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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : The Tea Party is Anti-American and Anti-Mormon » The Tea Party is Anti-American and Anti-Mormon

The Tea Party is Anti-American and Anti-Mormon

MCQ - August 8, 2011

The Tea Party as a phenomenon in American Politics is interesting from a political-science point of view but just about everything about its effects on American politics is disastrous.  It seems to enshrine the most extreme and paranoid of all American political instincts and attempts to turn them into virtues.  Tea Partiers are the most likely of any political activists to believe the most insane and provably false things about President Obama, the economy, taxes, the U.S. Constitution, the environment, science in general, you name it.   The movement seems to rely on gossip over facts, heated rhetoric over political discussion, and especially thrives on ignorance over education.  The movement has no central leader or leadership (by choice) but has rallied behind candidates and political figures like Rand Paul and Michelle Bachmann, while getting major rhetorical support from Rush Limbaugh and other similar demagogues.

The recent debate over the debt ceiling is a good example of both the Tea Party’s recent power and its effect on political debate.  This vote on the debt ceiling is something that has happened routinely hundreds of times in our history, but this time, the vote was held hostage by those members of congress (mostly Tea Partiers) who claimed they would not vote to increase the debt ceiling unless they got their list of demands, which included drastic spending cuts, no new taxes, and in some cases a balanced budget amendment.  In other words, this was a crisis that was created, almost entirely, by the Tea Party and those who support its principles.

Those principles seem to be to favor smaller government over larger government at every opportunity, to reduce government spending regardless of the cost, and to never raise taxes regardless of the reason.  Some of the ideas behind those principles are laudable when backed by a sound foundation of reason, respect for economic policy and governmental responsibility, but when taken to ridiculous extremes as the Tea Party has, they are inevitably inflexible, uninformed, ill-conceived and harmful to the government and the citizens it is supposed to represent.

This movement is doing damage to America and to the Republican party.  The outcome of the political game of chicken played by the Tea Party in the debt ceiling debate is that now the U.S. has been taken off Standard & Poor’s list of risk-free borrowers for the first time in its history.  This downgrade of the country’s credit rating will probably result in tighter credit and higher interest rates at the very least, all so Tea Partiers can claim a political victory on  a meaningless vote.  Because of such political victories, however, Republican candidates are behaving as though they must kow-tow to the tea partiers or risk losing their party’s nomination.  The only notable exception to this is Jon Huntsman who deserves a medal for political courage but is currently so far behind in the polls that he is flirting with irrelevance.

The Tea Party is fond of quoting the constitution and the founding fathers, but the founding fathers were almost all educated, responsible people who believed in government and political debate.  They would not recognize the tactics and rhetoric of the Tea Party as anything but irresponsible, ignorant and destructive.  The Tea Party seems to count a large number of LDS Church members in its ranks, but the ideas and behavior of this movement should be anathema to any sane member of the Church.


  1. In what way do you find them anti-mormon? Not that I disagree, but I’m curious.

    Comment by John C. — August 8, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

  2. John, I ran out of time before I could elaborate on that the way I would like, but think of our scriptures concerning contention being of the devil and intelligence being light and truth and you’ll have the fundamentals.

    The Tea Party thrives on ignorance, paranoia and demonizing the government, or anyone with whom they disagree. Contention and intransigence are two of the main weapons of this movement. Those ideas and principles are in direct conflict with our religion.

    Comment by MCQ — August 8, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

  3. I have a hard time getting outraged about anything that happens in Washington anymore. I don’t see much difference between this latest move by the Tea Party and the way in which both parties got pet projects pushed through on the TARP bills, bills that were passed with similar urgency.

    I’m not a huge fan of the Tea Party, though I’d feel a lot better about it if they were to move beyond the Michele Bachman types and focus more on the Marco Rubio types.

    Comment by Tim J — August 8, 2011 @ 7:12 pm

  4. And I think you have a pretty broad description of Anti-Mormon.

    Comment by Tim J — August 8, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

  5. Tim, the difference is that the TARP bills were passed, and they were passed in time to avert an economic meltdown. This past crisis came to a literal standstill several times and blew through several deadlines before a compromise was reached, and this resulted in our rating being downgraded. That’s bad government, and I lay the blame for that on the Tea Partiers, who were all-along denying that there was any crisis to avert.

    Comment by MCQ — August 8, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

  6. you have a pretty broad description of Anti-Mormon

    Ha, there’s another lesson in the importance of defining your terms, I guess. By anti-Mormon, I just mean that it’s principles are not compatible with Mormon gospel principles, not that they hate Mormons, although I’m sure some of the evangelical Tea Partiers do.

