Driving libertarians out of the Tea Party movement

It appears that some state and county Tea Party groups are trying to cleanse their ranks of libertarians. That’s a shame since the movement started with Ron Paul and his libertarian followers, and was then co-opted by mainstream GOP Sean Hannity types.

Lawrence Samuels, editor of Facets of Liberty: A Libertarian Primer and participant in the Monterey County Tea Party, is witnessing the purge firsthand:

[A]fter a successful 4th of July Tea Party parade and Freedom Rally in Monterey, the cracks in the alliance split wide open. I was accused of belonging to too many leftist organizations. In fact, I am co-chair of the local Libertarians for Peace, which joined the 27-member Monterey County Peace Coalition to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Libertarians for Peace is neither Left nor Right….

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Obviously, the Tea Party conservatives were neophytes; never before had they been involved in political activism. Some had never heard of Congressman Ron Paul. Prof. David R. Henderson, one of the libertarian Tea Party Board members, described this curious phenomenon as “activism without ideals.” I thought my phrase captured it best: “a cause without a rebel.” In fact, as demands to purge the libertarians intensified, we got the distinct feeling that the purgers fit the category of “reactionary” since they seemed to know only what they were against, not what they were for. Amazingly, they never pointed out any philosophical differences that they found objectionable. It was as if they were devoid of ideas, marooned with empty rhetoric and no real solutions….

In retrospect, it did not help our case when we asked these rookies embarrassing questions. We asked them why they had done nothing when President Bush bailed out the banks and auto companies, spent money like a drunken sailor, bashed civil liberties and advanced socialized medicine with Medicare Prescription Drug law, a program that some in Congress estimated will have a price tag of $1.2 trillion by 2016. I suppose our questioning merely rubbed their noises too deeply in their ignorance.

You can read his entire account here.

If the Tea Party movement is to function merely as the activist wing of Republican talk radio, it won’t get very far. 



  • Brian Saint-Paul

    Brian Saint-Paul was the editor and publisher of Crisis Magazine. He has a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Religious Studies from the Catholic University of America, in Washington. D.C. In addition to various positions in journalism and publishing, he has served as the associate director of a health research institute, a missionary, and a private school teacher. He lives with his wife in a historic Baltimore neighborhood, where he obsesses over Late Antiquity.

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