Thoughts on the Tea Party

Regarding the Tea Party convention going on in Nashville, if this movement is genuinely about reducing the scope of federal power over American life, and about reducing the size of the federal teat from which millions derive their (frequently unearned and ill-gotten) sustenance, I’m all for it. But one wonders how Sarah Palin, who is giving the keynote speech at the convention, fits into such a movement. She wants to create or expand federal programs to take care of mentally disabled people (indeed she said that her being the mother of a mentally challenged child meant that she has the vocation of crusading for such federal help). She is a passionate advocate of Title IX, the federal statute barring “discrimination” against females in education which, in Atlas Shrugged manner, by requiring that there be an equal number of girls’ and boys’ sports teams in each school, has forced hundreds of schools around the country to discontinue boys’ sports teams. And she supports an expansion of federal aid to education—the very essence of the big government, socialist mindset! Ok, so Palin is against Obamacare. Good. But if the Tea Party is to be a meaningful and sustainable movement, it must represent an opposition to big government that goes beyond opposing Obama’s specific big government agenda. And I don’t see Palin as an anti-big government person as such. She opposes specific federal programs. But everyone opposes some federal programs. The Tea Party must stand for something larger than that.

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LA writes:

I’ve just realized that while I have always been critical of conservative movements that ignore social conservatism, in the case of the Tea Party I am not. Why? I think it’s because the Tea Party movement arose as a direct response to the most radical and frightening effort to expand state power in American history, and also the phrase “tea party” symbolizes resistance to excessive government power. So that’s what the Tea Party is about in my mind. I don’t require that it take positions on social conservative concerns.

Also, a broad movement that is possible on the basis of agreement on anti-statism, would become divided if social issues were brought in.

Third, through an attack on excessive federal power, much of the social liberal agenda, which lives through excessive federal power, gets attacked as well.

This doesn’t mean that social conservatives need to abandon their own positions in order to support the tea party movement, only that the tea party movement addresses a specific set of concerns.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 06, 2010 10:06 AM | Send

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