Tea Party Musings
The Tea Party is a strange mix of libertarian ideals and neoconservative thought peppered with Ronald Regan. I think there is much to be said for reaching back in time and idealizing any person; but I am more concerned that the small tent politics will subvert the movement.
1) Small Government. By far the most expansive claim by the Tea people are that government has run amuck. Currently the main focus is the spending. Obama is heartily criticized, but not Bush? It is a bit puzzling considering the assumption of debt and the necessity of economic ruin requiring spending. If we look across the world, there are countries infusing monies into the economy because experts are saying it is required. But given the benefit of the doubt, that it isn’t political, I can’t reconcile how the Tea’s wish to accomplish this goal. Clearly bailouts and stimulus bills will be short lived, but I am talking long term objectives. What exactly should we cut that would substantially reduce our debt burden?
In preface to my second point I suggest watching a BBC special, The Power of Nightmares, which explains the rise of the neoconservative; it is real not a fiction. Second, how is this small government politics squared with a state with nearly 50% of federal taxes being spent on defense (rather offense). The logical libertarian would say it needs to be slashed. The reasonable person would not deprive the other 50% which entails public goods, but I assume this is what is on the chopping block?
The point being that military growth and smaller social governance would lead to a dangerous mix. Seeing as Sarah’s speech was loaded with aggressive foreign policy, the only conclusion is that we need to increase military and decrease social spending.
The benefit of the doubt is that we would reduce both, it is not articulated and simply a conjecture. Otherwise, I see this as dramatic posturing of smaller government a facade. A rationale person would be aghast if they were told we must increase military and reduce social programs; but not the neoconservative.
2) Drill here, Drill NOW! Our natural resources were touted as the solution to the energy crisis. Obvious concerns are the A) environmental protection of wildlife, B) cost of extraction, like shale oil or deep ocean drilling, C) the amount of resources actually available for extraction, D) increased dependence on fossil fuels when monies could be used for clean energy development, E) pollution & global warming. In sum, while there are areas that may be developed, many are unfeasible for a host of reasons.
Even if certain fears are quelled like the costs or environment, there are not enough resources to power the nation – only a few percent addition on the yearly average of consumption. The reason this ”debate” (and moniker) is not covered because it is foolish on its face.
3) Health Care Reform. I recently sat down with a Tea family that believes health care is ruined by lawyers. So I asked a simple question, if torts are ruining the system, what percentage of costs do you think it comprises? It was a trap and before the responded I knew I had won. The numbers started flying: 30% , 45% , maybe 60%… the most reasonable was 25%.
I engaged the death blow. The CBO projects that the total cost of litigation amounts to 2% of total medical costs. In fairness, the Health Lobby (people with something to gain from tort limits) raise this to 5%.
The numbers show that tort litigation is a drop in the bucket of health costs. Plus, they do actually help people. Now moving to a personal story to illustrate why the tort system is not evil:
A close family member of mine suffered malpractice from a drug that caused a seizure. Only a few years after his retirement he became entirely dependent. Mentally partially alive but physically dead. Living for two decades afterwords; the costs were extremely high, it would have bankrupted the entire family. Under a tort cap we would have suffered. I refuse to play social Russian Roulette and let families become further devastated. I will pay the extra 2% for full tort protection. Adding a cap on liability will not reduce fraud only hurt those who need help.
To think of it another way, doctor gives medicine that causes a blood clot in your 18 year old kid. Now instead of going to college they can stay home with you all day as you feed them through a straw. Don’t forget it also requires $70,000 worth of a medical expenses a year – barely covered. After the cap of $250,000 is burned through and you enjoy personal bankruptcy, you turn to the government and they provide you with basic necessities. Ultimately costing the tax payer and raising taxes for everyone. One way or another a disability will be paid for; let’s do so with less anguish. Oh, also your kids’ life is gone through malpractice, but who needs a pain and suffering award anyway – you get to spend lots of time with them now!
I am personally sickened when this talking point is used for political points. At any rate, under full scrutiny this erroneous logic cannot hold. I suggest the Tea Party abandon this line as the risk of looking inept is great.
