The Tea Party: Radical Extremists or Educators?

With the November elections not far away, I want to take a look at the Tea Party Movement and and share my thoughts on what I see the movement as.

The first question one has to ask is what is the Tea Party movement. It certainly has been described as many things, a third political party, a racist organization, a bunch of right-wingers bent on ousting the current president, a movement to overthrow the Government by violent means. While every group has their fringe elements, this is not how I see the Tea Party movement, certainly not at the local level here in Massachusetts. This is based on my having attended various Tea Party group meetings and events. I have never seen any evidence of racism, violence, talk of impeachment or any of the things the Tea Party movement is accused of. Being a sceptic,  I have looked for this evidence and have found none.

One of the criticisms of the Tea Party movement is there appears to be no real leader or organization. There are some who have tried and are trying to claim they are the Tea Party leaders, but in fact the Tea Party movement does not want a “national” leader. It is a loose knit organization comprised of various local chapters, with only informal rules as to how the group is run. Each individual group has a set of principles or core values they believe in and they work towards achieving those goals through educating the public and backing political candidates who support these principles. But they also realize every member is an individual and has their own mind and beliefs on who the best candidate will be. At a recent meeting I attended, a group were discussing the candidates for the second Congressional district, the Attorney General and the Worcester County Sheriff race. All had their own opinions on who they would like to see elected and why. There was no forcing others to see things one way, instead it was a rational, educated debate.

As with any group, individuals will see things differently. While detractors of the Tea Party movement, both Republicans and Democrats, seem to think that Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck are defacto leaders of the Tea Party movement, those involved in the movement don’t see them as leaders at all, a more accurate description might be “vocal members”. I have not seen any evidence of either of these two ever claiming they were speaking for the Tea Party or representing the Tea Party as a leader.

Any member of the Tea Party movement I have spoken with also does not believe the Tea Party movement should become a third party, nor as Dick Armey has recently stated “We will take over the Republican party”, but rather remain an independent source, affiliated with no political party.

And to the criticisms leveled at the Tea Party movement regarding President Obama, they do not seek the ouster of the president they do not see Obama as the problem but the policies he is pushing forward. The Tea Party believes that the freedoms the United States has enjoyed for so long are slowly being eroded. They believe Democracy is being replaced by socialism, by American elitists who believe they know what is best for others, while they themselves refuse to follow their own teachings. While opponents of the Tea Party seem to label everyone into groups and then pander to them, this is contrary to what the Tea Party believes. For them it is about removing labels and making everyone equal. In the Tea Party movement, all are one color, one nationality, American, and they believe we should all be in control of our own destiny.

In conclusion, no matter what you may think about the Tea Party movement, and if you, like I, initially did believe the misconceptions which have been spread about the movement, one thing is obvious. The Tea Party Movement has awakened many to things happening in this country, whether you think these things are right or wrong, and it has gotten people talking and discussing more than ever before. It is no longer just a few who are involved in the political process but many people who have never been involved before. And I for one think this can only lead to good things, no matter which side you are on. Therefore I believe they are educators.

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