Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Some data on Tea Party authoritarianism

Many times in the past I've insisted that the Tea Party is a populist-libertarian fusion movement and certain libertarians have gotten very bent out of shape over that observation. Not all. Some recognized this from the start. But many have been bothered when this gets pointed out.

Now Chris Mooney shares and elaborates on evidence of this produced by Putnam and Campbell.

Mooney ends with the question: "Why do we confuse libertarianism with authoritarianism so much, when they are so different?" I've provided one answer to that here.


  1. Nope, you have not answered Mooney's question.

    You totally went off topic.

    The discussion is entirely different: how can you conflate an extremely religious movement with an inclination towards bringing religion in politics with a movement for civil liberties?

    Indeed, have you followed the endless to-and-fro between social conservatives and free marketers? That many conservative Republicans have disliked Milton Friedman for his position on legalizing drugs, immigration,.etc?

    Mooney rightly says that they are not the same thing.

    And the likes of Gary are rightly indignant to be compared with religious extremists, when Gary is pretty far from a religious extremist.

    So yes, your observation DOES need to be wholly reconsidered, because a) alliances between religious conservatives and economic liberals are quite fragile (Lee Doren of CEI has been rebuking fellow conservatives for their anti-homosexuality), and b) the Tea Party movement has a stronger presence of the former instead of the latter. It's precisely why "certain libertarians have gotten very bent out of shape over that observation." There is good reason to say that the Tea Party is not a libertarian movement, but merely a movement that enjoys occasional libertarian sympathies.

    I can tell you that Mises forums have had little to no respect for the Tea Party, and posters there have followed it less than the mainstream media has.


    Ron Paul (probably the closest to a libertarian mind-set amongst those getting a result) comes it at 6% amongst those who affiliate with the Tea Party and who they identify most with as far as national leaders are concerned (Sarah Palin is the highest ranked). If there is a libertarian element it is a fairly weak one.

  3. Prateek,

    Right, Michelle Bachmann (sp?) is a tea party type; where are the libertarian sympathies of hers?

  4. Prateek -
    Moody's question wasn't about religion specifically, it was about authoritarian tendencies in general (I personally wouldn't agree with the use of the word "authoritarian" I should add - I've typically noted "social engineering" tendencies among libertarians and "populism" among Tea Partiers).

    I understand there's a difference between social conservatives and libertarians.

    Mooney's question is - then why are they so easy to conflate sometimes. Part of the answer I think is that libertarians are more about social control than most of them care to admit.

    re: "the Tea Party movement has a stronger presence of the former instead of the latter. It's precisely why "certain libertarians have gotten very bent out of shape over that observation.""

    No you are misunderstanding what I am claiming Prateek. I'm saying that when I point out that the Tea Party isn't predominantly a libertarian movement lots (not all) of libertarians get mad at that assertion. I'm agreeing with you on the Tea Party and I'm saying that lots of libertarians disagree with you and me on that point.

  5. I thought I was pretty clear and certainly regular readers should know my views on the Tea Party.

    To restate, I think:

    1. The Tea Party is a mix of libertarians and populists, but I think the populists dominate. Libertarians ignore this at their peril. Many libertarians don't ignore this. Many other libertarians have gotten mad at me for saying this.

    2. Mooney raises an interesting question - if they're NOT libertarians why do so many people seem to think they are?

    3. Part of the answer is that the populists just talk like libertarians. But another part of the answer is that libertarians have very specific ideas about how society should be ordered, despite their claims to the contrary. Perhaps it should not be surprising that one group more or less on the right that has an idealistic way to organize society is conflated with another group more or less on the right that has an idealistic way to organize society.

  6. There are few to none libertarians within the Tea Party movement; the Tea Party is mostly made up of disgruntled Republicans of a particular bent.

    Everyone has some specific ideas about how society ought to be ordered; scratch a liberal you'll generally find someone who would like to get some fairly detailed control of what you say, what video games you play, what you read, what you eat, who you affiliate with, how much of your life ought to be monitored, etc. No one is agnostic on this issue.

  7. Ah, so your position was actually quite well nuanced, Daniel. I stand corrected.

    Come to think of it, many of the Auburn libertarians praise rather...non-libertarian characters such as Gerald Celente and Max Keiser.

    That's perhaps what you mean by the fact that libertarians ignore at their peril the fact that some of their allies are not very libertarian.

  8. Prateek,

    I think libertarians are well aware of the divisions within their ranks. This is part of the reason why the Auburn libertarians are such a source of ridicule amongst many libertarians (by Auburn libertarians I don't mean the left-libertarians there).

  9. "libertarians have very specific ideas about how society should be ordered"

    No legal possibility for the initiation of force is truly quite specific; thank you Daniel.

  10. Anyway, I don't think the term authoritarian fits the Tea Party. They are just populists with all the contradictions that entails.


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