After reading Paul Spillman’s and John Armstrong’s letters (Aug. 1) concerning the tea party, I felt compelled to respond. Both Spillman and Armstrong made the same mistake that most tea party bashers make: They resorted to name-calling rather than reasoned arguments.

Spillman referred to them as “the radical-right,” and referred to their values as “loony ideology.” Then Spillman went on to blame the GOP for the debt crisis despite the fact that the entitlement programs that drive the debt are, for the most part, the creation of the Democratic Party.

For his part, Armstrong referred to the tea party as an “extremist minority.”

Let’s set a few things straight.

First, the tea party is not an extremist group. To the contrary. It represents one of the most democratic aspects of our political system: a genuine grass-roots movement. Let’s take a look at their “loony ideology.” They believe that the national debt is the result of overspending rather than undertaxing and that the tax burden levied on Americans has become onerous.

They believe that the national debt is a threat to our national security and that it must be dealt with through fiscal responsibility by means of reduced spending and a balanced budget rather than by the creation of more debt. If these ideas are loony, then most Americans are loons.

For the position they took in the recent debt ceiling debate they were castigated as “terrorists” and “kidnappers.” Spillman described them as “lemmings hurtling off the cliff.”

Well, let’s take a look at the tea party position.

The tea party was opposed to raising the debt ceiling without $4 trillion in spending cuts and a long-term plan for dealing with the national debt. Funny. That’s precisely what Wall Street called for. The final compromise bill passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama failed to do what the tea party and Wall Street demanded. The result was the United States lost its AAA rating for the first time in its history. If there were any lemmings around, they were in Congress and the White House.

Members of the tea party are not extremists, terrorists, hijackers or kidnappers. They are average, everyday Americans who, according to The New York Times, are more educated than the average American. They are simply people who are sick and tired of seeing taxes used as the cure-all for every social ill.

When people resort to name calling that should tell us one thing about them: They have no argument.

Kenneth McMillan

retired state employee

Baton Rouge