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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  • T B Almon

    This country become the greatest in the world because people did not set around waiting for the federal government to give them a handout.

    • alicia

      I guess reading and thinking critically isn’t your strong point. No where in this article does it talk about “handouts”.

    • brendanyc

      WellT.B., that could almost be true except for the railroad industry, the coal industry, the shipping industry, oil, textiles, farming, etc., and all the personal and corporate fortunes created thereby. also applies to al the early and later american businesses that rely or relied on the postal service, the telegraph, or the inland waterways. more recently it would apply to the national highways or bridges, the airlines, etc.
      in other words, there have been **massive*** ‘handouts’ throughout the country’s history–and that of every successful country, by the way.
      this only becomes an issue when it is ‘others’ who are getting the ‘handouts.’ since the original post was about right wing hypocrisy it is useful and illustrative that the first response is so riddled with obvious self-delusion.

    • david be

      Some kind of citation here? Cause we were darn near turning to fill on communism and even naziism during the great depression before all the safety net programs were put into place. People were starving to death waiting for an opportunity to work and survive. Only after that period with safety net in place did we become a real world power. even look at the last republican candidate for president, mit Romney. His family went on to running car companies and massive wealth. Yet his grandparent s had to take assistance to survive at first.

  • OldManDave

    While I predominantly agree with the vast majority of your statements, I feel compelled to point out a severe misunderstanding/misrepresentation of political groupings. Tea Party DOES NOT EQUATE to Libertarian in any way form or fashion. The Tea Party plattorm is populist in nature, even though they claim otherwise, for the very reasons you assert: social conservatism coupled with liberal governmental/fiscal policy [favor big government in order to acheive their stifling social agenda] and are only proponents of “small government” when it benefits their agenda or their profit margins.

    In sharp contrast, a Libertarian is a social LIBERAL – in essence, as long as an individual’s pursuit of liberty does not infringe upon others’ liberties, then it is all good [presuming all involved are of legal age and so forth]. Libertarians are also proponents of small/minimalist government, but this is where the amalgam of Libertarians begin to diverge into subsets. The extreme being anarchists – the ones who believe the Fed gov’t should be held to precisely what is explicitly set forth in the Constitution of less. The other end being the Progressive Libertarians, the more/most liberal subset, who appreciates the value of reasonable, rational and well thought out governmental regulation in order to support prosperity & seeks to strike a dynamic balance between free market commerce and the public good through constuctive partnerships between government & private business.

    I summation, I agree whole heartedly that the far right of the GOP [Teabuggers] are delusional hypocrite theocrats who perpetuate the facade of “small government”, but that is only a thin veneer.

  • Mary Leyendecker

    LACK OF CANCER TREATMENT IS DEATH BY FED. GOVT. … Medicaid patients receiving cancer treatments now are being turned away by cancer centers because of the Sequester … it this true? … IS THIS TRUE, ANYONE ?

  • Sean Tobin

    Actually their naivety at worst is dangerous because we are a Representative Republic where ideally anyone the age of 18 or older regardless of education or intelligence can vote and have a say in how our government is supposed to be run and look at the dysfunctional lunacy. Now I am not advocating for a change to that at all, but I am still on my soap box that we need to change our education system. It is broken and predominantly useless.

  • G Eatroff

    TB Almon said “this country become the greatest in the world because people did not set around waiting for the federal government to give them a handout.” First, this has nothing to do with the article above, and demonstrates that Almon is just trollspamming. Second, the statement is untrue. We’ve *always* relied on government handouts — land grants, subsidies, tax breaks, the works. The American Revolution was led by men who objected to the taxes parliament levied to pay down the national debt Britain got stuck with paying for services the colonists had demanded.* Since then we’ve had land grants, protective tariffs financing business, government-provided education and infrastructure (roads, electrical grids, etc), subsidies for railroads, farms, and other businesses… we’ve never been the “rugged individualists” of libertarian fantasy. We’ve always operated with the expectation that someone is out there to give us a hand.

    * Yes, that wasn’t the only cause of our rebellion, but it was a big part of it.

  • Guest

    Remember who wouldn’t defend YOUR rights when they start crying to you for help defending THEIRS.

  • Guest

    Amazing ignorance.

  • Very well said. Unfortunately, most Tea Partiers and ultra-conservatives I’ve engaged with are also supremely hostile to the education, logic and orderly-minded-ness of your argument (which I’ve also made), or to acknowledging anything that might demand them to re-examine their own opinions and actions. Its just so much easier that way: just label you a “lib” and then be able to discount the validity of anything you say. Sadly for our civic discourse, the ultra right hypocrisy is a neatly closed system of ad hominem attacks and circular logic that prevents self-examination, meaningful debate and popular consensus.

    • Patrick Milliken

      And there are more than enough people who claim (with authority on subject, no less) that the US Military could indeed be overthrown by teabilly insurgents. I wish they would actually try – it would clear the slate a bit.

  • James

    This is a really poorly written article that just cites a bunch of anecdotal evidence and no facts. Journalism has become an absolute joke.

    • Able Abelian

      It’s a blog. It’s not pretending to be the New York Times or CNN or the New York Post nor Fox News. The author has a simple point, they make it, they move on. Read, accept, or dismiss at your own will. But claiming journalism is becoming a joke because one blog (that is not, that I am aware, proclaiming itself to be a bastion of good journalism) is like claiming magazines are worthless because one small publication has an article that is dumb.

      The argument doesn’t rest on data (if it did, I would be all against the anecdotal as well). It simply points out IF A, then B. If you do ___, then ____ (here, you are a hypocrite).

      • AbleAbelian

        When I say “you are a hypocrite” I mean general you, not you specifically.

    • This is a lawyer’s blog, and not a news article. Your argument is invalid and rather petulant.

  • Dennis M

    I love when they say this is a Christian nation that was founded on Christian values.We are a republic.The first republic was The Roman Republic.Could not one say our country was founded pagan roman values?

    • granadamama

      i agree….we just watched the movie lincoln….even back then, he said that religion and government must be kept separate.

  • granadamama

    ilyssa, i could not have said that better myself. it just perplexes me that people don’t see their own hypocricy….or they just don’t want to.

  • Good logic, and most Americans are truly bipolar. expecting personal freedom to practice their own personal beliefs , while denying the same personal freedom to other people for their beliefs. We often automatically assume what we believe must be right. If 8 cells in a test tube is a person, why do we freeze them and allow people to buy and sell them without any mandatory adoption process? These “souls on ice” are being bought and sold by fertility clinics as if they were frozen food products, isn’t that human slavery? .

    • jabberwocky

      Jesse Jackson Jr is bipolar. Or so he claimed.

  • Matthew Crockett

    The basic measure of freedom is precisely based on what rights we give to those we completely Disagree with. If it’s only supporting what you like it’s just favoritism and is easily abandoned. To have an unbreakable standard you have to draw a line and Never cross it or allow anyone else to either.

  • doug

    The only thing the Tea Party as a whole stands for is Lower Taxes. Yall can make shit up all you want, but the tea party you hate exists only in your mind.

  • Michael Davolio

    Brilliantly stated, Ilyssa. Of course, I would have expected no less …
    My only objection is that you refer to these Teabillies as the “Tea Party.” The original members of the Tea Party were patriots who would roll over in their graves if they could see what these hypocrites have done to their good name. Today’s pretenders are not worthy of the name.

    • Patrick Milliken

      Today’s “Tea Party” more resembles a bunch of “Whiskey Insurrectionists”