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Friday, August 12, 2011

Define Tea Party Movement for me.

I'm seeing very, very wide variation in perceived planks of the Tea Party movement.

I personally have considered it to be a movement that I would affiliate myself with, because it was based on the idea that we are overtaxed, and that our governments had best not be using our taxes on things not directly mandated in their mission. Fiscal conservatism, in other words.

But I'm being told that Tea Partiers are:

1--Pro Gun (Well, why not? But is that a mandate?)
2--Pro Republican (Wait-- I thought that the Tea Party movement was critical of the Republican Party?)
3--Anti Democrat (Wait-- more so than the Republicans?)
4--Pro Christian (Why? Did Christ say "No taxation without representation!")
5--Anti Gay (You know how they love to spend, spend, spend! That's why all gays are poor, as opposed to us Breeders...)
6--Pro-Whitey
7--Anti freedom of speech
8--Pro War (but wait-- war costs money)
9--Anti Abortion
10--Pro-Death Penalty
11--And maybe, if they get around to it, pro-balanced budget and pro-reduced spending.

So what is it, folks? What's absolutely intrinsic to the Tea Party Movement? Please note whether you identify with it, in your answers.

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19 Comments:

At Friday, August 12, 2011 11:28:00 AM, Blogger Matt said...

1. Anti-tax. It's right there in the name -- "Taxed Enough Already"
2. Anti-PelosiCare. The rallies got attention in coordination with medicine-nationalization "town meetings" where our supposed agents in Congress got their butts handed to them by their constituents over the issue.
3. Anti-spending generally.
4. Anti-establishment/elitist. In practice this often works out to "anti-Democrat" because the Democrats are the party of the Washington establishment. But if you're in league with that establishment, an "R" after your name is not going to protect you. And if you are genuinely working to overthrow it, but nevertheless somehow manage to get on a ballot somewhere as a Democrat, you'll have our support. And our shock.
5. Anti-bureaucracy/regulation. Guard the border, shoot the bad guys overseas, lock up the bad guys here at home, and stay the hell out of our private lives as long as they don't harm our neighbors.

These are the essentials, and they're pretty much universal.

There's a pro-soldier [/sailor/airman/marine] element in there too, but not precisely pro-war or even necessarily pro-military. Plenty of love for the grunts in harm's way...not so much for the suits in Washington who keep putting them there or the brass who won't untie their hands to do what's necessary to win. Opinions about the geopolitical merits of any of our various present wars will vary _widely_, and I've seen the debates over it get pretty heated over beers after the rally.

Some support the death penalty, some oppose it. Some support abortion, some oppose it. Many are self-identified Christians...many are outspokenly atheists...a few are jews, and I've even met a couple of muslims. As long as we're together on the essentials, we can get along at least well enough to hold the arguments until _after_ the rally.

And as for "pro-Whitey", the last TEA party rally I attended had at least two dozen black families in attendance, cheering along and carrying signs. They were probably, by themselves, at least 10% of the black population of the town. If 10% of the town's "Whitey" population showed up, we'd have overflowed the square, blocked traffic on the road, and probably been the top news story in the nearest metropolitan area for at least a week.

 
At Friday, August 12, 2011 11:32:00 AM, Blogger TBeck said...

According to some of my liberal friends the Tea Party is akin to obscenity; they can't define it but they know it when they see it. When I present them with personal first hand observations of an actual Tea Party event, my testimony is dismissed as anecdotal.

 
At Friday, August 12, 2011 11:53:00 AM, Anonymous aczarnowski said...

I affiliate with the Tea Party the same way you do; taxes are high enough, more revenue won't fix a spending problem, cut spending to fix the spending problem with the nice side effect of reducing .gov in general.

Everything else is propaganda which is unfortunately landing punches.

 
At Friday, August 12, 2011 1:05:00 PM, Blogger Suz said...

Great question. I don't have an answer. I can't figure out it's platform either. (You forgot to mention its reputation for being full of geriatric homicidal maniacs.) I suspect it's a bit of a runaway train without an engineer; it started out as a protest against the status quo, but it seems to lack a few things: leadership, direction, priorities, cohesiveness....

The Tea Party itself needs to decide what it stands for, and not just what it's against. I'm still waiting

 
At Friday, August 12, 2011 1:49:00 PM, Anonymous Mad Rocket Scientist said...

Crap like this is why:
http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2011/08/stimulus-thinking?fsrc=rss

 
At Friday, August 12, 2011 4:29:00 PM, Blogger Sabra said...

I went to just the first Tea Party meetup here in San Antonio. I can tell you the protesters were pretty right-wing, but not wholly, and it wasn't just Republicans. There was a rather large contingent of Libertarians, an Anarchist or two, and at least one other Constitutionalist. I saw no outward indications of religion that I recall.

