T Nation

What the Tea Party is Fundamentally About

I just wanted to give my 2 cents on this.

I’ve heard many people - tea party members included - say, alternatively, that the tea party is about low taxes, or small government, or smaller government, or less spending…et cetera.

I also think it’s about these things.

However, I just wanted to say that I don’t think its primarily about them; I think those things, while very important, are secondary.

There is something more fundamental that embraces all of these things and, moreover, will embrace a much larger swath of people by focusing on it, rather than those things above.

And that is this: that the Tea Party is fundamentally about adherence to the Constitution.

Now, I know this^ is obviously complicated - however, I think most Americans will agree that, in general, we have gotten so far away from the enumerated powers that distinctions about original intent, plain meaning, strict constructionist, etc. are almost quaint at this point.

And perhaps even more fundamental: that we believe fundamentally in the rule of law.

I think that is what separates “progressives” from a huge swath of people who might easily embrace the Tea Party, were this (and not taxes, small government, etc.) our rallying cry.

(Of course, progressives/far left libs will say they believe in the Rule of Law. But that is why when an issue is brought up - say healthcare legislation, I first ask that we pause first in our discussion; and then ask whether the person believes in the Rule of Law or Rule by Men. Invariably they say, the Rule of Law. Good, I answer, so show me where in the Constitution I might find a mandate/authority for this legislation. Usually, they then reveal in so many words that they really aren’t for the Rule of Law after all. Then you have them. LOL. )

I mostly agree.

Rule of law is what has made the US what it is. It’s why the US became the US and Mexico became Mexico, where you have too former European colonies, both with a wealth of natural resources at their disposal: one chose to be ruled by men, the other by law.

And the I agree that we are quickly losing that sentiment.

…but I also know that both you and I can read the exact same Constitution, and the exact same histories of the US, and draw different conclusions about what exactly our nation was founded as, and what exactly federal powers are.

[quote]Spartiates wrote:
I mostly agree.

Rule of law is what has made the US what it is. It’s why the US became the US and Mexico became Mexico, where you have too former European colonies, both with a wealth of natural resources at their disposal: one chose to be ruled by men, the other by law.

And the I agree that we are quickly losing that sentiment.

…but I also know that both you and I can read the exact same Constitution, and the exact same histories of the US, and draw different conclusions about what exactly our nation was founded as, and what exactly federal powers are.[/quote]

Yes, true. Although I think we have to be careful here. You probably know this, but it’s got to be said.

To say that language has a range of meanings is one thing. To say that we can or even should tease meanings out of that language is still another. To then say that a simple declaritive sentence is absolutely devoid of meaning, excepting what meaning I bring to it, is not only insane, it’s exactly the kind of thinking (coming mostly French language theorists, the so-called “deconstructionists”) that legal scholars got infected with in the early 20th century.

The implications for the Constitution have been disastrous. Of course, there were also other things, like the increasingly narrow focus on case law, etc.

[quote]katzenjammer wrote:
I just wanted to give my 2 cents on this.

I’ve heard many people - tea party members included - say, alternatively, that the tea party is about low taxes, or small government, or smaller government, or less spending…et cetera.

I also think it’s about these things.

However, I just wanted to say that I don’t think its primarily about them; I think those things, while very important, are secondary.

There is something more fundamental that embraces all of these things and, moreover, will embrace a much larger swath of people by focusing on it, rather than those things above.

And that is this: that the Tea Party is fundamentally about adherence to the Constitution.

Now, I know this^ is obviously complicated - however, I think most Americans will agree that, in general, we have gotten so far away from the enumerated powers that distinctions about original intent, plain meaning, strict constructionist, etc. are almost quaint at this point.

And perhaps even more fundamental: that we believe fundamentally in the rule of law.

I think that is what separates “progressives” from a huge swath of people who might easily embrace the Tea Party, were this (and not taxes, small government, etc.) our rallying cry.

(Of course, progressives/far left libs will say they believe in the Rule of Law. But that is why when an issue is brought up - say healthcare legislation, I first ask that we pause first in our discussion; and then ask whether the person believes in the Rule of Law or Rule by Men. Invariably they say, the Rule of Law. Good, I answer, so show me where in the Constitution I might find a mandate/authority for this legislation. Usually, they then reveal in so many words that they really aren’t for the Rule of Law after all. Then you have them. LOL. )

[/quote]

Any polls of TP’ers about the approval/disapproval of Medicare and SS’s existence?

