Who Peed in My Tea?

I should be old enough to have given up hope, yet here I am again disillusioned by rank stupidity. When the Tea Party originated, it held at its core three principles:

  1. Lower taxes
  2. Limited government
  3. Fiscal responsibility

From this eminently sensible foundation, it enjoyed a surge as a powerful and positive political movement, the kind unseen in this country for decades.

Then came the dunces. Conservatives with every kooky idea I have ever seen plus a few I have not came crawling from the crevices and started wearing the Tea Party banner. Not only did this damage the movement, it put a big fat bullseye on its arse at which the Left wasted no time in taking pot shots. Now, instead of prompting a fresh look at the relationship between citizens and government, the Tea Party is becoming fodder for ridicule.

Rather than pound specific candidates, let me suggest a few things to all who would claim Tea Party support. First, read more. History would be a good start. No one expects you to have every date and every event down cold, but they do figure you ought to know that the Founding Fathers did not end slavery. A quick look at the Constitution might help settle some of your confusion about individual rights and limited government. It is a wonderful document. Not perfect, but wonderful. Please do not claim to be a Constitutional scholar when you aren’t one. We scholars from other areas have a hard enough time getting respect without being associated with you.

Second, please remember that your religion is not the only one. I know, I know. This one is hard. After all, there are so many people who will vote for you if you can quote a passage from your Bible. No one cares if you want to take all those stories literally on your own time. They do get a little nervous when you start wanting tax money to support that viewpoint in the classroom. Equal time for Native American myths? How about Norse legends? Hindu? Muslim? Atheists? Wait, they don’t have any myths. Well, you get the point. There, I thought you’d see it my way.

Third, we all know that at some point, armed revolution is justified. That is how this country was founded. We are still very far away from a scenario like that. It does not help the case for limited government when you make constant references to being “armed and dangerous” or putting opponents “in the crosshairs.” The Left is fidgety enough without you making them hide behind a garbage can when they see one of us coming.

In short, stick to the knitting here. You can win over a few solid, thoughtful people who believe in the three principles above or you can pander to the cognitively-challenged many with anger management problems. That is no victory. Being ruled by a dense despot from the Right is no better than being lorded over by a loopy liberal. Take a step back and realize that we are at a unique turning point in our history. We can institutionalize a different kind of stupidity or we can change the game entirely by staying true to what America really needs–a reaffirmation of individual rights.

About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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