I was initially baffled by a New York Times article on the Tea Parties, until I realized that the left, with its worship of command-and-control, literally cannot conceive of true grass-roots activism.
Do nuts and conspiracy theorists ever show up at leftist rallies? Obviously. All the time. But, because such rallies are officially organized by some recognized leftist group, the nuts can be ignored, and the leftist media need only report the official views of the organizing group.
But there is nobody organizing the Tea Parties. There are many amorphous, loosely organized groups, and in some cases some of these groups have developed more or less formal leadership. But there is no official spokesperson for a Tea Party. Somebody announces their intention to rally, and other people join in for their own reasons. In some cases some major group, such as the Independence Institute, has sponsored a rally in Colorado, but even then the individual participants came for their own reasons.
Obviously the Tea Parties have been spurred by annoyance with the way things are going in the District of Charlatans. But beyond that, there is no official doctrine of the Tea Parties. The only thing that can be said of the Tea Partiers is that they are upset about current trends, and beyond that they have their own ideas. Tea Parties are a collection of individuals, and that is something the leftist media simply cannot understand.
The approach of David Barstow of the New York Times, then, is to point out that some Tea Partiers are nutty, and smear all other Tea Partiers by implication and guilt by association.
I have attended a number of rallies loosely fitting into the Tea Party movement. I have spoken at a couple of them. I have interviewed many participants. Sure, I’ve seen some nuts. I’ve seen the anti-abortion zealots, the anti-immigrant bigots, a few with tasteless Nazi signs, and the conspiracy theorists. But they are certainly not representative of Tea Partiers.
Instead, based on my interviews with numerous participants at these rallies, I have found basically thoughtful voters who generally favor Constitutionally limited government and freer markets. Quite a number of people I’ve interviewed have expressed an integrated and sensible ideology of liberty, while others have given me confused doctrines offering a mish-mash of freedom and political controls.
Here are links to some of my coverage of these events:
Pork Roast Rally in Photos
Meet the ‘Mob:’ Longmont Protests Obamacare
Denver 9/12 Rally: Freedom Forever
Pro-Liberty Health Rally Draws Hundreds
Denver Tea Party Ralliers In Their Own Words
Coloradans Speak Out Against Obama Care
July 4 Tea Party Arvada Colorado
Barstow claims that “Tea Party members joined a coalition, Friends for Liberty, that includes representatives from Glenn Beck’s 9/12 Project, the John Birch Society, and Oath Keepers, a new player in a resurgent militia movement. … These people are part of a significant undercurrent within the Tea Party movement that has less in common with the Republican Party than with the Patriot movement, a brand of politics historically associated with libertarians, militia groups, anti-immigration advocates and those who argue for the abolition of the Federal Reserve.”
At least Barstow does not claim to be describing all participants of the Tea Parties. He merely taints the rest by associative guilt.
It is true that there are some people who would claim all the labels that Barstow vomits onto the page. It is also true that many Tea Partiers would reject all those labels. Many libertarians who want to abolish the Federal Reserve also advocate open immigration.
As for me, I reject libertarianism (though I used to be a Libertarian), I am part of no “milita group” save the one defined by Colorado’s Constitution, I think Glenn Beck is often a clown but that he sometimes gets something right, I think the Birchers are flat-out nuts, I have no idea who the “Oath Keepers” are, I favor open immigration, and, yes, I think the Federal Reserve should be abolished in favor of a free market in currency.
And I refuse to let some idiot newspaper reporter guilt me out of civic participation because a few nuts or (gasp!) people who disagree with me happen to attend the same rally. I will speak for myself. “I will not be labeled, cataloged, filed, or coded.”
I will advocate liberty and individual rights by whatever just means I can, regardless of what the New York Times thinks of it.