That’s Some Mighty Authoritarian Tea

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Via the comments,

the libertarian writer Jim Bovard visited a Maryland Tea Party on Tax Day, and found little more than a different variety of authoritarianism:

…there is scant evidence that most tea partyers have studied the copies of the Constitution they generously hand out to bystanders.

At a Tax Day tea party in Rockville, Md., the speaking venue was draped with a huge banner: “Tired of Big Government?” Members of the “Tyranny Response Team” stood near the front of the rally with their official blue T-shirts. Giant American flags and ones with “Don’t Tread on Me” (with a coiled rattlesnake) were carried around by men with tri-corn hats. Political campaigns busily sold “9/11 Remembrance” bracelets.

And yet, the crowd of 300 seemed most outraged that the US government is not being sufficiently aggressive in using its power.

Ken Timmerman, the author of “Preachers of Hate: Islam and the War on America” and other hawkish books, declaimed that the US government must take every step to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons…

Running through a litany of President Obama’s greatest failings, Timmerman denounced him for forcing US agents to “stop using enhanced interrogation methods. Has that made us safer?”

“No!” the crowd hollered indignantly.

Jeffrey Kuhner, a local talk-show host, sneered that Obama “has found his inner Muslim” and raged against his bowing to foreign leaders and kings. He complained that Obama has “taken over college loans,” and warned that illegal immigrants could be “the shock troops of Obama’s socialist revolution.” The crowd ate it up.

One of the MCs gushed about how he and everyone else in the crowd loved the police. There was not a word spoken about the video released earlier that week showing a nearby horrendous police beating of an innocent University of Maryland college student.

The rally featured a string of Republican candidates praising fiscal responsibility and denouncing the national debt. One would have thought that it had been 50 years, rather than 15 months, since the Republicans controlled the White House.

There was almost no dissent from any of the 300 attendees. One 50-something man in a faded green T-shirt walked around with a handmade sign declaring, “Stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – Bring Our Troops Home Now!” He told me that almost no one he’d talked agreed with his message…

Much more in tune with the crowd was the 20-something woman carrying a sign: “PROUD to be the Military Super Power.”…

None of the speakers criticized the warrantless wiretaps that the National Security Agency began during the Bush administration. The feds’ vacuuming up thousands of Americans’ phone calls and e-mails without a warrant seems to be a nonissue for these folks. Perhaps some tea party leaders hope that Republicans will soon be in position to use such powers to surveil the left…

If tea party activists cannot vigorously oppose torture and other high crimes, then counting on them to stalwartly resist any government policy that doesn’t mulct their paycheck is folly.

America needs real champions of freedom – not poorly informed Republican accomplices. Either tea partyers should become more principled or they should ditch their Gadsden flags and wear T-shirts of the lobbying group that organizes the rally they attend.

There’s obviously not going to be pure ideological unity at these events, and I’d have no problem if the Tea Parties were merely silent on issues like foreign policy, law enforcement, and the war on terror—that is, if people who disagree on those particular issues had come together for the purpose of rallying against government debt, bailouts, spending, and so on. But it’s increasingly looking like the right’s favored big government policies are a fairly important part of the agenda of a fairly large portion of the Tea Party crowd. Advocating for more police power, more foreign policy imperialism, and more power for the federal government to detain, torture, and abrogate basic civil liberties sort of misses the entire message of the original Tea Party.

It also makes a mockery of the media narrative that these are gathering of anti-government extremists. Seems like in may parts of the country they’re as pro-government as the current administration, just pro-their kind of government.

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60 Responses to “That’s Some Mighty Authoritarian Tea”

  1. #1 |  Matt D | 

    For whatever they might have been at one point, the TPs today seem like little more than a venting ground for disgruntled Republicans and would-be Republicans like Glenn Reynolds.

  2. #2 |  Reggie Hubbard | 

    I’ve really yet to see anything worthwhile from the Tea Party. They’ve been playing the small government card for health care reform but even that comes off as disingenuous when you have old people crying that the government has no business in health care and should stay away from their medicaid.

