Commentary: Tea Party attracts profit-seekers and politicians

No matter the cause, politics is a mix of believers, opportunists and entrepreneurs. The tea party is no different.

Claire Magid, a believer, is a retiree who organized a recent tea party gathering that attracted 200 people to the Lincoln Public Library. To cover costs, she placed an empty HyTop coffee can with a slit in its plastic lid on a folding table in the auditorium.

"Donations would be appreciated," read the note taped to the side of the can. By the end of the night, she had raised $60, well short of the $230.53 cost of renting the room and paying for insurance.

Magid supports "anyone who is a constitutionalist. That's what we're all about — the Constitution." Of course, the best minds of our day differ in constitutional interpretations.

She points to Rep. Ron Paul as a true constitutionalist and supported his 2008 presidential bid. The Texas Republican-libertarian is an isolationist in foreign affairs who seeks to abolish the Federal Reserve and return to the gold standard.

Exactly what the partiers stand for depends on your view. Here are the basics: They oppose big government and taxes, and fret about the economy. The movement also attracts birthers and people who advocate sealing America's borders.

California tea partiers want to place an initiative on the November ballot to restrict the ability of unions to spend on political campaigns – an idea that voters have rejected twice, most recently in 2005.

Magid hopes for a part-time Legislature, is "sick of taxes" is proud that there is a "strong Christian" element among her tea party friends and hopes to maintain tea party independence.

"There will be people out there trying to claim the tea party movement as their own," Magid said. "We're not a party, and we don't endorse. We find candidates we like, and we work for them."

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