    Comment by MCQ — August 8, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

  7. I think the take-away message here is that Jon Huntsman is all that.

    Comment by Syphax — August 8, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

  8. I guess the problem I have with people getting upset with the Tea Party for taking the lead on the debt ceilling mess is that I think the only reason they took the lead was that nobody else was. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so does political power.

    The debt ceiling has been routinely raised in the past as part of the routine budget process. When the President’s budget was rejected by the Senate in February, nothing happened. no give-and take between Obama and the leadership of the house of Congress controlled by his party, nothing. Instead, the President, the Majority Leader, and the Speaker of the House went back to their bickering, and the Tea Party seized the opening and forced everybody else’s hand.

    What I find most inexcusable about the debt ceiling mess isn’t that the Tea Party took charge, it is that everybody else involved in the process let them.

    Comment by CS Eric — August 8, 2011 @ 8:09 pm

  9. I agree with Eric, about the vacuum left open for the Tea Party to move in. And in that sense, a huge amount of blame needs to be placed on the heads of Democratic Congressional leaders. Feckless, weak, cowardly, constantly running away from a battle, never standing behind the line they drew in the sand. As a liberal leaning person, I can’t tell you how pissed off I am at Democratic leaders for their constant capitulations to Republican intransigence. Seriously, get a spine guys. You’re on the right side. Stand up for what has worked so well these past 70 years!

    Comment by Dan — August 8, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

  10. Syphax, that’s not what I was driving at, but I am at least impressed with his courage in not pandering to them. I think that will stand him in good stead in the long term, whatever happens in this election.

    Eric, I think you are right on in your last paragraph, but my beef with the Tea Party is more fundamental than just the way they handled the debt ceiling issue.

    Comment by MCQ — August 8, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

  11. Dan, I am unbelievably encouraged by your willingness to criticize the democrats, even in a backhanded way. Have you been in therapy?

    Comment by MCQ — August 8, 2011 @ 8:25 pm

  12. I think Eric nailed it. The Tea Party Caucus is what, 60 members? And yet we’re attributing this entire mess to a small fraction of the members of the House.

    Comment by Tim J — August 8, 2011 @ 8:33 pm

  13. Those 60 members were enough to hold up the process Tim, and that’s the problem: laying down on the tracks of government and not allowing the trains to run when there is as much at stake as there is currently is inexcusable.

    Plus, it’s not just about the debt ceiling issue. These people want to be in charge.

    Comment by MCQ — August 8, 2011 @ 9:21 pm

  14. I have a hard time when anyone claims to know what position the founding fathers would have had on any given policy issue. Even during the “Founding Generation” there existed a full spectrum of political ideas and preferances. There were even some founding fathers who were at one time against the constituion (Patrick Henry & Thomas Jefferson).

    The greatness of the founding fathers to me is that they were willing to compromise. For me the Constitution is an “inspired document” because it was a result of a series of compromises between bright men who came from several distinct states with differing opinions of how the government should operate.

    Members of Congress today would do well to learn from their example!

    Comment by CJ — August 8, 2011 @ 10:18 pm

  15. It is quite an inconvenience in American politics to have to deal with people with whom you disagree. What were they thinking? How is it possible for people of such irrational views to command a majority of anything?

    Clearly, our job isn’t done, and we need to keep calling them names rather than patiently explain exactly where and why they have gone wrong.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 8, 2011 @ 11:14 pm

  16. Except they don’t command a majority. That’s partly my point. They are a minority, but they are just noisy enough and powerful enough that they are hijacking the party and the debate in congress.

    The obvious way to defeat them is for the silent, reasonable majority to shake off their collective ennui and get involved in the process, but I’m afraid my clothes will go out of style while I’m waiting for that to happen.

    We all have our strenths, so I left the patiently explaining role to you, Mark D. Go for it.

    Comment by MCQ — August 9, 2011 @ 12:14 am

  17. What is the optimal size of government relative to the private sector? What is the optimal level of taxation, and what values guide that determination? Seems like you ought to venture a comment or two along those lines to clarify your views. I’m guessing you want government to be bigger and taxes to be higher. Can it ever get too big? Can taxes ever get too high?

    Comment by Dave — August 9, 2011 @ 6:48 am

  18. I disagree quite strongly with the tactics of the Tea Party. And I find that many Tea Party people with whom I talk have at best wishful thinking about the consequences of their actions and often have outright demonstrably false beliefs. That said I’m very, very sympathetic to their basic aims.

    I also think that if you look at what they actually get from the Republicans it isn’t much. The last agreement gave small, largely hypothetical savings in the future. Before that there was an agreement where the supposed savings were largely accounting tricks. So you can’t really blame them for being skeptical of especially Democratic presentations.

