Friday, April 16, 2010

Why I do not support the Tea Party movement

"Men of intemperate mind never can be free. Their passions forge their fetters."—
Edmund Burke on the French revolutionaries

There was a massive Tea Party protest April 15 near where I live, but I did not attend. It's not that I totally disagree with them, or consider them racists, or a harbor a deep love for Barack Obama (or any politician for that matter). I have two concerns, one minor and one major. The minor one is simple: where were they when a white Republican president was spending recklessly and a running up the debt? There were no demonstrators in the street, for example, after Bush signed a pork-laden highway bill costing hundreds of billions of dollars (2005). But that is not the main problem. The major issue for me is that their view of the world is simplistic and potentially dangerous.

The Tea Party movement is not a conservative movement. It is radically libertarian. Government spending is bad, taxes are bad, government regulation is bad, by some law of nature. Their view of government is similiar to Richard Dawkins' view of religion: all evil, no good. I don't share this view. Government, like many other things, is neither inherently good or inherently bad. They can do bad things (send people to jail for smoking pot) and they can do good things (kill terrorists, clean the air and water, etc..) The Tea Partiers never seem to acknowledge this distinction. I wrote a letter to the editor of my local paper saying "James Madison, one of the creators of the Constitution, would be considered a liberal by the Tea Party movement if he lived today. He famously said: If men were angels, no government would be necessary." Many supporters of the Tea Party movement claim to venerate the founders, but have forgotten this statement.

Another issue debated in the media is whether the protesters are racists. I'm unsure, but here's a way we can find out: A white Republican, say Mitt Romney, wins the 2012 presidential election and continues Obama's big spending ways. If the Tea Partiers stop protesting, that's conclusive proof that race is motivating their actions. But the charge of racism right now is unfair and irrelevant. It is enough that their view of the world is wrong; their motivations are irrelevant.


Nima said...

"Patriotism is a virtue of the vicious" Oscar Wilde

Jack, I do agree with you in some sense. I think the tea party was racially motivated at the beginning; especially considering that they were already protesting last April 15 tax day, just 4 months into Obama's presidency! However, I think now, it is more than that... and I do agree with them about small government, cutting the spending, and reducing the deficit. I mean who doesn't?

What I don't agree with, like you, is the notion that an "elected" government is bad. That's what the liberal did during Bush's second term, and not they have a chance to do it in November 2010. Is this is bad? Being able to change your government?

However, they believe in "free market" (Not regulated) which is controlled by non-elected big and rich corporates which are not responsible to anyone, and their only interest is keep their share holders and pockets happy.

Jack Davis said...

Everyone agrees in principle with cutting the deficit, but actually finding programs to cut is the tough thing. The free market really is a religon for these people--cut taxes and reduce regulations and all will be well again in the world. I don't think it's quite so easy.