[quote]Sloth wrote:

[quote]katzenjammer wrote:
I just wanted to give my 2 cents on this.

I’ve heard many people - tea party members included - say, alternatively, that the tea party is about low taxes, or small government, or smaller government, or less spending…et cetera.

I also think it’s about these things.

However, I just wanted to say that I don’t think its primarily about them; I think those things, while very important, are secondary.

There is something more fundamental that embraces all of these things and, moreover, will embrace a much larger swath of people by focusing on it, rather than those things above.

And that is this: that the Tea Party is fundamentally about adherence to the Constitution.

Now, I know this^ is obviously complicated - however, I think most Americans will agree that, in general, we have gotten so far away from the enumerated powers that distinctions about original intent, plain meaning, strict constructionist, etc. are almost quaint at this point.

And perhaps even more fundamental: that we believe fundamentally in the rule of law.

I think that is what separates “progressives” from a huge swath of people who might easily embrace the Tea Party, were this (and not taxes, small government, etc.) our rallying cry.

(Of course, progressives/far left libs will say they believe in the Rule of Law. But that is why when an issue is brought up - say healthcare legislation, I first ask that we pause first in our discussion; and then ask whether the person believes in the Rule of Law or Rule by Men. Invariably they say, the Rule of Law. Good, I answer, so show me where in the Constitution I might find a mandate/authority for this legislation. Usually, they then reveal in so many words that they really aren’t for the Rule of Law after all. Then you have them. LOL. )

[/quote]

Any polls of TP’ers about the approval/disapproval of Medicare and SS’s existence? [/quote]

I don’t know Sloth, but my sense is - and this is just gleaned from spending time around them - is that 1/3 of the TPers want to abolish everything in sight, and 2/3rd are just clamouring for reigning in spending and reducing taxes. There’s whole range of people - some quite sophisticated, others who quite frankly seem to be very confused.

Politics is adding peope up and bringing them together - so I guess what I’m saying is that, in my view and experience being among them, focusing on the Constitution/rule of law would be a very big and effective umbrella. My brother says it’s too abstract though. I’m not sure.

[quote]katzenjammer wrote:

[quote]Sloth wrote:

[quote]katzenjammer wrote:
I just wanted to give my 2 cents on this.

I’ve heard many people - tea party members included - say, alternatively, that the tea party is about low taxes, or small government, or smaller government, or less spending…et cetera.

I also think it’s about these things.

However, I just wanted to say that I don’t think its primarily about them; I think those things, while very important, are secondary.

There is something more fundamental that embraces all of these things and, moreover, will embrace a much larger swath of people by focusing on it, rather than those things above.

And that is this: that the Tea Party is fundamentally about adherence to the Constitution.

Now, I know this^ is obviously complicated - however, I think most Americans will agree that, in general, we have gotten so far away from the enumerated powers that distinctions about original intent, plain meaning, strict constructionist, etc. are almost quaint at this point.

And perhaps even more fundamental: that we believe fundamentally in the rule of law.

I think that is what separates “progressives” from a huge swath of people who might easily embrace the Tea Party, were this (and not taxes, small government, etc.) our rallying cry.

(Of course, progressives/far left libs will say they believe in the Rule of Law. But that is why when an issue is brought up - say healthcare legislation, I first ask that we pause first in our discussion; and then ask whether the person believes in the Rule of Law or Rule by Men. Invariably they say, the Rule of Law. Good, I answer, so show me where in the Constitution I might find a mandate/authority for this legislation. Usually, they then reveal in so many words that they really aren’t for the Rule of Law after all. Then you have them. LOL. )

[/quote]

Any polls of TP’ers about the approval/disapproval of Medicare and SS’s existence? [/quote]

I don’t know Sloth, but my sense is - and this is just gleaned from spending time around them - is that 1/3 of the TPers want to abolish everything in sight, and 2/3rd are just clamouring for reigning in spending and reducing taxes. There’s whole range of people - some quite sophisticated, others who quite frankly seem to be very confused.

