Posted by Brad @ 12:06 pm on April 16th 2010

Tea Party Self-Policing Watch

On the 15th, a coalition of the big names on the Tea Party front, as well as a number of astroturfing (not necessarily in a bad way) GOP orgs including Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers Union, Gingrich’s own American Solutions, the College Republicans, and the Republican Liberty Caucus, unveiled a document that’s been in the works for months. Their “Contract From America”, a list of 10 “bedrock principles” as decided on by half a million votes. The full list is here.

Interesting, of course, for what’s on it, and it pretty much jibes exactly with how Rojas and I have been characterizing it. The three umbrella principles? Individual Liberty, Limited Government, Economic Freedom. The rest, as voted on, is topped by “Protect the Constitution”, a requirement that no bill be passed without specifically identifying the section of the constitution that authorizes that authority. Nearly all the rest are peons to tax reform and balanced budgets.

The three that aren’t? Repeal government-run health care. And, two that generally fall under energy policy: reject cap and trade, and one that I’ll call “drill, baby, drill”. Disappointing that the Tea Partiers roughly do align with the anti-environmental brigades (although I suspect some of that comes from the astroturfing lobby orgs), but not all that surprising.

As interesting, of course, is what’s not in there. Not a word on “protecting families” or indeed anything having anything to do with “social conservatism”. Not even a whiff of a mention. Second, nothing racial, not even what I’m sure would have been easy enough to include, some mention of “protecting our borders” or “welfare abuse” or whatever. Not even a dog whistle to anything remotely racial. And, of course, nothing to do with muslims, Iraq, national security, torture, et al. What would have been interesting, of course, would have been to put two competing visions to a vote: the Ron Paul vision, and then the mainline GOP vision. But instead, the Tea Partiers chose to opt out of that conversation entirely, casting themselves as an entirely domestic economic freedom movement, which is fair enough.

Of course, despite the half a million votes, it still can’t precisely be called a manifesto, as I’m sure a great many people showing up to rallies won’t even be aware of it. But since the movement’s critics love to ascribe various agendas to them, this would have to be Exhibit A in that discussion: the only agenda they’ve yet circulated.


  1. If the idea of expanding oil drilling is a meme of the anti-environmentalist brigades, then I guess that makes me an anti-environmentalist.

    No energy policy that doesn’t include expansion of petroleum resources to meet short-term global demand increases can be taken seriously.

    Comment by Rojas — 4/16/2010 @ 1:38 pm

  2. Disappointing not that I have a big dog in the offshore oil drilling fight, but that it tracks with a general anti-science attitude and a general unseriousness or profound skepticism to environmentalism and concern for the environment. When I went to my one Tea Party rally, I was surprised at how many of the speakers went into well received rants dogging on the idea of global warming. I view the “drill baby drill” platitude crowd as likely just generally “environmentalism is a liberal lie!” in nature. In a vacuum, I think it’s debatable, but that of all the issues that could have made it into a 10 plank platform, that two were an absolute no to cap and trade and the other was “drill baby drill” doesn’t strike me as a crowd that’s going to look much like, say, David Cameron’s Tories in terms of seriously addressing energy or environmental. It smacks more of a cultural stance than a scientific/pragmatic one, although I’m sure there are some, like you, are come at it for the right reasons.

    Comment by Brad — 4/16/2010 @ 4:43 pm

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