Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tea Party Urban Planning Pt II

 Planetizen got wind of the California Tea Party group actively "engaged" in land-use planning. A few posts ago, I criticized the group's approach, and used this criticism to demonstrate my critique that the Tea Party is really just a bunch of hypocrites using a warped version of libertarianism as cover for retention of a faltering status quo.

The Tea Party isn't really libertarian in nature. The California group demonstrates this to a T: their primary focus is in preserving the "entitlements" they've grown used to...a large house with a large lawn and a car for each parent, each of their 2.3 children, and possibly their pet(s) too. There's nothing wrong* with this as a lifestyle choice, but to the Tea Partiers, it has been warped into a God-given right that every red-white-and-blue-bleeding American needs to have. What if otherwise reasonable people, like you or I, don't want it? Well, tough balls.

But you see, there's the rub. That's not choice. And without choice, you can't have freedom. "Freedom Is Slavery" is really a right and proper motto for these Tea Partiers, for a "freedom" without choice is a false freedom--a slavery. And that segues into the ultimate irony: this position is the antithesis of the libertarian ideology. That's right: the Tea Party is to libertarianism as al-Qaeda is to Sunni Islam, or televangelism to mainstream Christianity. It's a warped, perverted, obnoxious fringe view so secure in the dogmatization of its entitlements that it can't see there's another way of doing things, and one that may well be better in the long run.

By contrast, libertarianism really is about choice. If these Tea Partiers really were at all libertarian, no matter what their opinions on the planning effort may be, there's one thing they should unconditionally support: road privatization. But they don't, and they won't, because doing so exposes many of the hidden costs of suburban living currently just subsidized away. They don't want a balanced playing field, or real choice, or freedom: they just want to put blinders on and have things stay the way they are.

But the world is changing around them, and that ain't gonna happen.
* Well, other than the insane social, sociological, psychological, cultural, and ecological costs, of course.

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