People aren’t willing to find out facts behind their beliefs, instead blindly accepting whatever they hear or read as fact, or fiction depending on said beliefs.
Take a look at the people that are involved in the Tea Party movement, an organization filled with angry people who believe that their disparaging comments and actions are going to bring about change in America. Simply reading some of their signs shows their lack of reasoning and information. These slogans range from “Abort Obama”, “F@#$ The Poor” and the classy “I’m not your ATM Obama.”
I was a little teed off after reading this because I have personally attended Tea Party events, and I know they are not "full" of fringe, radical right-wing crazies trying to push their ideology of religion, anti-abortionism, etc down people's throats with violence and hateful signs. Yes, there are some isolated instances of this, but that is hardly the entire story, as anyone who rises above the cable chatter knows. I tried to make this clear to the author. Here is my response --
I find this article highly offensive and ignorant on several levels. However, for how, I just want to focus on the comment ___ made about the Tea Party movement. Let me address several of his ideas about the movement point by point –
I want to discuss a) my personal experience with the tea parties, b) the actual principles of the tea party movement, d) the cause of the limited extremism at the tea parties, and d) the reality of what goes on at the vast majority of the tea parties.
a) My personal experience: I have personally attended a Tea Party event (the 4th of July Dallas Tea Party event, specifically), and I did not find the people to be "angry" in the slightest, or their comments to be negatively "disparaging" in the least (there is a difference between constructive criticism and pure disparagement). The Dallas Tea Party event on the 4th of July of this year was a calm, docile event filled with reasoned (and enthusiastic) participants standing for what they believe. Your disparaging comments about the character and disposition of the people at these events are typical of the blatantly misrepresentative smear tactics that have been used by far-left persons even since the Tea Parties began. You have gone too far when you begin maligning the thousands of responsible, average citizens involved in grass-roots small-government activism with some of the more radical, unrepresentative instances you cited (such as the signs with “Abort Obama”, etc). Your generalization (events being “filled” with radical people) personally offends me as I was a part of one of these events, and I believe myself to be an open-minded and civil person, not a racist, ignorant, and narrow-minded one. Not only does it offend me because it’s not true of me, but it’s not true in general. What you have claimed is blatantly contradicted by what actually happens at these events. I will get back to that after discussing the principles of the tea party.
b) The actual principles of the tea party movement: The Dallas Tea Party and the majority of the other tea Parties (nearly all of them, I dare say) stand for the same basic principles – limited government, fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility, the rule of law, and national sovereignty. For example, the platform for the Dallas Tea Party as of a few months ago (was on their website) were as follows --
1. Limited Government – As our Founding Fathers recognized, restraint of government is necessary to protect the liberties of the people.
2. Fiscal Responsibility – Government at all levels must learn to live within its means. To saddle future generations with the crushing burden of our excess spending is unconscionable.
3. Personal Responsibility – Liberty is unsustainable without responsibility. Each citizen must take responsibility for the consequences of his or her own actions while respecting the rights and dignity of others.
4. The Rule of Law – Consistent, independent and uniform application of the law is critical to a free and prosperous society.
5. National Sovereignty – We must maintain a strong national defense, effective security for our borders, and sole control over our land and our laws.
These principles are what the Tea Party movement is really about. There are radical extremes in every movement, and these surely must be contained – but it is not useful, instructive, or fair to focus on the excessively negative examples and ignore the positive aspects of the movement. Yes, there have been crazy people touting crazy signs at some limited number of Tea Party events, but as a recent opinion article in the Dallas Morning news said, the reality is that that the events are filled with a wide variety of people espousing different points of view, “united in their fear of the future and bedrock belief that Washington is not to be trusted”, not a “rabble-rousing mob of right-wing hotheads and religious nuts”.
The Humble Libertarian website summarizes some reasonable Teabagger principles on their website – which are –
* Voting out each and every single incumbent up for re-election in 2010 who voted for the Stimulus Package and/or the 2008 Wall Street Bailout.
* Electing to office only candidates who promise to support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution (without any exceptions -e.g. in the case of war, emergency, or a 3/5ths vote in Congress) in an act that also requires spending reductions only (no raising taxes) for the first four years to balance the budget, as well as:
* The transition of Social Security from a mandatory pay-as-you go system to an optional system of private pensions.
* A permanent repeal of the payroll tax.
c) The repugnant signs you mention are the result of a lack of leadership in the Tea Party movement -- as the Dallas Morning news opinion article says, “the tea partiers' main problem is lack of responsible leadership to bring focus, coherence and moderation to their movement.” The policing of the radical fringes of the movement is not something that is really being taken seriously at the moment, and this is why some have gotten a skewed perspective about what we are all about (the media misrepresentation does not help, either). Yes, the Tea Parties have leadership issues that need to be addressed, but this does not imply the issues being discussed at the events are irrelevant or should be completely dismissed. Liberals have every right to recognize and be outraged at the problem with the Tea Parties (fringe protestors touting repugnant signs), but they do not have the right to ignore the actual substantive issues the Tea Party wants addressed.
d) What really happens at the tea parties: I have already given you anecdotal evidence about what goes on at the Tea Parties from my own personal experience. The same experience I mentioned has been repeated at thousands of other events as well. Bryon York describes a Tea Party event in Virginia as follows – “If you listened to the speeches at the Tax Day tea party held in the courthouse square of this northern Virginia town, population 25,733, you might not have caught the name of the man in the White House. Among many denunciations of high taxes and out-of-control government spending, there were just a couple of mentions of Barack Obama -- one when a local activist criticized the administration's cap-and-trade energy plan, and the other when a city businessman said he prays for the president … Here in Winchester, Tax Day was a serious and well-meaning affair. For the people here, there are principles at stake in this fight, and, as much as they can, they intend to stand up for what they believe.” Instances like this reinforce the notion that this movement is not based out of ignorance and racism – but people shocked at the expansion of the role of government in our daily lives (runaway federal spending, etc).
Conclusion: Your view of the Tea Party is misrepresentative of reality. The events have problems with fringe protestors, but this does not mean you can dismiss the thousands of reasoned, principled citizens participating in acceptable ways and trying to change their country for the better.