Yesterday was Tax Day, and it was marked by large numbers of Americans turning out for an estimated 2,000 tea parties across the country. This movement is significant.
In 1978, California voters enacted Prop. 13 in reaction to steep property taxes. That marked the start of a tax-cutting movement that culminated in Ronald Reagan slashing high national income taxes in the 1980s. Now Americans are reacting to runaway government spending that they were not told about before last year’s election, and which Americans are growing to resent.
Derided by elitists as phony, the tea-party movement is spontaneous, decentralized, frequently amateurish and sometimes shrill. If it has a father it is CNBC’s Rick Santelli, who called for holding a tea party in Chicago on July 4. Yesterday’s gatherings were made up of people who may never meet again (there’s no central collection point for email addresses). But the concerns driving people to tea parties are real, growing and powerful. Politicians ignore them at their peril.