Dummies Guide to the Tea Party Movement & a Reference for the rest of Us
The Tea Party movement is the fast growing American popular movement, generally recognized as conservative and libertarian, that has organized rallies and supported political candidates since 2009. The core principles of the movement are to increase fiscal responsibility, see a constitutionally limited government and promotion of free markets.
Those involved in the movement hold that the principles behind the constitution as recognized by the founding fathers have been compromised in the recent past. They believe that President Obama's mandate was to reduce spending and increase accountability, and they have been disappointed with his administration.
The expectations of the US citizen were to see a magical economic recovery. The political opposition focused on the health care reform bill and, it seems, has been able to convince a non-trivial section of the population that it is actually an effort to infringe on personal choice. The political opposition has aligned themselves with the Tea Party movement and it seems have been able to benefit from it.
The Tea Party movement endorses reduced government spending but paradoxically does not want to rock the boat when it comes to social security, medicare, medicaid, and defense. Those are the big four in government spending and any spend reduction plan without involving these may not make much of an impact. The general population that flocks to the rallies, protests and conventions also seem to be remarkably uninformed and without any real information to substantiate their - at times paranoid - claims.
The name "Tea Party" has been inspired by the Boston Tea Party, a protest by colonists who objected to a British tax on tea in 1773 - actually a lack thereof on tea sold by the East India Company from the UK - and demonstrated by dumping British tea taken from docked ships into the harbor.
The movement does not include social issues in its agenda, though the Republican politicians do bring such issues into their rhetoric when sharing Tea Party platforms. The movement is also a fairly organic one and isn't represented by a single organization or structure.
This lens tries to present the views of the movement as well as those who dismiss or ridicule it. I have my own opinion, as any individual needs to have one's own point of view - but have tried to present both "sides" of the story. I hope you find it informative, bookmark it, and return as I update it.
What is the Tea Party - Reporting from the field
There are a lot of material generally available on what the Tea Party is all about. I went back to the older ones that would reflect the initial thought processes and the reasons behind it being called to existence.
The first YouTube clip covers a The Tea Party protest in Mobile, Alabama, had the theme "Taxed enough already". Participants also think that the US government is listening to special interest groups and making decisions that are good for these groups and not the country.
The second (earlier?) clip is from a Morristown, NJ, Tea Party meet. In this clip Micheal Johns, National Leader of the Tea Party Movement says that the neglect of the founding constitutional principles brought about the movement. Later in the clip he says that some believe that these principles are still applicable and some would debate that the constitution is a living document and should relate to the changed world we live in. When addressing the attending audience the main issue seems to be "Obama Care".
Health care is also a major theme in Republican Congressman Joe Wilson's sound bytes. It is understandably the Republican view on the health care bill, that its real intentions are to take over the lives of the American people. He also, again understandably, says that the people in the US need to stay informed by watching Fox TV.
Jeffrey Weingarten, President, Morristown, NJ, Tea Party, lays it out simply as the need for smaller government, lower taxes, and the position that you can not get out of debt by increasing (government) spending are what the movement is about.
Steve Lonegan, Former Mayor, Bogota, NJ, narrates how everyone was concerned when Obama won because now they had the Senate, Congress and White House. And then it seems the American People started getting involved and the Tea Party movement happened. He stresses on the need of lesser government and return to individual freedom and more responsibility.He also reminds the crowd to elect more people to office who are defenders of liberty and freedom
The not-so-notables in the meet say they want the Constitutional rights be preserve , don't want to see health care reform, do not want to see redistribution of wealth. The expectation also is that the Tea Party movement is opposing the debt that the present administration leaving for the future generations.
Tea Party Movement - A better presentation - Michael Johns and Kellen Guida talk to CBS News
Disappointed with the lack of content in the coverage in the last two clips I search for more and found these three excerpts. In the first one, Michael Johns, the Tea Party leader from my earlier clip, gives some background about the Tea Party Movement and some of the basic tenets. In the next one Kellen Guida expresses his anger and frustration towards the Wall Street bailouts. In the third clip both of them discuss their take on social issues like gay marriage or abortion and how movement is not really about governance and fiscal issues and not social ones.
Tea Party Manifesto & Handbook
What the people of the country know about the Tea Party - The first Tea Party Convention at Nashville, TN, in February 2010
The Tea Party Nation group organized the first Tea Party Convention at Nashville, TN, in February 2010. For a movement that takes on big spending, criticism of the convention's cost and alleged payment to Palin was ironic. Multiple national Tea Party organizations reportedly withdrew their participation. But the convention went ahead. Here is a NEW LEFT MEDIA film produced and edited by Chase Whiteside (interviews) and Erick Stoll (camera).
The interviews project a significant degree of paranoia and conspiratorial assertions. There were people making statements like "We don't even have the constitution recognized as the governing document for determining who can run for president" and they wanted ]the US constitution again governing this country.
More From the Grass Roots - Tea Party Express: Rise Of The Tea Bags
Brad Friedman went out to Griffith Park in L.A. on Sunday, October 25, 2009 to check out the kick-off day for the new "Tea Party Express II" national tour. He had hoped to meet some interesting people and file a quick video report, but instead ended up making a short film of sorts. Protesting is an inalienable right in a democracy, but protesters here don't really know what they're protesting. Some think they're opposed to government spending, others say they're protesting Obama's plan to take away their health insurance, and there are still some out there who believe they're protesting to force Obama to release his birth certificate.
Books on the Tea Party at Amazon
Classical liberalism and what more the Tea Party movement needs to do - A couple of scholarly references
As the Tea Party movement places the role of the government, I expect that these the ten core principles of the classical liberal & libertarian view of society and the proper role of government would be of interest to you. Dr. Nigel Ashford explains the principles of (1) Liberty as the primary political value, (2) Individualism, (3) Skepticism about power, (4) Rule of Law, (5) Civil Society, (6) Spontaneous Order, (7) Free Markets, (8) Toleration, (9) Peace, and (10) Limited Government. The role of the government is to protect our life liberty and property, anything beyond that is not justifiable as per this point of view. Dr. Ashford is Senior Program Officer at the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) at George Mason University.
In the second clip Don Watkins of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights explains why it is not enough for the Tea Party protests to be against the latest Washington programs--they must also stand for the individual's right to live for his own sake, and not as a servant of society.
Read more about Libertarianism
Counterpoint: Rachel Maddow on the hypocrisies around the Tea Party
When you listen to Michael Johns you can not but seriously consider his and the Tea Party movement perspective. Any theory or philosophy is as good as how implementable it is. Here is a point of view from MSNBC. Rachel Maddow refers to a recent poll and points out what she unequivocally refers to as hypocrisy. It has a lot of interesting data points.
Davis Fleetwood Unplugged - On the Tea Party Movement and the Movement vs. Socialism
Just to get a kick out of it, or perhaps to provide a counterpoint, I have thrown in these two clips from Davis Fleetwood the Hermit. He is bold to proclaim his socialistic convictions and that the Tea Party movement fuels feudalism.
Tea Party rally music
Like all movements this one has spurred a host of songs. Here are a few of them.
- "It's Time To Party" Tea Party Song! STAND UP, AMERICA!
- Let's Take our Country Back (performed by Lucas Hoge; lyrics by Tom Paden & Eddie Kilgallon)
- Get Your Hands Out Of My Pockets-Don Derby
- Tea Party Song - 'Let 'em Drink Tea'
Music poking some fun at the movement
You would not expect some satire not to show up, right? So here goes some entertainment:
- The Tea Party Recruitment Song
- Tea Party Patriots Want YOU
- Learn to Speak Tea Bag