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The Tea Party Movement:
The tea party movement is a political movement in the United States. A lot of people are not clear exactly what the movement is, or what it stands for. In general, the movement seems to be associated with some combination of libertarian views, mainstream American conservative views, and a strict constitutionalist approach.
The "Tea Party Movement" is not a single, unified movement:
There is no single organization that represents the entirety of the tea party movement. Rather, the movement consists of many different activities, some of which are organized under various organizations bearing the "tea party" name, but others are not.
- The Tea Party Patriots are a national non-profit organization, and are the largest and best known organization associated with the tea party. Compared to the other organizations, the Tea Party Patriots has done a better job of weeding out corruption from its own organization. It focuses on fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets, and has is least-wedded to the socially-conservative elements that some of the other organizations have become tied up in.
- The National Tea Party Federation (Official Website) is a loose coalition of regional tea party groups. This group has done an outstanding job of retaining the focus on core issues and distancing itself from racism and political extremism that has plagued some of the other tea party groups.
- The Tea Party Express is a California-based organization associated with the Our Country Deserves Better(OCDB) political action committee. This committee donates most of its funding to Republican candidates, and the Tea Party Express tends to fit more established conservative / Republican roles than the newer conservative efforts more critical of the existing political establishment.
- The Tea Party Nation is a political organization that sponsored the National Tea Party Convention. This event has been criticized as a scam as it was run as a for-profit event. The Tea Party Nation has also been criticized for the anti-democratic stances of its founder, Judson Phillips, who for example advocated reinstating the requirement that people own land before being allowed to vote.
Based on my research, I think that the tea party patriots and the national tea party federation seem to be the best groups in terms of the consistency and constructiveness of their values and platform.
My take on the tea party movement:
Most of my friends and family lean more to the liberal side, and many of these people are quick to dismiss the tea party movement in negative, judgmental terms, levying accusations of racism, xenophobia, and general closed-mindedness. However, I take a more balanced view of the tea party movement. Among organizations that bear the "tea party" name, I think it is important to distinguish between the ones that have promoted extremist or racist views, those that are funnelling money into mainstream political establishments or using the money for their own profit, and those that are actually sticking to the true ideals that the movement supposedly stands for.
In terms of the actual values and political platform, I do not agree with everything that the movement advocates, but I support many of the things that the movement advocates for, and I am not going to judge individual members as to their motivations as I do not think this is a constructive approach in politics.
Generally-recognized goals of the tea party movement that I support include:
- Simplification of the tax code
- Balance the federal budget
- Audit the federal government for waste
- Limit annual growth in federal spending
- Reduction of income taxes and payroll taxes
I would go even farther than the tea party movement, and advocate for a complete abolishment of, first, the payroll tax and then if possible, the income tax and sales taxes as well. I would replace these with a variety of other, fundamentally different taxes. For my complete views on taxes, check out the page on taxes.
Points on which I differ from the goals of the tea party movement:
- I do not support a full repeal of the Obama administration's health care reform package. For example, I support the requirement that all insurance pay in full for routine preventive care, as this is an example of the prisoner's dilemma in economics, and keeps long-term costs down. While I object strongly to certain aspects of the legislation, I think that it needs to be intelligently tweaked, improved, and fixed, rather than outright repealed.
- I have a different perspective on energy policy from the tea party movement. I support making sustainability the central feature and goal of an energy policy. I support a swift reduction in fossil fuel use, not through regulation, but through market-based approaches, such as use of use taxes and fees, such as gas tax or other fossil fuel taxes.
- Although it is not specifically part of the "Contract from America" that much of the tea party movement has focused on, I have seen that the tea party movement is often associated with socially conservative views with which I strongly disagree. For example, I support gay rights and progressive views on sex education and birth control.
- Although I would rather see income tax phased out entirely, I support progressive taxation, and I would like to see the tax burden shifted away from the middle class and lower class and onto the top income earners. I would support a slight raise of tax on the $250K and up tax bracket, as well as creation of a new tax bracket for people whose incomes are $1M and up. I also would support an elimination of the payroll taxes (a regressive tax which taxes only the first $100K of income), replacing it with a smaller-by-rate, across-the-board tax on all income.
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