    That said I find it scary how many don’t think the debt limit means anything. And they tend to have a a somewhat deceptive claim about deficits. After all if they are so concerned about deficits why so opposed to even minor tax increases? (Or even just plugging loop holes) I think they just want to get rid of a lot of government programs and are using the debt as a lever to achieve it. (Remembering once again that Democrats in particular have been pretty deceptive about cuts – often portraying slight decreases in the rate of increase as catastrophic cuts and frequently lying about what actual cuts are in bills)

    The thing is though that there are few Tea Party members. If Democrats and mainstream Republicans were willing to agree they have more than enough votes to pass most things. The Tea Party is just a convenient scapegoat to avoid their having to make hard choices.

    Comment by Clark — August 9, 2011 @ 7:37 am

  19. Can taxes ever get too high?

    Probably, but it’s a strange question at a time when taxes are lower than they have been in generations.

    Comment by Bill — August 9, 2011 @ 8:01 am

  20. Lower than they have been in generations? I beg to differ. In 1910, taxes at all levels of government added up to 3% of GDP. Today they are about 32%, roughly ten times as high. See here.

    But that is not the real problem. The real problem is that even though total taxes are about 32% of GDP, total spending is about 40% of GDP, leading to a deficit of ~8% of GDP, which is unsustainable. See here.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 9, 2011 @ 9:05 am

  21. I think Mark that one problem is that with certain programs (esp. health care) the consensus nature of our government structure combined with a huge polarization entails that we frequently get “compromises” that are worse than either alternative. Sadly the way the debate is framed is in terms of tax hikes or program cuts rather than looking at honest ways to improve efficiency.

    While I’m a big foe of Obamacare (I think even if you favor it, the beginning of a recession was the worst time possible to pass it) I will give Democrats credit for at least trying to put efficiencies into the bill.

    It’s good though that your bring in State spending since there are a lot of federal unfunded or partially funded mandates. (Medicaid anyone?) But it’s also true that State spending varies a lot between states.

    I also disagree that taxes aren’t the issue. There are a lot of special loopholes and programs such that a huge company like GE can pay effectively little or no tax. There is still a lot of low hanging fruit for improving efficiencies in both tax collection and spending. But I have little hope that our nearly dysfunctional government can do much. It seems to me both parties are going out of their way to avoid any hard decisions that cause people pain – ironically causing a lot more pain.

    Comment by Clark — August 9, 2011 @ 9:55 am

  22. Dave: You’re missing the point. This post is not about the size of government or the level of taxation, and your assumptions about my position on those issues are dead wrong. As I said, the goals of the Tea Party are not the problem, their irrational and inflexible pursuit of those goals is.

    Comment by MCQ — August 9, 2011 @ 10:26 am

  23. Clark, so the solution is for mainstream Republicans to vote with Democrats in order to rein in members of their own party? Do you really think that’s a solution?

    Comment by MCQ — August 9, 2011 @ 10:44 am

  24. MCQ, where did you get that idea from what I wrote? I do think that a compromise that raised taxes slightly to pay for the 10 years of war and expenses combined with some big cuts would be very wise. It’s not what I’d prefer, mind you. But I’m realistic about my ideal laws never getting passed. I think that had congress accepted the Simpson-Bowles plan months ago it would probably have got the nation on track much better than anything apt to be passed prior to the next election. It probably would have avoided the credit downgrading to. And it probably would have given the market some sense of security such that the economic downturn would have been shorter.

    Comment by Clark — August 9, 2011 @ 10:54 am

  25. MCQ,

    I’ve criticized the Democrats on many occasions. In conversations we’ve had, there hasn’t been an opportunity for the right critique I guess. I guess you missed this post of mine from a while back. :)

    Comment by Dan — August 9, 2011 @ 11:06 am

  26. Clark: You said:

    The thing is though that there are few Tea Party members. If Democrats and mainstream Republicans were willing to agree they have more than enough votes to pass most things. The Tea Party is just a convenient scapegoat to avoid their having to make hard choices.

    To me, that means you think that mainstream Republicans need to vote with the Democrats in order to defeat the Tea Party agenda. That’s not a realistic solution to the problem, in my estimation.

    Comment by MCQ — August 9, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

  27. I think Republicans and Democrats have to come to some consensus. If both parties simply do what the Tea Party wants and dig in their heels and avoid consensus then the nation is in dire straights indeed. That’s because neither party has enough votes to pass anything.

    The Republicans can either do this and hope Democrats don’t do the same thing or else they can ignore the Tea Party. If the Tea Party intends no compromise period then all they will do is eventually marginalize themselves. That’s because the Republicans will know they can’t get any votes from the party and will instead have to find the votes from Blue Dog Democrats.

    That’s just the reality of democracy. Exactly how that’s not realistic escapes me. It seems there’s no alternative possible.

