Despite the media’s negative portrayal, support for the Tea Party is growing at astonishing speed. Over half of the electorate now consider themselves favorable to the Tea Party, according to recent polls. Just this weekend, the Virginia Tea Party Convention, co-hosted by The Heritage Foundation, attracted over 2,000 attendees – the largest state-wide rally to date. Such broad support is remarkable for a movement that began not quite two years ago in scattered local gatherings of frustrated and concerned citizens. Yet when considering the Tea Party’s grounding in the principles of limited government, individual freedom and the rule of law, it is unsurprising that their message resonates across the country – and as we’re beginning to see – around the world.
Australia is one such country experiencing a groundswell of support for a more fiscally conservative government. The election of Tony Abbott in December as opposition leader against the Labor Party precipitated a “savage swing” toward conservatism. Although Abbott’s Liberal Party [Australia’s traditionally conservative party] was unable to win an outright majority this August, they did gain enough power to deny the Labor Party a governing majority. Throughout this period, Mr. Abbott has continued to explain–without ambiguities—his conservative stance on the economy, stimulus spending, faith, and cap-and-trade legislation, giving Australian politics a clarity and focus that many countries would desire.
Australia’s conservative shift is evident in the creation of its very own T.E.A. [Taxed Enough Already] Party. The Australian T.E.A. Party states that it is a “worldwide movement united for free markets, fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited small governments and individual freedom”. Rather than become another political party, the T.E.A. Party seeks to influence existing parties and work within the established system to catalyze economic and structural reforms. Such tactics should not be underestimated. As Henry Olsen notes in his latest Weekly Standard article, fiscal conservatism has dominated six of the last eight elections in the developed world. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sweden—yes Sweden!—and the Netherlands (among others) have all taken steps toward the stated goals of the Australian and American Tea Parties by voting for tax cuts over expanded welfare—an unprecedented shift in these established welfare states. Even Great Britain’s government demanded that government department cut their budgets by 25% – prompting references to a new British Tea Party.
The principles that precipitated the first Tea Party – a respect for the rule of law, and desire for limited government and individual liberty – are universal; and they are just as threatened now as they were at the time of the American founding. This time, however, the United States is not alone in coming to their defense.
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