They’re not all Republicans. They’re not all Democrats. They’re not all Libertarians. And they’re not all independents.
But they’re all fed up.
And in their frustration, they are all united. And united, they are the “Tea Party”.
If you demand to know who their leaders are, then you just don’t get it. Tea Party members are TIRED of being “led”. They see government, rightly, as their servants and not their masters. It’s not that they reject being governed, but that they’re weary and wary of being OVER-governed (literally) from cradle to grave.
Fine. So their shared animus toward the governmental behemoth brought them together. What now? We know what they oppose, so what are they FOR? What do they offer?
In a word: prioritization.
Historically, candidates chose their issues and voters decided which politician they were most closely aligned with. In the Tea Party paradigm, voters rank their issues and demand candidates who share their priorities. Essentially, they’ve gone from grazing at the buffet to ordering from the menu.
Here’s the important part: they cooperate without regard to motive. One member may be devout, believing the best argument for limited government is in the book of Deuteronomy. Next to that person may stand an agnostic miniarchist ready to cite the “Wealth of Nations”. Their refusal to get sidetracked into quibbling over motivational differences allows the Tea Party to move their agenda forward. It’s not important WHY they agree, only THAT they agree.
Being able to disagree, even passionately, without marginalizing one another is perhaps the greatest strength of the Tea Party, and a shortcoming of the “big two”, where dissenters are routinely alienated. There’s a reason “gay Republicans” have their own niche. So too with “pro-gun Democrats”. Neither feels fully welcome in their respective “big tents”.
The counterpart to their mutual consent is shared sacrifice. If same-sex marriage, marijuana legalization, and abortion are NOT the group’s top concern, those issues WILL be de-prioritized for the interim, and the selection of candidates whose priorities align with that of the Tea Party will proceed.
In short, Tea Parties are the solution to what I call the “Libertarian Paradox”, which I highlight at periodic gatherings of like-minded individuals with this light-hearted plea to the attendees:
“I say we STOP marching in lockstep and START acting like independently-thinking INDIVIDUALS! Now, WHO’S WITH ME?”
The Tea Partiers. That’s who…
By J Gravelle
Special Guest Perspective for the MacIver Institute