Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tea Is Just Goldwater

Folks talk about Rep. Bachmann, her caucus, and their supporters as if they're new. Listening to some, both Republican and Democrat, you'd think the Tea Party formed in some kind of virgin birth from the Great Recession or from the stimulus efforts that reversed it.

"The tea parties are mostly an honest spontaneous effort by ordinary people from all over the political spectrum to express their outrage at government hubris from absurd spending, corporate bailouts, etc." - Mike Huckabee (R-Fox News)
"The Tea Party was born because of the economy" - Sen. Reid (D-NV)

But the origins of the Tea Party go back much further than this recent flare-up. To see that, we must first have a clear idea of what exactly the Tea Party means.

  • The Tea Party Patriots [TPP] list their core values as Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets. In explaining what they mean by Fiscal Responsibility, TPP describes taxation as unjustly restricting liberty. They reference states rights while outlining what they mean by Constitutionally Limited Government. And they "oppose government intervention into the operations of private business".
  • The National Tea Party Federation lists the same three items under its "objectives" as the TPP's "core values" (see above).
  • The Nationwide Tea Party Coalition lists core values of "Limited Government, as authorized by the Constitution", Fiscal Responsibility, and Free Markets. In other words, the same three as the TPP in a different order.
In all cases, the Tea Party orientation is conservative. And it is a particular familiar flavor and traditional style of conservative. This is the same conservative position as President Reagan, who called for limited government, preached fiscal responsibility, and spoke of "free and open markets". While for one reason or another Reagan did not always practice his ideals during his term (with huge deficit increases and some protectionist policies), those were his ideals nonetheless. But Pres. Reagen didn't invent that stance either, as he learned his conservative politics campaigning for Barry Goldwater and took over spearheading Goldwater's platform after Goldwater failed in the 1964 Presidential campaign.
"My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is 'needed' before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible." - Barry Goldwater in The Conscience of a Conservative
Goldwater's conservative stance was not stamped out by his 1964 loss. It continued under the banner of Reagan and others. There is no big difference. There is only an additional name, "Tea Party", and more funding from the likes of the Koch brothers who have realized that Goldwater's talking points could be the most effective way to fight reasonable environmental regulations.

But this begs the question: why call it the Tea Party? Calling them the Tea Party, we've been practicing a deceptive comparison to a the Boston Tea Party. The Boston Tea Party protested against a monopolistic corporation and imposition by an authority other than our duly elected representatives. Today's inheritors of Barry Goldwater have no resemblance whatsoever to that Boston Tea Party. They fight for the corporations involved in their issues and the policies they oppose were implemented by duly elected representatives. Shouldn't we be calling a spade a spade? The so-called Tea Party of today are merely re-packaged Goldwater conservative Republicans with corporate conglomerate funding. Michelle Bachmann is just the leader of the Goldwater wing of the GOP, unless they should decide to finally split and form a full-fledged Goldwater-based political party.

They're not Boston-style Tea ... they're just Goldwater.  JJH55DM59KYR


  1. Before it was hijacked by the "right" commies (aka the "GOP"), the "Tea Party" was purely a Ron Paul campaign phenomenon, with much support from libertarians, Objectivists, and even Anarcho-Capitalists who wouldn't be caught dead in the same room as any politician other than Ron Paul. On Nov 5th 2007 (OK, the connection to the V for Vendetta movie is a bit silly), Ron Paul fans had an independently-organized "money bomb" event that raised $4.3 million in a single day. We were then searching for another memorable date for our next "money bomb", and the chosen date was the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, Dec 16 2007, when over $6 million was raised.

    The later mainstream "Tea Party movement" from outside of the Ron Paul campaign didn't arise until 2009. That movement is very diverse and decentralized, and any mainstream politicians trying to jump in front and lead that parade are only pretending to be in control.

    If/when that movement represents libertarian anti-government ideals, the reference to the Boston Tea Party was entirely appropriate, as we are protesting a despotic organization that, because of some socialist religious delusion, many believe has a "divine right" to a monopoly on violence. Your claim that we have "representatives" who "represent" us without individual consent is just as illogical as the claim that the American colonies had proper representatives in London prior to the Revolution.

    Your use of the word "corporation" as a bad thing is completely illogical. A "corporation" is a voluntary agreement between individuals, like a marriage, a Web-site, a non-profit organization, etc. Corporations are the individuals that form them, and individuals have Rights that are being violated through institutionalized government force.

  2. Alex,

    What is the alleged "despotic" organization against which you claim to be protesting? If you think there is currently an actual despotism in America, you may need to brush up on what a despotism actually looks like. There's no single entity ruling with absolute power in America.

    I do not use the word "corporation" as a bad thing. Corporations can be -- and often are -- a valuable economic tool. They even have potential to be used for real good, especially in the case of some charitable corporations. I was pointing out that the real Boston Tea Party was protesting against corporate power whereas the so called "Tea Party movement" is protesting in the interests of corporate power -- especially Koch Industries -- and with corporate funding. The fact that many in the Tea Party movement do not realize how much of their funding and materials are provided by Koch Industries and a few other similar interests does not change the fact that they have become [perhaps unwitting] pawns of those corporate interests. Unfortunately, these particular corporations that provide funding and materials to herd the "Tea Party" towards their ends don't seem to be among the more benign corporations.

  3. Actually, I think you guys agree with each other, the second poster merely pointed out where the nucleus for this irrational approach came from. Now that you have Dick Armey and the Koch Brothers co-opting this, it can never be called grassroots. Perhaps Goldwater and his ilk were outliers in 1964, but the movement went sort of underground with the elite in corporations and "think tanks", then here comes ronnie raygun, one of the most regrettable Presidents of the 20th Century, if not the most. Ketchup Tomato Soup, anyone?