WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Bill Knight - April 29

Macomb, IL – If what passes for news on cable TV and talk radio covered "third party" politics, President Ron Paul's coalition government would be moving Constitutional lawyer Barack Obama from his Senate seat to the Supreme Court and Patrick Buchanan would be heading a commission investigating U.S. corporations who move operations overseas and hire undocumented immigrants when Americans are jobless - all after two successful terms by President Ralph Nader. Alas.

Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, ad nauseam are more combative and partisan than Main Street Republicans, openly promoting the most extreme elements of the Tea Party. MSNBC, Stephanie Miller and others are more timid than typical Democrats, often refraining from criticizing Obama or even acknowledging the Green Party.

So maybe it's time for a common-sense, common-ground coalition: the "Green Tea" party.

After all, distrust of government at any level is not unhealthy. More importantly, the three most common "core values" expressed by Tea Party activists are fiscal responsibility, limited government and free markets - pretty sensible goals that have nothing to do with race, "birthers," or Oklahoma City-style uprisings. Further, half of the Greens' "10 key values" fit comfortably with the Tea Party (3 others maybe; 2 doubtful).

The five points of agreement are a Decentralization of government, Community-based economics, Ecological wisdom (which should be expressed as "conservationism"), Personal and global responsibility, and Grassroots democracy.

Three other Green Party points might be accepted: Nonviolence (although smart Tea Party-ers ought to publicly make this clearer), Future focus (we all care about tomorrow and our kids' lives ahead), and Feminism (would they tell Sarah Palin she shouldn't be paid the same as a man working the same job?).

Disagreement is likely in two Green Party points: Social justice and Respect for diversity. Both depend on who's defining the concepts. Social justice might range from the right to an attorney to limiting help to the aged and poor. Respect for diversity might run from including a mandate for vegan choices at school lunches to excluding Evangelical Lutherans as too liberal.

Still, the notion of working with others not dismissed as "Others" - enemies, aliens, and so on - is being discussed elsewhere. For instance, the current issue of The American Conservative magazine has progressive and conservative voices writing about joining forces to work for peace; some of their thoughts are more widely relevant: William S. Lind, co-author of "The Next Conservatism," writes, "Left nor Right has anything to lose by exploring a coalition because alone neither is having an impact."

Justin Raimondo, editorial director of Antiwar.com, adds, "The brewing populist revolt against our corrupt, hapless elites can be turned against the War Party quite easily. A recent Pew poll showed that Americans would prefer a foreign policy described as minding our own business.' The same poll shows our elites have quite the opposite opinion."

Thomas E. Woods Jr., author of "Nullification: How To Resist Federal Tyranny in The 21st Century" and eight other books, writes, "The most dangerous extremists in our society are to be found in that continuum from Mitt Romney to Hillary Clinton that we grotesquely describe as the mainstream.' It thinks nothing of lying to the American public."

And Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos, adds, "The problem is simple: Republicans are too eager to demagogue and Democrats are too quick to cave. Fear pervades both parties - the former is afraid of scary brown people, the latter afraid of electoral losses."

On all levels, there's a disconnect between Main Street and Wall Street, unhappiness with bailed-out banksters and large corporations, and the corrupting influence of money in politics, according to studies by groups such as the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. That's logical, too. Over the last decade, the financial sector has spent more than $4 billion to lobby Washington - more than any industry - and some 1,400 bank lobbyists scurry about Capitol Hill. Further, the financial sector spent $476 million in campaign contributions in 2008 - almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. That's more than seven times what Big Finance sent candidates in 1990, according to Federal Election Commission data compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Of course, for a "Green Tea" party to be brewed, participants must work together on ideas they share and ignore areas of disagreement, be confident that one's principles will endure different views, and to show mutual respect. Alas.