Libertarians question Republican participation in Tea Parties

Press release via email and LP.org:

WASHINGTON – Wes Benedict, Executive Director of the Libertarian Party, issued the following statement today:

“Many Libertarians around America are planning to go to Tea Party rallies tomorrow. I also expect lots of Republican activists and politicians to be there. But frankly, I don’t think those Republicans belong there. The people participating in these rallies are saying ‘There’s too much government spending,’ but Republicans, decade after decade, have supported massive increases in government spending. During the George W. Bush administration, Republicans in Congress supported spending trillions of dollars on foreign wars, a massive Medicare expansion, and banker bailouts. Republicans doubled the budget and doubled the federal debt. Why can’t the Republican Party just admit that it loves big government?

“If I thought there would be many Democrats at these rallies, I’d criticize them too. However, I think it’s safe to say that they’ll be few and far between.

“Many Libertarians are enthusiastic about the Tea Parties, but many are not. Many Libertarians are concerned that participating causes us to get lumped in with conservatives and Republicans. In our online poll at LP.org, 28% so far say that ‘The Tea Parties have become too Republican-flavored.’

“Libertarians are often frustrated when the press characterizes us as ‘right-wing’ or ‘conservative.’ Although we certainly support reducing government spending, which most conservatives also claim to support, we differ from right-wingers on many issues: for example, we oppose foreign interventionism, support immigrant-friendly policies, oppose overreaction to terrorism, and oppose the War on Drugs.

“Libertarians are neither left-wing nor right-wing. We’re in a different place on the political map, as illustrated by the popular World’s Smallest Political Quiz.

“Some of the people in the tax day Tea Party crowds will be right-wingers, and some will be Libertarians. For those Tea Partiers who support Libertarian principles of very limited government spending, government tolerance on social issues, and a non-interventionist foreign policy, the Libertarian Party is ready to welcome them with open arms.”

For more information, or to arrange an interview, call LP Executive Director Wes Benedict at 202-333-0008 ext. 222.

The LP is America’s third-largest political party, founded in 1971. The Libertarian Party stands for free markets and civil liberties. You can find more information on the Libertarian Party at our website (LP.org).

23 thoughts on “Libertarians question Republican participation in Tea Parties

  1. AroundtheblockAFT

    By all means, Libertarians should be visibly participating in Tea Parties. We need to educate and recruit from those who have woken up – even if just one year ago – to the dangers of big government. Very few of us were born libertarian, so let’s not shun or disparage those who may be late to the party.

  2. Terri Burke

    I am a new member of the Libertarian Party from Ohio and will be attending the National Convention in St. Louis. I disagree that Republicans do not belong at Tea Party Rallies. Their attendance shows they care and want things to change. It is an opportunity for Libertarians to talk to them about our Party and what we stand for. The more people that show up, the stronger the message to our representatives in Washington. I am sure that many of the Republicans attending the Rallies are Libertarians and just don’t know it yet. What a wonderful opportunity!
    >
    > Terri Burke
    > Akron, Ohio

  3. Tom Blanton

    “Libertarians are neither left-wing nor right-wing. We’re in a different place on the political map, as illustrated by the popular World’s Smallest Political Quiz.

    Wes Benedict should be applauded for stating what used to be obvious. LPHQ should do all it can to dispel the idea that libertarianism is “a little bit liberal and a little bit conservative” – especially among libertarians.

  4. Sorry ???????! .......... Lake

    Terri Burke // Apr 2010:
    “……. I disagree that Republicans do not belong at Tea Party Rallies. Their attendance shows they care ………”

    Oh pleeeeeeeeeeeze, just more proof that most Libs [lots of Libs ?????] are not much more than GOP Lite ………..

    Stalin cares, as his presence in Poland proves!

    Hitler cares, as his presence in France proves!

    ToJo cares, as his presence in Singapore ……….

  5. Tom Blanton

    I predict that many libertarians will be disappointed with their tea party friends when November rolls around and they all vote for Republicans.

    In fact, if the GOP wins big in November, the tea bags will go down the disposal and the tea cups will be put away. When Republicans doubled the budget, doubled the national debt, and trampled the Constitution, the tea party people were not concerned about big government. They still aren’t. The right and left share the same ideology: hating the other side.

    Mitt Romney is among the front runners in the GOP for the presidential nomination in 2012 and nobody is insisting that he is a Marxist for bringing Romneycare to Massachusetts. That fascist health care insurance program is the same thing as Obamacare, labeled as socialist by the right wingers.

  6. Oh Pleeeeeeeeeeze .......... Lake

    WASHINGTON – Wes Benedict, Executive Director of the Libertarian Party, issued the following statement today,

    ……… LP is America’s third-largest political party, founded in 1971.

    and so are

    [a] the socialists

    [b] the environmentalists

    [c] the constitutionalists

    [d] the reform movement

    ……….. no, no, no, I am Spartacus,

    ……….. no, no, no, I am Spartacus

  7. AroundtheblockAFT

    #7 Tom: Of course you are right. But do we give up now? Most Libertarians today are the residue of something another party did to turn them off, to make them question their principles, to see if libertarianism made more sense. I’m interested in capturing the 5% or 10% or whatever % of Tea Partiers who can come to their senses. If the LP were to simply write off this current manifestation of disgust with big goverment, then let’s close the doors now.