    The only good that’s come from them is that with their influence it looks like Rand Paul might just get elected.

  3. #3 |  SJE | 

    Ron Paul spoke about this a few weeks back, how many on the right like government just fine when it is engaged in foreign wars, etc. It took balls.

  4. #4 |  CharlesWT | 

    “The only good that’s come from them is that with their influence it looks like Rand Paul might just get elected.”

    Yeah, regardless or its shortcomings, I’ll consider the Tea Party movement a success if it brings out the inter libertarian in a few million voters.

  5. #5 |  Dan Z | 

    Everyone(Dem or Repub) is all for limited government when there parties not in power. Let the tables turn and they take full advantage of the situation. Obama ran on the idea of shrinking goverment and increased transperancy and everyone tooted that horn for him, needless to say weve seen an increase in the size and spending of government and reduced transperancy. Both the parties are the same and until people realize that there wont be any meaningful change in the way this country is governed.

  6. #6 |  InMd | 

    I cringe every time I hear someone describe these people as “libertarian”. Personally I think it’s becoming an attempt to rename a tarnished brand i.e. Republicans, much as “Progressive” is now what the left calls itself since “liberal” has seemingly become a pejorative in the modern political dialogue.

  7. #7 |  SJE | 

    I agree, InMd: the TP is a disgruntled brew of conservatives, libertarians, authoritarians, and populists. I think that they are a gift to the Democrats, who can watch the GOP spend its time and money on infighting, and nominate people who will not win in the general election. The recent GOP wins: MA Senate, VA and NJ governors, are competent moderates.

  8. #8 |  Mark R | 

    “Personally I think it’s becoming an attempt to rename a tarnished brand i.e. Republicans, much as “Progressive” is now what the left calls itself since “liberal” has seemingly become a pejorative in the modern political dialogue.”

    Libertarian is the new independent. Now that everyone has figured out that independents are mostly just hopelessly dumb.

  9. #9 |  Dave Krueger | 

    The sooner people (especially the media) start recognizing the Tea Partiers for what they are, the sooner we can get back to the two parties vying for control over who gets to grow government the most.

    I think the smartest thing libertarians can do is distinguish themselves from the two parties as starkly as possible. I don’t believe there is any such thing as a libertarian Republican. They are mutually exclusive categories. A libertarian Republican is just a Republican with a libertarian perspective on some narrow pet issue.

    There is no such thing as a Republican that is antagonistic toward government. Republicans are only antagonistic toward Democratically controlled governments. And vice versa.

    Republicans and Democrats want to control government. Libertarians don’t want to control government. Hell, I don’t think many libertarians even want to be involved in politics. They just don’t want government controlling them and there is no place in the two main parties for someone who thinks like that.

  10. #10 |  Mike Healy | 

    “Republicans and Democrats want to control government. Libertarians don’t want to control government. Hell, I don’t think many libertarians even want to be involved in politics. They just don’t want government controlling them and there is no place in the two main parties for someone who thinks like that.”

    Vey nicely put, and very true, I think. Except for the ‘two main parties’ bit. There’s really only one party that I can discern.

  11. #11 |  John Jay Myers | 

    Excellent article. Thank you for being able to more succinctly put into words how I feel. I have actually spoken at Tea Parties, my anti-war stance is not often a big hit.

    @Dave Krueger, your comments were almost as good as the article.

    Thanks!

  12. #12 |  Chris Berez | 

    I agree with what #6 InMd said 100%. The problem is, there are many otherwise respectable libertarians and libertarian institutions that still lend credence to the Tea Party movement by being apologists for it and pretending it’s something that it’s not. It’s the same thing as libertarians continuing to support Ron Paul because he holds some views that we like while completely ignoring that incredibly un-libertarian views that he holds.

    Let’s face it: it’s not the Tea Party that needs to get its shit together– it’s we libertarians. The Tea Party is what it’s always been. I admit I was excited when the “movement” first started, but it became very clear very quickly that these were just ignorant republican shills self-christened with a new name. My letting our names be associated with these people, we do a disservice to ourselves and our legitimate philosophy.

