The Tea Party would have you believe that they are libertarian. The gospel of Bachmann and Cain sounds like it, and fiscally the two are incredibly similar. Libertarians have long favored small government and limited spending. The Tea Party is primarily a reactive movement to the ballooning national debt, but it is more than that.
There is another aspect to the Tea Party, one that has been part of conservatism for decades. The Tea Party is a movement of morals. Which ordinarily wouldn’t be a bad thing, but they want to enforce these morals on others who might not share them. Rick Perry said, and quite appropriately, that he wants to make Washington DC as small a part of our daily lives as possible. But, he, and most other Republican candidates, favor the banning of gay marriage, even if it means amending the constitution.
Now, I am a Christian, and as such I believe that God intended marriage to be between a man and a woman. That being said, I also think that government shouldn’t be the facilitator of morals. The government attempting this is dangerous in two ways.
First, the government cannot fix people. If the federal government bans gay marriage, that doesn’t fix the problem. A law cannot change people’s hearts, that’s not the way God designed laws to function. Only he can change hearts. No amount of government interference will do that.
Second, a cornerstone of libertarian philosophy is that everyone has civil liberties that the government shouldn’t interfere with. Everyone, conservative Christians included, believe that their own civil liberties shouldn’t be interfered with. It’s the First Amendment. Everyone gets to say what they want and believe what they want. This is America; we have freedom of religion and speech. But the Tea Party only believes in these liberties so far as they agree with them. They want the right to their own beliefs, but don’t want those who disagree with them to have civil liberties.
The Tea Party also has built a significant amount of their success on anti-Muslim sensationalism. The birther movement illustrates this well. They have tried, successfully, to paint Obama as a foreign Muslim. They raised significant stink about building a mosque near the World Trade Center.
The Tea Party wants to deny equal rights to gays and Muslims. That isn’t libertarian. That’s dangerous.