The Libertarian Roots of the Tea Party

POLICY FORUM
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
4:00 PM (Reception To Follow)

Featuring David Kirby, Vice President, FreedomWorks, and Associate Policy Analyst, Cato Institute; and Emily Ekins, Director of Polling, Reason Foundation, and Research Fellow, Cato Institute; with comments by Jonathan Haidt, Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership, New York University; and Jonathan Rauch, Guest Scholar, Governance Studies, Brookings Institution; moderated by John Samples, Director, Center for Representative Government, Cato Institute.

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Many people identify the Tea Party with the religious right and social conservatism. A new study of public opinion suggests this common view is misguided. The Tea Party is united on economic issues, but split on the social issues it avoids. Roughly half the Tea Party is socially conservative, half is libertarian — or, fiscally conservative, but socially moderate to liberal. Understanding the Tea Party's strong libertarian roots helps explain how the Tea Party movement has become a functionally libertarian influence on the Republican Party. Even social conservatives and evangelicals within the Tea Party act like libertarians. The Tea Party is upending the conventional wisdom that Republican candidates must placate socially conservative voters to win primaries. These surprising findings are sure to generate controversy and debate. Please join us for provocative new look at one of the most important political movements of our time.

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