    Why does the media label the Tea Party movement as libertarian? Why shouldn’t they? We continue to do so ourselves. Institutions like Reason and Cato need to stop pretending that just because these idiots talk the talk they also walk the walk. We should have disassociated ourselves with these groups long ago; but now that they invite and embrace speakers like Joe Arpaio, Rick Santorum and Sarah Palin, we should criticize them openly and harshly and make it clear to the media that these people are not libertarian in any way, shape or form. If we don’t, we’ll give the impression that libertarianism is something it’s not; and years from now, when we’re pushed even furthers to the margins of political discourse, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.

  13. #13 |  parse | 

    don’t believe there is any such thing as a libertarian Republican. They are mutually exclusive categories. A libertarian Republican is just a Republican with a libertarian perspective on some narrow pet issue.</I.

    What do you call Ron Paul?

  14. #14 |  EH | 

    Sorry, but the elephant in the room is that Democrats and Republicans (and their respective vociferous arms) are exactly the same, the only difference being who their victims and beneficiaries are.

  15. #15 |  Prof. Smackdown | 

    just pro-their kind of government.Now you get it!

  16. #16 |  bbartlog | 

    ‘The only good that’s come from them is that with their influence it looks like Rand Paul might just get elected.’

    But it remains to be seen whether he’s inherited his father’s curious immunity to the influence of DC, or for that matter his libertarian-leaning politics. So far he’s talked a fairly straight conservative game, with just enough hints at libertarian politics to keep Ron Paul’s people on his side. Fair enough; maybe he needs to do that to win the primary. But we will want to see how he votes before we can conclude that his election would really be worth anything.

  17. #17 |  Marty | 

    I’m a coffee guy, anyway.

  18. #18 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    The Tea Party movement is a little bit of Pat Buchanan, mixed in with a bit of Rush Limbaugh, mixed in with a tiny pinch of Barry Goldwater (who would probably not care for the movement too much), mixed in w/ some Anne Coulter, topped off w/ a twist of Alex “fluoride made me stupid” Jones.

    What I mean by that, essentially, is that the Tea Party crowd is mostly a classic Right-wing populist movement that wants “freedom” and “small government” for middle and upper class white folks. But when it comes to blacks, hispanics, muslims, leftists/liberals, and other hated foes, the movement seems to want the full force of the military, the national security state, and regulatory state to keep “those people” in their place.

    The libertarian elements have largely been drowned out or made to feel unwelcome by the Palinistas. The civil liberatarians are likely laughed at and called “socialists” or “faggots.” The critics of empire are largely unwelcome and branded as traitors (by people who seem to no problem discussing violent revolution as long as a “brother” is in the White House).

    Summing up, I am glad that Radley is calling this movement out on it’s authoritarianism. And if Progressive media, bloggers, etc. hadn’t been so busy making immature “tea bagger” jokes and freaking out because a few of the people brought guns to the rallys, they could have been more successful in exposing the hypocrisy and lack of intellectual vigor that is quite evident in the Tea Party movement.

    In his book “The Cult of the Presidency,” Gene Healy calls many Conservatives and Progressives out for their “situational constitutionalism” (I think that is the right term). The Tea Party movement is obviously guilty of this bit of hypocrisy.

  19. #19 |  Phelps | 

    But it’s increasingly looking like the right’s favored big government policies are a fairly important part of the agenda of a fairly large portion of the Tea Party crowd.

    By that reasoning, you can go to any large libertarian gather and conclude that new age medicine and alien conspiracy theories are a “fairly important part of the agenda of a fairly large portion of the Libertarian crowd.” The enemy of my enemy isn’t necessarily my friend, but he can sure as hell be an ally.

  20. #20 |  Steve Finlay | 

    Radley, I have been puzzled all along by your apparent support for, and favourable comments about, the tea partiers. I think I understand now. Because you understand the dangers of big government very well, you really WANTED to see a large, committed movement arguing against it. So when some tea partiers gave lip service to small government, you believed that they meant it. It certainly would have been a good thing if they had.

