Come November, many Tea Party-backed candidates will most likely be elected to congress. Of those candidates, 100 percent are Republicans. Their main platform tenants surround smaller government, fewer taxes and more fiscal responsibility—in short, no more freebies. However, there is an inherent hypocrisy that needs to be exposed. The Tea Party candidates, like Joe Miller of Alaska, intend to cut what they term “entitlement programs,” ridding the U.S. of any semblance of a welfare state. What I want to know is, how does one define an entitlement? Exactly what qualifies as welfare? Take Mr. Miller of Alaska for example. Does the fact that he received $7,000 in farm subsidies, a low-income hunting and fishing license, while his wife collected unemployment qualify as welfare?
The truth is that we all benefit from the welfare state at some point in our life. Whether it’s the collection of emergency aid, Medicare, Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit or collecting spousal benefits as a military widow, all of us are on welfare! Let’s be honest, when it comes to the Tea Party, all one needs to know is that once again we have a group of citizens who have imagined themselves to be an oppressed minority, falsely believing that the benefits they receive are the only ones rightly deserved. I, for one, am not buying this distinction, and neither should anyone else.
Duke Divinity School ’12