Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”     Thomas Paine

April 13, 2009

Addressing some Tea Party concerns

by Stephen Gordon

Believe me, I certainly understand the reluctance of libertarians and some fiscal conservatives to become involved in Tea Parties.  Legitimate concerns abound regarding big-government Republicans astroturfing the movement and about other issues and players being added to the agenda.   I’ve written a lot about these issues, and likely will in the future.  I’d like to approach a different group of concerns right now.  For those of you sympathetic with small-government ideals but concerned about “the futility of protesting” or that they will be “ineffective“, consider the following.

In promoting one of the Alabama Tea Party events, I sent out an e-mail which began like this:

On December 16, 1773, a group of colonists boarded ships and dumped tea into the Boston Harbor. The Boston Tea Party was the symbolic start of our battle against British tyranny and taxation. On Saturday, August 9, 2003, the Alabama Tea Party was the symbolic beginning of our overwhelming defeat of the largest planned tax increase in Alabama’s history.

On April 15, we’ll be throwing another Tea Party – this one to begin the overthrow of the greatest expansion of federal spending in our nation’s history. In conjunction with other Tea Parties to be held across the nation on April 15, the Birmingham and Shelby County Tea Parties have merged in order for Alabamians to provide the most incredibly successful event possible.

It’s important that as many people as possible attend so we can ensure that our elected representatives in Washington hear our demand for limited government and a return to our constitutional roots. We’ll be holding a family-friendly rally starting at 6:30PM on Wednesday, April 15th. It will take place at Veteran’s (Spain) Park on Valleydale Road in Hoover. Additionally, Sean Hannity will be running a live stream from Tea Parties across the country and the Birmingham Tea Party will be one of them…

While driving to Birmingham to meet with a candidate for an upcoming city council race I’ll be working, I heard WYDE’s Lee Davis repeat the same general reason I provided above.  Davis is perhaps the biggest GOP cheerleader in Alabama radio and obviously I’m not.  However, Davis will be speaking at the same event I was promoting. While we may disagree on much, we certainly agree about this.

Tonight, 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim James sent out his Tea Party email.  I should note that James has been a consistent fiscal conservative.  His note states:

People are fed up with out-of-control government spending, regulations and taxes. It’s time to stand up and be counted. Support your local tea party and send a message to the politicians in Montgomery and Washington DC that you’re fed up with irresponsible spending and taxation.

WAPI’s Matt Murphy will be speaking, as well.  He was so upset with John McCain and the Republican Party that he endorsed Bob Barr on the air last Election Day.  Another Barr supporter, Robert Stacy McCain, will be leaving D.C. for my house tomorrow.  He’ll be speaking in Birmingham, as well.

Sorry for all of the background, but I needed it to make three points.

For the skeptics out there, most Tea Parties haven’t been taken over by the big-government Republican machine.  Some have.  Most are grassroots-driven activities with a broad spectrum of conservative and libertarian participation.  As I’ve noted before, even GOP Chairman Michael Steele couldn’t bully his way into a speaking slot at the upcoming highly publicized Chicago rally.

The second point is that while the left may deservedly take jabs at some crackpots on the right and the media coverage may not be as great as some people desire, the political impact of a successful Tea Party may indeed provide something more important: A date for the history books marking the beginning of the overthrow excessive taxation and spending.  Both with the original Tea Party and with the 2003 Alabama Tea Party, I’ll suggest that those dates above were pivotal moments in our history.

My final message is for organizers and speakers.  Mark Thompson writes:

To them, the Tea Parties aren’t just an outlet for expressing frustration over the recent orgy of government spending, they are an opportunity to complain about gay marriage, affirmative action programs in government hiring policies, and just about everything else that movement conservatives oppose even more vehemently now that they’ve been beaten – badly – in consecutive national elections.  Never mind that the original point of the Tea Parties, so far as I can tell, was completely libertarian in nature and was to be as much a protest of the Republicans as it was of the Democrats.

The successful Tea Party in Alabama was the rallying point which turned into a major defeat of the largest tax hike (proposed by a Republican, no less) in our state’s history.  Some organizers tried to hold similar events in later years.  However, the rallying cries became more about issues like abortion and especially immigration.  Not surprisingly, the movement fell apart.

If you are an event organizer or speaker, keep in mind that pretty much everyone will agree with your fiscally conservative message.  The Second Amendment is probably pretty safe turf, but not necessary for the purpose of this coalition.  Conservatives or libertarians wandering off into territory such as abortion, gay rights, immigration, medical marijuana, and the Iraq War will be creating unnecessarily divisive issues.

As Brad Warbiany writes: “The art of politics is knowing where coalitions can be formed, and making use of them.”


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16 Comments

  1. “Conservatives or libertarians wandering off into territory such as abortion, gay rights, immigration, medical marijuana, and the Iraq War will be creating unnecessarily divisive issues.”

    Not only that, but far more importantly, it will play into the hands of the statist Federal Govt., and its propaganda arm, which consists of virtually the entire media establishment outside of some internet blog sites and a handful of political commentators. Who are intensely opposed to any criticism of Dear Leader and his intentions, and who therefore will focus their attention like a laser on a single sign at one of these rallies which is, e.g., anti-abortion, or pro-2nd amendment, or anti-ILLEGAL (the left always intentionally ignores that word) immigration, or worst of all, anti-gay marriage – in order to proclaim the movement to be a collection of violent, revolutionary, unpatriotic, “Right Wing Extremists.” A whole groudswell of Timothy McVeighs.

    Best to just stay 100% narrow and consistent. And to NOT allow ANY establishment (Steele, Gingrich) GOP pols to speak or latch onto it. The message should stay very focused on being Anti-the continuation of irresponsible spending and out of control govt. growth. That way the propaganda machine is at least a little more limited in what can be spun – and perhaps we’ll simply remain characterized — everywhere from the CNN/WaPo/CBS News outlets to the entertainment folks – Letterman, John Steward and SNL – as simply being a bunch of selfish and spoiled white racists who are whining about paying our “fair share” of taxes, and want the poor to starve and want to cut off Grandma’s medicare, so that we can have more money to buy ammo and gas for our SUVs. As opposed to giving them fodder to label the tea party protestors as “Domestic Terrorists,” or “Christianist Theocons” or….gasp….a threat to Homeland Security itself, as being “right wing extremists.”

    Comment by southernjames — April 14, 2009 @ 4:41 am
  2. Michael Steele trying to “muscle his way into the Tea Party rallies???” Really? Do you have any evidence of that? From what I’ve gathered he had to be convinced by Republicans around the Nation to participate through emails and phone calls. His initial impulse was to avoid participation due to “partisizing” the events.

    And what’s so bad about him being involved? After all Steele comes from the LIBERTARIAN WING OF THE GOP!!

    Recall he was Lt. Governor under “Republican Drug Legalizer supporter” Gov. Bob Ehrlich for 8 years. He’s also a huge support of School Vouchers, and deep Tax Cuts.

    Your own buddy Stacy McCain, and I were HUGE SUPPORTERS of Steele’s in his RNC election effort, as was virtually the entire libertarian wing of the GOP. Steele, save Saul Anuzis of Michigan, was the clear choice of libertarian Republicans for RNC Chair.

    He’s also quite libertarian culturall, fan of Hip Hop, loves to use Rock music metaphors, very up on Pop Culture.

    This is why the Religious Right despised him, and are still doing everything they can to shitcan him today.

    What does it take to get you partisan LP Libertarians to support libertarian Republicans? It’s perfectly fine when we’re busting our asses supporting your candidates, but turn around and ask for support for one of our own, like Michael Steele, Sarah Palin, Butch Otter, Tom McClintock or even Mark Sanford, and you all are AWOL. Worse, you even go out of your way to criticize libertarians in the GOP.

    With friends like you all…

    Comment by Eric Dondero — April 14, 2009 @ 5:24 am
  3. Southernjames, please explain how Michael Steele is “establishment”???

    Are you friggin’ kidding me????

    He’s the epitome of anti-establishment. He beat the old boy, most southern white GOP establishment for the job of RNC Chairman.

    This despite the fact that he is heavily rumored to be a support of drug legalization, and worked under Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich as his Lt. Governor for 8 years; Ehrlich being on record in support of Marijuana Legalization.

    Steele gets blasted daily from Establishment Social Conservatives for his new “Culturally Hip” approach to GOP outreach.

    And have you ever seen him on TV News? He’s the precise opposite of a staid, boring-ass white conservative Karl Rove or Newt Gingrich type.

    MICHAEL STEELE ROCKS!!! He’s simply the GREATEST NATIONAL CHAIRMAN OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IN THE PARTY’S ENTIRE 150+ YEARS HISTORY.

    To use the adjective “establishment” next to his name is simply insane.

    Comment by Eric Dondero — April 14, 2009 @ 5:29 am
  4. [...] MSNBC devotes 13 minutes to “teabagging” puns, The Looney Right & The Tea Parties, Addressing some Tea Party concerns, Time to Party Tomorrow, St. Louis News Links Tea Party Protesters to “Extremist” [...]

    Pingback by Tea Party Fail | Prose Before Hos — April 14, 2009 @ 6:01 am
  5. A picnic to protest taxes. Sounds like quite the social event. Entertainment for the nightly news.