As to their platform...Well, around here they're fighting about it. That's one of the reasons I haven't been active lately. The group here cannot agree on anything, not even where to meet. I'm not convinced the party is any better on a State or national level.

When this started, it was indeed about taxes. Whether it still is, I cannot say.

I'll also add that the media lumps several different protest groups under the Tea Party umbrella in order to throw mud at them with greater efficiency. This includes some pro 2A groups and the 9/12 folks, and probably others.

 
At Friday, August 12, 2011 5:28:00 PM, Blogger On a Wing and a Whim said...

As far as I'm concerned, The Tea Party is a movement toward small government and small budgets - that's it.

As far as the rest, I don't think it really falls under Tea Party, because they're things that aren't the government's business. Less pro-gun, more anti-gun-control.

If it appears to be any more pro-Republican than pro-Democrat, it's because it should be picking candidates who are for smaller government, smaller budget, small government overreach/oversight - and those are more often found with an R than a D after their names - but I'd rather it support the libertarian, democrat, or green party candidate if that's the better small-government fiscal-sanity candidate. The Coke and Pepsi parties both got us here; they're both in need of reform and overhaul.

As for pro-Christian or anti-"The Gay", or pro-Whitey: those are simply irrelevant to small government and fiscal sanity. What people choose to worship, what color or ethnicity they claim, or how they choose to behave in the privacy of their bedrooms should be neither protected nor persecuted, as long as it does not endanger the lives and safety of their fellow citizens. ("Spiritual marriages" to 12-year-old girls are still child molestation; we're prosecuting his acts, not persecuting his faith.)

Anti-freedom... no, no dice. A limited government is pro-freedom. Freedom to speak, freedom to offend, freedom to be offended. (But not freedom from being offended.) Freedom to own guns and shoot them, freedom to not own guns. (But not freedom to dictate what others must own.)

As for war - a nation of citizens unable to defend themselves is a nation of citizens under siege by barbarians within (even if they call them yobs.) A nation unable or unwilling to defend itself is a nation advertising its vulnerability for conquer - by economics or by force of arms.

That said - Pro-War? Which war? I don't think you'll find people who are in support of winning the war and leaving a better world in Iraq and Afghanistan are automatically in favor of "kinetic military actions" that are wars by any other name with no clear objectives or ways to win. Our government should be able to fight wars - but that does not mean they should half-assedly commit our troops and our taxpayer-funded resources without a damn clear reason, objective, mission, and full commitment to winning.

Anti-abortion? I think you'll find the tea party Anti-government-funded-abortion. Plenty of its members are pro-life, plenty are pro-choice, but both agree that it's not the government's business, nor should the tax collectors be forcing the general public to pay for it.

For everyone who agrees that "some folks just need killing", you'll find another person who agrees that some folks need killing, but cautions that the same government that runs the ATF, HUD, EPA and DoE is the government that runs the court systems, and they don't trust the government to make reliably wise, thoughtful, or profound decisions as who lives and who dies - and thus support a moratorium on the death penalty.

This is why you can find people who, with a clear conscience and clear logic, support armed self defense and are against the death penalty.

Which is a plank of the tea party? Neither. Following the KISS principle of keepin' it simple, it focuses on two core areas: smaller government and smaller budget. That's why it's so popular, and why it has so many members who vary wildly, and disagree on so many issues.

 
At Friday, August 12, 2011 6:13:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

Smaller government- And what Matt said... The media is determined to hang enough 'tags' so that everybody will be alienated, but bottom line, it's about taxes and smaller government. It is NOT party centric, I know back here there are ALL parties and races represented at TEA party meetings.

 
At Friday, August 12, 2011 8:01:00 PM, Blogger Mr. Fixit said...

I would identify myself with it if it stood for what I think it did; Smaller Government, Lower taxes, individual responsibility.

 
At Friday, August 12, 2011 9:04:00 PM, Blogger Dave said...

It's all about getting government to stop spending money it doesn't have and limiting the scope and size of government. WAY too simple for the liberal media to comprehend.

 
At Friday, August 12, 2011 9:07:00 PM, Blogger Josh K. said...

I'm a Classic Liberal/Libertarian for me the Tea Party Stands for maximum liberty which calls for limited government and a return to Founding Principles.

Josh

 
At Saturday, August 13, 2011 9:08:00 AM, OpenID acairfearann said...

