5 Ways the Tea Party Agenda Screws Tea Party Supporters
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But Bachmann's fans likely found comfort in her sunny optimism. "It is possible for every American to be able to retire a millionaire," Bachmann told the Tea Partiers. "It's entirely possible to do that if you plan early and you put away money -- and there are alternatives that we can put forward." Just what those "alternatives" might be were left to the audience's imagination.
3. Opposition to Internet Freedom (aka Net Neutrality). Earlier this month, news media, ranging from mainstream to righty to lefty, breathlessly reported that leaders of 35 "Tea Party" groups signed a letter to the the Federal Communications Commission in opposition to any efforts made by the FCC to "regulate the Internet." At issue is Internet freedom and potential regulations that could prevent Internet providers from saddling small-time Web sites unable to pay for an added jolt of Web juice with slower loading speeds for their sites than, say, big-money players like Google. (This is the crux of the issue in the Google-Verizon deal.) Now, Tea Party supporters fancy themselves to be rugged individualists, dedicated to the preservation of individual freedoms. But it wasn't until the big-money groups that bankroll the national organizing of the Tea Party movement began garnering opposition to Internet freedom that you began to see any of those quaint, homely signs carried at Tea Party rallies dedicated to the subject.
Tea Party activists pride themselves on their movement's apparent leaderless state, reveling in the homegrown, local character of ground-level Tea Party groups, which often organize on hastily organized listservs and homemade local Web sites. But should they succeed in halting the FCC's net neutrality plan, they may find themselves with no decent option for Web-based organizing other than the big networking sites built by the national money groups that form the Tea Party Inc. uberstructure. So much for self-agency.
And what of those "35 Tea Party groups" whose leaders signed that letter to the FCC? Well, 24 of those entities are either part of or affiliated with Americans For Prosperity. Among the signatories was AFP president Tim Phillips, as well as the directors of 22 state chapters of Americans For Prosperity -- each counted as a separate "Tea Party group." In addition, the signature of AFP policy director Phil Kerpen (who is also a columnist for Murdoch's FoxNation) appears with the affiliation, "director, NoInternetTakeover.com." Also present was Linda Hansen, who leads the Wisconsin Prosperity Network and is the author of a "worker education" program that is a project of the Americans For Prosperity Foundation, and promoted by John Fund and Stephen Moore of Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal.
Others signatories aren't leaders of Tea Party groups at all, but heads of the old corporatist, anti-government groups such as Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and David Keene of the American Conservative Union. There are even a couple of stalwarts of the old New Right: Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum and Morton Blackwell of the Leadership Institute.
Bottom line for Tea Partiers: deviate from the AFP/Ayn Rand line on any issue, and you could see your little homemade Web site begin to load verrrry slowwwly.
4. De-Funding Public Education. While it's common knowledge that Tea Partiers hate all things government (except their personal Social Security checks and Medicare reimbursements), they hold a special contempt for public school teachers. This stems from a number of causes, but mostly from the fact that teachers are unionized government workers who have authority over one's children for a good chunk of the day. The very fact of their unionization implies a different value system from that of the Tea Partiers, who fear that value system having an influence on their children. Teachers tend to be more liberal than the general population. And to the worker wed to the private enterprise system, a teacher's deal can look pretty sweet by comparison: It generally comes with a pension, tenure and the prospect of early retirement.