I thought the “Tea Party Movement” was about:
- Individual responsibility
- Reduced spending on entitlement programs
- Lower taxes
- The scaling back of government
These are the messages that first engaged American citizens to take to the streets in protest against a government machine that seemed intent on grabbing power during our most recent economic recession.
Yay for that.
But now, opportunists like Sarah Palin are trying to grab hold of this “movement” by positioning it as a “conservative” movement and marrying it with the ideals of right wing Republicans. In her speech on Saturday, February 6th, 2010, she made reference to religion and other conservative ideology in a way that clouds the true message that many Tea Partiests are trying to send:
GOVERNMENT GET OUT OF MY WAY.
When the CNBC analyst Rick Santelli called for tea parties, his rally cry was very specific. He understood that if the government continued to assert itself in our daily lives by stealing from Peter to pay for Paul’s entitlement programs, and to bail out big companies that took on imprudent risk, then bad things would happen.
Many reasonable individuals throughout the country took hold of Santelli’s call and took part in Tea Party activism. Many of these individuals (I hope most) are smart and objective enough to know that this is not a Democrat versus Republican issue, since both parties have blood on their hands.
It’s really an issue of minority rights: the rights of the individual.
Under the United States Constitution, each individual has the right to pursue his happiness. But when individuals are being forced by the government to fund programs that benefit their neighbor, regardless of how much their neighbor might NEED that program, the rights of the individual are being compromised.
That is what the message of Tea Party activism should be: Preserving the freedom of individuals to pursue their happiness without being forced to underwrite the sad stories or bad decisions of their neighbors.
Now, many pundits and at least one of the “Tea Party Movement Organizations” are saying that Sarah Palin has demonstrated that she can connect well with people who might support policies that further freedom for individuals in some ways. Those people, however, have their own agenda. Their agenda is much more complex than getting government out of our lives. Accordingly, Sarah Palin and the individuals she represents can only be temporary allies of Tea Party Activism.
If Tea Party Activism is to be successful, it must remain independent, and it must be focussed on a narrow set of initiatives that are vital to promoting individual freedom.
Objective 1: Educate
It must seek to educate people about the virtues and broad benefits of self determination, individual liberty, and laissez-faire capitalism. It must remind them that it was not capitalism that failed the United States, but rather that it was the United States that failed capitalism. And that in order for this country to become great once again it must get out of the way of the real heros of this country: those who enrich themselves by exchanging value for value.
Side note: In her Tea Party speech Sarah Palin extolled the virtues of being “selfless.” I would suggest that Tea Party Organizations require that she read some of Ayn Rand’s novels before being invited back to speak again, if at all.
Objective 2: Prosecute Corrupt Politicians and Business People
Make no mistake, corruption is an enemy of capitalism. It is corruption that far too often leads to individuals of merit being subjugated to cheats, thieves, and looters. In addition, when individuals enrich themselves thanks to their connections or manipulations, capitalism is often blamed unfairly. We’ve seen examples of this recently when capitalism was blamed for issues ranging from the housing crisis to complex pyramid schemes. In order to promote and preserve individual freedom, Tea Party Activists must identify and expose loudly acts of corruption be them at the corporate or government level.
They must not stop there. Corrupt individuals of all shapes and sizes must be prosecuted in court, they must be made to pay financial restitution to those who have suffered directly as a result of their corruption, and they must be barred from serving in public office.
Objective 3: Fight Every Incumbent, Democrat or Republican, Until Entitlement Programs are Stopped
Few in Washington, Democrat or Republican, support scaling down entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. The truth is, however, that until these programs are phased down, and eventually phased out, the government will continue stand in the way of economic development. Ultimately, it is economic development that will lift individuals out of poverty, not entitlement programs.
Politicians have one job: to get elected. Currently they are wary of casting votes that threaten entitlement programs because they believe constiuents who support those programs will vote them out of office.
In order to counterbalance that, Tax Party Activists must commit themselves to throwing incumbents out of office until they start fighting aggressively for the end of all major entitlement programs. Tax Party Activists must make it difficult for politicians to stay in office until they confront and begin to abolish entitlement programs.
It should be a forgone conclusion that Sarah Palin cannot lead the initiatives above, and that her personal philosophy is not in line with the philosophy that powers Tea Party Activism . Sarah Palin, like President Obama, may be able to “connect” with people. But they are two sides of the same coin. Tea Party Activism should be much bigger than any political candidate, or political party. It should be a vehicle for espousing common sense, and it should seek short-term solutions to present problems without jeopardizing its strategic goal of getting the government out of our way.