The Tea Party movement disgraces the memory of the founding fathers who took part in the original Boston Tea Party by advocating positions contrary to the principles this nation was founded upon. Their leaders sometimes claim to be only interested in economic matters to avoid the opposition by a majority of voters while a majority in the movement actually support the agenda of the religious right. They are incredibly ignorant regarding economic policy and are easily led by the factions of the right which seek to destroy capitalism and replace it with plutocracy.
When the Tea Party first came on the scene, there was hope among some liberals that they might at least be allied with us on civil liberties matters, even if we disagreed on other areas. Unfortunately they typically support the Republican right wing on civil liberties issues.
The Patriot Act is not the best measure of civil liberties as it contains both legislation which is necessary to update law enforcement to handle terrorism in the modern world along with portions which should not be tolerated in a democratic nation. Many members of Congress are likely to vote for measures such as this to avoid attacks from the right for being soft on fighting terrorism, placing political expediency over principle.
While far too many members of Congress of both parties voted for continuation without amendment, typically the Tea Party opposes any compromise on issues they support. Many are willing to support measures to destroy Medicare regardless of public opinion (often while also demanding that the government keep its hands off their Medicare benefits). They are willing to support an economic crisis by having the United States default on our debts as opposed to raising the debt ceiling. If the Tea Party really supported liberty, we might expect them to oppose any compromise on civil liberties and oppose continuation of the Patriot Act.
Irregular Times looked at the votes of Congressmen associated with the Tea Party movement on last week’s vote to extend the Patriot Act without reforms. Tea Party backed members of Congress supported the extension by a vote of 120 to 18. This is a greater percentage than was seen in the entire House, which voted for the extension by a vote of 250 to 153. Individual liberty is obviously not a priority for the Tea Party.