Fair warning – this is an opinion piece, not a political analysis. The views expressed are my own, and my general opinion of the current Tea Party movement is mostly negative. This is not because their published core beliefs are not worthy goals, but because the stated goals are merely intended to manipulate those who subscribe to this movement, while in fact they are coded signals of a very destructive hidden agenda. Sadly, the very demographic most likely to support the Tea Party agenda are those most likely to be negatively affected if the unstated Tea Party “core beliefs” are implemented into law. My opposition is based on the evidence that the movement is deceptive, divisive and destructive. On that basis, it is also unpatriotic!
Where did the Tea Party movement come from, and why does it matter?
An important item to note is that the current Tea Party organization has roots in several different previously existing organizations, populist movements and social-political worldviews that were all rolled into a single movement, most likely to gain the broadest base of political support possible. It is not a true “voice of the people” movement as it tries to represent itself, and is actually the opposite.
While originally the “Tea Party” label was adopted by a grass-roots movement based in libertarian and conservative values, within a year or two the movement was hijacked as a “Astroturf” movement that was funded and controlled by business and financial interests. The most significant predecessor organization was the John Birch Society and many of the supporters of that group have now become major contributors to the corporatized Tea Party group and various supporting organization.
What does the Tea Party (Say They) Believe?
This list from the Tea Party website @<http://teaparty.org/about.php> indicates their stated core beliefs.
15 Non-negotiable Core Beliefs
- Illegal aliens are here illegally
- Pro-domestic employment is indispensable.
- A strong military is essential.
- Special interests must be eliminated.
- Gun ownership is sacred.
- Government must be downsized.
- The national budget must be balanced.
- Deficit spending must end.
- Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal.
- Reducing personal income taxes is a must.
- Reducing business income taxes is mandatory.
- Political offices must be available to average citizens.
- Intrusive government must be stopped.
- English as our core language is required.
- Traditional family values are encouraged.
What is the Tea Party agenda really intended to do?
Keep in mind that the Tea Party agenda does not genuinely embrace these core beliefs as stated. This statement of beliefs is written in coded language that does not mean what it is popularly thought to mean. The public message is carefully crafted so that the very language used to garner popular support for their legislative agenda can be used to deceive people into thinking they got what they asked for. This confusion is part of the intentional deception to allow a different plan to be carried out right under the noses of those who support them. When legislation is enacted, claiming to be based on these Tea Party “core beliefs”, the real outcome is far different than what the electorate expected. In fact, these laws often produce the exact opposite effect from that which was expected by voters.
By observing the actions taken by politicians who were elected with Tea Party support, we can see that what skeptics have been saying about them is fairly accurate. All Tea Party supported candidates have to sign what is essentially a loyalty pledge to push forward the hidden agenda of the financial backers of the organization, many of whom remain intentionally anonymous. The interests of these backers are seldom, if ever, disclosed to the public by the Tea Party machine.
What do the Tea Party “Core Beliefs” really mean when decoded according to the hidden agenda?
- Illegal aliens are here illegally – This divisive statement uses wordplay crafted to create resentment against those who are trying to come to this country for the same reasons as our forefathers came here. (In the truest sense, all but the native peoples on this continent are “aliens” from some other location.) The sentiment intended to be evoked by this wording is that those who are not born in this country are law-breakers or criminals if they try to come here. This association between “aliens” and “criminal” is intended to immediately stir up animosity whenever the issue of immigrants is raised.
- Pro-domestic employment is indispensable. – This sounds like a throw-away promise to appeal to popular sentiment, since the policies and trade agreements supported by the Tea Party backed Republicans are very hostile toward the American worker. I tend to regard this point as outright misrepresentation of the true position of the Tea Party financiers. Since jobs are scarce, and fear of losing one’s job is in the back of mind for many Americans, this implied promise to support job growth is very appealing.
- A strong military is essential. – Always a favorite theme of the capitalists, bankers, large corporations, the military-industrial complex and their supporters in government, but not actually in the public interest of Americans or the rest of the world. This rests on the generalized fear and anxiety that “others” throughout the world may be intending to cause harm to Americans or threaten our security. The reality is that the good old U.S. of A. spends more money annually on our military than the next ten largest military budgets in the world combined! Who in the world are we supposed to fear when our own country is the biggest bully in the entire world? Who actually benefits from all this military spending? Unless I work for a military contractor, not I, nor most of the rest of Americans outside the corporate-government sponsored war machine. This item is nothing more than fear-mongering to keep us so afraid of the unknown that we want to kill it before it even exists!
