently, they announced their intention to use that influence and organization to initiate a recall action against a handful of republican legislators.
We are also facing a back and forth with democrats and republican leadership in congress on the budget. Some “Tea Party” representatives and Senators like Rand and Ron Paul are standing firm for deep cuts in spending. Party establishment types like Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell are content with dragging cuts out in small increments over time. As has been stated by countless others: now is not the time for half measures. These little cuts would have been novel 5-10 years ago; today they are a joke and we are the butt of it.
Where is the Tea party?
Sure, there was a mildly inspiring showing at one point early on during the protests, but it was hardly noticeable. If Glenn Beck was able to call hundreds of thousands of us to rally on the mall in D.C for nothing more than “Honor”, a noble if somewhat vague rallying cry, it should be a no-brainer that the Tea Party descend in similar numbers on Madison, Wisconsin.
Governor Scott Walker is in the political fight of a lifetime. The outcome will shape the future of Union power in this country. If the unions succeed in recalling and replacing the targeted republicans, their power and influence will grow exponentially. Politicians will bend to their will every chance they get, out of fear that they may be next on the hit list. If the unions lose this battle, it would be a severe blow to them. Those same cowardly politicians who have for years kowtowed under union pressure will immediately be free to oppose poorly considered union demands. Once it is proven that Unions can be beat, they will cease to be an overwhelming power in government.
The Tea Party may never face a more important challenge than this. It is time for someone to push the button and activate that army of good. We have proven that when we are motivated into action we are an unstoppable force. As of late however, it seems that we are doing a lot of talking and little walking. Where are we on Wisconsin? Where are we on the budget battle? Why are we not demanding more of the new republican house and members of the senate that we helped to get elected? Was Harry Reid right when he said that we would eventually disappear?
If we were to mobilize hundreds of thousands more to Madison in order to work against the recall measure, we would be successful. If we were to mobilize again to D.C in order to remind the republican leadership that we are still watching and waiting for results, we would be successful. Our numbers cannot be ignored and we should not ignore our own influence.
As a movement, the Tea Party was formed with the goal of cutting spending, cutting taxes, limiting the scope of government and restoring Constitutional principles. If we choose to exercise our hard-earned influence only once every two years or so during an election cycle, we will find that power quickly diminished and that which we have fought for will be destroyed. We promised the American people and congress that we would remain vigilant. We must keep that promise now or renege and lose all credibility.