The writer of the blog Toward a Moral Life did an interesting piece on a poll about Americans’ views and, in part, the Tea Party political movement. Here are some results from those who identified as supporters of the Tea Party (copied from Toward a Moral Life and the piece linked above):
- 44% identify themselves as “born-again”, compared with 33% of all respondents.
- More than 90% say the U.S. is moving toward socialism and away from capitalism.
- Almost half say the government should do something about executive bonuses.
- 36% say expanding Medicare (for the elderly) and Medicaid (for the poor) amount to socialism.
- 65% say Social Security is socialist, but 47% want to keep it under government control or aren’t sure about privatization.
- 80%+ say expansion of the government’s role in the economy is a high threat.
- 70% want a federal government that fosters job creation.
Tea Partiers have a concept – the less government the better – but they still want government or other oversight bodies to make sure they’re safe and have access to…stuff.
I’m very optimistic – I believe that people want to love and support their neighbors and they *think* they want to support their fellow human beings. If we see a guy bleeding on the side of the road, we want to help him. We’ll go out of our way to help him! Need money? Need a ride? Need food? I can do that!
But when people are asked to “blindly” support the weak, poor, sick, etc., they are reluctant to do so. If they don’t have immediate, measurable evidence that their sacrifice is being appreciated, they’re less likely to help. If we can’t see that extra taxes are providing food, education or medicine to unfortunate people who can’t help themselves, we don’t want to help.
With welfare, universal health care, education, police, and other “socialist” endeavors, we’re ultimately agreeing (or being forced – whichever you believe) to let go of the power to play god. We don’t get to *choose* who we help…we don’t get to decide if individuals are *worthy* enough to get our help. We don’t get to hold back our assistance to those who don’t share our beliefs or values…and this really irks some of us.
Really, “socialism” seems to be a way to scale up our altruistic efforts at local, national and global levels. Individual efforts may be wasteful and help only a few, while (socialist) taxes have the potential to help provide more efficient vehicles for support for more people. But it requires trust in our fellow man…or at least in the regulatory bodies that keep an eye on our fellow man. Crap. I certainly don’t trust all of my fellow man. But maybe I can trust oversight committees? But who’s watching them??? Who’s watching the Watchmen?
I think that liberals and socialists have more trust in our fellow men, while conservatives and Tea Party supports have less trust. Hmmm…is this the basic difference between our two groups?