The Tea Party’s Philosophy of Hypocrisy

TeaPartyHypocritesDo you know what the biggest problem I have with the Tea Party is?

It isn’t their wildly inaccurate belief that their assault rifles would protect them from “government tyranny,” and their failure to take into account that they would surely be out-gunned by the US military’s arsenal of tanks, planes, and bombs.  This amuses me.

It isn’t their insistence that we should gut the safety net that is SNAP (food stamps), TANF (cash and child care assistance), Unemployment Insurance, and Medicaid in favor of a “you’re on your own” sink or swim system; although I find it deplorable.

It isn’t their contention that the United States is a Christian nation that was founded by Christians, even when the history books and the Constitution say otherwise. I find their naivety to be comical at best and downright nonsensical at worst.

It isn’t their incapacity, or just plain unwillingness to consider that the “free market, trickle down” policies they advocate for, actually only work to lead them down cognitive dissonance road.

My biggest problem with the Tea Party is their conspicuous hypocrisy. They aren’t even attempting to hide it anymore. Maybe they never were, or worse they are just to simple-minded to realize they continue to perpetuate hypocrisy in the first place. Either way, it makes their entire platform disingenuous. Now, I don’t want to generalize. I realize that not all members of the Tea Party (or the broader libertarian movement for that matter) are hypocrites. I have a handful of Tea Party/Libertarian friends who are pro-birth control, pro-choice, and pro-marriage equality (because they want the government to stay out of people’s private lives and medical decisions) and although I may disagree with them on many economic issues and find their positions abhorrent, I respect their consistency in ideology. However, it seems that this is the exception, not the norm. From what I can tell, the first people to scream DON’T TREAD ON ME at the top of their lungs when it comes to their guns and their beliefs, among other things, are the first to advocate trampling the rights of others because of what they believe. That is very definition of hypocrisy; acting in contradiction to ones stated beliefs or feelings.

Here’s a novel idea. If you want the government to enact more laws restricting birth control, sex education, abortion, same-sex marriage, and drug use, among other things,  it makes you pro-big government, it doesn’t make you a “don’t tread on me” small government libertarian. It also makes you a colossal hypocrite, plain and simple.

All this considered, the first time I ever made this argument, I got called a hypocrite by a Tea Partier. Why? Well according to him, it is hypocritical for liberals to be in favor of gun control for the purpose of protecting children, but to also be pro-choice and pro-contraception.  The problem however, with trying to call liberals hypocrites for being in favor of gun regulations while also being pro-choice, is that defining what is or isn’t “life” is based on personal opinion. Just because some people believe that a zygote is an “unborn child” doesn’t mean that everyone believes that. Moreover, the Supreme Court has time and again said that it is not for the government to decide where life begins, it is for us as individuals to have the freedom to decide for ourselves. Both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, make it abundantly clear that viability is the general cut off point for abortions, except in a very narrow set of circumstances. Moreover, part of the freedom we have in this country is being able to decide for ourselves whether a collection of 4 or 8 cells is a “life” or is not a “life.” Sure, 8 cells are biological material, so by definition those cells are “alive,” but just because one person thinks that 8 cells is an “unborn child” doesn’t mean everyone must. For the record, 8 cancer cells are living human cells as well, and I haven’t heard anyone suggest that chemotherapy is murder. Freedom from government interference requires letting people make these choices and these medical decisions for themselves, without the government dictating what they can or cannot do. That is the very definition of freedom. If one decides that 8 cells is an “unborn child,” then they do not have to get an abortion, but they are not allowed to force their beliefs on everyone else. Pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion, it means pro-freedom.

And speaking of the Tea Party values of freedom and privacy, let’s spend a brief second talking about same-sex marriage. The simplest argument that can be made in favor of same-sex marriage is actually a fairly “conservative” argument. I think former Bush aide Ken Mehlman (of all people!?) summed it up best when he stated, “if you believe in freedom, if you believe in limited government, if you believe in family values, then allowing adults who love each other to form families is something that makes a lot of sense.” So why is it that so many Tea Partiers who are staunch proponents for freedom and privacy are steadfast opponents of same-sex marriage? The philosophy of hypocrisy strikes again.

So many Tea Partiers claim that it is “having morals” which makes their opposition to women’s reproductive rights and same-sex marriage un-hypocritical. But, it’s not “having morals” that makes someone a hypocrite. Everyone has the freedom to be against things such as birth control, abortion, and same-sex marriage on their own moral ground or religious grounds. Nobody can force anyone to accept what they find morally unacceptable, but merely finding something unacceptable does not give anyone the right to make laws which impose that opinion on the rest of us. What makes one a hypocrite is requesting less government and less government interference in one’s life when it comes to some issues, but requesting more government interference in people’s lives when it comes to others. If you don’t want the government to “tread on your freedoms ” then you cannot ask the government to enact big government regulations and laws that tread on other people’s freedoms. If you are for small government and individual and personal freedom, then you should not want the government involved in these issues–if you do, you’re a hypocrite.

Ilyssa Fuchs

Ilyssa Fuchs is an attorney, freelance writer, and activist from New York City, who holds both a juris doctor and a political science degree. She is the founder of the popular Facebook page Politically Preposterous and a blog of the same name. Follow Ilyssa on Twitter @IlyssaFuchs, and be sure to check out her archives on Forward Progressives as well!


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