- Special interests must be eliminated. – Pardon me while I try to stop laughing…but it is specifically “special interests” that are backing the Tea Party right now! This cannot possibly be of genuine interest to these groups, unless this is simply code for “we don’t want any competing special interests that we do not control”. These uncontrollable special interests would then be understood to include competing business interests, along with perhaps charities, and groups that advocate for human rights, civil rights and labor rights. This seems more like a bone thrown out to public sentiment to garner support for the Tea Party. Behind this word-twisting a more probable underlying agenda would be to allow those who happen to be sponsors of the Tea Party to use the government agencies to punish or silence their opponents while advancing their interests and those of their cronies.
- Gun ownership is sacred. – Somehow I think this is a nod to the NRA and those strongly libertarian leaning members of the general population in the center of the country. Oh, and also the gun manufacturers who use the NRA as part of their industry-supported lobbying efforts. Personally, I do support individual rights to own firearms, along with mandatory training on gun safety, gun laws, and civic responsibility, coupled with strong enforcement against those who abuse this right.
- Government must be downsized. – While this idea has been pushed front and center in public perceptions for much of the last century, the real motivation behind the message is seldom given sufficient attention. Some of the biggest supporters of restricted government are those whom government is intended to keep in check for the public good, such as polluters, labor or civil rights abusers, crooked financial operators, and etc. The real motivation here is that the foxes want the key to the hen house, and they don’t want the farmer to be able to shoot them as they try to raid the chicken coop whenever they feel like doing so. Those who are pushing this agenda have no interest in individual rights, and in fact they want to be able to violate individual rights at will with no repercussions. Government is supposed to maintain the guaranteed rights for all citizens, and punish the violators of these rights. Obviously the violators of the rights of others have a self-interested motivation to prevent the government from punishing them as they deserve, which explains the interest in limited or weak government enforcement.
- The national budget must be balanced. – Another laugh-worthy item, since the two major reasons that the budget is not balanced already are corporate welfare and unnecessary wars. Both of these were (and are) driven by corporate and financial interests that have essentially extorted the American people, using the government, to enrich themselves. Blaming these immense public frauds on the “government” is merely a smokescreen to hide the hypocrisy of the true culprits.
- Deficit spending must end. – Intuitively this sounds laudable to the average American tax payer who needs to balance their own family or business budget to maintain solvency. However this spending reduction is usually very narrowly targeted, typically toward programs that benefit vulnerable groups or enforcement of government regulations. Railing against the poor and minority groups helps gain the support of middle and upper class voters who consider negative circumstances to be the result of moral failings rather than the result of unfortunate circumstances.
- Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal. – Does this mean it should only be illegal for “the other guy” to get bailout money? Because most large financial interests spend millions of dollars annually on lawyers and accountants who will minimize their taxes. These tax avoidance strategies are shifting the responsibility for the government funding deficit to be made up by middle and lower class tax payers. Does this “belief” truly mean that major corporations will all join together in agreement to never accept another government contract for goods and services? Does this mean that companies will agree together that none will accept profit from war or the misfortune of others in the world? Or does this simply mean the true motivation is the most obvious one – that those who profit in some measure from the government financial policy are simply jealous of those who able to benefit even more?
- Reducing personal income taxes is a must. – Most of us would tend to agree with this goal, according the way we are likely to perceive this item. However, considering that the net effect of Tea Party policy is usually wealth transfer from the least wealthy to the most wealthy in society, expect that the benefit to most of us will be a pittance compared to the proportionally greater benefit given to the wealthy.
- Reducing business income taxes is mandatory. – This is the true objective of tax reduction, to increase profits for businesses, even though this profit might be gained at the expense of society as a whole. In this context, support for the reduction of personal income tax is basically a joke on the average working class taxpayer. This is nothing more than a verbal trick to get the average taxpayer to support the true objective with the belief that lower taxes will create jobs. Upon investigation we discover that this lie, based on the fictitious “trickle-down economics”, has never worked in the real world. Those who perpetuate this myth as a good thing have no incentive to allow the truth to be known to the average taxpayer and voter.
- Political offices must be available to average citizens. – Just hearing this gives most of us the warm fuzzies, considering the general contempt for “career politicians”. But once again, the joke is on us, since this would require extreme campaign finance reform. But it was the last round of campaign finance laws that allowed the wealthy to spend nearly unlimited amounts of money to get their favorite candidates into office. This sounds like another hypocritical promise that is never intended to actually make it into the Tea Party legislative agenda.
- Intrusive government must be stopped. – When decoded, this plays on the individualistic and libertarian leanings in many parts of the country to create support for a hidden agenda. Behind this apparent populist appeal is another goal, which is to eliminate government restrictions and fines on companies that want to be free to act against the public good. This is the real motivation – they intend to defund those government agencies responsible for enforcing regulations that were designed to protect the public interest against abuse by private interests and corporations.
