If you were to Google my name, you might come across a couple of obscure law journals which name me as the Tea Party activist in a lawsuit against a particular California election law. This would seem particularly odd, since anyone who knows me, knows I am a die-hard liberal.
In fact, some of them only half-jokingly call me a socialist. That’s utterly untrue as I accept capitalism as a necessary evil. After all, it is the best system for creating wealth. However, as capitalism also tends to concentrate wealth, and wealth entwines into politics, unregulated capitalism leads to plutocracy, oligarchy and even fascism.
So yes, I particularly believe in strong regulation of capitalism, a graduated income tax and re-distribution of wealth and certain, yes, socialist institutions like a national health care system. Very not, Tea Party positions.
But I joined a lawsuit against a California election law that I think is bad for a number of reasons – one being that it doesn’t allow write-in votes, or rather the law allows them but specifically says that they will not be counted. So I proved useful to this suit because I live in a district that was having a special election. At the behest of the lawyer bringing this case forward, I registered as a Tea Party member and then tried to vote for myself in order to show that I was harmed by this law. To repeat, it was his idea that I register as a Tea Party member because it is not one of the parties officially recognized by the state of California, as well as for other strategic reasons legally and politically which are not for me to discuss.
However, why would somebody with my leftist political views make this profound sacrifice of identification??? Below is the partial explanation, made in an online comment to the writer of one of these obscure law journals. (Note – at the lawyer’s request, I ended up deleting one clause below, the one about the Tea Party being a re-brand of the Republican base… so my comment letter was published without it. I re-insert it here on my own website.)
An Activist Yes, But Not a “Tea Party Activist”
Dear Mr. Eris,
As I am the subject of the headline of your July 20, 2011 story (“Top-Two open primary faces legal challenge from Democrat-turned-Tea Party activist”), I would have hoped that you would have contacted me directly to understand the nuance of my actions, for now it absolutely behooves me to make a correction and clarification of that headline: while I am certainly an activist, in no sense could I accurately be labeled a “Tea Party activist”, as that term is popularly understood today.
In the first place, I do not adhere at all to the current policy positions of what the media typically labels as Tea Party issues, since such have become nothing more than the issues of a re-branded right-wing Republican base.
Then you may be wondering why I tried to register as a Tea Party member, an action that could so easily be misconstrued as making me a supporter of anti-unionism and the like, which I absolutely am not.
I agreed to this action of trying to become a “Tea Party” registered voter and potential candidate, not only because it would be an efficacious means to legally challenge what I consider to be an unconstitutional and unfair law, but also because it has a moral justification, as I do agree with the original Boston Tea Party impulse.
For it is important to remember that there is another, original aspect of the amorphous modern Tea Party movement that spiritually harkens back to that revolutionary protest in the Boston Harbor.
After all, this modern protest was partially born, at least amongst some of its initial adherents, of an inchoate rage that something with wrong with the System itself. This failure of the System was exemplified by the bailout of the banks and big brokerage houses while score upon score of ordinary Americans were losing their jobs, their pensions and their homes.
The Top-Two Open Primary law was deceptively sold to the public, and moreover disenfranchises Independents and the small parties – both in the “No Party Preference” label for such candidates and even more importantly, precluding a write-in candidate (thus a version of Lisa Murkowski’s write-in Senate victory could never happen in California).
The colonial Tea Party was not a protest against taxation per se, but a protest against taxation without representation. It was the lack of representation that was the motivation and rationale for the American defiance against the Crown. It is that original Boston Tea Party ideal for true democratic representation for which I am an activist and why I became a party to this law suit.
Thus a potential correction of your original headline would be “…challenge from Democrat-turned-original ‘Tea Party’ activist” but only if an explanation of my motivations were also included within the body of the article, that I am re-appropriating a piece of American history. Right wing conservatives do not own an exclusive trademark on patriotic American symbols after all.