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Libertarianism and the Tea Party

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Libertarianism and the Tea Partyby Jacob G. Hornberger

Will Tea Party wins in congressional elections make any difference at all?

Nope. Federal spending and debt will continue to soar, and the prospect of inflation and even federal bankruptcy will continue to loom on the horizon.

While Tea Party members are genuinely concerned about out-of-control federal spending and debt, they are still a long way from recognizing that the only solution to the woes that besiege our country lies with libertarian principles. This is manifested in the following ways:

1. Tea Party members rarely, if ever, talk about the importance of restoring freedom to our land. The reason for this is that their minds are still trapped within the statist box in which both Republicans and Democrats operate. It is a box in which Americans live under socialist, interventionist, and imperialist policies but which Americans are convinced is “freedom.” Proudly reciting the Pledge of Allegiance whenever they get a chance, Tea Party members cannot yet conceive of the possibility that America’s socialist, interventionist, and imperialist programs violate the principles of a genuinely free society.

2. Tea Party members rarely, if ever, ask the following two questions: What is the meaning of freedom? What is the role of government in a free society? They remain convinced that socialist, interventionist, and imperialist programs are freedom, so long as they’re being run by U.S. bureaucrats. They remain convinced that a legitimate role of government is to take care of people and regulate and control them and serve as a policeman for the world.

3. Tea Party members rarely, if ever, talk about the importance of moral principles.

Thus, they see nothing wrong with using the government to take money from people to whom it belongs to give it to other people. That’s why they don’t question the moral legitimacy of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other socialistic programs.

They also see nothing wrong with government’s punishing people for engaging in purely peaceful behavior. That’s why they continue to support the drug war.

They see nothing wrong with invasions, occupations, coups, assassinations, torture, and rendition as a way to bring freedom and democracy to foreigners.

And they’re willing to continue sacrificing civil liberties at home as a worthy price to maintain an empire abroad.

4. Tea Party members are still convinced that the welfare-warfare state can be made to work. Like conservatives and liberals, they couch their solutions in terms of reforming rather than repealing welfare-state programs. And they continue to favor the continued occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and the perpetual war on terrorism that foreign interventionism has produced.

5. While Tea Party members are starting to recognize the importance of sound money to a society, many of them are still not openly calling for the end of the Federal Reserve and for a free-market monetary system or even a restoration of the gold standard.

Until Tea Party members break free of the statist mindset, they will forever remain committed to empty Republican mantras, such as getting rid of the waste, fraud, and abuse in government programs.

On the other hand, if Tea Party members can succeed in breaking free of the statist morass that clouds their minds, they could yet be the catalyst for spreading the libertarian revolution across the land.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.


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