I wish that Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow had been there.
I hope that I got your attention with that opening, but I am serious. I attended the Tea Party Patriots American Policy Summit last weekend in Phoenix, and I wish that Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow had been there so that they could have seen the REAL tea party in action, rather than the mythical tea party that they so delight in parodying, belittling and vilifying. Chris Matthews compares the Tea Party to the Muslim Brotherhood. Rachel Maddow calls them the "Torch and pitchfork" crowd, and refers to the movement as "Insani-tea." Clever, perhaps, but also wrong. I sometimes call Rachel Maddow "Vitamin R," because when I get weary of fighting the left, I find that just a small dose of her — sometimes only five minutes or less — is enough to fully restore my energy level to competitive fighting trim.
The REAL tea party met in Phoenix last weekend to focus on Policy. The gathering was billed as a Policy Summit, and that's exactly what it was. Here's a list of some of the topics covered: How Jobs are created, the Debt Ceiling Debate, the urgency of addressing our national debt, Citizen Journalism, Promoting Constitutional literacy, Big Labor and the growth of Government, Techniques of Online Activism, Earmarks, Immigration Reform and Border Security, Fundraising for nonprofit organizations, The Fair Tax, Changing the Culture, and the like. The general sessions were attended by about 2500 persons, and the breakout sessions and workshops were filled to overflowing.
I led a panel on the Debt Ceiling, with panelists John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, American Enterprise Institute economist Alex Brill and Freshman Congressman David Schweikert. For 45 minutes, we addressed this complex subject with the full attention of more than 2000 Tea Party activists, and then we held a 45 follow-up breakout session devoted entirely to questions and answers. The questions were thoughtful and substantive. These were people who came to learn, not just to rally and demonstrate. They are people who care deeply about our country, are convinced that we are presently on the wrong track economically, and they want to be part of the process that returns us to the values and policies that over more than two centuries has produced the most robust economy that the world has ever known, and has alleviated the most poverty and provided the most opportunity for the most people.
Our future prosperity, and indeed are entire economic system, are threatened by unsustainable debt and unrestrained growth of government, and these folks want to support Members of Congress and other elected officials who can guide us back to the right track. They're not crazy, they're not ignorant and they're not angry, at least not in the sense that Matthews and Maddow characterize them. They are, I would submit, a source of hope for America. Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow should have seen it for themselves, because if they had, they could no longer deny the reality that the Tea Party Patriots' American Policy Summit was inescapably positive.
Colin Hanna is President of Let Freedom Ring, USA and his commentaries air on American Radio Journal.