What are the principles of the tea party? I suppose that question it not particularly easy to answer. After all, each tea party has its own flavor, each focusing on a multitude of issues they believe is important. Many of the left decry the movement as a bunch of small-minded bigots, while some of the establishment types on the right are quick to marginalize or downplay the importance of these groups as well.
Sure, their principles are varied, but so too are their goals. Therefore, it is difficult to measure the success or failure of the tea party as each strives to accomplish different tasks including: removing poor leaders, electing “tea party” candidates, advancing legislation, spreading education and awareness, and/or simply providing a forum for political discussion.
But, going back to my original query, a number of weeks ago I was asked that very question about my local tea party. Although I was tempted to respond off the top of my head with the laundry list of possible answers, I instead pondered the idea and compiled a file of what I thought were the most important tenants. Here’s the list that I crafted:
The Tea Party supports the ideals of a limited and constitutional government. Therefore, we believe:
The primary purpose of government is to protect the lives, liberties, and properties of its citizens and those lawfully within their borders.
The federal government has grown well beyond its constitutional limitations as proscribed by the Constitution and reinforced by the 10th Amendment.
The rights of law-abiding citizens to own and use firearms in a responsible manner for recreation, hunting, and protection should be protected.
The current tax code is too lengthy, burdensome, and convoluted and thus ought to be revised or replaced.
The Federal Reserve ought to have no hand or say in the printing or distribution of the money supply and should be abolished.
Education is not a federal issue and ought to be left to the states and localities with primary rights and responsibilities residing with the family.
The federal government has no authority to authorize any national health care plans, meddle with existing plans, nor mandate any person to purchase any insurance or program.
The federal government is crushing current and future generations under the weight of a national debt. Not only should the government balance its budget, it should greatly curtail spending immediately only to engage in functions proscribed in the Constitution.
We oppose any and all laws and mandates forced upon the citizens by supranational organizations such as the United Nations.
We support greater transparency and openness in all levels and branches of government.
Of course, there are a whole host of other important issues, such as ending abortion or bringing our troops home, but I don’t really see the tea party as dealing with social issues nor do I think there is a majority opinion regarding military policy (unfortunately). However, I do believe that the above list incorporates most, if not all, of the local tea party principles.
Are you a tea party member yourself? Or do you view the group with either curiosity or disdain? Most importantly, what principles would you either add or remove from my list?