    Comment by Clark — August 9, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

  28. Both parties should be willing to compromise when necessary, of course, but that’s not the problem. Because the Tea Party members are not willing to compromise, the Republicans are unable to bring sufficient numbers to the table to make a deal. Depending on the issue, they may be able to find common ground with Democrats and still solve some problems, but those are going to be rare.

    The long term solution is to defeat the extremist Tea Partiers. They must change their behavior or be defeated or government will cease to properly function.

    Comment by MCQ — August 9, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

  29. I think the problem is that most Tea Party folk haven’t learned political maturity – i.e. losing and learning compromise is necessary. Unfortunately everyone is upity due to the economic situation and the fact is that both Republicans and especially Democrats haven’t exactly been honest with regards to spending.

    Comment by Clark — August 9, 2011 @ 8:37 pm

  30. This just seemed like a rant. You stated your opinion without suitable justification. Sounds like so much name calling.

    You don’t like the Tea Party? Tough. Other people are allowed their own opinions, even if they don’t coincide with yours.

    Speaking of maturity. The Tea Party seems to be one of the few mature groups out there. They are asking for fiscal responsibility. Rahter then burdening our children and grandchildren with debt so we can party.

    Comment by Kramer — August 10, 2011 @ 3:40 am

  31. Love your ad homimem attacks. “the ideas and behavior of this movement should be anathema to any sane member of the Church.” So, any member who believes in responsible government is insane. Lovely. Check that beam in your eye. I say spending beyond your means is folly.

    Comment by Kramer — August 10, 2011 @ 3:43 am

  32. If only it were true that the tea party were simply asking for fiscal maturity. As much as I hate taxes, any party that says no taxes no time nowhere is immature and fiscally irresponsible by any definition.

    Comment by Dan — August 10, 2011 @ 10:30 am

  33. Kramer, it is definitely a rant, but you can’t say that the credit downgrade was not the result of the Tea Party’s approach in the debt ceiling crisis. How do you answer that?

    Senator Moynihan used to say that other people are allowed their own opinions, but not their own facts. The Tea Partiers want to substitute their own set of facts for the ones that the rest of us call reality.

    There’s nothing wrong with fiscal responsibility, but arguing for dramatic spending cuts and a balanced budget amendment in a recession is not responsible. You might as well take a blowtorch to the economy.

    Rahter then burdening our children and grandchildren with debt so we can party.

    Typical Tea party hyperbole. No one is advocating this. the only question is whether we attack the deficit responsibly or irresponsibly. Thanks for giving me a great example of Tea Party rhetoric.

    Comment by MCQ — August 10, 2011 @ 11:15 am

  34. Kramer, asking for financial responsibility would be more persuasive if they weren’t keeping taxes fully off the table. But the maturity I was talking about wasn’t financial maturity (as I said I’m very sympathetic to the broad aims of the Tea Party) but political maturity. They are only a few but are attempting to have their views rule through extremely undemocratic means IMO. The problem is that they haven’t remotely convinced a sufficient number of Americans that the views of the Tea Party with regards to particular cuts are correct.

    Comment by Clark — August 10, 2011 @ 11:24 am

  35. There’s nothing wrong with fiscal responsibility, but arguing for dramatic spending cuts and a balanced budget amendment in a recession is not responsible.

    It seems to me this presupposes the correctness of neo-Keysian stimulus which is hardly a position shared by everyone. Macro-economic theory is a long ways a way from being “factual.”

    Also the balanced budget amendment, love it or hate it, allows for exceptions in things like recessions. It just requires a larger vote. But in some ways that’s already a de-facto element in getting anything through the Senate as is. (Due to the widespread use of the filibuster)

    I’d add that most of those asking for spending cuts aren’t asking for dramatic short term ones. Not even the Ryan plan does that. It is asking for restructuring long term spending.

    Comment by Clark — August 10, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

  36. MCQ,
    “but you can’t say that the credit downgrade was not the result of the Tea Party’s approach in the debt ceiling crisis. How do you answer that?”
    The Tea Party’s plan that passed the house almost certainly would have kept the AAA credit rating in place had it become law. This incorporated significant long term reforms. They did not like Obama’s proposals and were inflexible on taxes, but they are NOT primarily responsible for the credit crisis.
    A BBA would likely put us in a similar situation politically, but if nothing happens the budget cuts would be across the board and automatic. The credit rating would be preserved by forced austerity.
    The president and congressional democrats showed inflexibility on a variety of issues, but they have been around longer and their positions are already accounted for in your calculus.

    Comment by el oso — August 10, 2011 @ 3:11 pm

  37. el oso, you say that the Tea Party is not responsible for the “credit crisis,” but I can’t tell if that means the downgrade or not. The Tea Party’s tactics unquestionably led to the downgrade because it showed an intractability and unwillingness to compromise that S&P cited in their decision to downgrade.