Politics is adding peope up and bringing them together - so I guess what I’m saying is that, in my view and experience being among them, focusing on the Constitution/rule of law would be a very big and effective umbrella. My brother says it’s too abstract though. I’m not sure.
[/quote]

Here’s a question I’d love to see go around at TP gatherings.

In order to meet our future obligations, would you rather:

A. Institute deep medicare/SS cuts
B. Institute large Tax increases
C. Institute more moderate cuts to SS/Medicare alongside more moderate tax increases

I’m betting C by a respectable majority.

[quote]Sloth wrote:

[quote]katzenjammer wrote:

[quote]Sloth wrote:

[quote]katzenjammer wrote:
I just wanted to give my 2 cents on this.

I’ve heard many people - tea party members included - say, alternatively, that the tea party is about low taxes, or small government, or smaller government, or less spending…et cetera.

I also think it’s about these things.

However, I just wanted to say that I don’t think its primarily about them; I think those things, while very important, are secondary.

There is something more fundamental that embraces all of these things and, moreover, will embrace a much larger swath of people by focusing on it, rather than those things above.

And that is this: that the Tea Party is fundamentally about adherence to the Constitution.

Now, I know this^ is obviously complicated - however, I think most Americans will agree that, in general, we have gotten so far away from the enumerated powers that distinctions about original intent, plain meaning, strict constructionist, etc. are almost quaint at this point.

And perhaps even more fundamental: that we believe fundamentally in the rule of law.

I think that is what separates “progressives” from a huge swath of people who might easily embrace the Tea Party, were this (and not taxes, small government, etc.) our rallying cry.

(Of course, progressives/far left libs will say they believe in the Rule of Law. But that is why when an issue is brought up - say healthcare legislation, I first ask that we pause first in our discussion; and then ask whether the person believes in the Rule of Law or Rule by Men. Invariably they say, the Rule of Law. Good, I answer, so show me where in the Constitution I might find a mandate/authority for this legislation. Usually, they then reveal in so many words that they really aren’t for the Rule of Law after all. Then you have them. LOL. )

[/quote]

Any polls of TP’ers about the approval/disapproval of Medicare and SS’s existence? [/quote]

I don’t know Sloth, but my sense is - and this is just gleaned from spending time around them - is that 1/3 of the TPers want to abolish everything in sight, and 2/3rd are just clamouring for reigning in spending and reducing taxes. There’s whole range of people - some quite sophisticated, others who quite frankly seem to be very confused.

Politics is adding peope up and bringing them together - so I guess what I’m saying is that, in my view and experience being among them, focusing on the Constitution/rule of law would be a very big and effective umbrella. My brother says it’s too abstract though. I’m not sure.
[/quote]

Here’s a question I’d love to see go around at TP gatherings.

In order to meet our future obligations, would you rather:

A. Institute deep medicare/SS cuts
B. Institute large Tax increases
C. Institute more moderate cuts to SS/Medicare alongside more moderate tax increases

I’m betting C by a respectable majority.[/quote]

My guess is if you let them answer the question open-endedly, they’d go with the tried and true “Eliminate all that waste in the federal government answer.” because everyone seems to think that 50% of the money collected each year gets lost int he waste of inefficient government. And I’m serious.

It’s plane as day when you look at the federal budget what eats up most of the money: social security, medicare, defense, medicaid, and welfare/“other” entitlement spending.

These five money sinks need to be drastically reduced in size. All of them. Each and every one. But half the country won’t let you touch social security, medicare or defense spending and the other half won’t let you touch medicaid or welfare/“other” entitlement spending… so what do you think happens?

Ironically, if you look at the actual budget breakdown, the self-proclaimed “small gubbermint” crowd is responsible not allowing 51.16% of the federal budget to be significantly cut/touched, while the “typical” BIG GOVERNMENT DADDY STATE programs the left considers “off limits” only make up 24.32% of the federal budget.

Still, we’ve basically got 75% of the budget that one side or the other considers “sacred”.

[quote]Spartiates wrote:

[quote]Sloth wrote:

[quote]katzenjammer wrote:

[quote]Sloth wrote:

[quote]katzenjammer wrote:
I just wanted to give my 2 cents on this.

I’ve heard many people - tea party members included - say, alternatively, that the tea party is about low taxes, or small government, or smaller government, or less spending…et cetera.

I also think it’s about these things.

