The Rise of Conservatism? | Tea Party Politics

Boston-Tea- Party

Fascinating, if frightening, piece in The Independent today about the crumbling of support for the moderate Republican Charlie Crist in Florida’s senate election. His opposition, gaining more and more support: Marco Rubio, a man with ‘demigod’ status in the Tea Party movement who at a recent conservative gathering in Washington “declared his love for Guantanamo and his support for a form of torture known as water-boarding.

Clearly, I’m looking over the pond from a UK perspective, but I just find it fascinating that the reflex response of a section of the electorate (nearly 30%, some say?) upon finding themselves with a ‘liberal’ leader is to swing hard right into some of the most distasteful political verbage to come out of any democratic country. Distasteful why? Because the heart of the movement is a cry for small government which would effectively cut loose the poor and see their access to healthcare and financial support removed. The tea possibly comes from ‘Taxed Enough Already’; these are rich people, who don’t want to share – the defining heart of conservative parties.

In the UK we are seeing the rise of conservatism too, with equally horrific (though at present less well supported and certainly more racist) hard-right policies from nationalist parties.

Why? I think the key issue is fear of the other. In this very fluid world we are becoming more and more afraid as fewer and fewer certainties exist. And our gut reaction is to grab hold of anything that will ‘conserve’ the old world – even though that is simply a romantic projection – and circle our wagons, voting to make sure we’re ok, and screw the rest.

It won’t work. We’re in this together. Life only improves for us if it improves for all of us.


3 responses to “The Rise of Conservatism? | Tea Party Politics”

  1. Kevin, I came across your blog and have followed it for some time. I know you’re commenting from across the pond, but your understanding of the true conservative movement is off key. As a true American conservative, I take offense (jokingly of course) to your statements about the conservative movement. First of all, to suggest that conservatives “effectively cut loose the poor and see their access to health care and financial support removed” by desiring small government is a farce. Our welfare population in the US isn’t based from people down on their luck needing a hand up. The welfare system effectively keep people in poverty. Conservatives give to charities at much higher rates than often liberals due to our church affiliations. My wife and I have four kids. She’s a stay at home mom and I work full time as a project manager and part time as a youth pastor. I make less than $65k with both salaries combined and pay for my health care through my employer with them contributing toward our health care. This past year, based on our tax returns, she and I gave more to our church and charities than Joe Biden and Barak Obama combined. So conservatives cut loose the poor? No we help the poor.

    What conservatives are against is propping up those who wish to live off the government and won’t work and provide for their families. My family, as well as my wife’s family, never had health insurance as we both grew up. I was 19 when I first had health care provided by an employer while I was in college. We live in the land of opportunity, and if people – even in poverty stricken areas – want to succeed then they can. It takes hard work and integrity. Our current system fosters 3rd and 4th generation welfare. That’s a broken system… or broken people not willing to work – if able – to provide something better for themselves.

    Smaller government is the way to go, not the monolithic bureaucracies that currently rule Europe and, unfortunately, now the west. The socialistic system hasn’t worked to make men free. Democracy and the free enterprise system has made America the nation it has grown to be, with the blessings of God. It’s not perfect, but we adults are far better at taking care of our families than some politician hundreds of miles away.

    Also, it’s the churches responsibility to care for the community. We seem bent in America & UK to shed our reliance on God, and thus have the population has had to rely upon politicians and law makers to step in and provide welfare. If the church properly functioned as Christ designed it to, then none would lack in any necessity.

    We shed one tyrant for freedom, and will do so again in November. Thank you for your comments, and for allowing me to express a slice of the other view.

  2. Thanks for your comment Jeremy, and I totally hear what you are saying. The problem is, the argument works in theory – people can work their way out of poverty – but simply doesn’t stand up in practice.

    If you’d like to read some cold stats on this from two very highly qualified sociologists/epidemiologists then I strongly advise you read ‘The Spirit Level’ by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. It’s a brilliant read – and shows very clearly that the conservative approach that the US has followed leaves it with the worst life outcomes of any democracy: prison population, obesity, mental illness, crime, stress… you name it, the small government ‘markets will sort it out and people will work things through’ approach makes life less equal.

    This doesn’t, by the way, mean higher taxes are required. It does mean that income equality needs to be achieved. This can be done simply by making sure income differentials are lowered. And this will require a government that looks to the wider social angle rather than one that simply wants lower taxes and less legislation.

    Some of these things the church can achieve. But some are down to proper governance.

  3. im not into politics. or economics. but i think i have a thot on this.

    both sides are wrong.

    the tea party/republicans/conservatives may want smaller gov and may give more to charity and through religious venues but they also support a big military and raging war thats costing us big money. if only we despised poverty like we despise those evil islamic terrorists in afghanistan and iraq.

    the deomcrats/liberals may love the poor and downtrodden and champion income equality but they also support a womans right to murder an unborn baby.

    in a conversation at the pub last night one of my friends said why cant there be a third option where we get the best of the other two? i agree. itd be nice not having to wince when i vote. but i hold onto to the the realization that politics/government will never be the answer to the problem and that our only real hope is in the transformation jesus brings into each life working its way outward into the world around us.

    may sound idealistic but im just fool-hearted enough to believe it.