Those who dismiss or disparage tea-party candidates as ideologues really miss the point of what is driving this movement.

An ideologue is someone motivated primarily by a set of ideas and clings to them despite facts and experience.

The tea-party movement was not launched by and is not driven by theory but by a healthy sense of realism fueled by practical experience.

Consider, for instance, Gallup’s annual survey of most and least trusted professions.

In the latest one published last December, rock bottom on the list was members of Congress. Fifty-five percent gave them low/very low ratings on honesty and ethics. Members of Congress beat car salesmen by four percentage points as the professionals the American public finds most ethically challenged.

It’s not theory or dogma that earned members of Congress this distinction. It’s experience.

So put two and two together.

Federal government spending per American household has increased more than 200 percent since the mid-1970s, and over this same period of time median household income barely increased by 25 percent. In 1977, 40 percent gave members of Congress low/very low ratings in honesty and ethics, compared with 55 percent today.

Can you think of any other place where we turn more and more power over our lives to the same people we, for good reason, trust less and less?

Reams of data have been published showing more and more government spending on education with no change in test scores and more and more government spending on poverty with no change in poverty.

More than a year and a half ago, our government appropriated almost a trillion dollars to spend for so-called stimulus – our money financed by government borrowing that we taxpayers will have to belly up to pay – because, they claimed, this was the path out of the recession.

We were told that if we allow government to appropriate and spend this money, unemployment wouldn’t go over 8 percent. Today unemployment, after well over a year, is 10 percent, and 84 percent in a Gallup poll last week said we’re still in a recession.

What do we hear from Democrats running our government? That the problem is they haven’t spent enough of our money.

In a Gallup poll last July, responding to the question “Do you think the Social Security system will be able to pay you a benefit when you retire?” 60 percent answered “No.”

The fiscal problems of Social Security have been publicized for years by the Social Security Administration’s own trustees. But rather than confront the hard truth that the poster child for all government programs is in shambles, politicians prefer to ignore the problems, let them deteriorate and leave the mess for someone else to clean up.

Can you imagine 60 percent saying that they don’t expect the funds they put in their 401K or IRA over their lifetime to be there when they retire?

Yet, the message we hear from Democrats is that it’s the private sector that can’t be trusted.

Tea-party activism is about having the courage to honestly look at the facts and act accordingly and responsibly.

Why does the movement favor Republicans?

Sixty-three percent of Republicans and 59 percent of independents give members of Congress low/very low ethics and honesty ratings. But just 43 percent of Democrats do.

Common sense dictates, given the practical experience with government that voters have to draw on, that we’d expect heightened interest in turning government over to those least likely to expand it, and preferably, to those most likely to limit it.

A CNN poll last week showed Republicans had a 38-point advantage on a generic ballot among voters who dislike both parties.

No, it’s not about ideology. It’s about appreciating, from experience, how politicians, when left unchecked, have abused, abuse and will abuse us citizen/taxpayers while impoverishing our great nation. It’s about re-opening the operating manual and getting things back on track.

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