On A Wing and a Whim sums it up for me.
As for the media perception, it seems to be determined to, and is successful at, pinning labels. Inflammatory statements have always sold the news. The Tea Party people I have met (here in Liberal Ct) fall into two categories: those that generally follow the small gov't concept; and those that are so full of frustrated anger that they identify with the Tea Party as a way to lash out at everything. The two groups overlap, and are more a matter of how articulate the person is.
As for myself, I don't fit the demographics (young, female, with a humanities! Phd, and a member of my town government), I identify with the Tea Party mostly because I tend to feel that every time a regulation is proposed the first question that should be asked is: 'Is the Government the best way to do this?' It usually isn't.

 
At Saturday, August 13, 2011 9:41:00 AM, Anonymous Shrimp said...

I think it instructive to look at who opposes the TEA party and what they have to say about it. That gives you a fair idea of what the TEA party is about.

Most of the negative comments I have heard about the TEA party say that they are:
a) racist
b) violent gun nuts
c) racist
d) extremist
e) anti-government (and the last is said as though it is wholly unAmerican and somehow a bad thing)

The people who say these things seem (to me) to be people who:
a) enjoy race-baiting
b) hate guns
c) hate individual liberties
d) want to spend other people's money and tell other people how to live their lives
e) have never gone to a single TEA party event, but know for certain that all "teabaggers" are evil extremist racist gun nuts bent on destroying America with their hate.

Like most Americans, I want lower taxes, so that I can keep more of the money I earned. I want the money that is taken from me at national gunpoint (the IRS) spent responsibly, on things we need to spend it on, not things we'd like to spend it if we had unlimited funds. Truly, the rest is just details.



WV: diminwa

But, I'm not in WA.....

 
At Saturday, August 13, 2011 9:56:00 PM, Anonymous JebTexas said...

The first rule of the Tea Party movement is...
No one shall know what the Tea Party is.

We're the tiger in the tall grass... just the tip of our tail is seen. Those I have seen on the tard-tube saying they are the Tea Party... were not the Tea Party. The polls who owe their jobs to us... are not the Tea Party. We live our lives as unbothered by the .gov and media as is possible, listening and learning always, with the thought of Nov 12 ever-present. The polls don't know us, the media hack and spit at our shadows, the pundits try and try again to pidgion-hole us, to no avail. Woe be unto these thieving scumbags come Nov 12, for the tiger is coming.

 
At Monday, August 15, 2011 2:37:00 AM, Blogger Larry said...

Taxed Enough Already. All else is camp followers who are trying to tie themselves to that rising star. Unfortunately it seems as if the TEA party label is going to eventually get co-opted and exempted by other issues, but at it's core it is all about fiscal responsibility.

 
At Monday, August 15, 2011 10:04:00 AM, Blogger Dirk said...

Miss D just about nailed it for me. One additional comment I'd make is a quote from Roberta X:

"I'm considerably more comfortable with lethal force used against persons in the act of harming others than when it is applied long after the fact."

I pretty much agree with this... though there are death penalty cases that are so clear-cut even .gov couldn't screw 'em up.

 
At Wednesday, August 17, 2011 10:23:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a fellow TEA Party traveler but not an active participant because of job concerns (I work in a very liberal field). Smaller federal government, let the states do what states do best; cut taxes to what is necessary for national defense and turn social welfare back to the states and local governments. I'm Christian libertarian on social issues (some things I don't approve of and if you ask me I'll tell you, but I'm not going to harass you about it if you don't push me.) And I'm a firm believer in self defense and the right to protect your loved ones, with all the responsibility that decision entails.

LittleRed1

 
At Thursday, August 18, 2011 9:40:00 PM, Blogger Well Seasoned Fool said...

What Fuels the “Tea Party”

Arrogance! Those who consider themselves intellectual elites, who assume they hold the moral high ground, should be in charge, and know best what the common needs are, really don’t care to hear dissenting opinions.

Tea Party? How about folks who are saying, not only no, but Hell No.

We will raise, mold, and install our values and beliefs in our families.

We will keep our property.

We will keep our privacy.

We will keep the tools that defend us without interference.

We will choose, not you.

You don’t care to listen to us? Then we will take your power from you.

The Tea Party is an idea, not a monolithic party. It may well be the Civil Rights movement of the 21st Century. And, just as Dr. King and others had the Deacons for Defense and Justice standing in the wings, this is an armed and organized movement.

 
At Saturday, November 12, 2011 11:48:00 PM, Blogger John B said...

As far as I know the TEA Party, Standing for Taxed Enough Already, is for reduced taxes, reducing wasteful government spending, reducing wasteful government period.

Apparently this frightens establishment government types, Democrats mostly, that they have to pull out all the stops and revile with hatred and loathing, and paint them as being worse than the Taliban!

I guess they are. The Taliban only wants 'Death to America', a sentiment shared somewhat by the Democrat leadership. The TEA party wants to end the wild party in DC to end!

 

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