Conservative Fallacy: The Wedge that Binds

photo by Mark Nassal
                                                                         Photo: Mark Nassal


By: Christine Morabito, President of the Gr. Boston Tea Party

We have seen our worst enemies, and they are among us. The Tea Party will not survive without a thorough self-examination. No need to re-brand, change our name or repackage our message. The solution is simple – we must return to our roots.

As President of the Greater Boston Tea Party, I consider it my responsibility to keep this rickety ship on course. Over the past year, I have spent more time debating those on “our side” than anyone on the left. This has drained precious time from the more productive things I could and should be doing

(maybe by design).

In 2009, when we started the Tea Party, I remember thinking the acronym “Taxed Enough Already” was brilliant. What reasonable, hard-working American could disagree with that? I was also proud that we were non-partisan; that we welcomed anyone who shared our belief that government is too big and spends too much money.

So what happened? Why have our numbers dwindled and why is there so much infighting?

Over the years, various special interest groups have attempted to pressure the Tea Party to adopt their particular cause. In their growing frustration, these voices have become louder and their actions more vindictive, resulting in loss of membership, exclusion of would-be members and splintering of affiliated groups. That’s how you kill a movement.

I never understood the demands made upon the Tea Party that they include social issues in their platform. These issues are incredibly divisive.

It is not difficult to find pro-family and faith-based groups in Massachusetts that deal exclusively with issues like gay marriage and abortion. Yet, the loudest Tea Party voices on social issues do not belong to these organizations. I am left to wonder why.

My friend Tom Duggan asked me to consider that when groups are protesting outside an abortion clinic, it would be absurd for others to approach them and demand they talk about the Constitution and lower taxes, yet the opposite happens when the Tea Party focuses on the fiscal. There is a home for every issue. Let’s stick to what we do best.

Our biggest critics on the right assume that because the Tea Party takes no position on these issues, that we personally disagree with them. This is not necessarily the case. I have attended numerous lobbying events at the State House with pro-family groups, advocating for things like tougher penalties for child sexual predators, parental notification laws and rejection of the infamous Bathroom Bill. Again, the aforementioned critics are never there.

I have met many conservative Democrats and otherwise socially liberal folks who tell me they agree with the Tea Party on many issues. Since when is that a bad thing? If we insist on ideological purity, rejecting individuals who share our fiscal concerns, we leave them no choice but to join the liberals and progressives – and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.

On April 13 we hosted a spirited but peaceful Tax Day Rally on the Boston Common. Our dynamic speakers highlighted the theme “Unburdening the Next Generation” to a crowd of around 1,500. The audience included members of Occupy Boston, who, unlike last year, were not there as protesters  but as polite observers.

To my knowledge, only one person was asked to leave the event for causing a disturbance. That individual was a Tea Party member. Although admonished for his behavior, he persisted in obnoxiously heckling the speakers, because, in his opinion, they did not discuss the U.S. Constitution to his liking. Apparently, this man is not familiar with our mission statement, which specifically mentions the document.

Then there were the many Tea Party members who boycotted the event because the bipartisan group, No Labels was invited. Again, we require no ideological litmus test for inclusion, only that we agree on fiscal issues. That’s how you grow a movement.

This is a call to action: To challenge those who insist on subverting our message. If successful, they will destroy us. But the existence of the Greater Boston Tea Party is not what is germane here. Like its predecessor of the same name, the Boston Tea Party was only about personal liberty, ensured by smaller, less intrusive government. What we are fighting for here is the very foundation of this great country.

Let’s take our Tea Party back before we become the dead movement the media and Washington elites so want us to be.