Monday, April 25, 2011

Regarding that Tea Party moniker

I think using the term "Tea Party" to describe the modern conservative political alliance that goes by that name is incorrect and in a way even insults American history.  The theme of the original Tea Party was "No taxation without representation".  American colonists rejected how the British Legislature could impose taxes on the colonies while the colonists had no vote in the British elections.  Legitimate gripe I'd say.  This rebellion in Boston eventually led to the Revolutionary War.

The folks in the modern Tea Party have always had the opportunity to vote for the elected officials who imposed the system of taxes under which they now live.  If one day they looked around Washington and saw no representation there, it wasn't because they had been disenfranchised or had their voting rights violated, it was because they were never interested enough to do the hard work to get one of their candidates elected or perhaps their candidates were too extreme to attract enough votes from the general population.  In either case, the Tea Partiers can't adopt "No taxation without representation" as their theme.  Maybe "We want a do-over." would be more applicable.

As for one of their missions, I do agree with opposing Federal Government run amok. Just because there is a real or perceived need in this world does not automatically mean the US Government has the authority to try to do something about it. Government actions should be tied to legitimate powers enacted by law, not just the whims of whoever currently holds the office, or the bench for that matter. If that was the main focus of the Tea Party, I might be more likely to jump on board.   And I also agree that the National debt is a calamity for the near and long-term future of the USA and that federal spending needs to be pared back dramatically to reduce budget deficits.

But there is more to the mission in this ragtag political alliance, and that's what prevents me from joining. One, I see the far-right Buchananite-Paleocons who hold views like Abraham Lincoln was wrong about everything, the US Dollar should revert to a gold standard right now and that Washington should close our borders to foreign trade. Two, I see the religious fanatics who think the US government should put scientists under religious oversight and impose a Christian version of Sharia Law on the population. Those are deal breakers for me.

The vision of the Tea Party regarding the financial system is not attainable without first demolishing everything currently in place and starting over from scratch. If the Ron Paul faction could have their way and kill the Fed and put the US dollar on a gold standard, we might theoretically be better off as a Nation decades down the road, but it would collapse the economy and bring everything and I mean everything to a grinding halt in the here and now.  There is no way to get to here from there without mass chaos and economic havoc.  Its unrealistic to think a complete economic meltdown in a Nation of some 300 million people would benefit any of us.   Yet that is a main plank in the Tea Party platform.

I would like to see the GOP nominate a reasonable candidate who has a genuine chance of winning the Presidential election in 2012. Jon Huntsman would be my early choice for the nominee. The GOP will not win the White House if the nominee is a Tea Party approved candidate like Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin Michelle Bachman or Donald Trump. Americans may seem to like extremists if you look at Internet polls and the comment section in political blogs, but when it comes to general elections, the majority of Americans prefer to vote for centrist candidates. If the Tea Party crowd doesn't approve of the GOP nominee and attempts a 3rd party run with their own litmus-tested candidate, it will just guarantee a second term for Obama, given the electoral college system and how tie-breakers work.

If this is what the GOP has become, then I don't think its a good thing for the USA. We need two functional parties vying for each elected seat. The Tea Party is painting themselves and perhaps the entire GOP into a corner of extremism. If the Tea Party takes over the GOP and nominees have to toe the Tea Party line, Democratic party candidates will be able to continue lurching further leftward and still get elected. You win elections by staking out the middle ground, not by promoting extremism.  When you make your opponent fight over the middle ground even if your side loses that seat, the debate and general perspective moves further away from the edges and closer toward the middle and that's good for all Americans regardless of Party.

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