Friday, October 02, 2009

Tea Party Boots Libertarians, Peaceniks

The following is written by Lawrence K. Samuels, editor and contributing author to Facets of Liberty: A Libertarian Primer, and co-chair of Libertarians for Peace of Monterey County:

Tea Parties have reconnected the cooperation between conservatives and libertarians that harks back to their mutual opposition to FDR's big government. But a host of these newly forged alliances have not taken hold. An undercurrent of ill-fitting philosophies and anti-intellectual clashes suggest that, at many Tea Parties, freedom is not always brewing.

In Monterey, California, one Tea Party recently divorced its libertarian brethren.

I helped create a nine-member board for the Monterey County Tea Party after an April 15, 2009 demonstration that attracted 600 sign-carrying protesters. The match seemed perfect. We all agreed on a mission statement that supported smaller government, lower taxes, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

Libertarians wanted to include a non-interventionist plank, but, under pressure, were willing to forgo it for the sake of a peaceful alliance.

But after a successful Fourth of July Tea Party parade and Freedom Rally in Monterey, the cracks in the alliance split wide open.

I was accused of belonging to too many leftist organizations.

I am co-chair of the local Libertarians for Peace, which joined the 27-member Monterey County Peace Coalition to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Libertarians for Peace is neither Left nor Right.

The fur first hit the fan when Monterey CodePink asked to be one of the co-sponsors of the Tea Party Freedom Rally. I loved the idea of uniting the antiwar and anti-tax crowds. But this possible alliance alarmed conservatives.

Left and Right dehumanize each other daily on talk radio and cable news, so I should not have been surprised by the conservatives' determination to share no common ground with any leftist organization.

To calm their fears, I put the issue in perspective. Nationwide, CodePink follows a socialist agenda; no argument there. But the Monterey branch of CodePink has worked with libertarians on both antiwar and anti-tax issues for years. The local Monterey CodePink leader was one of the most active signature-gathers in trying to abolish the utility tax in Seaside.

Next, I was accused of being too involved with the Libertarian Party -- as if Libertarians were responsible for the financial meltdown, bailouts, and stimulus packages.

These conservatives wanted no association with Republicans or Democrats either, saying that both political parties had caused our current problems. But they were also upset with Tea Party Board members who held leadership roles in the LP.

It did not matter that libertarians were heavily involved in starting the Tea Party movement back in 2008 -- nor that the original 1773 tea partiers at Boston Harbor were classical liberals (libertarians), not Tories or conservatives.

These Tea Party conservatives were neophytes. Never before had they been involved in political activism. Some had never heard of Congressman Ron Paul.

Prof. David R. Henderson, one of the libertarian Tea Party Board members, described this curious phenomenon as "activism without ideals." I thought my phrase captured it best: "A cause without a rebel."

As demands intensified to purge libertarians, we got the feeling that the purgers fit the category of "reactionary" since they seemed to know only what they were against, not what they were for. They never pointed to any philosophical differences they found objectionable. It was as if they were devoid of ideas, marooned with empty rhetoric and no real solutions.

One of my major crimes was distributing copies of my book, Facets of Liberty. This occurred at a Tea Party event billed as a "mixer." I was later told that I should not have passed out educational material, nor mixed with the crowd.

Libertarians soon labeled this misnamed event, the "non-mixer mixer."

It did not help when we asked these rookies embarrassing questions. We asked them why they had done nothing when President Bush bailed out the banks and auto companies, spent money like a drunken sailor, bashed civil liberties, and advanced socialized medicine with the Medicare Prescription Drug law, a program that some in Congress estimated will have a price tag of $1.2 trillion by 2016.

Our questioning rubbed their noses too deeply in their ignorance.

The Monterey County Tea Party purged libertarians by dissolving the entire organization.

That failed to stop us.

Libertarians soon formed the Liberty Tea Party, and, to set up a large tent, invited everyone to join a more enlightened Tea Party.


Unknown said...

Tea Parties do not have 'planks' and therein lies the problem.

Tea Parties address CURRENT ISSUES that they are at odds with and MOST if not all have wide appeal.

Unknown said...

I agree 100%. I've been hanging around the 9/12ers recently because of what they all seem to be against, but when I look at what they're FOR, it's either for whatever Glenn Beck says or for anything that's not what a Democrat would say.
What I saw was a bunch of angry people with no direction taking their marching orders from people without a clear plan. It's a damn shame that everybody is just now waking up to what has been happening for more than the past 10 months, and what the Libertarians have been saying for much longer than that.

terry freeman said...

Kudos to you for your efforts! Keep on plugging! The federal government faces a serious credibility crisis on many fronts, and this affects both the D and R wings of the Establishment.

Strategically, I think it's time to focus on two of our most potent issues: abolish the Federal Reserve, and bring our troops home from the several wars and 130 nations where they are now stationed.

Secondarily, two big local issues: self-defense and home schooling. Withdraw support from two pillars of the government in a peaceful manner.

noachbenavraham said...

"Imagine if you can a world in which truth is one general and something we will call blindness is the opposing general. These two simple factors one must choose between. There are no neutrals. We are frankly for or against and hold our positions by the force of the effort we put forth. The great struggle is not only to conquer our opposing forces, but to reclaim and form them into fighters for the truth."
Stewart Edward White
How about being FOR America! The one formed in 1776. 'Planks?' Or I'll just start my own tea party?

noachbenavraham said...

Ditto @ Ryan Quick

DooDooEcon said...

As a conservative, non-isolationist, pro-American, anti-big govt, pro-science, anti-global warming hoax, pro-victory, anti-terrorist, pro-constitution, pro-morality and pro-opportunity Tea Party activist I feel the need to point out that conservatives are not the typical activists. They have to overcome the term "radical" which is in effect a slur as bad as the n-word.

Libertarians and conservatives disagree on issues like drugs, anti-war and other constitutional issues but agree even with classic liberals that the constitution is the bases of our society. This alliance is facing a "progressive" assault on that constitution, our ability to disagree, our basic freedom of speach, our basic right to truth by people who dont believe in our system.

I remind you that socialism and capitalism are mutually exclusive. One provides individuals the opportunity to live up to their potential by cooperation and no limits to the forgiveness for failure. One is based upon the belief and faith of others because the time we spend is translated into capital, which is in turn invested in the people around us. The other is socialism, and it is evil.

Indiana Jim said...

In Indiana, the Tea party movement grows stronger with each incompotent move the progressives throw at us. People, libertarian or conservitive or even liberal have joined together because we know something is not right. The far left progressives have infected both parties and should not be allowed to infect the Tea party movement. We are all protesting against the fundamental change of bigger GOVERNment and we are for the Constitution. "It did not help when we asked these rookies embarrassing questions.". Libertarians just like everyone else are not entitled to the movement, even though you may beleives in many of the principles. This is beyond libertains or democrats or republicans. If we are to get back to our American Way we must keep to the principles that compelled hundreds of thousands to protests the progressive take over. So, don't be alarmed if the Tea party doesn't want to sell yor book or align with one of the far leftist progressive groups that have infected the other parties. You colors are showing, and the movement will have plenty of motivation with the big three progressives forcing themselves upon us.

Rob Martin said...

Where was this movement when the Neo-cons were throwing money at Iraq?