    I think that most of us saw the true nature of the tea partiers from the beginning. They want the government to leave THEM alone, but to aggressively force everyone ELSE to do exactly what the tea partiers think they should. Now you see it as well. It’s not good news at all, but this is the way it is.

  21. #21 |  Awktalk | 

    Nice piece, Radley. The fact is, the TPers are the Republican base. They do not accept the outcome of elections when they lose. They will look for any vestige in order to de-ligitimize their political opponents. That’s why you get all this birther nonsense, which these people swallow hook, line and sinker.

    There is nothing grass roots about these people. It is funded and fueled by the right-wing machine. There is nothing small-government about these people. It is the Republican base, who can never accept the fact that elections have consequences.

  22. #22 |  Tom | 

    Typical Liberaltarian response. Everytime I begin to feel comfortable calling myself a libertarian I get this sort of whiny complaining. The truth is, the Tea Partiers, as misguided as some may be, have done what in a year what the Libertarian part has failed to do ever; that is begin the discussion on a return to small government, federalist principles.

    The truth is, the main branch of libertarianism is a very small tent. If you don’t adhere to 100% pure libertarian principles you are disregarded. Well, if the Libertarian party wants this they will forever sit in their coffee shops writing articles and books about how great the theories are without doing anything to actually implement them.

  23. #23 |  dad29 | 

    SOME tea partiers are ‘small gummint’ folks who happen to think that one function of the Gummint is to protect the borders. You got a problem with that?

    MANY tea partiers are not “Republicans.” Who would join ‘the Stupid Party’?

    Finally: only 1 week after 7500 tea partiers stamped all over the Capital lawn in Madison, three ultra-lefty proposals went down to defeat in the Wisconsin legislature.

    No results? You be the judge.

  24. #24 |  Dr. T | 

    Stories like this annoy me. There is no “Tea Party” with a platform, written goals, and political candidates. The name “Tea Party” now is applied whenever non-socialists gather together to vent and rant about the government. Because of the hijacking, a “Tea Party” no longer consists of people primarily concerned with the gigantic size and enormous costs of government. Therefore, we cannot expect to find consistent and logical messages at Tea Parties. They are more like school board meetings where scores of parents are complaining, but they are complaining about many different issues, and those who are complaining about a particular issue have completely different opinions on how to address it. In other words, more chaos than unified cause.

  25. #25 |  Phelps | 

    Here’s what I can’t figure out. You agree with a significant part of their agenda. The parts that you disagree with, the Democrats/left are as bad, or worse on the issue from a libertarian standpoint.

    So here’s where I get lost: why are so many libertarians dead set or making enemies of a movement that is for lowering taxes, cutting spending, and is pro-RKBA?

    I’ve split with doctrinaire libertarians on the war in Iraq on the fundamental issue of, “is freedom an American right or a human one?” I believed that the war in Iraq was justified if for no other reason than throwing off Saddam’s tyranny. How can someone be opposed to that war on what boils down to, “well, they should have been smart enough to be born in America” but throw a fit over someone arguing to close the borders because “they should have been smart enough to be born in America”?

  26. #26 |  UCrawford | 

    SOME tea partiers are ’small gummint’ folks who happen to think that one function of the Gummint is to protect the borders. You got a problem with that?

    Just one question, actually…where do you stand on the government upping the 100,000 per year immigration quota for immigrants from Latin America?

  27. #27 |  bbartlog | 

    ‘The truth is, the Tea Partiers, as misguided as some may be, have done what in a year what the Libertarian part has failed to do ever; that is begin the discussion on a return to small government, federalist principles.’

    Dude, the Libertarians have started about a thousand discussions (which however counts for little in any case). More to the point they have actually elected people to office and put candidates on the ballot in fifty states, etc., which the Tea Party has yet to do. Inasfar as I’m pretty convinced that the Tea Party has become subverted by the Republican party (if indeed it was ever more than a rebranding exercise) I doubt that we will see any cases where someone runs under the Tea Party banner *against* someone who is nominated by the Republicans.

