Leland Jenson recently wrote a letter insulting his political opponents and spewing leftist buzzwords. He jumps all over the place trying to connect unrelated topics from completely different political camps. For example, he said, “Our national democratic institutions are being undermined by ‘Tea Party’ extremists (Vanilla Isis),” trying to lump the Tea Party movement in with the January 6th capital riot. To understand how stupid this is, one must first understand what the Tea Party movement was.

Despite what the media would have you believe, Republicans and Libertarians don’t actually get along very well. The Tea Party movement was an attempt to form a coalition between Libertarians and Republicans to focus on one single issue: government spending. The movement did manage to get a few hardline fiscal hawks elected to Congress, but it failed to give Ron Paul (now retired) the presidency.

For those who don’t know, Ron Paul can be thought of as the libertarian version of Bernie Sanders. His son, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is one of the last remaining remnants of the Tea Party. The movement that got Trump elected in 2016 was completely different and unrelated. That movement was all about national populism, not government spending.

The Tea Party movement was very short lived and it functionally died after the 2012 election. The modern Republican party today arguably does not care about the national debt and how much of the annual budget goes to simply paying interest.

Secondly, I’m at a loss for words at Jenson calling the tea party “vanilla isis.” ISIS is a theocratic movement whose goal is to create a Sunni Islamic state. The Shia muslims were treated just as badly as non-muslims, sometimes worse; they could either convert or be killed. The Sunni muslims under ISIS control were forced to follow the strictest Islamic protocols (sharia law), such as men not shaving their beards and women being forced to cover themselves; that’s putting it lightly. Failure to comply could result in barbaric thousand-year-old styles of executions such as crucifixions and stoning, including women and children.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

Jenson is concerned about bigotry, misogyny and equality or whatever. When the Tea Party was active, the gay marriage debate was in full swing; the Supreme Court did not settle that discussion until 2015, long after the Tea Party ended. Libertarians are generally supportive of gay marriage, Republicans were not. The coalition required them to put their differences aside. Similarly, Libertarians are generally far less religious than Republicans; even the ones that are religious aren’t authoritarian about it. You wouldn’t find the Tea Party pushing for prayer in schools or the Ten Commandments in front of courthouses. Comparing the Tea Party to ISIS doesn’t even make sense, not even as a vanilla version. The Tea Party was less theocratic than Republicans in general at the time.

In conclusion, Jenson doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The Tea Party was not conservative republican extremism.

P. S. “Trickle-down economics” is not a real thing. The only time you hear those words are when Democrats are attacking a strawman. You won’t find academic proponents of it.

William Smith lives in Fargo.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.