Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Tea Party: Is It Do-or Die Time?

The Tea Party has taken some blows recently, including the recent election, some by its own political bungling. Has it seen its day? Libertarian, Paulist columnist Paul Mulshine thinks soMany on the Left believe (hope) so. The New Jersey Star-Ledger says that Tea Party candidates' "obsession with ideological purity and determination not to compromise at any cost may have finally been their undoing." 

Following his landslide victory, the Left-leaning Star-Ledger writes that Republican Governor Chris Christie is the GOP's best hope for reinvention. It even endorsed the popular governor for reelection against Democrat Barbara Buono (that should tell you something).

I left these comments:

It is understandable that the Star-Ledger loves Chris Christie. He is a "big government" Republican (e.g.-he supports minimum wage laws, but with smaller increases). Reinvention? Rather than "reinvent," a national leader Christie would resurrect the Democrats' most reliable secret weapon; that old-time me-too Republican Party. 

To be sure, the Tea Party is not ideologically pure, and I disagree with a great many Tea Partyers, especially its social conservative wing. The Tea Party is beset with internal philosophical contradictions (see Mulshine's column). But remember that the Tea Party was born as a rebellion against the ever-expanding growth of government and the corresponding retreat of individual liberty in America. Its opposition to "big government" was always too vague, but for all of its faults, the Tea Party is the only viable cultural/political force around to defend individual rights and limited, rights-protecting government. It just needs an intellectual/ philosophical foundation.

When the editors condemn Tea Party candidates for their "obsession with ideological purity and determination not to compromise at any cost," what they illustrate is the Left's fear of a principled cultural opposition to their own collectivist/statist ideological purity. 

Despite the Tea Party's recent political fumbles, the GOP and America needs the Tea Party at this point. A Republican Party without the Tea Party means essentially one-party rule, with the collectivist/statist Democrats controlling the agenda and the "moderate" GOP compromising away liberty at every step of the way. 

I wouldn't write off the Tea Party just yet. I remember the 1960s New Left. It seemed to die off in the 1970s. Yet, here it is in control, in the form of the Obama Democrats. Labels can disappear, but ideas are much harder to defeat. The left has always been ideologically pure, only willing to "compromise" on details but rarely on its fundamental ideals.

If the Tea Party can congeal around a consistent platform of individualism, political freedom, and free market capitalism—as a counterweight to the Left's collectivism, political authoritarianism, and fascist/socialism—it can win in the longer run. The Tea Party's potential to upset the Left's designs on America is why it hates and fears the Tea Party.

It may be do-or-die time for the Tea Party. As Mulshine rightly points out, "the tea parties started out with great promise" but then went off the rails. For example, Mulshine notes:

    The tea party’s objections to Obamacare as socialized medicine weren't based on principle. They were based on naked self-interest. This new government program threatened to cut into the benefits they received from the old government program.
    If the tea partiers were truly opposed to socialized medicine, they would have urged the Republicans in Congress to defund Medicare, not Obamacare.

Though I wouldn't call supporting Medicare in the self-interest of a liberty advocate, Mulshine's essential point is valid. The Tea Party as a movement always lacked explicit principles.

Has the Tea Party had its day? Maybe. But, for ideologically pure proponents of liberty and capitalism, their day has not yet arrived.


Mike Kevitt said...

Both left & right are ideologically pure. They are statists. The left is just more consistent about it. It's a one party, anti-Americam system. But, every free country needs a one party system: of individual rights. Ours is of statism. That's why it's bad. The country won't stay free this way. This system will destroy ALL rights, for statism, ideologically pure.

The Tea Party must become ideologically pure, up front. It can't be left OR right. It must be radical for individual rights, including capitalism.

The left-right statist spectrum must be destroyed and put into a museum.

Then, the one party radical system for individual rights might end up facing at least one other competing party. That's ok, if that party is dedicated to individual rights. If it's not, then it must be dedicated to something else, thus ILLEGAL, and must be stamped out by law, by criminal law providing for fines and incarceration. This is moral and required in a free country, for it to stay free.cymenuan 222

Mike Kevitt said...

I wish I could edit my comment after it's posted. My messing up when I'm trying to prove I'm not a robot is one reason.

Michael A. LaFerrara said...

I think the Left-Right paradigm is useful. It captures the two extremes of statism-laissez-faire capitalism at work, and gets to the heart of matter.

I recommend Craig Biddle's Political "Left" and "Right" Properly Defined: