The Tea Party movement may not be dead yet, but it may be on life support.
This is not due to a lack of individual effort, resolve or commitment to the cause. Despite what the media may portray, it is not due to infighting within the group but rather because the group may be fighting to hold up a collapsing house of cards.
Face it: America has already raced over the fiscal cliff. Nearly half the states are upside down and a majority of the nearly 127 million voters preferred a governing platform that favors a saturated welfare system, higher taxes, forced health insurance and an abundance of government-dependent workers.
While there is a place for activism and justified reactions to current policies, the movement's death is inevitable if it continues working to warn and prevent the nation from going over the precipice instead of focusing on determining the best way and place to land.
The reality is that the Tea Party is not a growing, silent majority but is instead a shrinking minority. It has been met with resistance from power brokers on both sides of the aisle and forced to realize it is not just losing to President Barack Obama and other liberals. The Tea Party is losing to Republicans and people like Sen. Mitch McConnell, political strategist Karl Rove, and the right-wing establishment, as well.
The Tea Party's goal has long been to stop the encroachment of socialism and drive the restoration of liberty, yet America continues to see the degradation of society and personal freedoms. It is difficult to argue for any remaining hope to convert a majority opinion with so many now reliant on — or in the shackles of — the government.
It is not enough to say the nation has a generation on the dole, many of whom are looking for a way to bleed society to get their "fair share." It goes beyond the welfare class to a new majority dependent on the system and the status quo. Thus, the gravest issue is that America has passed this threshold and become a society already in bondage.
With over $16 trillion of national debt (or an inheritance of $52,000 of debt per person), its citizens have already sold their children into debt bondage. Everyone must already bow to the master of government to register their guns, get licenses to run their businesses, drive their cars, even to fish, hunt or get married. With overreaching policies like the PATRIOT Act and the National Defense Authorization Act, America is not safer as a nation, only less free.
The road to serfdom is paved with people taking as much as someone else will give them. The casualty of this is personal responsibility and liberty. This makes today a pivotal time — both for the Tea Party and for the nation. The first thing that must be done is to admit there is a problem. The next step is beginning to shift the focus from restoring institutions to rebuilding them from the ashes that will remain in the years to come. It is time to transition from preservation and prevention to self-reliance and rebirth.
This means shifting from short-term pragmatism to principled realism. This means unplugging from the status quo and breaking free from political labels and party loyalty. It means becoming more self-reliant. It requires one to ground themselves and their families at the intersection of faith, reason and personal responsibility. Lastly, it means strengthening local communities by working self-sacrificially alongside neighbors and creating a network that stands on its own and is prepared to help take care of its own.
It is not that the war has been lost. The spirit of liberty dwells in every member, and — somewhat ironically — the natural consequences of bondage will be the resurgence in spiritual faith, the renaissance of enlightenment and the renewed cry for freedom.
Reach Eric Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Eric Wilson of Georgetown is heavily involved in the Tea Party and is executive director for the Kentucky 9/12 Project.