  8. JT

    Around: I agree. The notion that all Tea Partiers are hardcore conservatives is flat wrong. It’s rare to have a crowd of people gathered who you already know are angry about government and are willing to act on it. Even if only a small minority of them are libertarians, that could still mean a significant number of recruits to the Libertarian Party at just one event, if you do it right. My problem with Wayne Root there wasn’t that he was speaking at a Tea Party event; it was that he wasn’t pitching the party and urging people to become party activists. If you want a bigger, stronger LP to get candidates elected or push the duopoly toward liberty, you MUST take advantage of these kinds of opportunities when they arise.

  9. paulie Post author

    Better believe it.

    I attended three tea parties yesterday in south Alabama.

    I was petitioning to put the Constitution Party on the ballot for Congress*

    (*the LP candidate always runs as a write in, and neither he nor the state election officials can tell me how many votes he got in any year except 2002, when we had ballot access; additionally, he is rabidly pro-war in the middle east, which I greatly dislike in a federal candidate. The CP recruited http://www.walterforcongress.com/ and no other alternative party or independent candidate is seriously pursuing ballot access in the district.)

    Even though

    A) The Constitution Party is by far the closest to the views of most Tea Partiers than any other party, including the LP and (NS)GOP,

    B) As I pointed out to people, the Democrats are not participating in this election and we will have a one-party election without the 5,000+ valid signatures Alabama requires in this congressional district (8-9k raw to be safe),

    C) Incumbent Congressman Jo Bonner (very likely to win the Republican primary) voted for the “bailout” ripoff, and his primary opponent Peter Gounares http://www.gounaresforcongress.com/ enthusiastically signed our petition,

    Numerous people refused (some emphatically) to sign our petitions, signed with great skepticism, and some came back to scratch their names off. Many signed *ONLY* because the Democrats are not in this race.

    I still managed to get 205 signatures and some enthusiastic comments, but Republican herd mentality is prevalent at tea parties.

    We ran into this phenomenon previously with the BrownBagger/BrownNoser/BrownShirt phenomenon this past winter in Massachusetts and similar problems all across the country.

  10. paulie Post author

    BLANTON: I predict that many libertarians will be disappointed with their tea party friends when November rolls around and they all vote for Republicans.

    In fact, if the GOP wins big in November, the tea bags will go down the disposal and the tea cups will be put away. When Republicans doubled the budget, doubled the national debt, and trampled the Constitution, the tea party people were not concerned about big government. They still aren’t. The right and left share the same ideology: hating the other side.

    Mitt Romney is among the front runners in the GOP for the presidential nomination in 2012 and nobody is insisting that he is a Marxist for bringing Romneycare to Massachusetts. That fascist health care insurance program is the same thing as Obamacare, labeled as socialist by the right wingers.

    ATBAFT: Of course you are right. But do we give up now? Most Libertarians today are the residue of something another party did to turn them off, to make them question their principles, to see if libertarianism made more sense. I’m interested in capturing the 5% or 10% or whatever % of Tea Partiers who can come to their senses. If the LP were to simply write off this current manifestation of disgust with big goverment, then let’s close the doors now.

    PAULIE: You are both correct.

    Most Tea Partiers are not good LP prospects, yet many good LP prospects exist among tea partiers.

    The crucial thing to keep in mind is that the same holds true of left-oriented public mass participation/protest events: antiwar rallies, hemp/marijuana fests, pro-immigration rallies, gay pride parades, etc.

    The organizers off all these events, left and right, are usually not pro-liberty.

    The participants at each contain many people who are not pro-liberty, and many who have (usually vaguely) pro-liberty views but oppose alt-politics as a strategy due to the prevalent “wasted vote” miscalculation, as well as a minority who are strongly pro-liberty and open to alternative political parties as a strategy to achieve freedom.

    The latter group, although relatively small as a percentage at each of these types of events, is much, much larger than the active base or dues paying membership of the LP.

    The LP and other alt-parties need to do the hard work of finding, identifying, and signing up these people in order to move closer to being viable in any form or fashion.

    In the case of the LP, it is particularly important for the party to balance its outreach to the left ad right so as to become a real third force in politics; the LP, far more than the GP or CP, has this potential based on ideology….but so far, and especially in the last decade, has generally failed to capitalize, because what (inadequate) amount of outreach/branding/positioning is done is aimed mainly at the right.

  11. paulie Post author

    JT,

    The notion that all Tea Partiers are hardcore conservatives is flat wrong. It’s rare to have a crowd of people gathered who you already know are angry about government and are willing to act on it.

    I agree with the first part, but not the second.

    No, it is *not* rare to find people who are angry at overreaching government.

