In the small rural town of Sabattus, a suburb of Lewiston Maine, the head of the regions Permaculture and Transition Town glances through his 30 members and notes that two members belong to the Tea Party! "Why?" he wonders to himself. What would attract the Tea Party to join this green sustainability group? After all, Transition Town grew out of a movement that realized the need to change lifestyles due to upcoming peak oil scenarios. Transition Town proponents also realized the need to develop strong localized economies and food systems that operate independent of large corporations and government.
What this Transition Town leader didn't realize was that the primary beef of the Tea Party embraced the general message of Transition Town. Both are against large government and some Tea Party enthusiasts realize the need to transcend the need for large industry. It is precisely this point that would attract Tea Party supporters into the Transition Town and Permaculture movements. They unite in their philosophy of strong local rule in community and the empowerment of individuals and families.
The Tea Party takes its name and its philosophy from the infamous Tea Party of the 1700's, which launched the American Revolution. Wikipedia describes this tea party as: "A direct action by colonists in Boston against the British governments and the monopolistic East India Company that controlled all the tea coming into the colonies."
The colonists, like the Tea Party, were reacting to strong government rule on behalf of big business to the detriment of local rule. Local rule and economy is also the reason green groups such as Transition Town and Permaculture exist.
Come 2011, instead of the East India Tea Company, we have megalithic pharmaceuticals, oil companies, corrections facilities and so on. Just as the British controlled and suppressed free enterprise in the States for the sake of the tea company, the government, at the beckoning of large businesses and banks, is suppressing free commerce at the local level. For example, the megalithic genetic engineering corporation known as Monsanto is involved in various actions to destroy small local farms that grow foods in a sustainable fashion in order to increase sales of their genetically modified crops. These same corporations have high seats in the government. Indeed, in the Obama administration former Monsanto lobbyist Michael Taylor was appointed to senior advisor for FDA's commissioner for food safety.
Just as the British controlled and suppressed free enterprise in the States for the sake of a tea company, the U.S. government, at the beckoning of large business and banks, is suppressing free commerce at the local level. It is precisely this rule that many members of the modern day Tea Party are relating to. It is in this localization of goods and services that exist at the heart of Transition Towns arising in response to the dangers of peak oil and environmental degradation. For those Tea Party members in the Lewiston/Auburn Transition Town, it is this idea of local rule that attracted them.
Perhaps this is the front on which liberal and conservative can join hands? Localization allows for more power in the community which would also lessen the effects of unemployment. In more localized economies, everyone's labor would be necessary to help the community prosper. This in turn would lessen dependence of oil which would lessen our dependence upon foreign trade while also helping to maintain a healthy ecosystem. If enough healthy ecosystems take hold due to this movement, then Earth should begin to re-balance herself. Perhaps we can realize the bumper sticker popular in some areas of the East Coast that reads, "Act Local, Think Global."
Unfortunately, the enthusiasm and anger of Tea Party enthusiasts was manipulated by Republicans such as Dick Cheney and Karl Rove to bring them into the Republican Party. This allowed big business supporters such as Maine's governor, Paul LePage, to be elected. This particular governor was elected with funds from large pharmaceuticals such as Astrazeneca and the Corrections Corporation of America. Thus, he is not beholden to the people in Maine, but to the large corporations that have funded him. This includes industries that are abusive towards local environments such as the Maine North Woods.
As LePage exemplifies, we live in more of a feudal society with Corporations controlling Government. Unfortunately, this trend is not seen by many of the common Tea Party members. For example, in the case of migrant workers, it is more often that workers are attacked rather than the management hiring them at low wages. So, what if our local economies began to flourish by allowing those who love to sew in our communities to sustainably make our clothes? Is this a place Tea and Green can merge and we can regain our power in a world that is inhabitable for our children?