No Need To Say Grace Before The Tea Party

Here’s an interesting piece from the New York Times on the Tea Parties. This extract gives a flavor:

For decades, faith and family have been at the center of the conservative movement. But as the Tea Party infuses conservatism with new energy, its leaders deliberately avoid discussion of issues like gay marriage or abortion. God, life and family get little if any mention in statements or manifestos. The motto of the Tea Party Patriots, a large coalition of groups, is “fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets.” The Independence Caucus questionnaire, which many Tea Party groups use to evaluate candidates, poses 80 questions, most on the proper role of government, tax policy and the federal budgeting process, and virtually none on social issues.

The Contract From America, which is being created Wiki-style by Internet contributors as a manifesto of what “the people” want government to do, also mentions little in the way of social issues, beyond a declaration that parents should be given choice in how to educate their children. By contrast, the document it aims to improve upon — the Contract With America, which Republicans used to market their successful campaign to win a majority in Congress in 1994 — was prefaced with the promise that the party would lead a Congress that “respects the values and shares the faith of the American family.”
Tea Party leaders argue that the country can ill afford the discussion about social issues when it is passing on enormous debts to future generations. But the focus is also strategic: leaders think they can attract independent voters if they stay away from divisive issues.

“We should be creating the biggest tent possible around the economic conservative issue,” said Ryan Hecker, the organizer behind the Contract From America. “I think social issues may matter to particular individuals, but at the end of the day, the movement should be agnostic about it. This is a movement that rose largely because of the Republican Party failing to deliver on being representative of the economic conservative ideology. To include social issues would be beside the point.”

Indeed it would.

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8 Responses to No Need To Say Grace Before The Tea Party

  1. reader says:

    This is very encouraging. As a secular moderate libertarian — what once upon a time would have been called a Rockefeller Republican — I think everyone should be able to practice their religion or non-religion as they please. But religion is no damn business of the government, and any politician who starts invoking it in anything but the most cursory fashion is not someone I’d support. I would never dream of registering as a Republican today, specifically because that party has made social conservatism its focus. At last, in the Tea Party, there is a home for genuine governmental conservatives.

  2. teapartyjim says:

    This voter is MAD AS HELL!

  3. David Hume says:

    see page 5.

    tea party seems to be a watered down version of the ron paul movement demographically.

  4. David Hume says:

    the N = 124 in that survey. but, that’s much bigger than the news accounts i’ve seen. see page 5: pdf link.

  5. And if they don’t make peace with social conservatives, the Tea Party folks will be about as successful as Ron Paul or Ross Perot in the long run. Conservativism has two lungs, for better or for worse, economic conservatism and social conservatism. Both lungs need each other in the long run. Until attempts by either side to expel or silence the other from the movement stop, conservatism will be dead in the water. Reagan understood this. Goldwater understood this back in the 1960’s and 70’s. John McCain’s deliberate alienation of social and religious conservatives during the 2000 campaign hurt him a great deal that year and in 2008. If conservatism decides to try a one-lung approach, it won’t have lasting success.

  6. Andrew Stuttaford says:

    Mark, You write that “if they don’t make peace with social conservatives, the Tea Party folks” won’t be successful. That rather assumes that the Tea Party folks have made war on social conservatives. They haven’t.

    The point being made by the Tea Party people quoted in the article is simply this: the Tea Parties should have nothing to say about ‘social issues’ one way or the other. They should simply be about the deficit, spending and taxes and that’s it. Sounds reasonable to me.

  7. Susan says:

    This seems to me to be the ideal “big tent”: The Tea Party dealing ONLY with those issues on which all of its membership can agree. Clearly if you’re a social conservative/fiscal liberal, you won’t be interested in joining the Tea Party. Why introduce something potentially divisive into the mix?

    And anyway, to get upset with the Tea Party for not promoting social conservatism seems to be akin to getting upset with a chamber music group for not including country rock in its repertoire–that’s not what it’s about.

  8. 8 says:

    The teabaggers’ anti-tax hysteria is mostly misplaced (and probably due to orders from wealthy politicians/pundits…Glenn Beck in his TomPaine get-up. Heh. Paine was no teabagger, or Foxnews pundit for that matter). Tax rates remain low, historically speaking–. During Reagan’s first term middle class people paid 50% or so in income tax; it was near 70% under Nixon.The govt’s going bankrupt because of the outrageous spending and not enough tax revenues to pay the bills. A small increase in capital gains taxes might help pay off Bush-cheney’s war debts.

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