However, I just wanted to say that I don’t think its primarily about them; I think those things, while very important, are secondary.

There is something more fundamental that embraces all of these things and, moreover, will embrace a much larger swath of people by focusing on it, rather than those things above.

And that is this: that the Tea Party is fundamentally about adherence to the Constitution.

Now, I know this^ is obviously complicated - however, I think most Americans will agree that, in general, we have gotten so far away from the enumerated powers that distinctions about original intent, plain meaning, strict constructionist, etc. are almost quaint at this point.

And perhaps even more fundamental: that we believe fundamentally in the rule of law.

I think that is what separates “progressives” from a huge swath of people who might easily embrace the Tea Party, were this (and not taxes, small government, etc.) our rallying cry.

(Of course, progressives/far left libs will say they believe in the Rule of Law. But that is why when an issue is brought up - say healthcare legislation, I first ask that we pause first in our discussion; and then ask whether the person believes in the Rule of Law or Rule by Men. Invariably they say, the Rule of Law. Good, I answer, so show me where in the Constitution I might find a mandate/authority for this legislation. Usually, they then reveal in so many words that they really aren’t for the Rule of Law after all. Then you have them. LOL. )

[/quote]

Any polls of TP’ers about the approval/disapproval of Medicare and SS’s existence? [/quote]

I don’t know Sloth, but my sense is - and this is just gleaned from spending time around them - is that 1/3 of the TPers want to abolish everything in sight, and 2/3rd are just clamouring for reigning in spending and reducing taxes. There’s whole range of people - some quite sophisticated, others who quite frankly seem to be very confused.

Politics is adding peope up and bringing them together - so I guess what I’m saying is that, in my view and experience being among them, focusing on the Constitution/rule of law would be a very big and effective umbrella. My brother says it’s too abstract though. I’m not sure.
[/quote]

Here’s a question I’d love to see go around at TP gatherings.

In order to meet our future obligations, would you rather:

A. Institute deep medicare/SS cuts
B. Institute large Tax increases
C. Institute more moderate cuts to SS/Medicare alongside more moderate tax increases

I’m betting C by a respectable majority.[/quote]

My guess is if you let them answer the question open-endedly, they’d go with the tried and true “Eliminate all that waste in the federal government answer.” because everyone seems to think that 50% of the money collected each year gets lost int he waste of inefficient government. And I’m serious.

It’s plane as day when you look at the federal budget what eats up most of the money: social security, medicare, defense, medicaid, and welfare/“other” entitlement spending.

These five money sinks need to be drastically reduced in size. All of them. Each and every one. But half the country won’t let you touch social security, medicare or defense spending and the other half won’t let you touch medicaid or welfare/“other” entitlement spending… so what do you think happens?

Ironically, if you look at the actual budget breakdown, the self-proclaimed “small gubbermint” crowd is responsible not allowing 51.16% of the federal budget to be significantly cut/touched, while the “typical” BIG GOVERNMENT DADDY STATE programs the left considers “off limits” only make up 24.32% of the federal budget.

Still, we’ve basically got 75% of the budget that one side or the other considers “sacred”.[/quote]

Ratchet. Effect. Or, as AlisaV put it: “structurally persistant legislation.”

Across the board cuts so that no one can claim advantage/disadvantage?

And nearly three-quarters of those who favor smaller government said they would prefer it even if it meant spending on domestic programs would be cut.

But in follow-up interviews, Tea Party supporters said they did not want to cut Medicare or Social Security â?? the biggest domestic programs, suggesting instead a focus on â??waste.â??

Some defended being on Social Security while fighting big government by saying that since they had paid into the system, they deserved the benefits.

Others could not explain the contradiction.

â??Thatâ??s a conundrum, isnâ??t it?â?? asked Jodine White, 62, of Rocklin, Calif. â??I donâ??t know what to say. Maybe I donâ??t want smaller government. I guess I want smaller government and my Social Security.â?? She added, â??I didnâ??t look at it from the perspective of losing things I need. I think Iâ??ve changed my mind.â??