    Whether their plan would have kept the AAA rating had it passed is pure guesswork, but since it never had any chance of passing, such guesses are irrelevant.

    Clark, you can argue about the use of the term “dramatic” but there is no question that the Tea Party wanted much greater spending cuts than it got. You can also argue about what effect that might have on the current economy but you’re not going to convince me or the vast majority of economists that a recession is a good time to cut spending in any major way.

    Yes, over the long term, too much debt is a bad thing and deficit spending cannot continue indefinitely, but you have to pick your battles. It won’t help us to have lower government spending and less debt if the economy collapses.

    It’s like telling your child he is fat and putting him on a diet when he has a life-threatening illness. Cure the illness first, then worry about the waistline.

    Comment by MCQ — August 10, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

  38. The Tea Party seems to be one of the few mature groups out there.


    Comment by jjohnsen — August 10, 2011 @ 6:19 pm

  39. MCQ, once again I think this isn’t a typical recession and I think one thing markets want is some assurance that future debts will be under control. That simply doesn’t necessitate massive cuts taking effect during the recession. But it does mean putting in place a plan to cut spending forecast ahead sufficiently for business to plan for.

    I think the Tea Party are being silly in how they compare the US to Greece. However it’s also just plain false that economists don’t favor some austerity. Once again not all economists are neo-Keynsians and the empirical evidence for neo-Keynsian macro-economics is pretty weak frankly. I’m certainly no economist, but one doesn’t need to read that much to find economists who favor some austerity. Britain, for instance, modeled its austerity after the successful austerity imposed by Sweden during its recession in the 1990′s. Now you’re certainly right that some economists condemned Britains plans and have pointed to flat recent growth. But then Obama favored a modest neo-Keynsian policy and US growth has been extremely weak as well.

    Comment by Clark — August 10, 2011 @ 7:08 pm

  40. MCQ,
    The Tea Party plan had no chance of passing because Obama did not want to compromise to that extent. Obama and other democrats could have used that plan and negotiated some changes from there. Note that the Tea Party reps did have the advantage of winning the most recent election versus Obama and the democrat majority in the Senate. They campaigned on their agenda and won in many cases over incumbent democrats. The legacy democrats were in this way more intractable since they did not follow the obvious trend set by the electorate.

    Comment by el oso — August 10, 2011 @ 7:09 pm

  41. Clark, you’re preaching to the choir.

    Some austerity is fine. Laudable even. A plan to pay down the debt is fantastic. But again, that’s not what the Tea Party is asking for. If you try to tell them they’re asking for too much too soon, or that raising some taxes might need to be a part of the formula, they just accuse you of engaging in scare tactics, or being a liberal or a RINO or whatever other common accusation they make and they stop talking to you.

    I agree that the recovery has been weak, so stimulus spending is not exactly winning the day either, but even if we agree we’re not going to do any more stimulus spending, cutting back on regular spending too much too soon is dangerous.

    All I’m asking for is some reasonable measures and some willingness to compromise. I’m no economist either, but I think we ought to listen to the ones we have, and most of them are aghast at what the Tea Party is advocating.

    el oso, the electorate did not have this specific agenda in front of them when they voted for those candidates. And even if they had, you still have to make allowances for some change in circumstances. Holding the vote on the debt ceiling hostage so that you can get all the points on your agenda is irresponsible and not what the electorate voted for. the proof of that is in the polls. The approval rating of the Tea Party dropped off a cliff overnight when the public saw that behavior.

    Comment by MCQ — August 10, 2011 @ 9:52 pm

  42. MCQ,
    Yes the Tea Party support has dropped. Unfortunately, no one has seen their support rise in the polls that I can find. The president has also lost support over this process. He was already approaching the core democrat support level, so these latest losses are painful. I suspect that several Tea Party members voted for the final compromise because of the falling poll numbers due to their perceived intransigence.
    Let’s see how Bachmann does this weekend to gauge the level of hard core Tea Party support in Iowa. It will be interesting.

    Comment by el oso — August 11, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

  43. I suspect Bachmann’s appeal to many voters is as a populist and for her social conservative bonafides. Those are important in Iowa and Ohio. Remember that primary voters don’t bear much resemblance to regular voters. These are the activists and they tend to want someone who’ll take it to Obama. Further many of them are angry and aren’t looking to compromise.

    Comment by Clark — August 11, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

  44. Tea Party Conservatives are just souped-up Republicans. As such, they are cynical of the general populace. This is indeed the opposite of Mormons. We trust everybody, including the wolves in sheep clothing. Hint: Romney.

    Comment by Brad — August 13, 2011 @ 10:48 am

  45. I think Mitt is a Tea Partier now. He sure is talking like one. I’m pretty sure he won’t talk that way if he makes it to the general election, but for now, he’s one click shy of Ron Paul.

    Comment by MCQ — August 13, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

  46. “Tea Party thrives on ignorance, paranoia and demonizing”

    change to

    This post thrives on ignorance, paranoia, and demonizing.

    Comment by chris — August 15, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

  47. chris, please educate me on how I’m exhibiting those qualities. I dare you.

    Comment by MCQ — August 15, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

  48. Sure – we have ignorant, paranoia and demonizing

    You’re ignorant of who the tea party is because their is no monolithic tea party. It can mean everything from a bunch of people who are fed up with the increase size and scope of government to the same group of staunch right wingers who always rail against the Ds but turn a blind eye to the Rs.

    You’re paranoid because you have described its effect on “American politics is disastrous”. It’s strange to say diverse groups of people (who share some commonalities) exercising their right to persuade, protest, and vote on certain issues is disastrous.

    In fact, you might as well as the original tea party of the revolution was disastrous and get a little more credit because it led to thousands of deaths. But of course, who was responsible for what led to what is another question.

    Which is the point, since you approach the issue this way that they are the ones at fault and what they are doing is disastrous, it reeks of paranoia. The other guys are all wrong, and if you’re not all right you’ve at least figured out what not to do and they’re crazy. Oh, and apparently they can’t be trusted but you can. Sounds a little paranoid to me.

    Demonizing. After reconstructing the entire “tea party” into a monolithic entity so you can pillory it, you accuse “it” (of which there is really no it, just diffuse groups of individuals) of taking politics to “ridiculous extremes” merely because the one thing they seem to have in common is they do not believe the government will ever reverse course until the nation collapses.

    Then you point to a ratings agency downgrade as proof of their dangerous extreme effect. As if the rating downgrade would have taken place if there was no 14trillion dollar debt the tea party groups are abhorred by and have become increasingly so until their we’re not gonna take it attitude of late has actually been codified to define these individuals as “the tea party”.

    The fact of the matter is, and regardless of the quotes you can point to that the administration goaded people into providing, the real issue is massively rising debt and decreasing ability to do anything about it. All the tea party types did was reveal that we are incapable of doing anything serious to stop the issue.

    Taxing won’t make up the difference they argue (and I agree). We need massive cuts in the size and scope of government.

    Now I’m not out supporting any candidate, not part of any tea party like groups (or any political ones) etc.

    But your post is a point by point take down that attacks someone else for having the audacity to attack a system they dislike. So in effect, what I as an outside observer see is you attacking them, for them attacking the role and size of government.

    And you do it in a similar way as they do, only citing different factuals. I actually don’t have a problem with either case, but I just find it strange you could say it’s Anti-American and Anti-Mormon.

    So in the spirit of my 46, it could just as easily be said this post is Anti-American and Anti-Mormon. Because you are the who purporting to decide what is good American and not good American, when that is expressly the point of America — there is no single person who decides and proclaims in behalf of us all.

    Comment by chris — August 17, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

  49. Wow chis. I thought I was on a rant, but yours tops mine hands down.

    Speaking of paranoia, the next time you assume I’m “deciding and proclaiming on behalf of us all” you might want to go and lie down somewhere. I’m writing here for no one but myself.

    Also, please note that I also pointed out that the Tea Party purposely has no central leadership, so you really can’t accuse me of treating them as monolithic entity.

    Your comment is largely incoherent, so I’ll let it sink under its own weight, but a few responses might be:

    This subject, to me, boils down to the dangers of extremism. The principles of the Tea Party are not particularly extreme, but their methods are, as are their ridiculous propensities not to allow reasonable debate on any issue, but simply to shout people down and rely on emotion and ignorance.

    Those who study an issue honestly and dispassionately know that there are rarely one-size-fits-all solutions to complex problems. The economy is a complex problem. Reducing the size of government and drastically cutting spending is not a reasonable solution 100% of the time, even where it is a good long term goal (as it clearly is here).

    Then you point to a ratings agency downgrade as proof of their dangerous extreme effect. As if the rating downgrade would have taken place if there was no 14trillion dollar debt the tea party groups are abhorred by and have become increasingly so until their we’re not gonna take it attitude of late has actually been codified to define these individuals as “the tea party”.

    Hard to say what you’re talking about here, but it sounds like you’re saying the downgrade would have happened without the Tea Party’s tactics, just because of the debt alone. That’s provably false.

    The debt did not increase after the vote. The ratings agency S&P told us its reasons for the downgrade following the vote and one of the things they cited was the intractability and extremism of the two sides of the debate over the debt ceiling.

    The debt has been there for a while and will continue to be there for a while. What is the new element that changed the agency’s confidence in the government? The Tea Party and its attitude toward working with others and finding solutions through compromise. That has been a problem before, but the Tea Partiers have taken it to a new level.

    Comment by MCQ — August 17, 2011 @ 5:59 pm

  50. MCQ – I wasn’t interested in breaking it down in a long post, but you asked for it, so I used the 3 criteria you used to smear another party and turned it back around on your own words.

    I’m not upset here or angry about anything, and I want to get that across because I realize tone is always lacking in comments/posts. But to label something like the tea party as anti-american and anti-mormon is way too much to swallow and the way you did it almost makes you seem more deserving of those labels. I noted the irony.

    Ultimately, I see the tea party types as being fed up with the following:

    So they by and large don’t trust the Ds or the Rs from what I gather, although they are obviously closer to the Rs, but aren’t pleased with how they’ve legislated.

    Looking at that above chart, you make it sound like the tea party is the reason why an agreement can’t be made. The tea party is the only group of people saying, let’s stop the continued rise of that charge. The only agreements that appear to ever be made is to spend more or keep spending the same.

    The S&P and more importantly, the world would not accept that. As I stated, administration lobbied the agency a great deal before their vote, and I feel pretty confident the one bone the S&P gave the administration is to say the downgrade was for XYZ reason that the admin could at least seek to excuse itself. It’s not just Obama’s fault, but the entire congress as well.

    The issue simply is not how can we come to an agreement to spend more. There has not been much talk or action about spending or doing less.

    I think throwing the tea in the harbor is a bit more extreme than refusing to vote on a bill that authorizes more of the perceived negative policies.

    Comment by chris — August 18, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  51. chris:

    It would be ironic, if you were at all correct that I was ignorant or paranoid. I suppose I am demonizing the tea partiers, but there’s nothing ignorant or paranoid about my words. I have studied the issues and the tea partiers response to them and I acknowledged the same thing you did, that the tea party has no central leadership but is instead a collection of individuals with some common goals. Since you haven’t pointed to anything else I’m ignorant of, and you’ve never supplied any evidence at all that I’m paranoid, there’s no irony.

    You seem to agree with the tea partiers that raising the debt ceiling is somehow evil, but it’s never been an option not to raise the debt ceiling. Those who say they won’t vote to raise it are irresponsible, because that means we default. That’s what S&P found disturbing, and the big difference between yesterday and today. We have always had debt. Now we have debt coupled with representatives who say they would rather see us default on our obligations than raise the debt ceiling. That’s why, for the first time in our history, we have lost the AAA rating. It should surprise no one that publicly saying you will not pay your bills is bad for your credit rating. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself.

    There are long-term solutions to this and cutting spending is certainly part of any solution but you won’t find a single independent economist with any sort of reasonable credentials who will say that you can get out of this mess by cutting spending alone. Somehow, we have to increase revenues coming in or we will never get out of debt. Yet the tea partiers draw a line in the sand and say they will never raise taxes. That’s irresponsible. We have to both cut spending and increase revenues in some way to get out of this mess. But we need to get out of this recession first, then we can attack the debt. But the teap partiers don’t allow for that.

    The issue simply is not how can we come to an agreement to spend more. There has not been much talk or action about spending or doing less.

    Totally false. Cutting spending is part of every single economic plan I’ve heard, but it needs to be a long-term solution, because cutting too much government spending while we’re in a recession is a recipe for disaster.

    Comment by MCQ — August 18, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

  52. Sorry, but I don’t believe for one minute that Mitt Romney is a tea partier. Trouble is, I don’t know what he is anymore.

    Comment by Aaron — August 18, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

  53. Romney is actually a pragmatist. That’s why he seems so uncomfortable among the true-believers during the primaries. Romney is not a true-believer in the political sense. He believes in doing what it takes to get the best result. Which is probably exactly what we need in office right now. Unfortunately, pragmatists rarely get elected.

    Comment by MCQ — August 18, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

  54. I don’t think they’re anti-American. Heck, it’s uniquely American to be loud and annoying. That said, they annoy me. I’m kind of sick of them myself. And it bothers me that the women–Sarah Palin and Bachman–are associated with them. Because they come off strident and unyielding and a bit fanatical. I’d like to see a strong soft-spoken knowledgeable woman run. Don’t know who that would be, but not the yo-yos that are running now.

    Comment by annegb — August 22, 2011 @ 7:15 am

  55. The reason I used the (admittedly inflammatory) term “anti-American” is that it seems to me that their principles and tactics are in direct opposition to those upon which the country was founded and that make it function well. I know enough history to know that there has been a lot of very harsh political rhetoric throughout the history of this country, but I believe the TP’s irrationality tops anything we’ve seen in this country before.

    What I mean is, we may have had ignorant political leaders at times, but they were ignorant by circumstance, they didn’t embrace ignorance as an article of faith the way the Tea Partiers do. You basically can’t be a Tea Partier if you accept the scientific consensus on evolution and man-caused global warming. And you also have to reject the vast majority of economists as well. That’s willful ignorance, and it has no place in our political leadership.

