September 16th, 2009
12:01 PM ET

Tea Party isn't about racism

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Editor's note: John Feehery worked for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert and other Republicans in Congress. He is president of Feehery Group, a Washington-based advocacy firm that has represented clients that include News Corp., Ford Motor Co. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He formerly was a government relations executive vice president for the Motion Picture Association of America.

John Feehery
Special to CNN

It is altogether ironic that the one person to have a Sam Adams beer at the infamous beer summit, hosted by the president, was Skip Gates, the Harvard professor whose arrest led to the summit.

Sam Adams was the key revolutionary figure in the Boston Tea Party of 1774, the spark that lit the American Revolution.

And now, 235 years later, Tea Parties have sprung up around the country as a reaction against the rule of President Obama and the Democratic Congress.

It is unlikely that Skip Gates will be spending any time addressing a Tea Party in his hometown of Boston any time soon.

And unlike the popular perception promoted by some in the media, the Tea Party is distinct from the Republican Party, probably as distinct as Sam Adams beer is from Bud Lite.

The Tea Party presents the first truly grass-roots threat to the ambitious agenda of President Obama. Largely misunderstood as anti-tax activists, and attacked by congressional Democrats as a collection of crazy right-wingers, the folks who go to Tea Parties are not concerned primarily with tax policy (although if the Democrats move to raise taxes on just about everybody, that could change).

Instead, they are mostly motivated by out-of-control spending, towering debt, and the pervasive feeling that government is too big, too powerful, too unaccountable and too cozy with Wall Street.

While the Tea Party movement presents a threat to the Obama administration, it also presents a challenge to congressional Republicans. After all, many of the protesters have as low a regard for the GOP as they do for the Democrats, and they hold the previous administration in as much as contempt as they do the Obama White House.

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soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Shella

    Thank you to Anatasia and her comment. It's clear that racism exist though people are angry about goverment interverence and maybe rightly so. But people need to realize that we are going to have to pay to get things fixed. The damage that was done was done by the previous administration. Like someone else said Clinton handed a surplus to Bush and Bush handed debt to Obama. Obama hasn't even been in office for a whole year, you would think that we'd give the man at least a year to make a difference, but how can he? when he wants bipartinship and the consevatives don't. Racism in this country is very real, look at the party itself they don't want change or people of color in their party, just look at the congress in session it's clear.

    September 17, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  2. Rickey

    I agee with a lot of the comments concerning the Tea Parties. Where were these concern citizens the last eight years. Where were they at when Dick Cheney said deficits didn't matter. Where they at when we were paying for a war that wasn't even being counted on the books. Also correct if I am wrong but didn't the bailout start under Bush. Obama want be in office forever and this country will have some of the same problems let's se how many come out and protest. Last you can't leave with wondering if Obama wasn't in office would these people have protesting. Given the makeupo of the crowd I doubt it. Time will prove jimmy Carter concerns are correct.

    September 17, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  3. Victoria

    Hello? Have any of you folks ever been to a liberal/progressive/left-wing political rally? The signs are just as extreme and just as disgusting and reprehensible. Every one of you who labels Republicans with nasty names are guilty of the same intellectual crime that these nutcases who hold up the crazy signs are. The extreme opinions get all of the attention, but they do not represent the majority on either side of the political fence. Recall that millions upon millions of whites, including Southern whites, voted for Obama. Many of these people are now uncomfortable with Obama's policies. Did they suddenly become racists? I am sure that there are racists among the Tea Party folks, but it is obvious that many of these people would be out there protesting regardless of Obama's color.

    September 17, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  4. Rochelle

    When parents are encouraged to keep their children at home because the President will be addressing/speaking to them, is that not strictly on a race base issue? If not, what other reason could there be because if you check Mr. Obama's academic achievements he is far more qualified than many of those who encouraged parents to keep their children away from school.
    People need to start looking at themselves as American and not white, black, blue, pink etc.

    September 17, 2009 at 9:27 am |
  5. RICE

    yeah, the tea party's must be all about racism, nothing to do with Obama or his policies. That's white black people didn't like Bush, because they are racist against whites

    September 17, 2009 at 12:17 am |
  6. Val

    I want my country back. I want my country back.

    Hello, Hello This is not your country-this is our country–surppose to be the land of the free.

    Why can't we just talk about the issues as one-come up with solutions and allow our children to grow up in a country that does not have to be divided by color but instead, their compromises, visions and views that brings respectfull solutions to the problems of this country. Stop the Rallys–instead–come up with solutions–summit them –who knows–your solution may be the very one to pull this country completely on track. Stop crying about the issues-speak on them.

    September 16, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  7. mindy

    Palying the race card here is code for we have lost the debate.

    September 16, 2009 at 11:16 pm |
  8. Ron,SC

    Well said, Jason.

    September 16, 2009 at 11:02 pm |
  9. Wayne D Reading, PA

    Why don't I ever see other race at the Tea Party only whites that not the America I know.

    September 16, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
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