I wrote this column on Monday morning, before the Boston Marathon bombing. It had crossed my mind on Saturday that there is some slight danger with going into Boston for a political event, but of course, we all went anyhow. Now, while praying for the victims of the bombs, it’s even more important to celebrate Patriots Day, and never let the terrorists win.
Massachusetts: I thought it was the best state in the nation for an American to live in. When I moved here in the 1970s, I looked forward to visiting Thoreau’s Walden Pond, the Bridge at Concord, the Freedom Trail and the site of the Boston Tea Party.
As I began my career as a taxpayer activist, I felt right at home with Citizens for Limited Taxation, which worked to limit state and local taxes and is affiliated with the National Taxpayers Union and its federal balanced budget amendment.
We were grateful to Ross Perot of “United We Stand” when he went on television in 1992 to teach Americans the difference between the deficit and the national debt. We admired Paul Tsongas and his New Hampshire-based Concord Coalition for following through to address them. But by 2009, something was clearly missing: a nationwide grass-roots surge of citizens who were ready to take back their country and do something about the growing fiscal threat.
Then suddenly, Tax Day in April brought protests around the country. Protesters threw “tea parties” in more than 2,000 cities and towns, including in all six New England states. Hundreds attended one on the Boston Common, where CLT activists made many new friends.
A year later, tea party candidates had been elected to Congress. Deficit hawks finally had representation on Capitol Hill. A new War of Independence — from the burden of unsustainable debt — was being waged by a new generation of patriots. Forces opposed to fiscal responsibility organized against the tea party, and groups with different agendas than debt reduction tried to co-opt it, unfortunately with some success nationwide.