Tea Party members object to what they see as excessive federal government intrusion in the lives of Americans. I had a pleasant conversation with a Tea Party member last evening at a local forum on immigration policy. There was no personal rancor although we publicly disagreed on immigration issues at the forum. My position is that we should reform immigration laws to allow hard working immigrants from Mexico and Central America to come here legally with a path to citizenship. We must pass the Dream Act and encourage the "immigrant drive" which has made our country great.
The Tea Party member's position is that we are a sovereign nation and illegal immigration threatens our national security. Logically, we should agree on a solution because neither of us wishes to see illegal immigration continue. However, my solution is legal reform which would allow undocumented people without criminal records to stay here with an earned legalization process. The gentleman advocated mass deportation followed by future employer sponsorship. We did not agree but we had a respectful dialogue which is missing at the national level with the talk show hosts and political candidates.
The Tea Party gentleman said he was a "constitutionalist" and believed that most governmental decisions need to be made at the state and local level not the federal level. He said he was having trouble receiving his veteran's benefits from the federal VA due to endless red tape. This is undoubtedly true and very frustrating for a man who bravely served his country overseas.
Nevertheless, I told this gentleman my view that we need a strong federal government to rein in the bad behavior of powerful corporations which break our laws. A good example of this need is the recent egg recall from disgusting factory farms in Iowa. Where was the Iowa Department of Health? It was missing in action.
To date, the FDA has not had the legal authority and funding to properly supervise food production to assure its safety. Of course, if the soon to be indicted owners of the egg factories acted ethically and raised hens in humane and sanitary conditions, this recall would never have occurred. But the majority of Americans demand cheap food no matter how the animals and poultry (and farm workers) are treated. The majority of Americans consume far too many calories - hence our national obesity problem. Shameful while at the same time, 35 million Americans cannot afford or access nutritious foods.
The Tea Party has no solutions to deal with powerful business people who break the law. The Tea Party should serve eggs at their meetings. If they all get sick from salmonella, they should not complain because with their philosophy, the federal government is not needed to police the law breakers in our business community.
Getting back to immigration policy and states' rights - what if California had told the families fleeing Oklahoma and Kansas during the Dust Bowl that they could not enter California? These people would have been left to starve if California had asserted its "states rights" and refused to take in the hungry refugees from the Great Plains.