16 April 2009
Yesterday, thousands, if not millions of people participated in an event dating back to the late 18th century, at least, albeit with some changes made to accomodate for increases in technology, population, and messaging. I'm talking, of course, about paying their taxes, whether online or in line at the post office until all hours of the night (shame on you procrastinators!). Fortunately for me, I did my taxes a month ago (not that it was that hard having only made $1200 in wages last year plus winning a $2500 trip from the radio), and I got my refund shortly thereafter. In case you're curious, I did help to stimulate the economy with my tax refund, buying some goods and services like Spring Training tickets, food, and a movie or two! Speaking of the American economy (wow, what a transition!), yesterday was also the date of the Tax Day TEA Parties across America to protest the incredibly shocking and slightly terrifying tax increases and government growth of the last few months and years. Here in Arizona, an estimated 5,000-6,000 people gathered at the Arizona State Capitol in the chill of the blustery April 15th air with signs and banners and flags to try and let Governor Jan Brewer, Speaker of the House Kirk Adams, and Senate President Robert Burns know that the proposed tax increases the legislature is mulling over are not acceptable as solutions to Arizona's deficit. All told, throughout the day at least 18 major TEA Party events took place throughout Arizona. Gilbert's protest featured Rep. Andy Biggs and Senate Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor of LD-22 and drew 1,000 participants, while the party down in Tucson drew upwards of 1,500 to 2,000 people. My alma mater city of Flagstaff chipped in with 200 supporters, a lower-than-expected turnout because of cold conditions, but impressive for an ultra-liberal stronghold nonetheless! Well done, Arizonans! However, now I get to play political scientist for a moment and wonder what, if any, impact this is actually going to have on tax rates, government transparency, "anti-Socialism," and the advancement of fiscal discipline ideology among the average voter. After a cursory check of various major news sites throughout Arizona, I find that the local sites (www.azdailysun.com - Flagstaff, www.azstarnet.com - Tucson) have stories up on their home pages regarding that city's local protests, but just 18 hours after the protests were in full swing, Arizona's undeniably largest online news source www.AZCentral.com has a grand total of ZERO stories on the protests. Nationally, DrudgeReport (www.drudgereport.com) has one story which is entirely eclipsed by (of all people) Janet Napolitano right now. CNN.com, FoxNews.com, and MSNBC.com all have either moved Tax Day protest stories off their homepages or have them buried under American Idol and "breaking news" about Obama's decision not to prosecute CIA officials for waterboarding tactics. In fact, virtually the only people still talking about the TEA Parties are those people who helped organize them. Like the Twitter #DontGo movement, Tax Day TEA Parties are already falling into obscurity. Will anything actually come of the well-coordinated national movement? Will politicians stand up and take notice that "tens of thousands" of American citizens got up and said "enough is enough" with regards to higher taxes and out-of-control federal spending? To be honest, I don't know. Obviously, as we're already seeing, some Republicans are already trying to capitalize on the movement, using it as the starting line of a race to the 2010 elections to solidify their stances as defenders of fiscal conservatism. Others, like Governor Rick Perry of Texas are already calling for a new Civil War, saying "We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that." And, of course, Democrats are calling Republicans all a bunch of crazed wacko anarchists like usual. From Jan Schakowski (D-IL09): "It’s despicable that right-wing Republicans would attempt to cheapen a significant, honorable moment of American history with a shameful political stunt," she added. "Not a single American household or business will be taxed at a higher rate this year. Made to look like a grassroots uprising, this is an Obama bashing party promoted by corporate interests, as well as Republican lobbyists and politicians.” Frankly, I think Ms. Schakowski is flat-out wrong. First off, no one is cheapening any moment of American history; rather, the events of yesterday were an attempt to draw the corrolation between the events of the famed 1773 tea party, which was a stunt organized to get the average colonial citizen to recognize that taxing people without giving them representation in British Parliament was wrong, and the TEA Parties of yesterday, which were a stunt organized to get the average American citizen to realize that taxing people to death is ALSO wrong. Given that the only thing most people can tell you about the American tax code is that it sucks, drawing that historical connection is not only appropriate, it's necessary to get people to understand the message. Will our leaders listen? Will they try to change? Only time wil tell.
Posted by Andrew Meeusen at 11:26