CODEPINK and Tea Party: A Love-Hate Affair?

Posted by CODEPINK Staff




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Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said that “taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.” He probably did not take into account the unnecessary war tax that is more of a threat to “civilized society.”

Over the past week, Medea Benjamin’s piece on extending an olive branch to the Tea Party went up on several mainsteam blogs including the Huffington Post, FiredogLake, DailyKos and Alternet, creating and buzz and drawing a wide spectrum of responses. Ron Paul supporters were especially thrilled and want to take us up on our cause and RonPaul gave a stirring speech in Washington DC for ending the federal reserve system.

For Tax Day, CODEPINK activists attended tea party rallies in various parts of the country to survey the right-wing activists on their military spending views. After all, if tea partiers are displaying so much rage over the national debt and paying taxes, they must certainly oppose the massively bloated Pentagon budget and the various wars that the United States is waging without due cause.

Reports are trickling in that the conversation was actually civil between the two groups, with CODEPINK relatively more surprised and also more organized. That certainly beats the confrontational health care protests from last month. CODEPINK did interviews with over 50 participants in the Tea Party rally, getting their input about the cost of war and empire. We will soon be releasing the results of that survey.

Some have even ventured to say that the Tea Party is just a right-wing version of CODEPINK and accused both camps of racism. CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin had a response to that in a Washington Post piece:
“We never curse. Never. We don’t do that. We’re totally non-violent. We never say anything racist.” Benjamin avoided the pushing and shouting matches that have marked some of her videotaped confrontations with Republicans. Tea partyers, she said, were a different breed. “Sometimes when I talk to them I find out that they’re scarier than I ever thought. Sometimes I find that they are really nice people who think differently than me.”

But people on the left were not all too happy with this new CODEPINK tactic, especially the self-proclaimed Marxists:
You don’t START with the misguided ones who wander into the Tea Party. You start by expanding the ranks of newly-radicalizing workers and others, and create a bigger, broader pole of attraction, which minimizes the attractiveness of the Tea Party. But even that last minimization is way down on the list of priorities.

In contrast, Code Pink — and Kevin Zeese and Paul Buhle etc. etc. — START by sucking up to the Tea Party (and 9/11 truth maniacs) as organizations. This means giving them a pass on their antiworker, misogynist and racist policies. And it means wasting precious time needed to prepare to defend ourselves against the fascist physical attacks of the Tea Party

But Kevin Gosztola counters this assertion with his post on Oped News:
The Tea Party is growing in power and to just tell people that the Tea Party should be opposed because we liberals, progressives or leftists have better stances or a better platform on the issues that is much better for the people of this nation will do little to build the coalition of people needed to take on the structures which we are hoping to radically reshape or reform.

Waging Non-Violence also gave a nod of approval but the most surprising feedback came from a Fox News article:
Tea Partiers should remember that great Republican Dwight Eisenhower who said “Beware the military industrial complex.” President Eisenhower had it right. Maybe CODEPINK and the Tea Party people can reach a consensus on this overboard spending. Now that would be something to party for.

A quick Twitter survey of the best and worst from yesterday:

  • Best subject line for an email alert: Pay your taxes! War is not free. (@DexterousMonk)

  • Not the best subject line for an email alert: “Have you paid your taxes? How much have you paid for the war today?” (@AlexCox)

  • For the youth: Get our young people out of the war. I don’t pay my taxes to bring them home in boxes. (@MikaOslo)

  • Best response to TCOT: Beck says those who pay no taxes should be forced to serve in the military. How about those who forced the Iraq war on us serve? (@frizz)

  • Mind-boggling: The IRS employees tax manual has instructions for collecting taxes after a nuclear war. (@DevinJamesDean) Good luck with getting money from coackroaches.

  • Best Palin Joke: If Sarah Palin was the President, I know I’d be paying less in taxes today. But, she would be using those taxes to fund the War on Narnia. (@tomshane1)


Over 300 supporters decided to use our e-card to engage their conservative family members on the issue of war and taxes. We would love to hear feedback on what conversations took place and whether it changed any minds.

Some additional great reading:

Photo Credit: The Investigative Voice

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