I think Barlett pretty clearly shows how our tax burden hasn't significantly changed from Bush to Obama. Wherefore the charges of socialism from the tea party, then? It's fair to have a reasonable debate about taxes and spending, but I don't think the tea party movement wants to be a part of that debate.My response
Isn't it also fair to consider what you, your community, and the country gets in return for those taxes?
I've seen a lot of articles and comments setting up straw men about what the tea party is about and why it's wrong. One thing Bartlett points out and I will grant him is that a significantly large percentage of Tea Partiers (and that's what most of us call ourselves, thank you, not "Tea Baggers") are not well read and do not have a grasp on the details as far as exactly how much of their income goes to taxes. Most of them have jobs, and those jobs are mostly outside of the punditry and think-tank industry.
However, what they generally are is believers in free-markets and limited government and liberty. They believe in the right things, and they know that those things have been compromised by the growth and direction of government.
In their view, and in the veiw of the founders, "what you, your community, and the country gets in return for those taxes" is irrelevant. The focus is on what the role of government is. Spending is a measure of that, and taxes are they symptom.
Critics also tend to believe that since most Tea Partiers supported Bush over Kerry and Gore, and probably McCain over Obama -- that this is about Obama. Or about Democrats only. It is not, and this goes back far before GW Bush, or Reagan, or Carter, or Ford or Nixon or Johnson or Kennedy ... this has been building for a long time, incrementally like the proverbial frog in a slowly heated pan of water who doesn't notice the incremental increase in temperature and ends up getting cooked.
Any cursory and honest look at Obama's life shows that at the very least he was heavily influenced by people who professed to be socialists, or professed socialist views but called it something different. He's been in office a year and some change with the stated intent of "Fundamentally Transforming" the United States of America. But Obama is not the problem. Obama is the latest symptom of the problem, and he is the face and current executor of the agenda for the Center for American Progress, Apollo Alliance, and TIDES. He is surrounded in his cabinet, the think tanks he goes to, and in Congress with progressives -- some explicitly socialist, some not.
To conclude that he's "not a socialist" because, "hey, taxes haven't gone up" in the 14 months he's been in office is nonsense.
And you're very wrong about the tea partiers not wanting to have a reasonable debate about taxes and spending. That is exactly the debate they would like to have (though as Bartlett points out, many wouldn't be very good at it, just as many socialism supporters wouldn't be very good at arguing for socialism).
The problem is that if the Big Government side of the equation gets to decide what is "reasonable" and what can be dismissed as a bunch of ignorant, racist, redneck "Tea Baggers" -- a meaningful debate will never happen.
Update: as if to underscore my point, in this very good editorial -- David Harsanyi writes:
Surely it is inarguable that the debate over a national mandate epitomizes the central ideological divide in the country today.
In broad terms, there is one side that believes liberty can be subverted for the collective good because government often makes more efficient and more moral choices.
Then there is the other side, which believes that people who believe such twaddle are seditious pinkos.
And judging from nearly every poll, the majority of Americans disapprove of President Barack Obama and his defining legislation. Whether they understand the mugging of freedoms in legal terms or in intellectual terms or only in intuitive ones doesn't matter.