The ‘Obstructionist’

A former classmate of mine recently ask [paraphrasing]: Are you one of those Tea Party obstructionists?

The question, posed by someone who was a part of my high school graduating class, surprised me by her question. Admittedly, a part of the surprise was because she was one with whom I had a crush on back in the day. Little did I know.

However, here is my long winded answer:

I am a Conservative, and have been since my school days. The difference now is, yes, I am a Tea Party Patriot, co-founder of Hoosier Patriots, co-recipient of American’s for Prosperity’s “Grassroots Activist of the Year” award. But, over the years, I’ve also been in the middle of many community service activities: Lake conservation (recipient of the conservationist of the year award from the SWCD), Future Farmers of America man of the year, co-founder of California community theater organizations still in operation today, a Jaycees State officer (CA), some foundation boards, and a ton more that might label me ‘braggadocio’. My intention here is only to demonstrate I’m a pretty normal active citizen.

Understanding why I am a Tea Party supporter requires one to understand the motivation behind the Tea Party Movement. T-E A simple stands for “Taxed Enough Already”. I cannot think of anyone I know who does not agree our taxes are sufficient. So, that makes me an obstructionist.

Basically, Tea Party groups are local groups not part of larger “national” organizations, although they associate with many national non-profits. Tea Party organizations I am familiar with include Conservatives like me, Democrats, Republicans and Liberals, all seeking smaller taxes, smaller and more efficient government giving better value for taxes received, no deficit spending, balanced budgets, and more. If that makes me an obstructionist, so be it.

Here is a Tea Party platform with the Founding Father quotes omitted:

Preamble: The Tea Party Movement is an all-inclusive American grassroots movement with the belief that everyone is created equal and deserves an equal opportunity to thrive in these United States where they may “pursue life, liberty and happiness” as stated in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. No one is excluded from participation in the Tea Party Movement. Everyone is welcomed to join in seeking to achieve the Tea Party Movement goals, which are as follows:


1. Eliminate Excessive Taxes – Excessively high taxes are a burden for those exercising their personal liberty to work hard and prosper as afforded by the Constitution. A fiscally responsible government protects the freedom of its citizens to enjoy the fruits of their own labor without interference from a government that has exceeded its necessary size, scope and reach into the lives of its citizens.

2. Eliminate the National DebtBy implementing fiscally conservative policies at all levels of government, progress can be made toward eliminating the U.S. National Debt. Massive increases in the National Debt have created and continue to create a huge burden for the next generation of Americans, thus imperiling the country’s short-term and long-term economic health and prosperity.

3. Eliminate Deficit Spending – All deficit spending must be eliminated immediately. We insist that government representatives at all levels maintain a fiscally responsible budget and balance the books as would be expected of any American business.
4. Protect Free Markets – America’s free enterprise system allows businesses to thrive as they compete in the open marketplace and strive toward ever better services and products. Allowing free markets to prosper unfettered by government interference is what propelled this country to greatness with an enduring belief in the industriousness and innovations of the populace.
5. Abide by the Constitution of the United States – The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land and must be adhered to without exception at all levels of government. This includes the Bill of Rights and other Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and their provisions designed to protect states’ rights and individual liberties.
6. Promote Civic Responsibility – Citizen involvement at the grassroots level allows the voice of the American people to be heard and directs the political behaviors of our representatives at both the local and national level so they, in turn, may be most effective in working to preserve the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of this country’s citizens.
7. Reduce the Overall Size of Government – A bloated bureaucracy creates wasteful spending that plagues our government. Reducing the overall size, scope and reach of government at both local and national levels will help to eliminate inefficiencies that result in deficit spending which adds to our country’s debt.
8. Believe in the People – The American people, given their guaranteed freedoms, will thrive in a democratic, capitalist environment which allows individuals to strive toward ever greater achievements, innovations and the efficient production of needed and valued goods and services.
9. Avoid the Pitfalls of Politics – American politics is burdened by big money from lobbyists and special interests with an undue influence on the peoples’ representatives. The Tea Party movement is seen as a threat to the entrenched political parties and thus is the continual target of smear campaigns and misrepresentation of its ideals. We choose not to respond to these attacks except to strongly and explicitly disavow any and all hate speech, any and all violence as well as insinuations of violence, and any and all extreme and fringe elements that bring discredit to the Tea Party Movement. We are a peaceful movement and respect other’s opinions and views even though they do not agree with our own. We stand by the Tea Party beliefs and goals and choose to focus our energies on ensuring that our government representatives do the same.
10. Maintain Local Independence – The strength and resilience of a grassroots movement is the ability of citizens at the local level to determine their own platforms, agendas and priorities free of an overriding central leadership. Exercising the clearly stated message of the Tea Party movement by its nature involves discourse about which policies and candidates best hold to our stated principles, and these various opinions should flourish and evolve at the local level.

Tea Party folks favor the free enterprise system that has successfully produced jobs for more than 200 years, and less intrusion by the bureaucracy on individuals. If that makes be an obstructionist, then I fit the mold.

It must also be said approval of ObamaCare–[paraphrased] “once we pass it, you can find out what’s in the bill”–motivated many to join the Tea Party movement and join the 1.7 million who marched in Washington, DC, in September 2009.  (I must add, if you’ve not marched along Pennsylvania Avenue with thousands of others, all singing “God Bless America in sight of the nation’s Capital, you have missed the thrill of a lifetime.) I have read the original more than 2,500 pages, and the codified more than 900 pages of the “Affordable Care Act”. The latter requires many hours reviewing the hundreds of previous public laws amended by ObamaCare. Indeed, if you “know what’s in it”, you can only oppose it as written. That, too, must make me an obstructionist.

Now, I do not see myself as a zealot or radical of any kind. That kind of behavior is not in my makeup. I have studied the Federalist Papers, and fully understand the Liberty our nation’s Founders intended. But, if seeking Constitutional adherence by our elected officials brands me an obstructionist, then I am.

The United States of America is a Representative Republic, not a true Democracy, and our representatives our out of hand. They become infected by the perks and honors extended by all who live within The Beltway, losing touch with their real employers–We the People. I’m upset with politics as usual not in the best interest of the people represented. If that makes be an obstructionist, I qualify.

Finally, and most importantly, our elected officials would do well to quietly pray to God, at length, before acting on any legislation.

“ENOUGH! Read the Constitution” is emblazoned on a supply of t-shirts I regularly wear. — D. C. ‘Dan’ Lee,