Cato’s John Samples thinks so. To me the Tea Party movement feels much more nativist/conservative than it does libertarian. For some reason, for years now people seem to love to call themselves libertarian. Several years ago a friend of mine who is a pretty doctrinaire liberal — he once said at a gathering he felt he didn’t pay enough taxes (!!?!!) — considered himself a libertarian. So I think there’s a lot of confusion out there on just what makes one a libertarian. Particularly when separating Republicans from libertarians.
From everything I’ve read, the Tea Partiers talk a pretty good fiscal conservative line, but a great number also talk a very strong social conservative line as well. If that doesn’t define your basic small-tent GOPer, nothing does. And setting the Tea Party rhetoric aside there is quite the disconnect between what the movement purports to believe in, and what it seems to actually support.
The easiest example is government spending on health care: Tea Partiers are vehemently against health care reform, or what has been framed as “Obamacare,” but at the same time want Medicare — quite the “socialist” medical care program by Tea Party definition — left alone. Either you are against government involvement with health care or not. The existing hypocrisy sounds more like Baby Boomer-aged Tea Partiers who are just fine with government subsidized health care as long as they are the recipients of all that government largess.
Needless to say, Samples sees a purity in the Tea Party movement that just isn’t there.
Here’s Samples’ take from the link way up there in the first graf:
It is not Republican; it is not even conservative. It has no interest in debating the merits of No Child Left Behind, abstinence-only sex education or George W. Bush’s rationale for going to Iraq. Replacing a “spend and borrow” Democrat with a “spend and borrow” Republican is not the goal of the Tea Party movement.
This movement is simply saying: “We are fine without you, Washington. Now for the love of God, go attend a reception somewhere, and stop making health care and entrepreneurship more expensive than they already are.”
Machiavelli once said a republic stays healthy by returning to its first principles from time to time. The Tea Party movement is trying to get our nation back to its first principles to prevent our decline. For their trouble, they have been denounced by many in the media and the Obama administration.
But they will continue to fight. They still believe in the promise of America. That faith may spread as Election Day approaches in the second and perhaps final year of what is supposed to be the Age of Obama.
What began as angry town meetings and grew into a political movement may end as a third political party in 2012. Maybe then Washington will finally listen.