Latest Tea Party Action Targets Planning, Sustainability and the Greater Good

Well, it seems like those tea party folks are at it again, proudly displaying their unique, mind-bending brand of self-centered absurdity, which, when mixed with a healthy dose of righteous indignation might just rouse their somnambulistic followers to take action at the polls. This is why, in an era when narcissistic dimwits like Sarah (ah the sweet smell of exhaust fumes) Palin are being seriously considered as US presidential candidates, it behooves us to take heed and to speak out to those in this country who can still reason.

The latest outing of theirs to make headlines was not somewhere in the Midwest or the Deep South, but rather in San Francisco, where they were a loud and highly vocal presence at a meeting for the Bay Area’s Sustainable Community Strategy, something they are highly opposed to.

In a nutshell, the Sustainable Community Strategy, is a statewide initiative that came about as the result of SB375 with the objective of “accommodate projected regional growth while decreasing congestion, curbing air pollution, and preserving rural land.”

This, of course, requires not only planning, but a willingness to consider the impact of individual actions on the broader community as well as the environment. These are apparently not the kind of things that tea party activists feel any obligation to do. In fact, they seem to see them as a direct threat to their interpretation of the American Dream.

In a video produced by the East Bay Tea Party, complete with 2001 The Space Odyssey theme music, they called the Sustainable Community Strategy, along with Agenda 21, Sustainable Development, Smart Growth, Social Justice, Green Energy, Carbon Free Livable Communities, and One Global Vision as little more than attempts by the megalomaniacal folks at the United Nations (last time I checked the US was still on the Security Council) to “strip you of your freedom, your prosperity, your privacy, your property rights, your choice of transportation, your peace of mind, and your American Dream.”

The video highlights words and phrases like “planning” and “for the greater good” as evils to be vigrously rooted out.

Who knew?

But this is not really new. Back in the fall, I wrote a piece about the Tea Party’s opposition to sustainable development. Most of the examples I cited then came from the South and in rural areas. But the fact that not only is this still going on, but it’s popping up in places like San Francisco is pretty remarkable.

It does boggle the mind. How can someone actually be against sustainability, which is all about preserving our planet and our society for those who come after us so that they can enjoy a quality of life comparable to or hopefully better than ours? These are, after all our children and their children that we are talking about.

Basically, they are saying they don’t want dense development in San Francisco. They’d like things to stay as they are. But the fact is, more people are coming, lots more people. And if we don’t have dense development, then we’re going to have more sprawl. And as much as we might like our suburbs and our lawns, we know that sprawl is a very energy-intensive lifestyle. So how much are we willing to give up for it? Our wild areas? Our clean air? Our climate?

Hard choices need to be made, grown-up choices. The folks behind the Sustainable Community Strategy are to be commended for tackling these issues pro-actively, and keeping the interests of the greater good, not the biggest whiners or the most wealthy, in mind while doing so. This is how real democracy works, the kind that sticks around for a while, the sustainable kind.

As it turned out, the tea party efforts were in vain. According to the Bay Citizen, “Even with the group of vocal critics, when the audience voted on priorities for the Bay Area, the top five were: daily needs close to home, clean air, convenient access to jobs, water conservation and lower carbon emissions. ‘Large homes with big yards’ was near the bottom.”

I have written elsewhere about these Tea Partiers and compared them to Americans in other historical periods. If they insist on referring back to the pre-revolutionary period, I would suggest that they are far more like the Tories of that period, than the Boston patriots.  It was the Tories, after all, who, much like this group, supported, worked in concert with and were funded by the ultra-rich elite, who, in the eighteenth century were represented by the Crown. Those were the people that the real tea party patriots were rebelling against and today are more likely found in corporate boardrooms or on Wall St. than in Buckingham Palace. They are also the ones who have connived their way out of paying taxes causing the rest of us to pay more or suffer the consequences. And these are the people the Tea Partiers are supporting whether they realize it or not.

Mostly though, these folks and the candidates they have elected remind me of high school kids who run for student council on a “no more homework” platform. Sure that’s a popular idea, just like no taxes is, but now that they are in office, they need to deal with the reality of plummeting test scores.

Let’s not bring back the “Me Generation” just now. I’m pretty sure that’s not what we need.


RP Siegel is the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water.  Like airplanes, we all leave behind a vapor trail. And though we can easily see others’, we rarely see our own.

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RP Siegel

RP Siegel, author and inventor, shines a powerful light on numerous environmental and technological topics. His work has appeared in Triple Pundit, GreenBiz, Justmeans, CSRWire, Sustainable Brands, PolicyInnovations, Social Earth, 3BL Media, ThomasNet, Huffington Post, Strategy+Business, Mechanical Engineering, and among others . He is the co-author, with Roger Saillant, of Vapor Trails, an adventure novel that shows climate change from a human perspective. RP is a professional engineer - a prolific inventor with 52 patents and President of Rain Mountain LLC a an independent product development group. RP recently returned from Abu Dhabi where he traveled as the winner of the 2015 Sustainability Week blogging competition.Contact: