Quote of the Day: Why We Should be Skeptical About the Tea Party’s Commitment to Liberty Edition

Alex Pareene writing for Salon.com in an article entitled: Tea Partyers don’t actually care about “liberty” :

[V]arious New Mexico Tea Partyers booed one of the movement’s superstars [Former New Mexico Governor and potential 2012 presidential candidate Gary Johnson] for daring to suggest that a wasteful and — let’s just say it –tyrannical government campaign [the war on drugs] be ended.


If ending the disastrous, expensive, immoral and racist drug war gets booed at a Tea Party rally in liberty-loving New Mexico, there is absolutely nothing remotely libertarian about the movement besides a visceral hatred of taxes and the conviction that undeserving Others are benefiting from them.

When people ask me what I think about the Tea Party generally, my response is that I’m glad it’s out there shaking things up and challenging the establishment, but I keep them at arm’s length (where were these people during the Bush years?). This article not only deals about Tea Partier attitudes about the war on (some) drugs but also other liberty issues such as gay marriage and free trade (among many other issues not mentioned in the article).

I have been skeptical about the Tea Party’s commitment to liberty all along but the 2012 presidential primary will provide an opportunity to prove me wrong. If the Tea Party overall supports Gary Johnson or Ron Paul, then I would be happy to admit I was wrong. If, however; the Tea Party backs someone like “Tax Hike” Mike Huckabee, Sarah “the Quitter” Palin, or “Mandate” Mitt Romney I can safely say my skepticism was validated.

I so hope to be proven wrong but if the response from the New Mexico Tea Party is any indication…

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  • Ben

    Well put… I’ve heard Gary Johnson say much the same thing about the tea party: They want to slash-and-burn federal spending, but don’t want to touch defense, SS or Medicare.

    I’ve actually found Palinites to be open minded on Marijuana policy. And the Ron Paul minority of tea partiers are of course generally libertarian on this issue. The ones that hoot at rallies are the talk radio conservatives who see everything as an Us vs. Them cultural issue (Pot: grrr…Hippies!)

    Gary Johnson is the one candidate who is closest to Palin and the tea party on spending (his record blows Palin’s away, in fact), so I remain optimistic that he can get a following.

  • http://www.meetup.com/Cape-Fear-Tea-Party-Patriots/ Thomas

    You speak as if you are able to discern what the Tea Party stands for on an entire pltform of issues. Stop. There are many voices and opinions within the movement. Many of the local Tea Party groups arose from out of the Ron Paul campaign are are itching to campaign for Dr. Paul as soon as he chooses to run in 2012.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/ Stephen Littau


    I think it’s fair to say that there are many “flavors of tea” in the Tea Party movement. I believe the movement was started by grass roots true believers in small government but I think a whole lot of big government astroturfers have since joined and distorted the message. How did Sarah Palin become a ‘leader’ of the Tea Party movement?

    The article from where I got this quote stated that 52% of Tea Partiers don’t support gay marriage nor civil unions. Others are anti-free trade and probably wouldn’t have the slightest clue who Milton Friedman was.

    How many really want to end the war on (some) drugs?

    How many want to stop sending troops everywhere for the sake of nation building and empire building?

    What about the sacred cows of Defense, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security?

    I think the next few years are going to be very interesting for the Tea Party. Will they hold their candidates accountable if they fail to do as they promised in the 112th Congress? Who will they support for 2012?

  • procopius

    Your premise could be easily applied to libertarians themselves, or liberals, or what-have-you.

    To take a “libertarian” e.g., they hate borders, hate protectionism, hate taxes, hate gun control. But take you average “Real Life Living” libertarian on the average local/state tax initiative, if it is worded and advertised well enough he will vote for it. Ask that same person if we should dismantle the social support umbrella of programs, he would say “in theory yes” but instantly rationalize “why they can’t just go away”. And then you have the hilarious “national defense libertarian”. The whole thing is just a huge laugh.

    The same can be applied to any other political identification. It’s a matter of both normalcy bias, and that of self-compromising of principles/practice. I realized this and have pretty much distanced myself from political identification and political expectation over the last couple of years.