Do We Need a Green Tea Party?

by Jonathan Mariano

The Tea Party is a growing force. Some say it is a grassroots movement, others say it is a front for the GOP. However, regardless of political affiliations, the core platform of the Tea Party attracts folks of various persuasions, namely conservative and libertarian, who believe in constitutionally limited government, fiscal responsibility, and free markets. There is nothing inherently wrong with the core platform of the Tea Party, yet as the movement has grown, its core message of freedom has been lost amongst the banter and misrepresentations. The opposition of the Tea Party are of the liberal, progressive, Green, and Democrat ilk. Strangely enough, political division still falls within traditional boundaries.

But, what about folks like me, whose politics transcends traditional party lines and left-right distinctions? Folks whose thoughts do not fit neatly within the bounds of being a so-called a conservative or liberal. Folks that believe in a constitutionally limited federal government, yet have a passion for sustainability. Enter the GreenTea Party: fiscally conservative, socially liberal, and ecologically conscious.

What does GreenTea mean by fiscally conservative? I take my cues for fiscal conservatism from sustainability. If sustainability is defined by providing for the needs of the present without hindering the future to meet their own needs, being fiscally conservative fits in perfectly. We need to have a balanced federal budget, in other words, no deficit spending. The burden of fiscal debt cannot be handed off to the next generation. At this moment, we have a debt of over $13 trillion bestowed upon us by previous generations. We can stop this cycle of shackling the future.

Likewise, we need to cut back or ideally eliminate subsidies towards corporations. This elimination includes bailouts. If a corporation cannot stand on its own two feet, it should not stand at all. We can’t burden the taxpayer with the bad decisions of a corporation. Just like we need to conserve our natural resources, we need to conserve our financial resources. I think these fiscal points, balanced budget, no subsidies and bailouts, would be acceptable to both a Tea Party individual and a GreenTea person alike.

What does GreenTea mean by socially liberal? People ought to be at liberty to do as they wish, granted that their individual actions do not infringe on other persons liberty. The right to liberty is not granted by the Constitution, but is inscribed within this document based on Natural Law, in attempts to thwart infringement from the Federal Government. A timely example is the same-sex marriage debacle. It makes no sense to have one set of the population privy to the legal recognition of marriage, while another is not. To take it one step further, the government under the Constitution has no right to legislate who you can or can’t marry, let alone who you can and can’t love.

Another example is marijuana. Many States have legalized its use, yet the federal government says it is illegal. While I may have my personal opinion on using it (or lack of usage thereof), it’s up to the individual to decide what they put inside their body, not the government. We need to get back to the basics of the Constitution, which was written to restrain the government from infringing the liberties of the people, rather than how it stands today, restraining the liberties of the people from the infringing government.

What does GreenTea mean by ecologically conscious? Earth is a system. In this system, resources are scarce. Similar to how we have to be careful to spend only what we have, and not a penny more, as individuals and as a people, we have to use scarce resources wisely. And in the use of one’s resources, we cannot forcefully infringe on the resources of another individual. This includes forceful pollution and contamination of the ecosystem. Take for example BP. The BP oil spill caused damaged not only to the ecosystem, but to the livelihood of fisherman who relied on that ecosystem. With the spill, BP forcefully infringed on the resources of the fisherman. Hundreds of millions was lost, yet BP is only liable for up to $75 million. If one forcefully infringes upon the ecological resources of another, repercussions must be proportional.

Whether one is any blend of fiscally conservative, socially liberal, or ecologically conscious, I hope the ideas of the GreenTea Party can help cultivate a fruitful discussion amongst folks from the spectrum of left/right, up/down, forward/backward. A dialogue where we truly listen and engage each other as stakeholders, rather than adhere to the triviality of stereotypes. We may find that we have more in common than we once had thought.

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Jonathan Mariano is an MBA candidate with the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, CA. His interests include the convergence between lean & green and pursuing free-market based sustainable solutions.

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