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True Colours


Prince Imrahil

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The Tea Party, in terms of candidates, elected officials, and rank-and-file members, have put an emphasis on governmental and economic conservatism. They advocate for lower taxes, smaller government, and deficit reduction. When asked about positions on social policy, particularly on the campaign trail, these questions are usually brushed aside and left unanswered. This is most likely because the party wants to be seen as en economically/fiscally driven movement (thus, hopefully, drawing more supporters) versus being socially driven as the Republican Party has been for the better part of the last two decades. Some believe this is merely a facade. It seems that if it is, a crack has recently appeared in it.

Consider this. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who is the Republican that won Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in a 2010 special election, was supported by the Tea Party in his campaign bid (the Christian Science monitor, a conservative publication, had a headline that read "Scott Brown: the Tea Party’s first electoral victory"). Then, something changed. During the lame-duck session that followed the 2010 election in November, not only did Senator Brown vote yes on the procedural vote that ended debate on a stand-alone bill to end Don't Ask Don't Tell (the military policy that banned homosexual service members from serving openly), but he also voted in favour of the DADT repeal itself. He was one of eight Senate Republicans to vote yes in repealing the measure. It now looks like the Massachusetts chapter of the Tea Party will be shopping for a primary challenger when Senator Brown is up for a full election in 2012. Part of an article from The Advocate had this to say:

"I think that there will be a primary challenge," Christen Varley, president of the Greater Boston Tea Party, told The Boston Globe last Friday. "There’s enough of an underground movement in the Tea Party movement as seeing him as not being conservative enough. There probably will be multiple people who attempt to run against him."

To be fair, there are other votes by Senator Brown that the Tea Party had problems with, such as the jobs bill (which some think was an utter waste of money given the still high unemployment rate), Wall Street Reform, and the new START Treaty. Even so, that the DADT repeal is on that list lets us know where the Tea Party stands on at least some social issues.

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This is most likely because the party wants to be seen as en economically/fiscally driven movement (thus, hopefully, drawing more supporters) versus being socially driven as the Republican Party has been for the better part of the last two decades. Some believe this is merely a facade.

From way up here in the Great White North, the Tea Party appears to be (almost) a Paleo-Libertarian group. That is, a group of Libertarians whose social views are generally conservative. They don't wish to impose those views on others, but they refuse to accept the idea that they must 'accept' (as opposed to 'tolerate') any social values that are outside what most people would consider to be the norm.

This is a perspective that many on the Left have difficulty understanding, since anything less than full-blown acceptance is inconsistent with their worldview. Notwithstanding this confusion, the typical Paleo-Libertarian has difficulty relating with social conservatives, since the latter would support policies which would entrench a 'conservative' moral position within the law. (Something that would be anathema to Libertarians, who favor individual choice over legislative dicta.)

Clear as mud, right? Well, at least it covers the ground.

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