    It’s just that they tend to be angrier at some parts of government than others — and yet, each group contains natural libertarians who are angry at overreaching government across the board.

    At peace rallies, the motivating factor is anger at the military-industrial-corporate complex and wars of aggression.

    At marijuana marches, the motivating anger is against police-prison-industrial complex jailing, prosecution, harassment, intimidation and discrimination against the millions of peaceful marijuana users.

    At pro-immigrant rallies, the motivating anger is against the border police state and the discrimination against those who overcome restrictive quotas to seek a better life in this part of the continent – as well as the attending discrimination, much of it under color of law, against those who look and sound like them.

    At gay pride rallies, millions of gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, and other sex/gender-alternative people stand up against the legal and illegal discrimination they face.

    In the wake of well-publicized cases of police brutality, many people take to the streets to demonstrate against police brutality, police corruption, racial profiling, and other related injustices.

    And it’s the same at the tea parties — many are angry at high taxes, government “bailouts” of Wall Street and Mega-corporations at the expense of Main Street, government-corporate-conglomerate cartelization of medical insurance, etc.

    And yet, at each type of gathering, many ache for even more government force in other aspects of our lives from those that make them angry.

    And yet again, at each type of gathering, there are those who realize that giving government more power to do the things they want *****always***** means giving government more power to do the things that anger them.

    These people must be identified, organized, educated, and trained as activists. And it should be done in a way that balances left and right and reaches those who are young enough to not be too attached to one wing or the other of the duopoly bird of prey (90% of Americans do not change political parties after age 30).

    The Ron Paul campaign of 2008 showed that it can be done, but later pissed it away on anti-immigration TV ads and an inadequate response to charges of racism.

    Now, the LP should learn from that and show that it can be done, and that it can be done better outside the limits of two-faced-one-party politics. Can the LP rise to this challenge?

  12. AroundtheblockAFT

    Maybe the LP should have OPH booths at Tea Party rallies, so those in the libertarian quadrant are self-identifying. And then actually follow up with these prospects. Seems to me there will be plenty of instances in 2010 where Tea Party candidates get stomped on by the establishment GOP (see Sam Rohrer in Pa. for instance) where TPers may conclude the LP is the way to go.
    Is there any reason why membership couldn’t double by 2012??????

  13. paulie Post author

    Maybe the LP should have OPH booths at Tea Party rallies, so those in the libertarian quadrant are self-identifying. And then actually follow up with these prospects. Seems to me there will be plenty of instances in 2010 where Tea Party candidates get stomped on by the establishment GOP (see Sam Rohrer in Pa. for instance) where TPers may conclude the LP is the way to go.

    Yes, *of course* the LP should have OPH tables at Tea Parties.

    And on college campuses, at peace rallies, at marijuana marches, at pro-immigrant rallies, at gay pride rallies, at marches against police brutality and harassment….

    Is there any reason why membership couldn’t double by 2012??????

    Yes. Unwillingness to get out and talk to regular people face to face is perhaps the biggest.

    Lack of training in political organizing is a big factor.

    Self-perpetuating recruitment of a demographically and personality-related narrow slice of the population, and the largely unwitting driving off of everyone else, is a big factor.

    The tyranny of small differences and the temptation to lash out in frustration at those most like us and infight constantly is a huge factor.

    Lack of civility -whether addressing fellow libertarians or the general public – is, for sure.

    Constant failure to reach out to our most available natural constituency? IMO, the biggest reason of all.

    Thankfully, under Wes Benedict the LP is at least finally fixing some of the crippling database problems and returning to some of the time-tested tools in the LP’s tool box that were left to rust for the better part of a decade.

  14. Yes we should have booths

    Yes the LP should have booth, like at the Home Show, RV Trade Show, Womens Expo, Beauty expo in Long Beach CA. Maybe booth at the DMV, Costco, Sams Club. Soooo where are the lazy LP.

  15. paulie Post author

    Funny Kochs News
    Posted by Lew Rockwell on April 16, 2010 10:51 AM

    On behalf of the Koch empire—companies, foundations, and Charles Koch and David Koch—a Koch spokeswoman has claimed not to have helped fund the tea parties. Like the rest of the power elite, the Kochs have always despised populism. So to the extent that they did fund tea activities, and they did, it was to tame and control them, and de-Paulize them. But now even that may be coming to an end. As the largest donors to the Republican establishment since 1994, according to Greg Palast, the Kochs may feel that the tea partiers threaten the plutocracy. I’ve always been a coffee man myself, but tea attracts me more and more.

    UPDATE from an American behind enemy lines (he’s inside the Beltway):

    Lew, FreedomWorks was founded after Armey left Citizens for a Sound Economy because Armey would not take orders from Charles Koch. Americans for Prosperity was formed from the Koch-controlled parts of CSE. As I’m sure you remember, Ron was chairman of CSE in the early 80s, but was removed because what our old friend Sam Konkin called the Kochtopus took offense over his opposition to central banking, emphasis on the gold standard, and support of Misesian-Rothbardian economics.

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