Column on Tea Party Strategy Anyone

Tea Party Strategy Anyone?

Tibor R. Machan

My
involvement in Tea Party matters is virtually nil.  I follow the
movement’s doings by reading both pro and con comments on its candidates
and leaders, as well as listening to what some of the active members
say in public forums. (Let me tell you the snooty Left is scared stiff
of the Tea Party and rolling out its heavy guns to demean it, with Glenn
Beck and Sarah Palin serving as convenient targets whose lack of
academic erudition is held against them in massive articles in prominent
magazines like
The New Republic and The New York Review of Books!)

As
far as I can determine, the Tea Party is a kind of Right Wing populist
assembly of people who have disparate ideas and objectives but are
united in being disgusted with the leadership in Washington.  There is
among them room for nearly anyone who shows a positive attitude about
main street America. Social conservatives, especially, seem to be
welcome, what with pretty heavy moralizing as their central pitch; free
market champions, too, tend to be accepted but not if they are also
committed civil libertarians who might stand up for illegal immigrants
and oppose the vicious War and Drugs; certainly members of the religious
Right are not only welcome but often take leadership roles; and there
are others, including those loyal to the American Founders and their
central documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill
of Rights.  (Sometimes they express themselves in questionable terms,
such as swearing loyalty to the U. S. Constitution; but that document is
now so watered down, so far from the principles stated in the
Declaration, that it scarcely says anything about what the country’s
political system and public policies ought to be all about.)

I
am no spin doctor and do not have my finger on the pulse of the
electorate, although I do try to keep abreast.  It occurs to me that if
the Tea Party is to have a solid chance at influencing American politics
and public policy it will have to pare down its message to certain
fundamentals and express this publicly in palatable ways.

The
one principle that is truly representative of America as the Founders
conceived of it is limited government, limited by the principle of
individual liberty.  Perhaps turning to this message with a clear
emphasis on not trying to impose anything else on the country could be
successful.  If a Tea Party candidate or leader is pressed for views on
matters other than the proper scope of government, the answer should be:
“No comment on that since it isn’t a part of politics proper, not in a
free country!” Yes, it is judicious, prudent to simply refuse to get
caught up in all the issues that people may bring to the political table
by teaching the lesson that they really aren’t political, even if they
are on the minds of millions of people.  

Tea
Party members, leaders, candidates and the like may well succeed by
adhering to this strategy of not allowing their detractors to involve
them in everything.  They could point out that this country isn’t
supposed to be a totalitarian system in which politics takes over
everything, addresses all issues on the minds of the citizenry.  No, one
need not have an opinion on creationism, intelligent design, child
reading, drug use, and yes, even abortion.  Let most of these topics be
part of our social discourse, not our political thinking.  That way the
central Tea Party theme of reigning in the scope of government is kept
in focus and the pluralism of the movement can also continue to flourish
but within its proper domain, namely, the variety of social positions
the huge tent of those who love liberty makes possible.

Yes,
this way of going about things might link the Tea Party too closely
with its libertarian faction but that could be a political asset if
intelligently put (during interviews, press conferences, etc.).  Do not
permit the detractors to draw Tea Party people into discussions about
matters that are not the proper concern of politics and public affairs.
 Therein might lie a way to victory, especially now that suspicion with
governmental meddling is rife throughout the citizenry.  

And
this attitude can easily be linked to the central, crucial tenets of
the American political tradition, the founding documents and the
thinking of the Founders.  That they may not all be entirely palatable
in our age will not matter if discussions and proposals are kept to
essentials.  What is exceptional about America is its limited government
tradition and moving away from this is wrong, inefficient, and, yes,
un-American.

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