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Why does "Tea Party" have to equal "Right Wing" or "extremist"?

Allen Jezouit, @BerkshireCountyBusiness

Incumbent US Senator Mike Castle's defeat in last Tuesday's primary by Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell has sent shock waves through the political world. According to the New York Times, the Democrat Party and the Obama administration are looking at ways to "cast the Republican party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists" (NY Times, Sunday, September 19, 2010). The Times went so far as to call O'Donnell an "insurgent", a term that seems more suited to a mujaheddin rebel in Iraq or Afghanistan than a US politician.

So, why does "Tea Party" have to equal "right wing" or "extremist"? Why can't it mean "independent thinking" or "sick to death of the crooks in both parties"? After all, it is entirely possible for people to be middle of the road on issues like gay marriage, abortion, and legalization of marijuana while being strong advocates of tighter borders, reduced government spending, and reduced taxation. Seems to me that many people I speak to in Berkshire County - 75% plus of whom are Democrats - fall into this category, yet most would never attend a Tea Party rally or vote for a Tea Party candidate.

Let's face facts. It was only a matter of time before the rampant corruption in both parties and the complete lack of fiscal restraint got us to this place in our history. The US Government has been spending money like a drunken sailor since the 1930's. I recently read some stats - and I'm paraphrasing here - that from 1980 to 2010 our national debt as a percentage of GDP grew from 25% of GDP to 125% of GDP. What an incredible lack of restraint! Both parties are to blame, but we are ultimately to blame for continuing to elect them.

I hope the Tea Party can continue to distance themselves from the kooks in both parties, but especially those on the extreme right wing. Those folks are just as dangerous as the extreme left wingers are. The elections in November do NOT need to be about religious issues. We need fiscal prudence, period.

On Saturday I was driving into the office and Dave Ramsey was on 810AM. A woman called in from Iowa. Early 50's, her and her husband had decent jobs, but they had under $100k in their retirement accounts. She wanted to retire at 62. Dave told her to plan on 72. She said, "But, we really want to retire at 62." And, Dave said, "Be realistic. You can't. Wishing won't make it so." He ran the numbers and by 62 they would have about $150k in the bank and would still owe on their home. At 72, they would have $600k in the bank and their home would be paid off. "The facts are what the facts are," Dave told her.

That's exactly the type of leadership the country needs. A group of people who recognize the facts are what the facts are and start doing something about it. Those are the type of people we need to elect, regardless of their political affiliation or in spite of it. I say that makes me an independent. If you say that makes me a Tea Party guy, so be it. I'm not worried about labels. I'm worried about actions. I'm worried about results. I'm worried about our nation's future.

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