Several years ago, I wrote a series of columns on the burgeoning national debt. I pointed out the steep loss of Bill Clinton’s budget surplus of billions of dollars, the first president in decades to end office with a surplus. I pointed out the unbelievable increase in budget deficits and national debt under a president and conservative party who campaigned on fiscal restraint. I pointed out that Vice President Cheney famously said that deficits do not matter. In addition, I pointed out that in spite of significant fiscal irresponsibility, Bush and the Republicans were re-elected to run the country for another four years.

In other words, all of the very same people screaming today about the national debt and increasing budget deficits were silent and passive when a Republican administration was feckless with their money.  There were no tea parties, no disruptive town halls, no obscene posters comparing Bush to Hitler, or threats of seceding from the Union. It is funny how they now want to pin the conservative fiscal errors on the Democrats. Conservatives are still unwilling to accept their responsibility for passively participating in the most egregious betrayal of party principles, and people’s trust, in history.

In looking at the tea party movement, supposedly a political revolution that is going to bring about the change denied Obama, there is little to suggest that they actually are serious.  They spout a lot of rhetoric but there is very little constructive action. In fact, the tea party in Georgia is in desperate need of some Viagra. Currently, they seem very pleased with both Republican senators. Both of these establishment-backed Republican senators were in the thick of the fiscal irresponsibility of the last decade. They voted for the mountain of deficit spending, over five trillion dollars, that depleted any financial reserves the country might have been able to rely on during our fiscal Pearl Harbor.

Did anyone ever hear either senator complain about the fiscal irresponsibility under Bush? No, and that is because they supported it, voting for every major spending bill presented to them. Neither of them demanded that the extravagant programs be paid for from then-current revenues. Moreover, Senator Saxby Chambliss was easily re-elected in November 2008, even though he talked about how proud he was of his multimillion-dollar earmarks. Neither the tea party nor the Republican Party ran anyone against Chambliss. Moreover, neither group is running anyone against Senator Johnny Isakson.

Tea party inaction is ample proof that their quest is partisan, regardless of their statements of bipartisanship.  They are not much different from the FairTax crowd. I have talked to a few of the FairTax leaders and discussed how the movement could be bipartisan, one of their stated goals. However, as soon as I pointed out that an important person with the ACLU supports the fair tax, the roll of their eyes said it all.

I would love a tea party member to explain why they decided to allow fiscally irresponsible Isakson to run for re-election unchallenged.  I would love them to explain why they supported earmark Chambliss. Both senators stand for the fiscal excesses the tea party claims to protest. However, the tea party does nothing but stand around yelling. When will the tea party in Georgia recognize that the only power they have for change is in Georgia? Their best shot at change is here, and they do nothing but talk. They cannot berate career politicians while re-electing career politicians, especially ones primarily responsible for the fiscal mess in this country. Do they really believe Chambliss and Isakson have seen the light?

The tea party appears to have but one function.  Their only goal is to yell loud enough about the national debt that ordinary citizens will forget who got us here and blame the Democrats.

Unfortunately, for the country they should have started yelling eight years ago.

At some point, they may want to agree on whether they view Obama as Hitler or a socialist. If he is a socialist, they should try to figure out why the left wing of the Democratic Party has turned on him. If he were more like Hitler, they should ponder why the right does not love him. They cannot get it right because Obama is neither.  If the tea party wants credibility, they need to challenge career, establishment-backed Republicans and replace them with fresh faces. However, do not hold your breath.

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Jim Fitzgerald

Jim Fitzgerald

A clinically trained psychologist, Jim had a private practice in Cobb County for almost 30 years. For the last ten years he has been a Professor of Psychology at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT, but lives in the North Georgia Mountains.