The Black Art of Tea

Here is how the grassroots works. In Maine yesterday, an organized bloc of tea-bagger delegates to their state republican convention overwhelmingly voted to scrap the proposed GOP party platform and replace it with their own version[1], written by a group called the Maine Refounders.

The new platform raises many disturbing issues. Rather than tear into it line-by-line, I encourage you to read it for yourselves.[2] I’ll focus instead on three especially troubling clauses.

First, global warming:

Defeat Cap and Trade, investigate collusion between government and industry in the global warming myth, and prosecute any illegal collusion.

The new platform proposes criminalizing efforts between government and industry to understand the human causes, effects and cures for climate change. While global warming could arguably be anywhere from valid controversy to proven fact, certainly it is no myth. Furthermore, what the tea-baggers call collusion, I call cooperation. We need only look back to McCarthy to understand how easily this distinction can be blurred.

What if I blog about global warming and link to research conducted by peers? Is that considered collusion and if so, must I fear state law enforcement hauling me downtown for a lively interrogation? Remember, this is brought to you by the same party that claims to “adhere to the restrictions outlined in the Constitution to protect the individual from intrusive government”.[2]

Second, religious freedom:

Reassert the principle that “Freedom of Religion” does not mean “freedom from religion”.

This is a direct endorsement for allowing religion to walk the halls of government to inform the work of honorable lawmakers. Um okay, whose religion? Do Christians in the new-and-improved Maine GOP really accept that they may be subject to other, non-Christian expressions of faith? I recall one big right-wing stink when a judge ordered the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from Alabama’s state judicial building[3], then another when a newly elected Muslim congressman from Minnesota carried a Koran to his swearing-in ceremony.[4]

On the slippery slope of neo-fascist politics, when will this principle be re-written as “Freedom of my Religion does not mean your freedom from my religion”?

Finally, Austrian Economics:

Return to the principles of Austrian Economics, and redirect the economy back to one of incentives to save and invest.[2]

What exactly does this mean? For starters, its roots lie in 15th century economic law as espoused by disciples of St. Thomas Aquinas. So you guessed it, the tea-baggers are advocating strong moral theology and natural law – in other words god – to guide economic policy.

Ludwig von Mises’s rule says: “the first job of an economist is to tell governments what they cannot do.”[5]

Does this stance by the Austrian School make economists and the private sector effectively god?

  • If so, it would explain why, in the face of America’s crushing economic meltdown, congressional republicans do not support meaningful financial reform to reign in corrupt business practices.
  • It would explain why, as oil from the equivalent of multiple Exxon Valdezes floats ominously below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, BP execs continue to play the shell game with damage estimates and delayed video footage from the seabed.[6]
  • It would explain why, in the face of this likely worst-ever environmental disaster, the revised Maine GOP platform nonetheless promotes “energy independence aggressively by removing the obstacles created by government to allow private development of our resources; natural gas, oil, coal, and nuclear power.”[2]

Note the deliberate exclusion of innovative, clean, future-thinking, job-creating energy sources like wind, solar or even simple conservation? The new Maine GOP platform is not a rational document. It is jihad – based on one group’s own narrow interpretation of natural law.

Maine, I want to scream at the top of my lungs that “you’re all out of your bleeping minds!” But I don’t believe that. I’m confident that nearly every moderate, democratic and independent Maine citizen who’s witnessed this travesty is pretty ticked off, and hopefully mobilized come November.

But yes, I am saddened once again by how good republicans through apathy have enabled a relative few truly misguided people to hijack your party. In Maine, the tea-baggers have just stolen your brand. Maybe it’s time for you to either fight back with trademark lawyers or start over with a fresh identity. Either way, I hope you’ll do what’s best for our nation and world.


  1. Maine Republicans Adopt Tea Party Platform | Maine Politics
  2. 2010 Maine GOP Platform – Maine Refounders / Tea Party
  3. On Ten Commandments bill, Christian Right has it wrong –
  4. At swearing in, congressman wants to carry Koran –
  5. What is Austrian Economics – Free classics from the Mises Institute
  6. Oil Flow Rate Questioned as BP Tries 2nd Fix – CBS News

3 Responses to “The Black Art of Tea”

  1. Great comments. I too am hopeful that this a fringe, and not reflecting the true values of the Republican or of any party…

  2. From the beginning of time, the planet has been changing. Scientists have long studied the heating and cooling patterns that the earth. Whether you are for or against global warming, the facts cannot be denied that yes, the earth warms, and it just so occurs we are already going via a steady warming period. Nevertheless, what goes up must come down, and the earth will go through a cooling period as well. The trends have shown us this, and many say that we have already entered the cooling period. Thoughts?

  3. Eddie, thank you for your reasoned comment. I think our opinions are compatible, in that I have offered global warming arguably as “anywhere from valid controversy to proven fact”. I can accept that macro cycles outside our control may be a contributor to warming at this time, but this does not negate the growing body of evidence that human impacts exist. In any case, a political movement serves no one by pledging to criminalize climate science to enforce its own opinion on the subject.

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