"According to this poll, 91% of Tea Partiers want a smaller government with fewer services. Despite this hostility to big government, 62% of Tea Partiers believe that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are worth the cost (apparently no one bothered to tell them that Social Security and Medicare are evil Godless socialist programs). This would suggest that in order to achieve fiscal sanity the Tea Party believes that spending cuts are to be implemented elsewhere within the vast expenditures of the federal apparatus. However when one examines their beliefs on paying down the debt, the result is somewhat troubling. When asked whether they preferred deficit reduction or tax cuts, 49% of Tea Partiers said they would favor tax reduction while 42% would prefer deficit reduction.

So, tax cuts are preferred to debt reduction, and social security and Medicare are well worth the cost. This sounds less like a movement of mature fiscal hawks and more like one of whiny adolescents (who actually happen to be middle-aged) who want their current taxes lower and their future benefits higher…
http://www.frumforum.com/tea-party-hypocrisy

[quote]Spartiates wrote:

[quote]Sloth wrote:

[quote]katzenjammer wrote:

[quote]Sloth wrote:

[quote]katzenjammer wrote:
I just wanted to give my 2 cents on this.

I’ve heard many people - tea party members included - say, alternatively, that the tea party is about low taxes, or small government, or smaller government, or less spending…et cetera.

I also think it’s about these things.

However, I just wanted to say that I don’t think its primarily about them; I think those things, while very important, are secondary.

There is something more fundamental that embraces all of these things and, moreover, will embrace a much larger swath of people by focusing on it, rather than those things above.

And that is this: that the Tea Party is fundamentally about adherence to the Constitution.

Now, I know this^ is obviously complicated - however, I think most Americans will agree that, in general, we have gotten so far away from the enumerated powers that distinctions about original intent, plain meaning, strict constructionist, etc. are almost quaint at this point.

And perhaps even more fundamental: that we believe fundamentally in the rule of law.

I think that is what separates “progressives” from a huge swath of people who might easily embrace the Tea Party, were this (and not taxes, small government, etc.) our rallying cry.

(Of course, progressives/far left libs will say they believe in the Rule of Law. But that is why when an issue is brought up - say healthcare legislation, I first ask that we pause first in our discussion; and then ask whether the person believes in the Rule of Law or Rule by Men. Invariably they say, the Rule of Law. Good, I answer, so show me where in the Constitution I might find a mandate/authority for this legislation. Usually, they then reveal in so many words that they really aren’t for the Rule of Law after all. Then you have them. LOL. )

[/quote]

Any polls of TP’ers about the approval/disapproval of Medicare and SS’s existence? [/quote]

I don’t know Sloth, but my sense is - and this is just gleaned from spending time around them - is that 1/3 of the TPers want to abolish everything in sight, and 2/3rd are just clamouring for reigning in spending and reducing taxes. There’s whole range of people - some quite sophisticated, others who quite frankly seem to be very confused.

Politics is adding peope up and bringing them together - so I guess what I’m saying is that, in my view and experience being among them, focusing on the Constitution/rule of law would be a very big and effective umbrella. My brother says it’s too abstract though. I’m not sure.
[/quote]

Here’s a question I’d love to see go around at TP gatherings.

In order to meet our future obligations, would you rather:

A. Institute deep medicare/SS cuts
B. Institute large Tax increases
C. Institute more moderate cuts to SS/Medicare alongside more moderate tax increases

I’m betting C by a respectable majority.[/quote]

My guess is if you let them answer the question open-endedly, they’d go with the tried and true “Eliminate all that waste in the federal government answer.” because everyone seems to think that 50% of the money collected each year gets lost int he waste of inefficient government. And I’m serious.

It’s plane as day when you look at the federal budget what eats up most of the money: social security, medicare, defense, medicaid, and welfare/“other” entitlement spending.

These five money sinks need to be drastically reduced in size. All of them. Each and every one. But half the country won’t let you touch social security, medicare or defense spending and the other half won’t let you touch medicaid or welfare/“other” entitlement spending… so what do you think happens?

Ironically, if you look at the actual budget breakdown, the self-proclaimed “small gubbermint” crowd is responsible not allowing 51.16% of the federal budget to be significantly cut/touched, while the “typical” BIG GOVERNMENT DADDY STATE programs the left considers “off limits” only make up 24.32% of the federal budget.

Still, we’ve basically got 75% of the budget that one side or the other considers “sacred”.[/quote]

33% of medicare cost go to pay fraudulent claims. This is compared to around 3% fraud in private healthcare. There is PLENTY of fucking “waste” going on in all government programs.

