Tea Party diversity and the centrist compromise

I will probably be viewed as a Tea Party heretic,  so I might as well embrace the identity.   The tea party movement is diverse, and perhaps more diverse than the typical conservative participant appreciates.   They know there are libertarians in the movement, but perhaps don’t know much about them.  For instance, most libertarians, probably two-thirds, are atheists or agnostics.   My anecdotal experience is that about 30% of tea party participants are libertarians; that would mean about 20% of the tea party is atheist or agnostic.  Even if I grant that that the libertarian tea party participants are drawn more from the Christian libertarian element, that would still leave a 10-15% figure that would probably come as a surprise to the tea party majority.

Why is the “majority” unaware of the atheists among them?  Attend a tea party event and you will see socially conservative signs taking pro-life, traditional marriage and religious positions and practically none taking socially liberal positions.   Libertarians, like the rest of the country, are split on abortion, those that view the fetus as a human with rights,  see a role for even much a more limited government in protecting those rights.  Most libertarian atheists are small “a” atheists, their atheism isn’t their identity.  They don’t evangelize it like the capital “A”, atheists of the progressive secular  humanist ilk.  While the libertarians might have no objection to homosexual, polygamous or polyandry marriage, they also don’t see a role for government licensing of marriage.   Given these characteristics, the more socially liberal libertarian activists stick to the central tea party compromise on the financial and constitutionally limited government issues that constitute most of the tea party rhetoric and signs.

While liberals have tried to paint the tea party movement as racist, (undoubtedly in a movement of its size there may be some racists), the explicit compromise has nothing to do with racism, and the libertarian component of the movement effectively inoculates the movement against a generalization of the tea party members as racists.  There is no less racist group than the libertarians, and there is no group that even if they were racist, would be less likely to support racist policies.    Given the constitutional orientation of the conservative participants, even they would be philosophically constrained from implementing any race based policies.

With a president that attended a black liberation theology church for more  than a decade and identifies blacks, latinos and women as constituencies, and with progressives that embrace divisive critical theory race and ethnic identity politics,  the liberals can only play the race card as a first strike diversionary tactic.  It is the tea party movement that transcends race and is more diverse than even most of its participants realize.


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