  28. #28 |  Z | 

    The tea partiers are not libertarians in any meaningful sense of the word. They don’t want the government to wield less power, they want the government to wield power the way they would.

  29. #29 |  Radley Balko | 

    How can someone be opposed to that war on what boils down to, “well, they should have been smart enough to be born in America” but throw a fit over someone arguing to close the borders because “they should have been smart enough to be born in America”?

    Because the former requires spending my money to kill people. The latter involves allowing people to move freely across artificial borders . . . and not killing them. Or pointing guns at them. Or arresting them.

    Pretty simple, really.

    And why do Iraqis get to be the beneficiaries of our generous bargain to kill 100,000+ of them in order to liberate them? What about the citizens of the other dozen plus countries run by tyrannical regimes? Should we be invading them too?

    Maybe I shouldn’t ask.

  30. #30 |  Mattocracy | 

    @ #24,

    Being upset with spending and size of government is not enough. If I heard more Tea Party speakers talk about civil rights, police abuse, bringing the troops home, giving gays equal footing, and getting back to the free market by abandoning corporate favoritism…then I would get on board. But there are so many important issues that they don’t mention that make me question their real intentions are. Maybe a lot of them are concerned about these other issues, I just don’t hear it.

  31. #31 |  Mattocracy | 

    Sorry, previous post was meant for 25.

    @ 24 for real this time…

    “There is no “Tea Party” with a platform, written goals, and political candidates. The name “Tea Party”

    Hit the nail on the head. Without clear goals and agenda, they have left themselves open for hijacking that is detrimental to the movement. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I interpret your post as saying that we should forgive the movement for the infiltration. I say it’s something else to hold them accountable for.

  32. #32 |  JS | 

    To be fair though the ideas of libertarianism, freedom, are new to a lot of conservative republicans. A lot of these tea partiers are uneducated and still thinking in the old outdated liberal/conservative dichotomy instead of freedom lovers vs. freedom haters. I think a lot of them might come on board once they get exposed to the ideas. Part of the problem is that most libertarian thought has been confined to intellectuals and up until Ron Paul and youtube, and Radley’s blog and things like that a lot of us weren’t ever exposed to these ideas.

  33. #33 |  ClassAction | 

    #22

    The problem is, when you “begin a discussion” about “small government” and “federalist principles” and then assume the latter to include aggressive military adventurism, state-sanctioned torture, restricting the free movement of peoples, eliminating all checks on the behavior of the police, etc. you aren’t actually doing anything productive. You’re just making “small government” and “federalist principles” impostor terms, and making real discussion about the expansion of liberty at the expense of state power MORE DIFFICULT.

  34. #34 |  InMd | 

    At #19

    The big difference is that I’ve never heard of a libertarian convention inviting people whose views substantially involve new age medicine and alien conspiracy theories to be a key note speaker. It’s certainly unfair to assume that activists share the views of every kook or fool who shows up. However, that argument doesn’t work when you’re selecting folks like Sarah Palin and now Joe Arpaio to make key note addresses. If their views aren’t the ones being endorsed then why are they being invited?

    I see you’re also defending the Iraq war in a later post, a debacle that raises all sorts of issues of government failure from the resort of the federal government to misinformation and jingoism to the vast waste of tax payer resources on a threat that didn’t exist. Government spending and taxation to pay for it (or not as the case may be) is oh so bad unless it’s for aggressive warfare, right? This is why you look like hypocrites. You freak out about the tiny amount of government spending on HUD or Health and Human Services, problematic as they are, while being all for wildly expensive wars of aggression financed on the country’s credit card.

    It’s all well and nice to wallow in some Wilsonian nation-building fantasy land but you have to realize that tens and maybe hundreds of thousands of human beings are dead. They had no choice in the matter but rather had it imposed on them by war mongering ideologues. You illustrate the precise reason that actual libertarians, an admittedly intellectual lot, think the Tea Parties lack credibility.

