Although my conservatism is evolving, I have not yet come around to the Tea Party Revolution. Nonetheless, I am understanding more and more. While many cast the Tea Party as extreme, members of the Tea Party consider America’s peril to be extreme, and that extreme measures are required to save the nation(1).
Newt Gingrich challenged Bob Michel, the go-along, get-along Republican minority leader in the 1990’s, precisely because Bob Michel and the entrenched Republicans of the day were too accepting of government as it was and was becoming. Today’s Tea Party conservatives feel the same way about the entrenched Republican old guard represented by John Boehner. We need a different government than the one we have, and merely nibbling around the edges with somewhat smaller government, and somewhat lower taxes, and more national cultural and social homogenization is not the answer. Government has gotten to the point where it is dangerous to the well-being of the nation and its people, and only a revolution can fix it. And revolutions don’t come without pain.
In 1787 the nation was in crisis. The government was not functioning for the welfare of the people. The states called for a convention to make some minor modifications to the constitution governing them, the Articles of Confederation. But the men who gathered in Philadelphia instead embarked on a radical course and wrote a completely new constitution which has governed our nation ever since. The Tea Party conservatives are embarking on a similar course. And how could they not?
People in a free nation should be able to live in their communities according to their values. Those values are the ones we have grown up with as a nation. What is happening instead is that homogeneous national values are being imposed on us. While it may be right for San Francisco and New York to celebrate diversity, those whose heritage extends back generations in the smaller towns and rural areas of America should likewise be able to pass their lives in conformity to their culture. If the culture is overwhelmingly Protestant, reasonable prayer in the schools is proper. If the people whose families have lived in town for decades if not centuries have formed the culture and politics of the area, efforts to restrict voting to those who appreciate these values is appropriate. Communities are like clubs; we have the right to decide who belongs, and the right to make the rules and exclude those who don’t keep them.
Our constitution has been compromised too many times and is no longer the document of our founding fathers. We need to return to a more self-sufficient society less dependent on big government. We do not want to send our dollars to the federal government only to get some of them back. We want to keep our dollars and decide how to spend them locally. We understand the consequences.
No more socialist medicine. We do not want a government takeover of our medical system. We do not want the government to force us to pay taxes to be a part of the system. We take a stand against not only Obamacare, but its predecessor Medicare. I should not be obligated to have taxes taken out of my paycheck to fund a socialistic medical system. I should not be obligated to have taxes taken out of my paycheck for retirement security. Security is my affair. We need to abandon Social Security now.
While some conservatives might disagree with the consequences, small government requires a small military. No empire ever had small government. Ron Paul and his son Rand have understood this, as have libertarian historians such as Mark David Ledbetter.
Other functions of government need to be privatized. We need to abolish the FAA, and turn air traffic control over to the airlines. No federal highway funds; let the states negotiate among themselves for interstate roads. No National Institute of Health and FDC; let the drug companies regulate themselves; let them and the universities, free of government control and money, work together on things like the flu vaccine. It is not the job of government to ensure clean water, clean air, and safe food; that is the job of the people and the markets. No EPA; no Food Safety and Inspection Service. Abolish the SEC and let investors abandon companies which cheat. No more regulating and bailing out big banks; let the markets police themselves. And certainly, no more welfare for the poor; that is the province of the churches and the generosity of individuals.
In part what Tea Party conservatives find necessary is a reversal of the process which formed the new government and the new constitution in 1787, and a return to something more in spirit with the original Articles of Confederation, with more states and local rights. Some might argue that the Articles of Confederation were a failure; but we have had more than 200 years of creeping failure since then; time maybe to trust the people again.