The popular image of the tea party spread by opinion-molders is that it is a right-wing extremist movement within the Republican party. Actually, it is a coalition of American conservatives supportive of Constitutionally limited government near the center of two extremes: anarchy and totalitarianism. Unbeknownst to those who swim in the heady currents of cultural marxism, American leftists are the extremists, since there is no ideological barrier to totalitarianism in their mindset.
“Right-winger” is a slur reflexively hurled by socialists and progressives at any party, movement, faction, or individual that opposes the left-wing agenda. The smear tactic is intended to confuse those who support the traditionally American tenets of liberty, limited government, and individual rights with European fascists and ultra-nationalists.
The terms “right-wing” and “left-wing” are derived from the French Revolution; nationalists who supported the Ancien Regime (monarchy, or “Old Regime”), the church, and the aristocracy sat in the right-wing of the French assembly, while radical democrats, whose egalitarian ideals implied a leveling of institutional, traditional, political, and economic barriers to absolute freedom sat in the “left-wing.”
In European history, those who supported the maintenance of the monarchical and aristocratic status quo were conservatives. These conservatives’ preferences for maintaining the spoils of privilege must still be distinguished from the philosophy of Edmund Burke, who was a proponent of incremental reform.
Both kinds of European conservatives, statist and Burkean, must be distinguished still from American conservatives, whose adherence to tradition springs from a deep-seated belief in the truth of the country’s founding principles, which are a reflection of the inherently non-conservative Enlightenment.
It is the appreciation of conflicting interests in a free society that led to the innovations of the Constitution; divided powers and checks and balances were designed to safeguard people against abuses by either an absolutist ruler, or a tyrannical majority seeking to despoil its prey of property, life, or freedom. The requirement of legislation by majority, and the stipulation that changing the Constitution demands a super-majority, were but two safeguards. One of the most important barriers to oppression is the Bill of Rights, which are individual rights that must not be violated by tyrants of any variety.
The numerous precautions against the concentration of power in the United States, combined with clear principles for the administration of the republic, provided America with stable and predictable rules that gave men the psychological security to feel safeguarded from both government tyranny and the predatory behavior of hostile interests. This arrangement established a framework for a vibrant “civil society,” and the prosperous economic order of free market capitalism. These “spontaneous orders” are not conservative in nature, but allow for “progress” in specifically designated terms, such as technological improvements, or enhancement of human understanding.
These spontaneous orders are also not overly chaotic in nature, as “progressives” tend to misapprehend out of their inner craving to control other human beings. Men and women by their very nature are self-interested, though with flashes of altruistic behavior. Systematically coerced altruism, on the other hand, is unsustainable because it is a misunderstanding of human nature, and therefore not conducive to political order, long-term human happiness, or the prosperity of human beings. In other words, altruism is not a sound animating principle for government.
Those who hold that the tea party movement is “extremist” have the false conception that virtuous men can be placed in government and they can lead a “compassionate “government that will give people everything their hearts’ desire. But they fail miserably to account for the historical track record of consolidated governmental authority, which is always justified by appeal to lofty sentiments. The American government must inevitably disappoint and frustrate progressives, because it is designed to spur men to manage themselves and become productive members of society.
Progressives who believe that free market capitalism is naturally chaotic or heartless do not appreciate that it is in reality ordered by the drive of men to better their own lives. This is not the same as anarchy: the wants and desires of men are naturally limited by economic scarcity as reflected in a pricing system. The wages of labor, just as the prices of goods and services, are also set by the market. Those who develop sought-after skills, prosper; those who do not, are less prosperous. Thus American government is designed for those who value liberty and opportunity over the illusion of security provided by a powerful government. The drive for a paternalistic form of security undermines the political and economic order of safe-guarded liberty, on which only a long-term form of security, from tyranny and from predatory interests, is conceivably possible.
Tea party members do not desire to rule their political opposition or otherwise impose their will on their fellow citizens. Instead, they want to restore the nation to its Constitutional foundations, establish fiscal responsibility in government, re-establish the free market economic principles that allowed the majority of the nation to prosper, and renew the virtue in individuals to see on another as ends in themselves, and not as means to some political end.
Ultimately, the Constitution, the embodiment of those founding principles that tea party movement adherers cherish most, is specifically designed to protect American citizens from political threats arising from both the right and the left. Leftists, on the other hand, are for complete state control of economy, society, and the government, making them the true extremists.