It´s party time… no RSPV necessary!

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It´s party time… no RSPV necessary!

23/10/2013 | FxM – Evan Brock Gray

Ok, now that everyone has calmed down after the U.S. default and government shutdown crises (at least until next January), it may be a good time to take a closer look at “the Party within” the Republican Party that was, in a sense, blamed for the national budget not being increased on time and not increasing the debt ceiling in order to avoid the first official U.S. default on its national debt. In many cases, international media sources largely ignored this political movement´s background and official ideologies when presenting their opposition to increasing the budget and debt limit. This is unfortunate for people who believe in a free, impartial and unbiased media as being an essential part of 21st century society.

So let´s take a quick look at this “grassroots movement that calls awareness to any issue which challenges the security, sovereignty, or domestic tranquility of our beloved nation, the United States of America” – the Tea Party – and its role in the shutdown and default crisis in order to better understand the political, and therefore, economic forces that are truly in play in the U.S. (and other parts of the world…) right now.

The movement behind the creation of the Tea Party was founded in 2004 upon the ideals upheld by those involved in the 1773 Boston Tea Party protests against the British monarchy´s colonial government (specifically, the taxes levied on tea). Those semi-libertarian, semi-populist ideals are at the center of movement. Members usually consider themselves to be conservative, pro-Republican, anti-Democrat and want the Federal government to play a much smaller role in their everyday lives. According to Gallup and Bloomberg polls, people who said they support the movement are likely to be white, male, married, older than 45, conservative, someone who regularly attended religious services, and to be more wealthy and have more education than Americans overall. There are “15 non-negotiable core Tea Party beliefs” displayed their webpage:
1. Illegal aliens are here illegally.
2. Pro-domestic employment is indispensable.
3. A strong military is essential.
4. Special interests must be eliminated.
5. Gun ownership is sacred.
6. Government must be downsized.
7. The national budget must be balanced.
8. Deficit spending must end.
9. Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal.
10. Reducing personal income taxes is a must.
11. Reducing business income taxes is mandatory.
12. Political offices must be available to average citizens.
13. Intrusive government must be stopped.
14. English as our core language is required.
15. Traditional family values are encouraged.

The Tea Party is not officially part of the Grand Old Party (GOP, or Republican Party). In fact, it´s barely a political party at all yet since official Tea Party candidates still don´t have a significant amount of elected politicians in office. But here´s the first important point: the movement´s followers usually identify with the GOP´s ideals and have openly supported several important conservative candidates or politicians, like: Ron Paul, Sarah Palin, Paul Ryan, Michele Bachmann, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Differing somewhat from the GOP, however, members feel the government can and does impede on issues where it shouldn´t according to premises of the original U.S. Declaration of Independence, Constitution and/or Bill of Rights, such as: income taxes, the right to bear arms, foreign policy and aid and, most recently and almost at the same time, healthcare and governmental spending.

Tea Party members are generally against the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare) because it requires that all American citizens must have health insurance; either from private insurance providers or on State-government plans, or face a monetary penalty each year. Forcing Americans to spend money or pay a fine to the federal government is usually illegal (but was made constitutional this time) and hit one of the most sensitive nerves in Tea Party followers since they believe it goes against American principles of freedom, liberty and a non-intrusive government.

When it came time to pass a new federal budget to keep the government and its services running, many in the Republican Party and especially those with “Tea Party ideals” decided to make their stand against the healthcare reform (which was already passed into law) by saying that unless “Obamacare” was defunded, started later or scrapped altogether, they would not sign off on a budget and effectively stop the government from being able to fully function. And they turned out to be successful in their protest in shutting down the U.S. government for the first time since 1996. They continued their protest over the following weeks during the negotiations over raising the debt ceiling since they are against deficit spending. The pressure Tea Party supporters put on Republican politicians not to raise the debt limit (without receiving their concessions about the healthcare reform) was unfaltering in the face of a clear U.S. default deadline and was noteworthy because of its implications over future negotiations in a split, two-party Congress (the U.S. Congress is divided in two parts, with a Republican majority in the (lower) House of Representatives and a Democrat majority in the (upper) Senate).

However, because the Tea Party stuck to their ideological guns throughout the deadlocked negotiations, they may have ended up shooting themselves in the foot. Republicans, and especially Tea Party backed politicians, are now largely seen as the villains in American politics. By not signing a new budget and preventing the U.S. from paying its already existing debt obligations, their actions, based on their fundamental beliefs concerning personal freedoms and governmental spending, caused thousands of American governmental workers to go more than half a month without work and pay and brought the U.S. and world economy to brink of a point of no return. The short-term effects of the shutdown and near debt default will h
ave negative economic consequences in the medium/long-run.

The Tea Party´s message is patriotic and rings clearly for a large portion of Americans. Freedom, liberty and self-rule, among others, are fundamental American values for most citizens. However, when people act in the names of those values to advance their own political agendas without finding a common ground or political consensus, the democratic system that the U.S. needs to function correctly breaks down and everyone ends up losing. To impede on the freedom of others while carrying out actions in the name of freedom itself is hypocritical, and is an ideological thought process the Tea Party needs to reconsider.

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