    At #22

    What exactly has the Tea Party activism accomplished other than further destabilizing the Republican party? You don’t have to be a purist to believe in intellectual integrity.

  35. #35 |  RWW | 

    Good grief, these Tea Party folks are confused.

  36. #36 |  BamBam | 

    Radley, the other tyrannical regimes (as defined by Team USA) aren’t attacked because they don’t serve enough of a strategic purpose as Team USA’s puppet, plus Russia and China would not allow Team USA to attack certain countries as they are able to do something about it (militarily, economically, etc).

  37. #37 |  trey | 

    I can see how you are trying really hard to make a witty point, but unfortunately, your argument has no foundation. There is a difference between waging a war against an enemy of the State versus the State telling individuals they have to engage in commerce (buy the State’s brand of insurance) whether they want to or not…..or the State stealing more and more of my private property to give to people who haven’t earned it. One is a legitimate constitutional duty of the state, and the other is antithetical to the limited powers our Founding Fathers established for the State.

  38. #38 |  zendingo | 

    if we could only see ourselves through the eyes of others…..

  39. #39 |  You! Slow Down! | 

    #22: “Typical Liberaltarian response. Everytime I begin to feel comfortable calling myself a libertarian I get this sort of whiny complaining.”

    Joe Arpaio doesn’t strike you as the polar opposite of everything a small government advocate should stand for? He’s a grandstanding demagogue and a sick busybody in the J. Edgar Hoover mold, with creepy fascist tendencies. Need I go into his surveillance of critics, outfitting the D.A.R.E. program with armored vehicles, forcing inmates to live in tents and wear pink underwear, chain gangs, his personal howitzer with “Sheriff Arpaio’s War on Drugs” painted on it, his sidekick district attorney whose idea of tough on crime is prosecuting a high school student for showing Playboy to classmates, etc.

    #21: “They do not accept the outcome of elections when they lose.”…”who can never accept the fact that elections have consequences.”

    The notion that everyone should just accept the outcome of elections is problematic. Either individual rights are inalienable or they aren’t. Democracy – majority rule – always means there’s some minority whose views are not being represented and whose rights could easily be trampled on if the majority desires it. A majority in Maricopa County, it needn’t be noted, appears to approve of Joe Arpaio’s behavior, but does that mean we should just accept the outcome of those elections too?

    #18: “And if Progressive media, bloggers, etc. hadn’t been so busy making immature “tea bagger” jokes

    Bingo. I lost any interest in progressives a long time ago because as a rule, they have proven incapable of any serious analysis, preferring instead a middle school level of debate. “Tea bagger” and “box turtle” jokes, making fun of perfectly reasonable advocacy of barter with “chicken” jokes, their counterproductive and frankly bizarre “chickenhawk” line of argument (with its implication that there is something wrong with dodging the draft or with not joining the war machine). See Daily Kos for hundreds of examples of this behavior daily, or One Citizen’s incoherent, puerile cartoons on wvablue.com for another example.

  40. #40 |  flukebucket | 

    #21

    TPers are the Republican base. There is nothing grass roots about these people. It is funded and fueled by the right-wing machine. There is nothing small-government about these people. It is the Republican base

    It really is that simple.

    This pretty much covers it

  41. #41 |  Let's Be Free | 

    Every day you all sound more and more like Rachel Madow and Keith Olberman. You guys are eating your young. This holier than thou perfectionism stance is not going to help. JS is right. Learn how to count. Work with rather than against those who are philosophically inclined and we will all be better off down the road. Carve people out instead of carving them up.

  42. #42 |  Phelps | 

    What about the citizens of the other dozen plus countries run by tyrannical regimes? Should we be invading them too?

    As soon as it is feasible, yes. I’ve never wavered from that. Iraq was a place where the political will, for various reasons (pre-existing coalition, terrorism threat, support for Israeli terrorism, ME strategic needs, popular president, etc) came together to make toppling a dictator possible.

    It’s isn’t possible in Korea, or Iran, or any handful of African states right now. People who ran down the Iraqi invasion are a large part of that. So, one of the dictators got yanked out of a spider hole and hung by his neck until dead after a trial with due process. That makes the world a little better.

