The Tea Party, Leadership and Consequences

In Chapter Seven of the Lewis Carroll book,  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice invites herself to a tea party made up of the Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse. Even though the three sit at a large table, all huddled in one corner, they tell Alice “No room! No room!” (perhaps they thought she was an undocumented worker).

The Mad Tea-Party chapter is delightful literature filled with word play and twisted logic. Not only is logic twisted, so are time and space. For the Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse, it’s always tea time. They are stuck in a place where time doesn’t move and the only movement permitted is movement around the large table to another setting of cups and saucers.

Alice asks the three: “But what happens when you come to the beginning again?” She receives this answer from the March Hare: “I’m getting tired of this, I vote the young lady tells us a story.” The March Hare refuses to deal with the consequences of moving round the table and doesn’t even want to talk about it. It’s quite a dreadful fate: the three move round the table using cups and saucers that get dirtier and dirtier the more they’re used. “Yes, that’s it, said the Hatter with a sigh: it’s always tea-time, and we’ve no time to wash the things between whiles.”

Tales of another Tea Party fill the news in America just now, the Tea Party Movement which started in 2009. This Tea Party is build around principles such as limited federal government, individual freedoms, personal responsibility, free markets and the return of political power to the states and the people. These are worthy principles, rich in value.

The dictionary on my computer suggests that a principle is a foundation for a chain of reasoning. Solid principles help our thinking and our behavior to make sense. Principles are not actions, however. They are basis for our actions. The principle of limited federal government is a principle from which one could derive the action of “no tax increases.” But “no tax increases” is not a principle. “No tax increases” is merely one means of limiting federal government. To insist that it is the only way, a way which may never be violated, is illogical. And to build a party around no taxation is, I believe, madness.

For a leader to insist that his/her principles and means of achieving them is the only permissible course of action is both narrow-minded and arrogant. The consequences of such an attitude are:

  • shutdown of dialogue and communication with anyone who disagrees
  • failure to explore alternatives that may prove more beneficial than the current state of affairs
  • development of an “We’re right, they’re wrong” attitude towards others.

Alice got fed up with the rudeness of The Hatter, The March Hare and The Dormouse. “…she got up in great disgust, and walked off….” As leaders, we need to decide whether we maintain, oppose or walkaway from the madness of our time. Whichever choice we make, we must consider the consequences.


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One Comment

  1. Dennis Perrin says:

    Thinking leaders need to suggest constructive alternatives to the madness of our time. This would not be maintenance, opposition, or walking away. It will be a contribution of ideas. The more we contribute constructive ideas, the more the leaders of madkind will be forced to reconsider their intransigence.

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