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How the Tea Party Thinks Sustainable Development Is an International Conspiracy to Take Away Our Personal Freedoms

Conservative activists believe that the UN is secretly plotting to herd humans into crowded cities so that the rest of the world can be devoted to wildlife preservation.

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And the Florida tea partiers are just getting started. The Tampa 912 project, which often works in tandem with tea party groups, organized members over the summer to attend project briefings on another transportation plan for high-speed rail in the state. After a July meeting, the group's chairman reported back on the powwow with great skepticism. She said supporters claimed that:

the high speed rail project will conserve 1 million acres of environmental lands and cause 44% less land to be consumed. How does a train running down the middle of I-4 do all that? The answer is by "compact development" aka "smart growth", aka "New Urbanism", aka "Traditional Neighborhood Design", aka "Transit Oriented Development", aka "Livable Communities", aka "Sustainable Development." These are all names meaning the same thing: they are anti-suburban, high-density dwelling design concepts that are part of the UN's Agenda 21 and will make single family home ownership for our posterity unattainable.

In Florida, the tea partiers have had some help in such fights from Ed Braddy, the executive director of the American Dream Coalition, which opposes smart growth and other standard components of modern land-use planning. Braddy, who has dubbed cars "personal mobility machines," has become a popular speaker on the tea party circuit. A former Gainesville city commissioner, he believes the rail fight in Florida, along with the involvement of the tea partiers on sustainable development issues, is the wave of the future.

"The tea party is receptive to our argument," he says. Regardless of whether people believe that Agenda 21 is a UN plot (he doesn't), tea partiers recognize the evils of sustainable development. "It's almost an instinctive thing," he says. "People know that living in a suburban development and driving to work is not an inherently bad thing. Living in tiny cramped apartment surrounded by noises, so you can hop a bus is not intrinsically superior. "

When the tea partiers bring that perspective to local government, they have the potential to make a significant impact—far more than they might have on, say, a congressional health care bill where high-paid lobbyists dominate. It’s clear that they are starting to realize that, too.

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