Over at Patheos.com blogger Timothy Dalrymple asks an insightful question: “Is the Tea Party a Social Justice Movement?” http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Is-the-Tea-Party-a-Social-Justice-Movement.html
If any of us had asked this question to the liberal cognoscenti that rule just about every institution in Pasadena, including so-called conservative churches, they would have been faced with a shocked and repulsed reception. Don’t expect the Pasadena League of Women Voters to call the Pasadena Patriots a social justice group. Just ask Pasadena Star News Public Editor and political gatekeeper Larry Wilson this question and he will likely tell you that putting the Tea Party “wingnuts” on the same status as “affordable housing” “gay marriage,” or “homeless” advocacy is totally ridiculous.
The reason this question evokes such a negative knee-jerk response is that for many Progressives, both secular and religious, “social justice” has supplanted the traditional transcendent God that is now considered passé. For them, like Marx, social justice is the final phase of social “progress,” the only transcendent act that remains sacred and which gives their life meaning. God is of their own making, not something or someone truly transcendent who is “no respecter” of “Progressives” or “Patriots.”
Social justice is holy and sets Progressives apart from the greedy business class, the Valley Hunt Clubbers, or the Annandale Golf Clubbers. But you won’t find many such elites at a meeting of the Pasadena Patriots at the Romanesque Room in the Green Hotel in Pasadena. You will find housewives, retired police and military, “Evangelicals,” small businesspersons and even some ex-government types at a Tea Party Rally (surprise – no Nazi or extremist roots!).
To even suggest that the Tea Party movement is involved in “social justice” is to spoil the Progressives arrogant sense of moral superiority and to put them on the same level with “trailer trash.” How dare they suggest that Progressives don’t have a monopoly on social justice! What the audacious Tea Partiers do is threaten the notion that those who serve “the poor, the children, the homeless” are not necessarily superior to those who want to best serve the poor and everyone else by what is best for all of our society.
What the Tea Partiers want to pursue is what is best for the interests of all irrespective of class, rank, and even party. Go to their meetings and you will earn that they welcome “Progressives” and Democrats to their meetings along with snobby Rhino Republicans as long as they embrace their agenda of not bankrupting the country in the name of “Progress” or even “prosperity.” And go to a Pasadena Patriot meeting and you will find that women are the backbone of the movement.
What the Pasadena establishment believes, whether at a Democratic Party meeting, Pasadena Educational Foundation house meeting, or a Fuller Seminary class on urban ministry, is that “social justice” is best served by some special interest: the homeless, the disadvantaged student, the housing poor, etc. The Tea Party is concerned about a nation that is effectively broke and will not be able to afford a “public option” for health care let alone Social Security.
Barack Obama says “you’ve had your chance” now it is time to “spread the wealth around” via sub-prime loans arranged by ACORN. However, as my prosecutor friend points out “justice” is blind. But “social justice” is anything but blind as it singles out those who are favored for justice as some sort of victim.
To the contrary, the Tea Party is skeptical of the unintended consequences of social engineering that ends up ruining the entire economy. And the Tea Partiers have little sense of moral one-upmanship in their cause, no poverty grant or government job to benefit from, do not seek the cover of the “poor” to legitimate their interests, but have a sense of duty without personal economic payoff.
As Timothy Dalrymple writes:
What I witnessed in the Tea Partiers, however, were a moral, sensible, and patriotic people who had a justified concern that their representatives have grown disconnected from those they represent, and are perpetuating a dysfunctional political culture that will thrust our country back to the precipice of economic collapse. Washington cannot pour rivers of money we do not possess into thousands of programs we do not need, in exchange for the mountains of votes that will keep them in power, and complain when the taxpayers get upset. The Tea Partiers are not objecting because they would rather leave the poor to rot than surrender a little more of their money; polls show (as I will discuss in the next part of this series) that Tea Partiers are perfectly willing to accept the need for moderate taxation and social services. Rather, Tea Partiers are objecting because they fear that Washington is caught in a vicious circle of reckless spending and political payback that will cripple our economy and harm all Americans, rich and poor.
Every social movement can be infiltrated, co-opted by either Democrats or Republicans or can evolve into the opposite of what its original mission was. But a case can be made that the Tea Party is a social justice movement in the best sense of the term. Who knew the Pasadena Patriots are a “social justice” movement in Pasadena?