Earlier this week, I spoke with a reporter from the Wall Street Journal about the roots of the tea party movement. I made the point that the tea parties aren’t anti-Democrat, they’re anti-establishment. Although Rick Santelli’s rant didn’t happen until we were well into the Obama presidency, the seeds of anger over out-of-control spending and Big Government were sown during the last few years of the Bush administration, and took firm hold during the bank bailouts of late 2008. Victor Davis Hanson illustrates this point wonderfully in Real Clear Politics:
But the popular uproar pales in comparison to the sense of humiliation that we Americans are quite broke. In 2008, the public was furious at George W. Bush, not because he was too much of a right-wing tightwad, but because he ran up a series of what were then thought to be gargantuan deficits. The result was that under a supposedly conservative administration, and despite six years of an allegedly small-government Republican Congress, the deficit nearly doubled from $3.3 trillion to $6.3 trillion in just eight years.
Too often, the media spins the image of the tea parties into a pitchfork wielding, right-wing mob. But when establishment Republicans are being knocked off around the country, I think it’s safe to say that this isn’t just a partisan backlash against Democrats–this is a group of citizens finally fed up with Washington.