Tea Party rebels, not patriots
Smaller government and lower taxes is the message on one large sign. I think that is a part of the theme for the Tea Party, but of course there is more.
First, I want to address this banner theme. America needs and wants a more efficient government, one whereby people are provided essential services of the highest quality and the least cost. What is missing in the Tea Party banner is the issue of what constitute essential services and for whom?
Emphasis on government size and lower taxes without addressing the needs of people for government services is simple minded. Tax rates are ultimately determined by 1) defining needs, 2) understanding the state of the economy, and 3) understanding the capacity of various income groups (levels of wealth of corporations and individuals) to pay for essential services and needs.
So, get off the simple minded banner kick, because that goes nowhere.
As the story goes below, the Tea Party drew a line in the sand on government spending and forced all parties to address the issue. That is a good thing.
Where the Tea Party went wrong is deviating from the banner theme into ideology debates that are right back in the thick of radical Republicanism: attacking gays and minorities, attacking programs that support the poor, needy, and elderly, etc.
When Tea Party participants invoke their hatred against other citizens based on bias and bigotry that is not supported by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, then they are no longer patriots, but are rebels.
“The tea party dichotomy
By Aaron Blake
Recent polling shows the American people generally think the tea party has had a good influence on American politics, but that doesn’t mean that they identify with it or even like it.
A CNN/Opinion Research poll earlier this month showed that 50 percent of people said the tea party had had a positive influence on American politics, versus 43 percent who said it had a negative one.
But a new Gallup poll two weeks later shows support for the tea party dropping to a new low, with just 33 percent viewing it favorably and its unfavorable rating rising to a new high, 47 percent. (The numbers echo what CNN/Opinion Research and a Washington Post-ABC News poll found in March.)
It’s the latest example of the American public not quite knowing what to make of the amorphous movement. But it also says something larger about the role of political movements — and political parties, which the tea party claims it isn’t — in American politics.
Even as Republicans gained dozens and dozens of seats in 2010, the party’s favorable ratings weren’t great, with the public actually pretty evenly split on whether they liked the party that they were handing control to.
(It should be noted that the tea party’s net favorable rating is actually in quite a bit more negative territory than the GOP was in 2010, but that could be a function of people not quite knowing what to make of it yet. The GOP and tea party have about equal unfavorable ratings right now.)
In a way, the tea party’s descent in the court of public opinion is part of a natural arc. People are frustrated with politics and politicians, and more and more the tea party is becoming a part of the political process of the day.
Governing creates enemies, and when things don’t get better, people will hold the tea party responsible, along with the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.
At the same time, though, people are expressing gratitude to the tea party for how it has changed the debate in Washington.
The general tea party principles of fiscal responsibility and cutting spending resonate with much of the American public, which has seen the movement affect the debate in Washington in a major way. Given that these are the issues of the day, many people see the tea party as doing some good.
In part, this is because they want balance in their politics. They saw their government spending too much and piling up too much debt, and the tea party came along to combat that. So they’re are thankful.
But that doesn’t mean they’re jumping on board with the tea party. As with the two major political parties, Americans are just as prepared to desert the tea party when things don’t go so well.
In fact, the percentage of people who identify as tea party supporters has remained very constant over the last year, as has the percentage who say they oppose the tea party, with both at about 30 percent in the Gallup poll.
The question now is whether the tea party gets credit or blame for the looming budget battles. If deals are cut that satisfy the public’s desire for spending reduction, the tea party can take a victory lap. If the tea party’s demands are seen as too big (i.e. Medicare cuts) or it guides the country to the brink of default, that doesn’t bode well for it.
For now, the movement’s role in pushing the government to the brink of a shutdown doesn’t appear to have played particularly well. But that was really just the first inning of the game, and many seem generally willing to appreciate the role of the tea party in American politics.
Whichever way things go, though, the tea party will suffer the same stigma attached to the major political parties: I may like what you do, but I don’t have to like you.
By Aaron Blake | 12:37 PM ET, 04/29/2011”
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States