I debate and have wide-ranging discussions with friends and associates, of all political persuasions, about the tea party movement. The press almost universally has denigrated the entire movement. As someone who feels somewhat philosophically aligned with it, allow me to try to explain what, in my view, the “tea party” is really all about.

First of all, and for the most part, there’s no formal organization. Most of us haven’t signed up anywhere. We’re just American citizens who have decided, many for the first time, to get politically active. We are just tired of seeing politicians of all political parties spending money they don’t have with utter disregard for prudence and logic. We are sick and tired of ‘business as usual’ in Washington, empty rhetoric, no term limits and no accountability.

And our “members” want to change our government in Washington, mostly for the smaller and for the better. And we are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and independents.

We are about shrinking the size and omnipresent(ness) of government, managing once again the federal debt, opposing things like the government takeover of giant corporations including GM, Chrysler, AIG, Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, Citigroup, and Bank of America, and forcing the unfunded health care mandate on all US citizens.

We are about ending GovCo (taxpayer) funded ‘projects’ like TARP, failed stimulus bills, earmarks, and buying votes in the Senate. We are for energy independence — which should certainly include all manner of “green” opportunities – while also providing shorter term solutions like natural gas, nuclear, and clean coal. And we are about trying to keep more of our own hard earned money. Most of us think we can make better spending decisions than the government can.

Most of us are immigrants or children of immigrants and we believe deeply in legal immigration. Most of us also understand that frequently we need additional folks from other countries as “guest workers” and support those kinds of programs. But we firmly believe that we should do everything we can to prevent people from breaking our laws by sneaking across our borders.

I know that some who align themselves with us occasionally say things that everyone doesn’t agree with. You probably don’t agree with everything I’ve said here either. That’s fine too.

Mostly, we want the United States of America to once again be recognized as an exceptional nation, one that has given the lives of many of its young men and women and much of its treasure to keep the world free and prosper.

Whichever political party you belong to, aren’t these (or most of these) issue positions something that you agree with? If so, are you a Tea Party ‘member’ too?