The tea parties were righteous, but don't go crazy

Despite the president’s broad popularity, the hyper-partisan fever that has afflicted our nation for more than a decade has not yet broken. It is being pumped up in the self-segregated partisan echo chamber every day—and in the search for political purpose or just an outlet for economic anger in a recession, a narrative has taken hold that the Obama administration is dedicated to overturning bedrock principles of American culture. Against this backdrop, weeping warnings about how we’re drifting toward tyranny and the need to “take our country back” start to make sense to some folks…

But liberals who want to dismiss yesterday’s tea parties do so at their peril. They should remember the Gandhi line their protest leaders often quote: “First they ignore you. Then they mock you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” Ignoring these tea parties didn’t work. We are now in the mocking phase—but for all the “Astroturf, not grassroots” asides, these crowds across the country were home-grown. They may have been pumped up by partisan interests but they were not purchased. Never forget that America was founded in part by a tax revolt. Now there is a real and predictable anger brewing at both big government and big business. This is bailout backlash. The 2008 election was not a liberal ideological mandate, and soon Main Street Americans will demand a return to fiscal responsibility.