For those of us who have been watching CNN, we know that Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell has taken up a lot of (and probably too much) airtime. As difficult as it is to admit, however, her stories are interesting. O’Donnell supposedly “dabbled” in witchcraft- something she confessed to on Bill Maher’s television show “Politically Incorrect” in 1999. She also believes evolution is a myth. O’Donnell is not simply a GOP candidate. She is known as a Tea Party candidate.
My eyes rolled as I thought, “Typical Tea Party candidate. What a bunch of crazies…”
When I first heard about the party, I thought it was a joke. Much to my surprise, the party has grown both in interest and population. The media most likely makes the party and its supporters seem more significant and populous as it actually is, but we shouldn’t completely count it out.
I’ve asked various friends what they thought about the Tea Party. The majority of them had heard of the party, but they did not know what it was other than a radical group that called President Obama a socialist. I had heard this overview of the party multiple times, but was not content in the conclusions I was forming. I was talking smack about a political group that I technically was not well-informed about. It wasn’t fair of me to form such an opinion of the party.
So I decided to investigate the following questions to form a fair opinion:
1.)Is the Tea Party legit?
2.)If so, what are its values?
My first step was, of course, to Google it. It took me a while to find a website that looked reliable. I looked at the Republican Party’s website, but it did not officially recognize the Tea Party. Fox News had information available, but seriously, how reliable is that? I didn’t even trust MSNBC as a trustworthy source. Finally, I came across the “official” Tea Party Movement website.
It’s homepage hurt my eyes. It was terribly disorganized and screamed, “information overload!” After a thorough search of the website and an application of Visine for my suffering eyes, I came across answers to my questions. A document titled “Tea Party Patriots: Mission Statement and Core Values” provided the info.
The answer to my first question is yes, the Tea Party is an official movement. Its supporters generally consist of those who place themselves on the far right end of the political spectrum. It is not an official political party, but it is a non-partisan grassroots organization in support of natural law and the rights of the individual.
So what are the values of this movement? The Tea Party values fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets. Its mission is “to attract, educate, organize and mobilize our fellow citizens to secure public policy” that is parallel to its values.
Fiscal responsibility refers to government respecting the freedom we have as individuals to spend money that we earn without taxation. Limited government is self-explanatory. Free markets support individual, or personal, economic freedom without government interference.
The Tea Party movement is an official grassroots organization that believes in hands-off government and individual responsibility and freedoms. It is not as radical and crazy as I thought. It has classic Republican values and an understandable mission.
But why did I have certain assumptions in the beginning? Is it because of Media presentation or has the organization become too extreme and attention-hungry? I believe it is a combination of both issues. The media present stories and topics however they want, which can lead us to form misconstrued or incorrect conclusions. The Tea Party has also become too extreme in its messages. For example, the Tea Party’s comparison of President Obama to Adolf Hitler is extreme. It’s absolutely ludicrous to be exact, but the extreme messages attract attention. I’d like to ask Tea Party movement leaders what is more important to them: spreading their values in an effective way or gaining negative media attention because of ridiculous activism?
Overall, my opinion of the Tea Party has altered. I believe the Tea Party movement is well-intentioned. Its values are all-American. However, the way the party has been trying to spread its values lately is disappointing. I respect the values and mission of the movement, but I do not respect the extremism the party has been practicing.
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