After years of giving lip service to word “liberty,” the tea party has revealed itself to be against this very cause. In its zeal to scapegoat municipal workers and unions, the tea party in Wisconsin has attached itself to government suppression. The issues there are not about pay, benefits or taxpayer expenditure. A compromise was offered in which state workers would make the financial concessions demanded by the governor and retain their right to organize. The tea party blindly backed the governor as he flatly turned this down. In doing so both have exposed themselves. Governor Walker’s priority is clearly not the budget. Otherwise he’d accept the compromise and end the strife today. The budget is smokescreen. What Walker truly seeks is for his government to be able to IMPOSE its terms on workers without their representation. Government imposing its terms without representation. Now shouldn’t that ring a bell? Wasn’t this was in general terms the VERY PRICINPLE behind the original tea party in 1773? Perhaps contemporary tea party members ought to start their patriotic expressions by boning up on American history.
Here’s another historical reality the tea party OF ALL ORGANIZATIONS should especially be aware of: Government usurpation moves in stages. Threats to the liberty of some eventually become threats to the liberty of all. As a growing number of scholars have begun to acknowledge, the struggle in Wisconsin is a SERIOUS government power grab. As James Gregory, professor of history at the University of Washington put it, “This is a threat not just to unions but to American democratic institutions. The past century has seen a significant expansion of civil rights, including workplace rights, and democratic institutions, including the principle that employees have the right to negotiate terms of employment. For a state government to take away these rights long after they have been established is unprecedented and deeply troubling.”
This isn’t the first time tea party members have lined up squarely anti liberty. Most support government intrusion into same gender marriage, forced childbirth and other personal freedom issues. Most were mute if not cheering when W Bush/Cheney dramatically expanded the powers of the executive and tried to curtail individual liberties right down to freedom of speech and Habeas corpus. With the tea party now aligning itself firmly with the governor in Wisconsin, it is hard to escape the notion that the tea party SUPPORTS governmental power grabs provided it’s a right wing politician doing the grabbing.