I got an email from the conservative website, Texas Insider, pointing me to a blog by one Bernie Quigley. It’s all about how the Tea Party movement is all about the restoration of the power of individual states and the illegitimate power of the federal government. So much for interstate highways, the Post Office, and the military the secures all 50 states, not one or two. Whatever became of the National Anthem? Or the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States?
Speaking of the military, some Republican legislators in Oklahoma and that state’s Tea Partiers are calling for the creation of a state militia to go to war with the U.S. government. You can’t make this stuff up. And, you’d think the citizens of the state victimized by a “volunteer militia” in the horrible 1995 Oklahoma City bombing would be just a wee bit skeptical about using their tax dollars to pay for a, uh, “volunteer militia.”
Anyway, Mr. Quigley, after taking the broadest possible mud brush to the 1960s, complains about the broad brushing of the Tea Party movement. He does, however, have the good sense to note that the movement will fail if it continues to call for the creation of state-based armies to go to war with the rest of the country. Top notch thinking, Mr. Quigley.
You will enjoy E.J. Dionne’s masterful teacup-smashing analysis here.
What most irks me about the Tea Party — besides the thuggish racism and the constitutional ignorance — is its defense of the corporatist status quo and dis-empowerment of individuals and communities by, say, the insurance industry, which kowtows to neither state nor fed. I’m with the Tea Party on individual liberty, and I’m stronger than they seem to be on individual responsibility (I’m still waiting for the first Republican this millennium to accept responsibility for something, anything).
Where were these people when George W. Bush destroyed habeas corpus, made an official policy of state-based torture (an attack on individual liberty long cast aside by democracies across the globe), or tripled the national debt to pay for a war based upon a lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Seems like people worried about the loss of individual freedom would have spoken up about these matters.
I suspect they did not because they hold to radically different ideas about liberty than some of us. To them, liberty is all about obedience to authority, to a particular kind of authority as it turns out. Protest as they might, Tea Partiers have a difficult time getting around the fact that they are chanting the racially loaded “states’ rights” mantra in the wake of the election of our nation’s first African-American president.
I don’t think liberty has anything to do with obedience. I think we have a moral obligation to challenge authority at every turn, and I actually support the Tea Partiers in this regard, however misguided I believe them to be in the content of their protests. It’s just that they talk about freedom when they really mean: Do What the Insurance Industry (insert your favorite powerful corporate interest here) and It’s Hired Hands In Government Tell You To Do.
I oppose hierarchy of all kinds, not just the federal government kind. We are all God’s children, equal in worth and deserving of dignity, opportunity and respect. What the Tea Partiers are looking for is a Boss Man whom they will obey so long as they are assured there are people chained below them in the hierarchy. What’s freedom if you can’t kick someone else in the face?
And, by the way, Tea Partiers, keep your damned authoritarian hands off of Thomas Jefferson, who never confused freedom with obedience to authority or hierarchy.