The Tea Party critics should be careful in their criticism of the movement. Back in the 1790’s, Thomas Jefferson and his followers, the anti-federalists, founders of the present Democratic Party, wanted to limit the powers of the federal government, reduce the federal bureaucracy and eliminate the national debt which are the same goals of the 2010 Tea Party Movement.
Within the Jeffersonian Democratic Movement were local independent societies which believed that the party in power, the Federalists, was not in touch with the common folks. They worked to elect men who were not interested in retaining their power but represented the thinking of their constituents. Although vilified by the Federalists as radicals, voters put Jefferson into the presidency in 1800 along with a sizeable number of Democrats into Congress. This shift in power marked a political turning point in American history.
Jefferson’s administration reduced the federal bureaucracy, cut the national debt and eliminated many internal taxes. It turned the economy around and built up a surplus in all but one year of his administration.
Today’s Tea Parties have the same mass appeal. Their influence could bring true meaningful change to our nation and economy.