    It seems like a comfortable way to protest as opposed to not actually paying taxes, which might cause some discomfort for both the tax payer and the tax receiver. But hey, why get serious.

    Comment by John Newman — April 14, 2009 @ 7:08 am
  6. [...] meme that the Tea Party movement is a GOP/neocon “AstroTurf” conspiracy, Stephen writes at the Liberty Papers: WYDE’s Lee Davis . . . is perhaps the biggest GOP cheerleader in Alabama radio and obviously [...]

    Pingback by The Greenroom » Forum Archive » Alabama Sweet Tea! — April 14, 2009 @ 7:47 am
  7. First, I’m not a Libertarian. At least not yet. I just like this site.

    Second, I am more than willing to back entirely off on my lumping Steele in with the Beltway Establishment big govt. Republicans.

    I guess I’m just still a little sensitive over how the GOP in general, betrayed its supporters and abandoned the limited government principles it was supposed to stand for….and I suppose I could be considered one of those who have stated “I didn’t leave the GOP, the GOP left me.” Although that is not really true I guess. If the GOP wants to be Democrat-Lite, it is up to the GOP.

    So I’m just a person without a party. (And jist settin here a clingin to mah guns and mah religion – which makes me a potential “right wing extremist” in the eyes of the Department of Homeland Security).

    And I don’t think it helps the anti-overnight trillion dollar deficit movement to have any big govt Nanny State Republicans trying to suddenly jump on the bandwagon, and pretend like they are part of it. If Steele is a true fiscal conservative, who is willing to stand up to the bail-out porkfestoring old boy network in his own party, then sure – I’d welcome him with open arms.

    Comment by southernjames — April 14, 2009 @ 9:41 am
  8. Michael Steele trying to “muscle his way into the Tea Party rallies???” Really? Do you have any evidence of that? From what I’ve gathered he had to be convinced by Republicans around the Nation to participate through emails and phone calls. His initial impulse was to avoid participation due to “partisizing” the events.

    Eric,

    You should know by now that I wouldn’t make a charge without backing it up.

    Try here. And here. And here, here, here, here, here and here.

    Comment by Stephen Gordon — April 14, 2009 @ 9:44 am
  9. I will be holding my on protest from noon-4PM at the Homewood PO as part of Operation Stop Thief!

    Comment by Darryl W. Perry — April 14, 2009 @ 10:52 am
  10. [...] Addressing some Tea Party concerns [...]

    Pingback by It’s Michigan Tea Party Time! | Michigan Blogger — April 14, 2009 @ 6:57 pm
  11. Sorry, but the GOP’s position on medical pot is too fucking expensive for taxpayers, in addition to being morally-wrong. I’ll shove that into their faces and help them lose election after election until they learn that at least on the pot part of their tax & spend drugwar, the ONLY acceptable posture is tail-between-the-legs retreat, because the rest of us plan for their DEFEAT. Get the Gary Johnson Ron Paul Dana Rohrabacker clue, or get the hell out of town with your big spending control freakery because we the taxpayers can no longer afford it and because it’s STUPID. Got it?? Good.

    Comment by James M. Ray — April 15, 2009 @ 5:23 am
  12. [...] this issue, Gordon has been doing  yeoman’s work trying to both set the record straight and keep the protests focused on the topic at hand.  I haven’t had the chance to see yet whether those efforts had any [...]

    Pingback by Setting the Record Straight | The League of Ordinary Gentlemen — April 15, 2009 @ 7:09 pm
  13. [...] this issue, Gordon has been doing  yeoman’s work trying to both set the record straight and keep the protests focused on the topic at hand.  I haven’t had the chance to see yet whether those efforts had any [...]

    Pingback by Setting the Record Straight | The League of Ordinary Gentlemen — April 15, 2009 @ 7:09 pm
  14. [...] seems that everyone (while I was there, at least) followed the advice I offered about sticking to a fiscally conservative message.  Several people there told me that they had [...]

    Pingback by The Liberty Papers »Blog Archive » Alabama Tea Party Report — April 16, 2009 @ 12:33 am
  15. [...] far too often this week) writes of what happened when more and more non-germane elements were introduced into the 2003 Alabama state Tea Parties: The successful Tea Party in Alabama was the rallying point which turned into a major defeat of the [...]

    Pingback by Creating Apathy by Fighting Apathy | The League of Ordinary Gentlemen — April 17, 2009 @ 5:31 am
  16. [...] bring this up in regards to the Stephen Gordon quote that Mark provides, The successful Tea Party in Alabama was the rallying point which turned into a [...]

    Pingback by Protests, Movements, and Communities | The League of Ordinary Gentlemen — April 24, 2009 @ 11:30 am

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