Where the Tea Party activist is most deficient is in their own foundations of a political education.  The deficiency is so extreme that it becomes dangerous to society.  They can throw around slogans and chants but have no idea about their deeper meanings.  Being passionate is a great thing, but having an uninformed passion is dangerous.  Acting as an activist is admirable in most circumstances; unless that activism is uniformed and acting counterproductive to the very changes it may be seeking.  Wanting changes back to the origins of the nation and to do everything the Founding Fathers did is quaint not practical.  It may be a libertarian ideal but it is not a rational one.

You need a working knowledge of:

– Federalist Papers

– Constitution

– Bill of Rights

– Supreme Court rulings and Case Law

– English Common Law and Magna Charta

– Statutory Law

– Administrative Law

– Principle of Rule of Law

– Political parties

There is an interaction of these principles, documents and ideas that creates our unique form of governance and societal interactions.  A literal reading of one and not the others gives a perverse and incorrect view of that governance.  For instance, just reading the Constitution and not the Bill of Rights gives one a skewed point of view.  Throw in the Declaration of Independence, which has no legal precedence on our system, and you can totally misinterpret what is going on.  One needs to know things like:

– Where the duties and rights of a federal government must trump those of a state;

– Where the rights of the commons must trump those of an individual;

– Where the duties and rights of local governments are carved out of;

– Separation of Church and State;

– The meaning of democracy (or we live in a Constitutionally-limited representative democratic republic); and

– The difference between Free Enterprise and Capitalism.

Literal uses of legal citations may win arguments in court, but in public interaction they can seem intrusive and threatening (which may be the intent of the user).  Quoting the Second, Tenth and Fourteenth Amendments at public meetings and town halls (which the Tea Party is very fond of doing), without knowing the history of why the amendments were put into place in the first place, borders on sedition and treason.  They are not Free Speech when in essence you are threatening the Free Speech of all those others who are present.

In 1776, the government and society were not perfect and it has been steadily improved since then.  Arguing to go back to 1776 (Founding), 1376 (pre-Founding) or 1176 (pre-Magna Charta), which some Tea Party activists have done in speeches, is insanity.  Especially, as these half-baked ideas are carried by their followers into the public square; and they often say they are “locked and loaded.”

The idea that social programs are evil and decay society is ludicrous.  That somehow we have slipped into “socialism” and a return to the times before FDR and Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid would be somehow good for the “moral fiber” of the country is an Ayn Rand Pipe Dream.  When Britain returned to full employment during World War Two (1939-1945 for them), in the 1943 time period, when Britain realized it could win the war and then what would happen?  Would they slip back into the pre-war poverty and high unemployment?  Or could government ensure prosperity and opportunity in peace?  Would the Glided Age descent back onto the economy and enslave the people?  People were gainfully employed in the wartime, prices were fixed, and the needs of the people were being adequately and evenly met.  Before the war there were slums and children standing on the street, out of school, ill and starving.  All these society ills were cured by a government at war that needed the confidence of its people.  It became a compact and contract between the people and the government if the people increased production, the government would provide them security in education, health care, food, safety and income.  The Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Social Insurance and Allied Services, known commonly as the Beveridge Report was an influential document in the founding of the “Welfare State” in the United Kingdom.  It was chaired by William Beveridge, an economist, who identified five “Giant Evils” in society: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease, and went on to propose widespread reform to the system of social welfare to address these (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beveridge_Report).  In the United States, FDR summarized the same situation in his speech the Four Freedoms (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Freedoms).