Spontaneous Order And The Tea Party Movement

By Jerry McDaniel

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that 71% of Republicans are either active in or support the Tea Party movement. These numbers bode well for the Republican Party and the Nation. If the movement does not lose its strength over the next two years, the 2012 elections could see a revival of Constitutional government and our founding principles. However, even though the Republican Party is the chief benefactor of the Tea Party movement, its leadership does not share in the enthusiasm shown by its rank and file membership.

The number one responsibility of political party leadership — both parties— is to expand its power base and retain its incumbent members in their jobs.  The Tea Party therefore, is viewed by the Republican Party establishment as a threat to its power. The movement is not yet fully understood by the governing class or by the Tea Party participants themselves.

The Tea Parties are the visible and vocal manifestations of a much larger patriot movement that has taken root since the election of Obama’s progressive Democrat government in 2008. The patriot movement is spontaneous and stems from a variety of individual motives making it virtually impossible to predict or control. The indications are that the Tea Parties are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Perhaps the best explanation of the patriot movement is the concept of “spontaneous order” used by economists to explain free market capitalism and naturalists to explain the workings of nature. Spontaneous order, as applied to human institutions, is described by Adam Ferguson as “the products of human actions but not human design”. It applies to the unplanned results of the decisions and actions of millions of human beings, each acting independently in their own self interest. The concept grew out of the Scottish Enlightenment and was developed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by Adam Smith, Carl Menger, Friedrich Hayek and others to explain the workings of free markets.

Since each individual makes decisions and takes independent actions in his or her own self interest, the result usually culminates in what is in the best interest of the society as a whole. That is, until an outside force attempts to control or manage it. That basically, is where the patriot movement is today. Like any other mass movement, its very nature makes those in power uncomfortable. ; Hence, the efforts to organize it into a manageable force. Enterprising entrepreneurs for a variety of reasons, some for the recognition, others seeing the potential for fame and fortune, still others from a genuine sense of patriotism seek to organize the tea parties into a national organization with themselves as the leaders.

Human nature being what it is; that will eventually happen. The unknown is just what kind of organization it will be. Will it emerge as an activist group, advocating for a constitutional government or will it become another political party? After the November elections we should have a clearer picture of the future of the patriot movement and its many parts, including the tea parties. Considering the propaganda aspects of the mass media it is difficult to know exactly how the movement is affecting the political makeup of America. However, the results in special elections and primaries over the past year clearly show that politics is changing.

There is a real possibility that President Obama and the progressive Democrats have pushed too far, too fast and just as the excesses of President John Adams, during the last four years of the eighteenth century destroyed the Federalist Party, the excesses of the Obama Administration may destroy the Democrat Party over the next two election cycles.  If that happens, a change similar to the one that took place between 1800 and 1830 could occur over the next twenty or thirty years. It is possible that by 2020 or 2024 the Democrat Party could be defunct leaving the Republican Party as the new minority party with the inheritors of the patriot movement organized into a new majority party.

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