According to the Chronicle, the state Tea Party wants to shift the Republican's emphasis from social issues to "fiscal restraint by the federal government and individual freedom." On the surface, this sounds good. But what does it really mean?
The web site for the Houston Tea Party Society (HTPS) has a discussion on proposed resolutions for the state GOP. Some of the suggestions are good--such as abolishing the Departments of Education and Energy. Others--such as term limits--are superficial, and a few--such as closing the borders--are simply bad. But what is particularly noteworthy is what is not suggested--a call for the recognition and protection of individual rights. (That is, until I left a comment.)
As I have written previously, it is the principle of individual rights that underlies every good idea emanating from the Tea Party movement. No matter the issue--federal spending, taxation, the Federal Reserve, health care, immigration, etc.--it is the principle of individual rights that provides us with the proper solution. Without such a principle, and a proper understanding of it, the Tea Party movement finds itself advocating contradictory positions.
In the introduction to this discussion on resolutions, HTPS leader Felicia Cravens writes:
[P]lease remember to keep the resolution topics within our core principles of fiscal responsibility, personal and governmental accountability, limited government, free markets, and sovereignty.Again, these are certainly sound principles worthy of our support, but what do they mean? What unites them? Let us briefly dissect just one of these principles--sovereignty.
Sovereignty means independence from the control of another, the freedom to act according to one's own judgment (so long as one respects the mutual rights of others). Sovereignty is the recognition of the fact that each individual must take action to sustain and enjoy his life, and morally, others may not interfere with this right.
This has profound implications for every political issue. For example, closing the borders interferes with an individual's right to immigrate--to move to the country he chooses. Taxation--in any form--forces individuals to dispose of their property contrary to their own choices. Similarly, the use of tax incentives to encourage certain activities (as was suggested on HTPS) compels tax payers to subsidize the activities of others. Each of these proposals interferes with an individual's right to act according to his own judgment. Each is an attack on individual sovereignty.
The HTPS is advocating sovereignty in theory and proposing its violation in practice.
If the HTPS (or anyone for that matter) wishes to resolve this contradiction, then it must understand and embrace the principle of individual rights. Until it does so, its efforts to reshape the GOP will have no long-term impact.