Diluted tea, the Parties’ message watered down

Diluted tea, the Parties’ message watered down

Much has been made of the Tea Party movement in the past few months, but especially now that Sarah Palin has been unofficially anointed as its philosophical leader. Ironically, this is far from what the tea parties were supposed to be when they were first initiated. They were originally started by individuals who were disenfranchised with both the Democrats and Republicans over their agenda of high spending, high taxation, and ignoring the importance of reducing the national debt. Unfortunately, this movement has mutated into a fringe of the Republican Party. Although still concerned with taxation and high spending, these new tea partiers seem to have forgotten the high spending by former President Bush and the Republican controlled congress from 2000 to 2006. Ron Paul probably said it best on Feb. 9th on MSNBC when he stated that “Everybody likes to join what looks like a popular movement, and then they want to come in and influence that movement.”

As members of the Young Americans for Liberty at VCU, we have mixed feelings about the Tea Party movement and we feel that our views must be established on this matter. On the one hand, we appreciate that the tea parties are standing up to the administration on important issues such as spending and the national debt. We also reject the immature criticism that the tea parties received from CNN and MSNBC when their activities were referred to as “tea-bagging” and written off as a joke. On the other hand, we do not endorse the personal attacks directed at the President or the partisan attitudes that have developed since the Republicans have taken over the movement. This is not about racism, religious attacks, the greed of rich people or Barack Obama’s birth certificate. This is, and should be, about the unprecedented growth of government spending, the rejection of mandated universal healthcare, and a growing national debt. This should be a grassroots effort and not a political party. Unfortunately, the Tea Party activists don’t seem to be listening to this sort of logic.

The Tea Parties took issue with many unconstitutional expansions and actions of the federal government and therefore began with a healthy mix of conservatives and libertarians. However, with libertarians in general being far outnumbered by so-called conservative Republicans, the libertarian movement soon lost control of what it started and this new movement became a pro-war and pro-Bush faction that seems solely concerned with hurling insults and personal attacks at the president. This discredits the Tea Party movement altogether. While there are many reasons to criticize Obama’s policies, personal attacks do not help spread the message of liberty and small government. Neither does forgetting the expansion of federal power while the Republicans were in control. The Tea Party protesters have completely forgotten why these protests were initiated in the first place and have fallen victim to the worst sin a voter can commit: blind party loyalty.

Perhaps the most revealing indicator of the Tea Party movement’s change in philosophy is their choice of Sarah Palin as their unofficial leader. Someone like her would never have been picked during the early days of the movement when the overall feeling among them was more libertarian than anything else. Although we hold no grudges against the former governor, she has yet to denounce her side of the aisle over high spending and the unprecedented growth of the federal government. As long as these Tea Parties remain partisan and only criticize half of the problem, they will be seen as nothing more than Republicans with a different name.

— By Members of Young Americans for Liberty, VCU Chapter

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