Acrimony within the Tea Party and important issues came from an article profiling me in the NYC Daily News. While the Daily News reporter originally contacted me due to my being the President of the Brooklyn Tea Party, the conversation quickly swung to my political passion: culturism. In this context we also discussed the Brooklyn Tea Party’s rally to stop the mosque at Ground Zero of the 9 – 11 attacks.
When I went to another Tea Party Chapter meeting to network and see how they run their meetings, the flack began. “That F’in idiot John Press” one member was exclaiming loudly in conversation when I entered the meeting. Shocked because I thought I had brought some good publicity to the Tea Party! When I finally calmed the movement leader down, I found he had some valid and interesting reasons to criticize me.
Many members have worked very hard to make the “Tea Party brand.” Being smeared as racists (the leaders who chastised me was black), fringe truthers concerned with Obama’s birth certificate, and dangerous militia folk, made people skittish about joining the Tea Party. Party strategists have, therefore, worked to make Tea Party membership only indicate a devotion to fiscal conservativism and upset over our nation's out-of-control borrowing. Eventually, we may be able to diversify into other areas of concern, the Chapter President explained, but to continue in a growth mode, making people think the Tea Party denounces Mosques scrambles the message and makes folks skittish about joining. Many national leaders believe we should never deviate from our main point.
Though he has valid points several responses come to mind. First of all, while it may not play strongly nationally, in Brooklyn people are hot under the collar over this mosque. And a large coalition already exists to stop another one being built in Brooklyn. Our ultimate local aim is to elect legitimately conservative candidates. Certain parts of Brooklyn have large pools of underrepresented and abused conservative citizens who would get active for legit candidates. And, if we wish to find legit candidates, an even stronger litmus test than whether or not they will go on record as favoring not overspending, is whether or not they will go on record opposing a mosque at ground zero and in Brooklyn. We will accrue passionate activists as well as politicians with integrity if we make stopping the mosque one of our areas of focus.
I wrote a policy paper about immigration being a Tea Party issue. Illegal immigration costs our states billions per year. Among other things, immigration is a fiscal issue. Can't immigration be a Tea Party issue? And what about foreign policy? I wrote another policy paper about the Tea Party using culturism to mediate the isolationism of Ron Paul and the expansionist view of Sarah Palin. Both claim Tea Party credibility despite their divergent stances. Culturism argues that we take cultural diversity seriously. Culturists agree with Ron Paul about avoiding nation building. But we culturists do so because cultural diversity dooms such efforts. So we agree with Palin that we must recognize our cultural enemies. Culturism argues that we strike our enemies hard, if we must, but then return home. The immigration issue and the culturist stance of avoiding nation building both seem intimately connected with the Tea Party message of smaller government and saving money. Are we not allowed to discuss such issues?
I asked the hostile Tea Party leader if he’d back an open-borders, pro-mosque, fiscal conservative. Having ample experience in politics, he gave me a great answer. He told me of a time where he had worked alongside an avowed socialist on the issue of driver’s licenses for illegal aliens. Politics make strange bedfellows. In the case of backing a candidate with whom many of us would disagree, he said we should never endorse candidates as such, we should endorse their economic policy. I told my disagreeing comrade that I thought that we would get more growth by taking a stance with Arizona than ignoring it. He disagreed. When I told him I thought we would soon need to choose to either side with Palin and her expansionist policies or Paul’s isolationist stance, he agreed. But, he added, the time for that decision had not yet come. To grow the movement to where it will have an impact we need numbers and that means we must stay on message.
I will bring this debate to the next Brooklyn Tea Party meeting. We will need to decide whether we entirely drop the mosque and immigration issues and just stick with the core theme of fiscal conservatism or not. I will add an argument my erstwhile compatriot did not add. As a new chapter, taking a brand others have crafted and bending it to your will is rude. If you, the reader, have any additional pertinent insights for me to bring to my chapter, please leave a comment and I will do so.