This post is the opening salvo of a feature we occasionally offer here at The Liberty Papers called “Point-Counterpoint”. In this feature, Kevin is arguing the Point that Tea Parties are ultimately damaging to the libertarian movement. Tomorrow, Brad will respond to this argument with his Counterpoint (response here).
The so-called Tea Party movement has been upheld by some as a movement of Americans fed up with overtaxation and excessive spending by the Federal government. These supposedly disgruntled ordinary Americans have been having rallies all across the country to show their disgust with the fiscal shape of the country. However, there is more beneath the surface of the Tea Party movement. In reality, the Tea Party movement has become a platform for assorted kooks, Republican party operatives looking to regain credibility with the American people, and libertarian and conservative activists who frankly should know better than to associate with the above.
Many of the featured Tea Party speakers this weekend were either tax hiking, big government politicians themselves or can be safely classified as kooky.
“I believe we need to spend a little more on illegal immigrants get them the (expletive) out of our (expletive) country, and close the borders down,” Wurzelbacher said. “We can do it.”
“We’ve got the greatest military in the world and you’re telling me we can’t close our borders- that’s just ridiculous.”
Another group of kooks gathered in Duval County, Florida at an event organized by the county’s Republican Party.
The Republican Party of Duval County is backing away from their promotion of an event that featured numerous controversial comparisons of President Barack Obama with German Dictator Adolf Hitler. The event, a Tea Party held at the Jacksonville Landing on July 2, was organized by the First Coast Tea Party. However, the Duval County Republican Party promoted the event with e-mails that stated “Paid by Republican Party of Duval County.” Duval Republican Party Chairman Lenny Curry also broadcasted live from the event on the party’s weekly radio broadcast hosted by AM 1320.
The event, which was attended by Florida State Representatives Lake Ray, Charles McBurney and Mike Weinstein and Florida State Senator Stephen Wise, drew about 1,000 people to the Jacksonville Landing. Local party officials were on stage, along with numerous members of the Jacksonville business community.
While partisan rhetoric at any rally is expected, controversy has arisen over numerous signs that were prominently displayed at the gathering, including two that featured Barack Obama in Nazi garb. One sign, in fact, had altered Obama’s appearance to resemble Hitler. Other signs compared ACORN, the community organizing group accused of voter registration irregularities, with the SS—the Nazi organization responsible for enacting the Holocaust and the group responsible for most of the crimes against humanity committed by the Third Reich.
In short, the Tea Parties have become less about opposition to bailouts and reckless spending and instead have begun to resemble the “anti-war” rallies of the Bush years. The “anti-war” rallies were generally nothing more than “We Hate Bush” rallies and the Tea Parties have become “We Hate Obama” rallies where every phony outrage and faux scandal about Obama are aired to a country that is rejecting them. The Tea Parties have lost their original purpose of promoting fiscal responsibility in most of the country and the movement has come to the point where it harms the liberty movement by continuing to associate with them.
Plus, while original supporters of bailouts, higher taxes, and higher spending are being booed at some events, other tax and spend hypocrites are being welcomed as speakers and are cheered because they’re playing for the right team aka the GOP. By cheering on the same politicians who created the fiscal mess our country is in, the Tea Party movement continues the same fiscal mess they claim to oppose.
If the only purpose of the Tea Parties is to elect more Republicans then we have failed. Instead, we as libertarians must let this movement lose steam and fade away, like all populist movements do. Especially when we start seeing talk of the Tea Party movement nominating Sarah Palin, who is an enemy of everything classical liberalism stands for, to be its presidential candidate. If the point is to gain publicity for our causes, we are failing in this because the media is focusing on the fringe participation and the Republican party sponsorship of these events.
In short, libertarians and the Tea Party movement must divorce if the liberty movement is to survive. Or the Tea Party movement must clean its own house and get back to its core issues of fiscal responsibility.