Our Tea Party Patriots at Work

What do you get when tea party activists team up with Ron Paulbots?

A nightmare:

The official platform for the Republican Party of Maine is now a mix of right-wing fringe policies, libertarian buzzwords and outright conspiracy theories.

The document calls for the elimination of the Department of Education and the Federal Reserve, demands an investigation of “collusion between government and industry in the global warming myth,” suggests the adoption of “Austrian Economics,” declares that “‘Freedom of Religion’ does not mean ‘freedom from religion’” (which I guess makes atheism illegal), insists that “healthcare is not a right,” calls for the abrogation of the “UN Treaty on Rights of the Child” and the “Law Of The Sea Treaty” and declares that we must resist “efforts to create a one world government.”

It also contains favorable mentions of both the Tea Party and Ron Paul. You can read the whole thing here.

Dan Billings, who has served as an attorney for the Maine GOP, called the new platform “wack job pablum” and “nutcase stuff.”

I would say that Mr. Billings sums it up nicely, although most of the really objectionable stuff is straight out of the Ron Paul playbook. Ridding ourselves of the Fed is the first step on the road back to a gold standard, a dubious idea that Milton Friedman pointed out would increase government regulation of the economy:

With no Fed, inexpert Congress will bear the onus of alleviating economic suffering. With deeper, longer recessions, Congressmen will inevitably succumb to pressure for more spending and regulation of the economy–as they did during the Great Depression.

How about eliminating the Department of Education? When first proposed by Ronald Reagan, the Department was in its infancy, only sucking up $6 billion dollars of taxpayer monies and serving as a repository for federal education programs that previously had existed in the various departments.

No more today. The Department is now a $60 billion behemoth with almost every school district in the country dependent on its largess. Cutting it down to size while gradually getting the feds out of the education business might be more to the point. But for our tea party patriots, no half measures and nothing “gradual” allowed.

But it is the conspiracy mongering that should give us the most pause. Putting paranoid loons in charge of the GOP in Maine who believe in a global warming “conspiracy” involving industry and government and that there is any possibility on planet earth that we would be yoked under some kind of “one world government” is madness.

Are all tea party patriots inclined to believe this “whack job pablum?” Certainly not all, although if you spend much time listening to them, similar sentiments are expressed by many. As a free-standing group of activists dedicated to fiscal sanity and constitutional principles, the tea party movement has a vital role to play in any American revival. But as purely political animals, they are a washout. There are a sizable number of birthers among them, and a significant number who believe Obama is a Muslim, or favors Muslims, or is working for their interests. I hate to bring up the “R” word but yes, there is a small but significant number who are racists as well.

In short, while the majority of tea partiers are average, normal Americans with pretty standard views, there is a sizable segment of the movement that makes them a political liability. Another case in point was the tea party revolt in Utah that ousted Senator Bob Bennett. For someone who has a lifetime rating of 85 from the ACU, it is amazing to think that Bennett wouldn’t be “conservative enough” for any state in the union. But Utah Republicans had a few beefs with the senator and not even a last minute plea from Mitt Romney – popular in the state for his stewardship of the Salt Lake City Olympics – could save his political hide.

Other factors besides Bennett’s obvious conservatism were in play. Bennett, along with his Democratic colleague from Oregon Ron Wyden, made a serious attempt to address the health insurance problem in America with a flawed, but earnest effort at comprehensive reform. Called “The Healthy Americans Act,” the bill incorporated some standard liberal thinking like an individual mandate, but was also innovative in the way costs would be shared and how the program would be administered at the state level. It would also have done away with Medicaid – a plus in any conservative’s book. In short, it was a good old-fashioned senate compromise on a thorny issue that, in another less mindlessly partisan time, would have served as a starting point for the two parties to work out their differences.

It wasn’t just his dalliance with the “enemy” that angered right wingers in Utah. Bennett courageously voted against the Constitutional amendment to prohibit flag burning back in 2006 — one of only three GOP senators to do so. He also supported comprehensive immigration reform. While there was a lot wrong with that bill, the guest worker provision had broad bipartisan support and Bennett worked tirelessly to improve it. As for the rest of it, the best that could be said of the measure was that it was attempting to address a problem for which there are probably no good answers. That Bennett felt responsible enough as a legislator to lend his name and support to the bill reveals much about how he views his responsibilities.

To get rid of a senator of Bennett’s seniority and experience is the most unconservative thing the tea party movement has done to date. To effect change simply to realize change is the antithesis of conservative thinking and the excessive partisanship demonstrated by activists in Utah who hated Bennett for working with “the enemy” does not serve the interests of their state.

Maine and Utah are the first stirrings of tea party activists flexing their muscles in the political arena. They see success where failure is the real outcome.