    Comment by MCQ — August 22, 2011 @ 4:59 pm

  56. This article is important and informative regarding the origins and makeup of the Tea Party.

    Comment by MCQ — August 24, 2011 @ 12:40 am

  57. While I do not identify myself with the so-called tea party, I do share an opinion that many of them have: beyond a certain point, the growth of government power becomes a threat to freedom. I also agree that both political parties have helped grow government power. Must someone be a right-wing crackpot to have these beliefs? Do these opinions make one an anti-Mormon?

    And how can a movement that is not a party be named the Tea Party? That doesn’t make sense to me. It suggests to my mind that someone is manipulating the language to influence my thinking. What if the tea party is merely a strategy for splitting the Republican vote so that Obama can serve another four years?

    What I do not know vastly outweighs what I do know. My ignorance is almost complete. Hence, I do not join factions and parties other than the Church. If I did, I would probably end up making a bigger fool of myself than I already have by joining something that is not what it seems to be.

    Comment by John W. Redelfs — September 25, 2011 @ 7:40 am

  58. Must someone be a right-wing crackpot to have these beliefs? Do these opinions make one an anti-Mormon?

    If you read the post and the comments you should know the answer to these questions: no and no.

    What if the tea party is merely a strategy for splitting the Republican vote so that Obama can serve another four years?

    Even if that’s not the strategy, it’s doing a great job of acheiving it anyway.

    I don’t think we need to be afraid to join things other than the Church. Your local Rotary club or Chamber of Commerce is perfectly safe, for example. But you might want to be leery of anything with the name Gadianton in it.

    Comment by MCQ — September 25, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

  59. To blame the down-grading of the U.S. credit rating on the Tea Party is absurd and down right ignorant. Our economy was down graded because of the economic policies during both the Bush and Obama administrations. Even Bush and Obama are not entirely to blame, the entire congress and all of the other political components of our government are equally to blame. I would even put a large part of the blame on our corporate and financial institutions. When someone pens something such as this on a small group with no backing, shows how irresponsible writing gets us nowhere. I disagree with a lot of what the Tea Party stands – But they are not the blame for our credit rating decline. Your whole article lost any true statement once I read that…The problem with republicans/conservative and democrats/liberals are your stupid labels and ideological thinking that prevents our country from continuing to grow as the beacon of freedom. I believe it was Jefferson who stated that if the U.S. were to ever be defeated it would be from destruction from within…A point that needs to be made is Bush and Obama has truly not been any different…look at what happen when the democrats had control of congress…NOTHING! Sad day for all of America who was expecting change from a party who promised but could not delivered. We’re are back to the same Bush politics and no one wants to be accountable only point fingers and blame the other party. I want change – I want our citizens to hold our government accountable, it’s a government of the people, by the people, for the people. They work for us guys, we DON’T work for them!!!

    Comment by J Slaton — October 22, 2011 @ 8:50 am

  60. Nice rant.

    Look, it’s not just me, many analysts agree that the tea partiers in congress were directly responsible for the acrimony and gridlock that led to the credit downgrade. You may not want to lay it all on them but they are the only new factor in the equation, everything else existed before and no downgrade ever happened before.

    But you go right ahead and blame… let’s see, who is it exactly you blame? Oh, yeah, everyone! That makes a lot of sense.

    The fact is, it had never happened before, then the tea partiers get into congress and create a situation where a crucial financial vote is held hostage to their extremist demands. That’s why the credit downgrade happened. But don’t believe me, read what Standard and Poors said. You know, the agency that issued the downgrade? You think they might have some idea why they did it?

    Comment by MCQ — October 23, 2011 @ 2:56 am

  61. So, who do you support for the Republican presidential candidate? Can’t remember your political affiliation, but say you were Republican. Who’s the best?

    Comment by annegb — October 24, 2011 @ 8:56 am

  62. I think Romney is the most credible candidate of the current GOP contenders. And it’s not even close.

    That’s not to say that I agree with everything he says, or that he’s my first choice to be the next president, but given the candidates we have now and the current chances for success of each of them, we really only have two credible choices on the republican side: Romney or Perry.

    Cain is not credible. His 999 plan is almost comical. Gingrich doesn’t have enough support or money because he has some negatives, Santorum is too extreme, Bachmann is a joke (I sometimes can’t even believe the things she says are actually coming out of her mouth), Paul is unelectable because he’s too uncompromising, Huntsman is a good candidate, but doesn’t have the support at this point to break into the top tier.

    It’s possible that things could change in the next few months, but it’s not likely. Given the choice between Perry and Romney, I’ll take Romney any day.

    Comment by MCQ — October 24, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

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