The last good tea party I recall was the Native American themed get-together in a harbor in Boston, and that was over 200 years ago. From what I understand the British were a bit offended—probably because the Boston Harbor was cold, and they prefer their tea hot, but that day helped spark a democratic experiment that we all enjoy today.
Now, another tea party is starting up, and whether you like its politics or not, it should be good for democracy.
A third party with enough support to elect officials can change the dynamic of politics in more ways than one. First, a viable third party can restrain the "us versus them" politics. Our two party system supports only two positions on issues. The problem is, there are few issues with only two sides in a country as large and diverse as ours.
Instead of searching for solutions to our country’s problems, we are stuck listening to politicians point fingers and pass blame. With multiple parties, no one could go it alone. Passing laws would require parties to work together and allow politics to move back to finding what we have in common—instead of fighting about what we don’t.
The Tea Party can also open up our dialogue about our electoral system. The system we use now selects one member from each district. That means if you didn’t vote for the winning candidate, your vote has no effect on the election. But this does not have to be the case. If we use proportional representation, Nebraska voters could vote for their three preferred candidates. Instead of winner take all, the top three vote-getters would have a seat in Congress—allowing large majorities to be represented in the legislature. Tea Partiers, Libertarians or the Green Party are just a few groups who might benefit.
The real benefit though, is for the voters. Instead of feeling left out of the conversation, this system can give you a voice and a choice outside the two major parties. If you feel like politics aren’t offering you enough this is something to consider. But remember, nothing can change if we don’t get involved.