Tea Partiers Support (Or At Least Won’t Attack) Civil Liberties?


A gay conservative group and some Tea Party leaders are campaigning to keep social issues off the Republican agenda.

In a letter to be released Monday, the group GOProud and leaders from groups like the Tea Party Patriots and the New American Patriots, will urge Republicans in the House and Senate to keep their focus on shrinking the government.

From the letter:

Already, there are Washington insiders and special interest groups that hope to co-opt the Tea Party’s message and use it to push their own agenda – particularly as it relates to social issues.  We are disappointed but not surprised by this development.  We recognize the importance of values but believe strongly that those values should be taught by families and our houses of worship and not legislated from Washington, D.C.

We urge you to stay focused on the issues that got you and your colleagues elected and to resist the urge to run down any social issue rabbit holes in order to appease the special interests.

To this point, I’ve generally scoffed at any tea partier who crows about “limited government,” or who fears “tyranny.” Why? For the same reason I scoff at people who whine about state’s rights, or judicial activism. In the vast majority of cases, those terms are nothing but pretexts for more specific policy preferences. In other words, just as the same people who want states to decide the issue of abortion also want a federal law banning gay marriage, the same people who think an increase in the top  tax rates is the return of George the III also are just fine with the president claiming the authority to, sua sponte, execute American citizens.

I don’t want this to be the case. I really wish we had a large group of actual voters who really want liberty of all kinds. So, I hope I’m wrong about the Tea Partiers. I’d love it if they’d attack not just Obamacare, but also the Patriot Act.

Does this letter mean that will happen? Dunno. My hopes are not high. First, as many have emphasized in many ways, there is no Tea Party, just groups of folks using the name. Sure some leaders have signed this letter, but that carries no official weight. Second, the nut cases who have taken over the GOP over the last few decades have a lot of money and influence. They are not going to give up their power. Third, and most disappointingly, the letter does not ask Republicans to actually work in favor of liberty. There’s nothing about ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, or ending extraordinary rendition. All the letter does is ask the Republicans to resist attacking civil liberties; not “to run down any social issue rabbit holes.” I’ll be happy if they take that advice, but not nearly as happy as I’d be if they’d actually support all kinds of liberty, instead of the type that only involves their donors’ pockets.

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4 Comments on “Tea Partiers Support (Or At Least Won’t Attack) Civil Liberties?”

  1. Those elected under the TP banner should govern based on the platform of constitutionally limited government upon which they campaigned. By virtue of their election, they will deal with and vote upon social moral issues because social moral issues are addressed in every session of Congress.

    But, even if they vote as conservatives on social moral issues, that does not mean that they have some hidden social moral “agenda”, or any agenda apart from the basic precepts of the TP movement.

    Citizens in the TP movement do not agree 100% on all issues, social moral or otherwise. But that does not mean that they won’t put aside those differences to work together on issues with which they do agree.

    I honestly don’t think you need to worry about the TP movement as a whole being co-opted by outside groups, political parties, nut cases, or deep pockets. TP groups are each autonomous, and the most fiercely independent groups of people I’ve ever met.

    Thank you for your time.

  2. wheeler Says:

    “the platform of constitutionally limited government upon which they campaigned”

    like i said, my opinion has been that the average teabagger and i have very different ideas of what “limited government” means. this letter, i hope, is an indication that maybe i’m wrong and they do, in fact, want to limit more kinds of government intrusions than just those that involve taxes.

  3. wheeler Says:

    “they will deal with and vote upon social moral issues because social moral issues are addressed in every session of Congress.”

    it’s interesting that we all take it for granted congress has the authority to legislate about “social moral issues.” that would have stunned the founders. article one, section eight (the part of the constitution that lists congress’s powers) has plenty to say about regulating the economy, but nothing at all to say about regulating people’s social or moral behavior. that power – called the police power – was thought to be the exclusive domain of the states.

  4. […] a good example of what I was trying to say in this post (and comments thereto): If the generation of “limited government” lawmakers freshly chosen to […]

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