Covering the nationwide Tea Parties held in various cities on Tax Day, Southern Political Report's Tom Baxter wrote of the Atlanta event: "What it looked like most of all was a Fair Tax rally. Advocates of the national sales tax idea looked like the largest and most enthusiastic contingent in the crowd." Conservative commentator Sean Hannity agreed, pronouncing Atlanta "Fair Tax land."
And indeed it was. Watching Fox News coverage of the local tax revolts, one could not help but notice the many protesters showing support for a House bill popularly known as the "Fair Tax," which calls for the abolishment of the IRS and the replacement of the income tax with a national sales tax. ...
Leading Republicans have been slow to grasp the increasing anger of conservative activists over taxes, spending, and monetary policy. In 2008, only Mike Huckabee and libertarian firebrand Ron Paul expressed qualified support for the Fair Tax, while the other Republican presidential candidates kept their distance. Mitt Romney, a favorite of many conservatives, went so far as to laugh at the idea during a radio interview in Florida.
Yet if the tea party trend showed anything, it's that the most passionate conservative activists in the country are tired of such weak tea. The Fair Tax may not be the best policy idea for reversing the federal government's explosive growth. But far from being a danger or even a distraction to the anti-government message, the Fair Tax movement is valuable precisely because it helps cultivate citizens' willingness to consider radical changes, pushing back against resurgent big-government liberalism.
The conservative cause of reducing government and slashing spending has always been an ambitious effort. Libertarian and conservative critics of the Fair Tax must express their valid policy concerns, but without dismissing the thousands of committed activists who have been mobilized by the proposal.
Any serious challenges to the status quo will require serious challengers. And whatever the shortcomings of a national sales tax, the patriotic Americans who make up the Fair Tax movement are at least dead serious about a kind of change that small-government supporters of all stripes can believe in.