I knew from the beginning of this project (a whole week or so ago) that I was going to address “Tea Party Nation” at some point. This week seems like the a good time since the Tea Party National Convention is taking place, or is scheduled to take place, in Nashville, TN. Politico first reported the group’s internal strife over the organizing and financing of this event. However, I’d like to take a broader look at the implications of the Tea Party movement.
The biggest unanswered question for me with Tea Party Nation is- what is the motivating factor behind the sudden activism? I should note at this point that I support political activism of all shapes, sizes, colors and creeds. If more Americans are attentive and involved in the process, only good things can happen. I know that sounds a bit backward because the more people involved, the more viewpoints and the more division may occur. While it’s possible the greater fractioning of the electorate makes life more difficult for the majority party, the fact is there’s no way to fit everyone into two groups. It’s something we all should get used to now, because it’s only going to diversify further.
So, my question is, are these individuals reacting to a void left by W. or Republican Congresses and demonstrating against this specific presidential administration? Or are they fed up with Washington’s long tradition of deficit spending and debt so that no matter who was in charge these outbursts would have occurred? I don’t know the answer but I think the reason will speak to the future political climate and number of potential voters for independent, third party or extreme candidates.
I guess I’m having trouble understanding whether I should tie this activism to the recession, Obama or an attempt to balance the Democratic sweep of 2008? I have a sense, as with most things, it’s probably a combination of many, many complex factors. But boiling it down, there are a few major financial problems that our government must deal with year over year – taxes and the mounting national debt. Granted we exert a lot of calories over taxes and basically, none, over the debt, which makes me wonder, are the Tea Parties representative of a large portion of voters or simply a small, loud minority?
Either way, to pretend like these Tea Partiers are crazy nuts (the way some in the media have) that have no place in national politics is too easy. I’ll agree that some portion of their members and messages are rude, hateful and not legitimate, but are protected speech in this country. Mostly, I’ve come to lump them into the Libertarian and strict Constitutionalist categories that treat fiscal policy the way Greens treat the environment. Truthfully, taxes and debt are not the only issue on the President’s desk. But, as someone far more concerned with fiscal and public policy than social policy, I understand many of their concerns. Yet, to give a vocal, unstable minority too much power and attention is also probably not the solution to convince Washington to heed fiscal responsibility. Even though fiscal responsibility is a message we can all get behind.
Is there a way to bring different viewpoints into the national conversation when the two major political parties don’t benefit from the topic? At this time, I have to concede that I haven’t done a great job articulating my point. The best I could do is raise a series of questions whose answers are likely to impact the national political scene moving forward. Likewise, finding a way to incorporate more diverse groups and passionate voices into our national conversation is the best way to progress into the practice of open discussion and better problem solving. Whether or not, Tea Party Nation and others like them have a lasting impact will have as much to do with their behavior as our general, cultural response to them.