    The complaint is that it is with your money? Well, who pays for your liberty to be protected? What’s the market rate for liberty? When is liberty “too expensive”? Who needs human rights when we can just budget them away?

    I’m not for tilting at windmills. I am for putting governments in situations where they fall apart if they are opposed to the liberty, and smashing them if they won’t fall apart. Iraq was not going to fall apart, but the opportunity came along to smash it. Mexico will fall apart and be forced to reform into something with more liberty if we put pressure on it. Right now, we are the relief valve. Illegal immigration to America is one of Mexico’s primary industries. I’m 1000% with you on ending prohibition and drying up that source of funding for the corrupt in Mexico. It won’t do any good unless we also dry up the coyote-Western Union-day labor complex.

  43. #43 |  flukebucket | 

    Work with rather than against those who are philosophically inclined and we will all be better off down the road.

    Are we talking about turning libertarians into Republicans or turning Republicans into libertarians?

  44. #44 |  libarbarian | 

    “situational constitutionalism”

    True dat!

    Anyone else remember how often the Cons would openly argue for abrogating the constitution whenever they thought the protections it granted made us too vulnerable to enemies …. “The Constitution is not a suicide pact!!!!”

  45. #45 |  flukebucket | 

    “situational constitutionalism”

    Yep. Remember the “what good are your rights if you are dead?” arguments?

  46. #46 |  libarbarian | 

    freedom lovers vs. freedom haters.

    Who “hates freedom”?

    Seriously.

    Almost nobody, thats who.

  47. #47 |  Les | 

    Phelps, your ideas require a leftist’s faith in the government. Or at least a loyalist’s faith in a Republican Party government, since you failed to mention that the reason the public supported the invasion of Iraq was because they had been lied to about Iraq having WMD’s.

    If truth is the first casualty of war, it’s also the first casualty of war-mongers.

  48. #48 |  JS | 

    libarbarian “freedom lovers vs. freedom haters.

    Who “hates freedom”?

    Seriously.

    Almost nobody, thats who.”

    You’re kidding right? How about those who want to make gay marriage impossible? Or those who want to make it illegal for restaurants to use salt? Or the drug war?

    When the constitution was ratified there 4 federal crimes, today there are over 4000 and over half of these have been added since 1970. America has 5% of the world’s population and over 25% of the world’s prisoners, even China with it’s much bigger population is a distant second. I’d say the majority of law makers exhibit an alarming tendency to hate freedom, certainly a lot of cops hate freedom, prosecutors and some members of the public who call for more regulation as the solution for almost anything hate freedom as well.

  49. #49 |  flukebucket | 

    I think what libarbarian meant to say was “who hates their own freedom”

    That answer would be almost nobody.

    Everybody loves their own freedom. It is the freedom of the other guy that scares the shit out of most people.

  50. #50 |  JS | 

    Oh…..my bad.

  51. #51 |  Phelps | 

    I don’t have any faith in the ability of government to create anything. That’s the lefty ideal. I have inexhaustable faith in government’s ability to cripple, smash and destroy, which is all I want them to do to tyrants and dictators.

  52. #52 |  Douglas A. Willinger | 

    Strange how the ‘tea party’ says nothing about the drug war (criminal mercantilism) nor the over centralization within Washington, D.C. particularly regarding the Jesuit Order’s Georgetown University and their direction of U.S. foreign policy to commit counter reformation war crimes against non Roman Catholic countries as Serbia:

    http://continuingcounterreformation.blogspot.com/2010/04/tupper-saussy-on-1st-tea-party.html

    http://continuingcounterreformation.blogspot.com/2010/04/us-tea-party-decentralization.html

  53. #53 |  Andrew Williams | 

    As a lineal descendant of Christopher Gadsden, it bugs the shout out of me that these numbskulls are waving “Don’t Tread on Me” flags when it’s just that they want other people to be trod on.

  54. #54 |  nj | 

    Phelps

    To quote Jim Henley:

    “Hayek doesn’t stop at the water’s edge.”

