EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 21, 2013

Column: Tax Day rally prompts reflection on tea party aspirations

Barbara Anderson
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — I wrote this column on Monday morning, before the Boston Marathon bombing. It had crossed my mind on Saturday that there is some slight danger with going into Boston for a political event, but of course we all went anyhow. Now, while praying for the victims of the bombs, it’s even more important to celebrate Patriots Day, and never let the terrorists win.

Massachusetts: I thought it was the best state in the nation for an American to live. When I moved here in the 1970s, I looked forward to visiting Thoreau’s Walden Pond, the Bridge at Concord, the Freedom Trail and the site of the Boston Tea Party.

As I began my career as a taxpayer activist, I felt right at home with Citizens for Limited Taxation, which worked to limit state and local taxes and is affiliated with the National Taxpayers Union and its federal Balanced Budget Amendment.

We were grateful to Ross Perot of “United We Stand” when he went on television in 1992 to teach Americans the difference between the deficit and the national debt. We admired Paul Tsongas and his New Hampshire-based Concord Coalition for following through to address them. But by 2009, something was clearly missing: a nationwide grassroots surge of citizens who were ready to take back their country and do something about the growing fiscal threat.

Then suddenly, Tax Day in April brought protests around the country. Protesters threw “tea parties” in more than 2,000 cities and towns, including in all six New England states. Hundreds attended one on the Boston Common, where CLT activists made many new friends.

A year later, tea party candidates had been elected to Congress. Deficit hawks finally had representation on Capitol Hill. A new War of Independence – from the burden of unsustainable debt – was being waged by a new generation of patriots. Forces opposed to fiscal responsibility organized against the tea party, and groups with different agendas than debt reduction tried to co-opt it, unfortunately with some success nationwide.

But in Massachusetts, the Greater Boston Tea Party has managed to stay focused on the fiscal and constitutional issues, holding a rally on April 13; my partner Chip Ford and I even drove into Boston, which we normally don’t, in order to hang out with old and new friends on Boston Common.

The rally began with live music by The People’s Blowback, which led us in Howard Beale’s battle cry from “Network” – “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Later, hip-hop artist Andres “Dramatik” Gonzales performed his original “We are the People” rap.

The keynote speaker was my longtime friend Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, who said that “The tea party is America awakened” and with his usual sardonic humor, brought the crowd up to date on the “trickle-down taxation” presently occurring in Washington. Local author and Fox News expert on psychiatry, Dr. Keith Ablow, listed political situations, including $17 trillion in national debt, and asked us to decide: “Normal, or nuts?”

Former Boston talk show host Jeff Katz set a major theme by reminding us that our most admired leaders, from Winston Churchill to Ronald Reagan and the recently-passed Margaret Thatcher were known for their optimism and refusal to give up. Jim Wallace of the Gun Owners Action League and Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies brought us up to date on this week’s most controversial debates in Washington.

Other speakers ranged Paul Craney of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance in opposition to proposed new Massachusetts taxes, to Andrea Tabor of the Ever So Humble Pie company, who refused to accept EBT cards for her pies at her local farmers’ market.

I asked Haverhill resident and organizer of the rally, GBTP president Christine Morabito, to share a few words with you.

“When we gathered for our humble tea party rally in April 2009, we had no idea how widespread the movement actually was. It hit me personally when I joined several tea party leaders in Washington D.C., where we were thanked by Sen. Marco Rubio’s Director of Outreach J.R. Sanchez for ‘changing the conversation in Washington.’ But, along with great influence, comes great responsibility, and I consider it my responsibility as a tea party leader to keep this ship on course.

“Over the years many fringe groups have attempted to steer the tea party in a direction that mirrors their agenda. This has been a constant struggle – and one the Greater Boston Tea Party has managed to win, although not without accumulating some scars along the way.

“The Greater Boston Tea Party remains a group of citizens who are concerned with the increasingly burdensome reach of government. We stand for what we have always stood for: limited government, free markets, free speech, individual liberty and personal responsibility, all tenets of the Constitution with its Bill of Rights.

“We started this movement because for the first time in our lives, we feared our children might not have the same opportunities that we have. Even President Obama claimed to find this unacceptable in 2008, when he said, ‘To take out a credit card from the bank of China, in the name of our children ... that’s irresponsible, it’s unpatriotic.’ The tea party still thinks this way.

“Government spending and borrowing is out of control and our children should not be left holding the bag. Hence the theme of this year’s Tax Day rally, ‘Unburdening the Next Generation.’”

Thanks, Christine, and all your excellent speakers, on behalf of my 12-year old twin grandchildren.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a regular contributor to the opinion pages.