V

[quote]Sloth wrote:
And nearly three-quarters of those who favor smaller government said they would prefer it even if it meant spending on domestic programs would be cut.

But in follow-up interviews, Tea Party supporters said they did not want to cut Medicare or Social Security â?? the biggest domestic programs, suggesting instead a focus on â??waste.â??

Some defended being on Social Security while fighting big government by saying that since they had paid into the system, they deserved the benefits.

Others could not explain the contradiction.

â??Thatâ??s a conundrum, isnâ??t it?â?? asked Jodine White, 62, of Rocklin, Calif. â??I donâ??t know what to say. Maybe I donâ??t want smaller government. I guess I want smaller government and my Social Security.â?? She added, â??I didnâ??t look at it from the perspective of losing things I need. I think Iâ??ve changed my mind.â??

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/15/us/politics/15poll.html[/quote]

The NYT is such a good source of unbiased information; particularly when it comes to the Tea Party. And particularly, I’m betting, in the area of polling which is notoriously susceptible to manipulation at every stage: forming the questions, asking the questions, gathering and collating the answers, interpreting the data, presenting the data.

Yep, they’re totally trustworthy in all that. LOL.

But no doubt there’s some confusion among the rank and file about what exactly they want. I myself have said as much.

[quote]katzenjammer wrote:
[

But no doubt there’s some confusion among the rank and file about what exactly they want. I myself have said as much.

[/quote]

Yeah, from the Frum (hah!) link…

“So, tax cuts are preferred to debt reduction, and social security and Medicare are well worth the cost. This sounds less like a movement of mature fiscal hawks and more like one of whiny adolescents (who actually happen to be middle-aged) who want their current taxes lower and their future benefits higher…”

But they are socially conservative.

[quote]Sloth wrote:

[quote]katzenjammer wrote:
[

But no doubt there’s some confusion among the rank and file about what exactly they want. I myself have said as much.

[/quote]

Yeah, from the Frum (hah!) link…

“So, tax cuts are preferred to debt reduction, and social security and Medicare are well worth the cost. This sounds less like a movement of mature fiscal hawks and more like one of whiny adolescents (who actually happen to be middle-aged) who want their current taxes lower and their future benefits higher…” [/quote]

Yes, but I guess I’m not sure what the point of that sort of ridicule is (if true) beyond making fun of people and feeling superior to them.

I mean, look at the millions of minions who supported Obama who can barely put a coherent English sentence together.

It doesn’t mean their numbers cannot be hugely powerful at the polling station.

Just pointing out that we’re not experiencing anything like a libertarian moment. We got some folks who, at the most, want to put the breaks on spending. Wait until some Presidential candidate actually campaigns on slashing entitlements while cutting taxes. Not happening.

We’re seeing backlash against Obama’s overstepping. He just moved too fast. This backslash shouldn’t be confused with real support for shrinking the government actually being put into practice.

[quote]Sloth wrote:
Just pointing out that we’re not experiencing anything like a libertarian moment. We got some folks who, at the most, want to put the breaks on spending. Wait until some Presidential candidate actually campaigns on slashing entitlements while cutting taxes. Not happening.

We’re seeing backlash against Obama’s overstepping. He just moved too fast. This backslash shouldn’t be confused with real support for shrinking the government actually being put into practice. [/quote]

Sorry, I disagree with you completely Sloth.

My experience among them is that they aren’t worried about Bambi moving too fast - but the very direction in which he’s moving.

For reasons I’ve already recounted, I don’t think libertarianisms captures what this movement is exactly, or particularly well.

Broadly considered, it’s more about Constitutional limits, the identity of America, the importance of the rule of law, the preservation of liberty, etc.

I’m telling you Sloth, these^^ sentiment are visceral and and real and enduring.

Wait. Sloth, you see what Obama is doing as actually “shrinking” the government? I’m sure there’s more here than just I that is seriously confused by that, if you are truly implying that.

[quote]dumbbellhead wrote:
Wait. Sloth, you see what Obama is doing as actually “shrinking” the government?
[/quote]

No.

See what happened at the Douglas County Tea Party…

that’s the stuff that makes my skin crawl.
The similarity is eerie:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuVxH95o9sY&feature=related