Tea partiers embracing libertarian ideas

Freedom New Mexico

It’s an exaggeration to say the mainstream media don’t like the tea party. Fox News is part of the mainstream media and it loves the tea party. Conservative radio talkers are big fans, too, and right-wing radio’s vast popularity makes it solidly mainstream.

But pressing for smaller government and fiscal restraint is nothing new. Conservatives, Republicans, libertarians … we’ve all talked about smaller government for decades.

What especially impresses us about the tea party is its willingness to swim against conservative orthodoxy, to preach the gospel of government shrinkage in all areas.

A good example: Skepticism about the surveillance state.

Old-school conservatives will rationalize domestic spying by arguing that “if you don’t have anything to hide, you don’t have anything to worry about.” We’ve heard that rationale countless times, especially since 9/11. Tea partiers aren’t buying it. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a tea party icon, led the fight in Congress against extending the freedom-unfriendly Patriot Act.

Another example: Skepticism about war, nation-building and an expansive foreign policy.

Rep. Paul has been a rare voice among Republicans in insisting that defense cuts be considered in balancing the U.S. budget. Regarding distant wars, tea party sentiment is manifesting itself in Congress with “an unusual alliance of the anti-war left and newly energized conservatives,” as a recent wire story put it.

Sure, not all tea partiers hold the same views. But we are pleased whenever libertarian, small-government ideals gain wider currency. Perhaps, with the tea party, they’ll even go mainstream.