  55. #55 |  libarbarian | 

    JS & Flukebucket,

    Think of it in terms of Hayeks concept of a relative hierarchy of competing values. We all value the same things, but we do not all value them to the same degree relative to one another. Furthermore, for an individual, the relative value of any given idea or principle can change depending on context. So, not only can two people disagree on whether some particular “freedom” X is more important than another competing value Y in a given context, but a single person can also value X more than Y in some circumstances while valuing Y more than X in others. This may be the result of a deliberate choice or may be unconscious and below the level of awareness.

    The “freedom haters” don’t hate freedom so much as they just think other values, which we also share to some degree, are more important than it in some given context(s). I don’t mean this is a pedantic way. I understand that, on a practical level, it is possible for a person to so consistently rank other things higher than “freedom” as to effectively appear to not value it at all and even “hate” it, but I don’t think this applies to many people. The fact that everyone feels the need to at least pay lip service to the first amendment while rationalizing exceptions to it, for example, shows that there is still not a lot of people who consciously think “Social stability and maintaining social norms is generally more important than freedom of expression”.

    In moderation, however, this is an important point and relevant to arguments going on today. Take illegal immigration and accusations of racism. I think we all tend to think that the “rule of law” is generally important. We also, however, tend to think that “compassion” is also generally important. Likewise the “freedom to pursue a better life”, etc. These are all generally things we agree with. However, as we can see, there is a wide range of opinions on the exact relative priority of these things when it comes to the issue of illegal immigration.

    One of the ways allegations of “racism” come into things is that people observe that, for some people, the relative value of the “rule of law” is highly correlated with the identities of the criminals. So when it comes to mexicans illegally crossing the border Malkin thinks that the most important thing is the rigorous application of the rule of law regardless of anything else, but when it comes to white fundamentalist Christians who sleep with 13 year old girls, then she thinks it’s less important than the spirit of the law and the idea that consentual acts shouldn’t be crimes. Clearly her passionate belief in the rule of law is not a general principle but highly context dependent. Of course, the people who are doing this often don’t even recognize why this looks hypocritical to others and get all offended at the accusations.

  56. #56 |  orogeny | 

    “It also makes a mockery of the media narrative that these are gathering of anti-government extremists.”

    The tea partiers are not and have never been “anti-government extremists.” They are anti-Democratic Party government extremists. If a Republican administration were enacting the exact same policies right now, the screamers and spitters would all be happily sitting at home, singing the praises of the administrations actions.

  57. #57 |  Bill | 

    Thank you, Radley. This is very refreshing from a true libertarian. If the current Tea Partiers were truly libertarian they people would have been kicking and screaming about the authoritarianism that occurred during the Bush years. A large portion of them are just disgruntled Republicans.

    And of course, the recession is also stirring up a lot of angst.

  58. #58 |  harry | 

    Maybe you can get some of your compatriots over at Reason to finally see the light about the ‘baggers. Some of them are still harboring romantic delusions on the subject. Kind of reminds me of some liberals doing the same over the Black Panthers in the late 1960s (Tom Wolfe, where are you?)

  59. #59 |  Fascist Nation | 

    300. They previously drew thousands. The people you were looking for hopefully found something else to do.

    But you got to admit they have the accoutrements down. Perhaps they can’t read.

  60. #60 |  donttread | 

    Tom is right. Those of you who support libertarian ideals complaining about the purity of the Tea Party movement are out of your gourd. The Tea Parties are very loosely defined, so it is not unexpected that the message is somewhat muddled. I’ve been to several Tea Party rallies, and the one coherent message that comes through clearly is that the state is too large and interferes too much in our lives.

    As a 20 year supporter of the Libertarian party I’ve never seen the Libertarians be able to motivate this kind of sentiment in even a tiny fraction of the number of people currently active or interested in Tea Party activities. I’m 100% in the Libertarian tent, but to reject this movement because they don’t all support immediate legalization of heroin or want to immediately abolish the income tax is ludicrous.

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