- English as our core language is required. – While this sounds entirely reasonable to most (U.S.) Americans who speak English, we cannot continue to ignore the reality that much of the rest of the world is not English-speaking. In a sense, this is coded language for the attitude “I want the rest of the world to adapt to me, so I won’t have to learn to adapt to the rest of the world”. This arrogance that is typical of American culture is exactly why much of the world dislikes Americans today.
- Traditional family values are encouraged. – This is one of the emotionally charged statements made by politicians and religious leaders that actually means nothing. They know that people instinctively respond positively to such statements from their own frame of reference. Since each person forms an image about what this means, even though that is not necessarily the same image that anyone else might share, everyone can superficially agree without knowing what they agree about. When anyone uses this type of vague language, we should try to force them to commit to exactly what they mean by “traditional family values”. Within American culture there are vastly differing traditions and values held by different families, even within the same area or belief group, so this statement is completely non-descriptive of any shared values.
Track Record of Tea Party Backed Elected Officials
- “The Republican campaign to destroy the poor stoops to a new low” <http://www.salon.com/2015/05/25/the_republican_plot_to_destroy_the_poor/>
- “When These GOP Governors Run for President, Remember Their Contempt for Workers” <http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/17707/republicans_against_unions>
- “Scott Walker Defies Law: Why Doesn’t He Just Tax Corporations and Millionaires?” <http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/item/10630-scott-walker-defies-law-why-doesnt-he-just-tax-corporations-and-millionaires?tmpl=component&print=1>
- “Tea Party climate change deniers funded by BP and other major polluters” <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/oct/24/tea-party-climate-change-deniers>
- “The hidden agenda of Obama’s opposition” <http://phys.org/news/2013-06-hidden-agenda-obama-opposition.html>
- “Ted Cruz backs unlimited campaign cash: ‘Money absolutely can be speech’ ” <http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/15/ted-cruz-backs-unlimited-campaign-cash-money-absolutely-can-be-speech>
- “The GOP’s Latest Big Squeeze on American Workers” <http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/17761/the_gops_latest_big_squeeze_on_american_workers>
- “How the Tea Party movement began” <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/oct/05/us-midterm-elections-2010-tea-party-movement>
- “Study reveals cultural characteristics of the Tea Party movement” <http://phys.org/news/2011-08-reveals-cultural-characteristics-tea-party.html>
- “The evil basis for Republican and Tea Party beliefs” <http://www.theattackdemocrat.com/2011/09/evil-basis-for-republican-and-tea-party.html>
- “The tea party and the politics of paranoia” <http://phys.org/print288427441.html>
- “Tea Party: Is It the Christian Right in Disguise?” <http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/08/18/tea-party-is-it-the-christian-right-in-disguise.html>
- “Who’s picking up the tab for the tea party?” <http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Elections/2010/0919/Who-s-picking-up-the-tab-for-the-tea-party>
- “2010 Election | Tea Party Reality Check: Debunking the Tea Party ‘Non-negotiable core beliefs’ ” <http://worldnewsvine.com/2010/11/2010-election-tea-party-reality-check-debunking-the-tea-party-non-negotiable-core-beliefs/>
- “New University of Washington survey explores attitudes of tea party supporters” <http://phys.org/news/2010-04-university-washington-survey-explores-attitudes.html#nRlv>
- “The Tea Party’s Circular Logic” <http://www.slate.com/articles/business/project_syndicate/2011/08/the_tea_partys_circular_logic.single.html>
- “LET HIM DIE: The True Tea Party Values Exposed” <http://www.newscorpse.com/ncWP/?p=5410>
- “Secrets of the Tea Party: The Troubling History of Tea Party Leader Dick Armey” <http://archive.truthout.org/secrets-tea-party-the-troubling-history-tea-party-leader-dick-armey57970>
- “Hoffa Says Tea Party and John Birch Society Are One and the Same” <http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2012/09/04/hoffa-says-tea-party-and-john-birch-society-are-one-and-the-same>
- “The Irony of the Tea Party” <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tim-suttle/the-irony-of-the-tea-party_b_981906.html>
- “Mixing Christianity and politics is killing the church” <http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/religious-rights/243397-mixing-christianity-and-politics-is-killing-the-church>
- “The REAL Divide in America That Too Few People Acknowledge” <http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thegodarticle/2015/04/the-real-divide-in-america-that-too-few-people-acknowledge/>
[Updated 06/10/2015 – minor editing and additional references.]