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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Molly Birch
Molly Birch

My name is Molly, and I am in my second year at NMU. I come from Midland, MI, probably one of the most boring places on earth. However, we do have the only Tridge in the world, so that’s pretty nifty...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Tea Partiers are giving libertarians a bad name

I first heard about the Tea Party movement in the Spring of 2009 when it was still young. It was in the media a lot during the lead-up to tax day that year.

As a social libertarian, I must admit I was excited. Here was a grassroots effort to protest the bailouts and the stimulus package.

It seemed to be a sign that there were people in this country willing to stand up and protest for what they believed in. I was idealistic enough to think that this movement meant that great changes could take place. I thought perhaps this was a start of a great change in America.

Yet as the Tea Party movement grew, it never really centralized to become a vibrant political force. As a result, the phrase “Tea Party” has lost its meaning and the protests have lost their way.

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Tom Cory/NW

The more I hear about the Tea Party, the more I wish the word “libertarian” wasn’t associated with it. They’re doing more damage to that word than anything else ever could.

If one looks at the previous month alone, there’s a long list of terrible events associated with the phrase.

For example, on March 16, 2010, at a protest outside of the office of Representative Mary Jo Kilroy, a protestor mocked a man with Parkinson’s Disease and threw dollar bills at him. Several other protestors joined in. The protestor later apologized for his actions.

On March 20, protestors of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in Washington, D.C., were accused of shouting racial slurs at several black lawmakers.

Though many at the protest deny these accusations, so far there seems to be no evidence that these allegations did not happen.

A Tea Party protester in Lynchburg attempted to post the home address of Congressman Tom Perriello on a local blog, encouraging readers to “drop by” his address and express their anger at him for his vote for the heath care bill.

Instead, the protester accidentally posted the address of Periello’s brother.

The next day, a severed gas line was found in Periello’s brother’s yard and it was determined that it was intentionally cut.

None of these occurrences are necessarily endorsed by any official Tea Party organization. Yet they all seem to have happened as a result of Tea Party fervor.

When I tell people I’m a social libertarian, I’m immediately associated with these people because we share a similar ideology. I find these sort of acts deplorable. It’s insulting to be lumped in with these people.

Even if one were to look at all of this as isolated incidents, there is trouble with the Tea Party movement even at the very top levels of the various organizations behind it.

Near the time of the start of the Tea Parties, claims that the movement was actually made to look like a spontaneous movement from average citizens by national organizations surfaced separately in a New York Times editorial and a Playboy article in February of 2009.

Due to libel claims, the articles were removed, yet no lawsuit ever actually occurred.

These allegations didn’t stop there. They continued in a variety of editorials and articles throughout 2009.

Conservative groups Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks and dontGO are the three main groups who have provided funding for the Tea Party protests and events, as well as guidance and organization.

All three deny the allegations of astroturfing. The problem, though, is that when a protest is organized by a corporation and that corporation hires public relations firms to help promote the event, it is no longer a grassroots phenomenon.

By being organized by these groups, rather than from the ground up as a true grassroots protest would be, Tea Party events have become a smokescreen for the agendas of basically anyone who feels like they want to call themselves a Tea Party activist.

Now, every time I hear the phrase “Tea Party” in the news, I cringe. I always think to myself, “Oh, no. What have they done this time?”

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