September 23, 2010
Last week, the Tea Party-backed candidate Christine O'Donnell came out ahead over nine-term Rep. Mike Castle in Delaware's Republican Senate primary. Likewise, Tea Party-backed Buffalo businessman Carl Palladino stunned the pundits by winning the GOP gubernatorial primary over the party leaders' pick Rick Lazio. On the strength of the Tea Party’s repeated mantra that the people have had enough, Tea Party candidates are now poised to compete for 24 offices in the November elections.
The Tea Party movement began in February of 2009. It is a grassroots response by some to the bailout of Wall Street banks and the government’s stimulus package. A group of people who were once apolitical have become political to argue for smaller government and lower taxes. These recent victories in the primaries show that their voice has not fallen on deaf ears. According to a new Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll, 44% of Americans see the Tea Party as something positive.
As the economy continues to stagnate, the Tea Party picks up momentum. There is a great divide over the issue of taxes and government spending that separates Democrats and Republicans. But, despite one’s party affiliation, each of us can recognize that the phenomenon of this grassroots movement points to the deeper divisions plaguing our political discourse.
The moral landscape of our country has changed radically from the days of our Founding Fathers. Our political discourse has changed as well. In the early days of our nation’s history, almost everyone acknowledged the Ten Commandments as the basis for our morality. Now there are prohibitions against even displaying them. And, some people can recite even a few of the commandments.
At one time, abortion was seen as morally wrong. Same-sex relations were judged against the norm. Sexual promiscuity was something to be avoided. Physician assisted suicide was prohibited. Not any more. What was once considered a moral evil not to be accepted by society has quickly become a civil right! These moral issues have become politicized. And, our political discourse now labels any attempt to oppose them as intolerance and hate speech. In effect, our political discourse is further dividing our nation by making moral issues into political issues.
Not one of us can escape some type of political involvement. We pay taxes. We are counted in census. The government has our social security number. We are part of the body politic. But it is not simply the question of taxes and government spending that should catch our attention. Interest in these issues should spark all of us to widen our concern for the general health and welfare of our society. We need to know all the issues. We need to be clear on the moral issues that are underlying the social transformation that is happening before our eyes.
Our country was founded on Christian principles. Today, it has become politically incorrect to call America a Christian nation. But, that really is not where the issue is. The real issue is this: can we put partisan politics aside and work for the fundamental moral values that alone will sustain our society. It is not impossible to establish moral values without establishing any one religion. We should not let party loyalty cloud the issue. America is changing. We can make it change for the better.