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Saturday, June 12, 2010

What Flavor of Tea (Party) Do You Like?

Do you have a preference as to what flavor of tea you like?  Probably so.  And what one person likes, another may not like at all.

The Washington Post has an article today about the lack of organization in the Tea Party and how that is hurting the movement.  It seems to me that much of the lack of organization is the nexus of the movement - a number of different ideological movements coalescing around the same name, the Tea Party.

What do I mean?  The members of the Tea Party movement seem to have one of three central themes, although within the members whether they support each one varies.  The three themes or ideologies include: (1) small government/anti-federal government/anti-tax movement; (2) strict or literal interpretation of the Constitution or a notion of reverting to the laws of the "founding fathers"; and (3) an ultra-conservative christian movement. 

The small government/anti-federal government/anti-tax movement is similar in many respects to the ideas of the current Libertarian party, Ron Paul and Rand Paul among its more recognizable figures.  In previous articles I have discussed Rand Paul and the general concepts of Libertarianism - see HERE and HERE.  The anti-tax and limited role of government has been one of the biggest selling points of the Tea Party movement, especially in these tough economic times.  One of the difficult aspects of the anti-tax movement has been to identify and agree upon which government programs are acceptable and which are not - the idea that I am against government programs except for the ones I am for (i.e., Medicare).

The strict constructionist are the ones we often see saying that "want their Country back."  It is often based upon a notion that things "use to be better" and that the Country is going in the wrong direction - a sense of becoming disenfranchised.  The difficulty I have with this element is that what the "strict constructionist" advocate is often not based upon a true historical analysis of our laws but upon their own notion of how they should be.

And the last element of defining our nation as a "christian nation" I find a little troubling.  By the very definition as a "Christian nation" you are excluding a vast number of Americans.  And as I have discussed before, our "founding fathers" were very leery of religion and went to great extents to separate church and state. 

So, to me, the difficulty which the Tea Party faces is trying to combine these disparate ideas into a single movement.

The Washington Post discusses it this way:
The national tea party movement has never had a central organization or single leader; in fact, it has boasted the opposite. But Tuesday's primary results provided fresh evidence of the amorphous network's struggle to convert activist anger and energy into winning results. Frustrated and lacking agreement on what to do next, self-identified tea party leaders say the movement may be in danger of breaking apart before it ever really comes together.
The polls hadn't even closed Tuesday when "tea party" activists in Nevada started sniping at one another over whether Sharron Angle, the soon-to-be Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, was the best candidate to bring down Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid.
In Virginia, tea partiers vented on blogs and to reporters about the movement's inability to coalesce around a single, strong candidate in two House races, resulting in the nomination of establishment candidates instead.
Trying to be too many things to too many people rarely works.  Until someone (Rand Paul? - Sarah Palin?) becomes of the "face" of the Tea Party, the members may continue to fight as to what flavor of tea is best to serve at the party.

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