4) God. Why is being an American exclusive from having a relationship with god? This reliance on a higher power is a bit scary. Are people truly willing to supplant their own logic for a divine emotional response. The word god was mentioned so often in Sarah’s speech that I can only assume that it becomes a party pillar.
Realistically, what this will do is alienate a vast swath of people who may have similar views but are timid on this excessive religion. Particularly young people. Younger people now as opposed to prior generations are different. Take for instance pot usage. Contrast the image of the 1960′s to current and you would suspect that usage then was a lot higher… Well it is not. Similarly, the religiosity of teens and young adults is at a far lower degree than it used to be.
Aside from being at the wrong end of a trend, the invocation of god is offensive and presumptuous particularly to highlight difference between political parties. Let the issues defend on the merits, no person has any idea of the contemporary will of god, but the assumption is that we strive for a more progressive place.
In Sum, the Tea Party has not found its political ground yet. In fact, if this is truly the platform, I would be wary about opening up to the public. Sarah last night (I Think) was unaware not only CSPAN was covering the event, but CNN, FOX etc… The problem is that extolling these views in public opens up a great weakness. Moderate Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, Democrats, could crush the Tea Party with a campaign of basic logic.
Likely, it is just the far right exercising its political disenchantment. Every tea party person I have known has been a Republican.
The grounding of the Tea Party is very tenuous. The arguments are largely incoherent under scrutiny and appeal to the jingoist. These people applauding Sarah are not Libertarians as they so often claim, rather they fit the definition of a neoconservative. They are the antithesis of Libertarian thought:
Update 1: Perhaps I have read into this entirely wrong. I approached this as an issue based battle but really it may lend itself to a Tea Party hijacking . With this in mind, it is reasonable to see why several arguments do not make logical sense.
Update 2: “The Tea Party movement is now almost completely unrecognizable from what it was a few short years ago. It came to prominence in 2008 when the Libertarian Party of Illinois planned to hold an April 15, 2009 anti-tax “Boston Tea Party” in Chicago. In February 2009, the idea grew after CNBC personality Rick Santelli, speaking from the floor of the Chicago stock exchange, criticized the Obama administration’s tax and economic policies and urged Americans become Tea Party activists.”
“In fact, the idea began as the Boston Tea Party in 2006. It was founded by a group of former Libertarian Party members who criticized the party for its “abdication of political responsibilities,” declaring that “Americans deserve and desperately need a pro-freedom party that forcefully advocates libertarian solutions to the issues of today. The Boston Tea Party opposed statism at all levels. “The Boston Tea Party supports reducing the size scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope and power of government at any level, for any purpose.”
Update 3: Republicans in North Dakota are planning one of the party’s first organized efforts to capture some of the energy and enthusiasm of the “tea party” movement, an experiment that nervous party officials around the country will be watching with hopeful anticipation.
North Dakota Republican Chairman Gary Emineth is one of the organizers of what is being billed as a “Take Back Washington” rally and town hall meeting on Feb. 12 in Bismarck, N.D., with Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, an outspoken conservative, as the keynote speaker.
Update 4: The Atlantic:
After his speech, a middle-aged female delegate with a twang stood up and said, during the Q&A, “All the media types are asking us why we’re here. Here’s what I say. We’re all here for a little R&R — revival and revolt. If you’re not a Christian, and a person of faith, you just can’t understand what we’re doing!!” She got a standing ovation.
I think the MSM is missing the real focus of this movement. We keep describing the tea-partiers as fiscal conservatives. But this is patently untrue on its face.
They have no plans to cut serious spending whatsoever.
Update 5 : I think it has become clear was is going on:
“Anyone who remembers the Ron Paul Tea Party fundraisers understands where this started. It was the true classical liberal Republicans who began using the Tea Party theme as a throwback to the original Sons of Liberty who actually made the Revolution happen” . Good luck RP people, your cause has been hijacked and stands for nothing more than the far right Republicans. It is truly a shame that this movement has once again been subverted.
“They’re calling it the “Hillbilly Palm Pilot”. Sarah Palin’s detractors have been handed a new stick to beat her with”
“The tea party movement started as a welcome protest against the alarming growth of federal spending and federal control. It had a strong anti-statist flavor, or seemed to. But judging from the applause for Sarah Palin at its convention, the movement’s suspicion of government power is exceeded only by its worship of government power.”