Over the past few years, while atrophy of the welfare state system has spurred violent protests in Western Europe, the United States has experienced a parallel, but remarkably distinct phenomenon. In early 2009, desperate Greeks rioted in the streets to demand that their overextended government do more for them in the face of financial crisis. Americans, at the same time, rallied across the nation for their government to do less. More than any one individual alone in 2010, this movement, the Tea Party movement, wrought tremendous change over the political landscape, realizing a historic election and revitalizing the American zeitgeist. The title of FrontPage Magazine’s Person of the Year, therefore, must be bestowed collectively on these individuals, the formidable torchbearers of our beloved liberty and prosperity.
Two days after the newly-elected President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus bill) into law February 19th, the Tea Party movement found its voice — in the unlikeliest of places. A little-known CNBC analyst, Rick Santelli, embarked on a spontaneous rant while delivering a market forecast live on air. His harangue was precipitated by the federal government’s decision to stem the 2009 housing and financial crisis with a series of unprecedented “bailouts” for Wall Street and the banking industry, financed by taxpayer revenue. “How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage, that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills?” Santelli wailed, turning to the gallery of traders on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade. The crowd jeered. “President Obama, are you listening?” Apparently, he was not. Santelli proceeded to flippantly claim he was considering organizing a “Chicago Tea Party” to protest government spending and the apparent collectivization of wealth.
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