The Final Tea Party Frontier

A new Tea Party group in Florida is boldly going where no Tea Parties have gone before – space.

Tea Party in Space, an offshoot of the South Florida Tea Party, is, of all things, pushing to end the government’s supposed monopoly on space exploration.

“Our goal is nothing less than the expansion of American civilization into the solar system,” says the group’s platform. “We must return to traditional American free-market principles to expand permanently into space.”

Tea Party in Space is complaining that, as its founder Andrew Gasser said, “NASA is being forced to fund programs that are behind schedule and ridiculously over budget.” But that’s not all. Gasser sees a great ideological principle here: “It is socialism when you have the government coming down and saying, 'this is what we want to build, and this is how we want you to build it.’”

According to Tea Party in Space logic, the Erie Canal, Hoover Dam, our national highway system, and Mount Rushmore are all just examples of unnecessary government socialism.

Of course, Tea Party in Space has a rock-solid standard bearer, proudly noted in its “Core Values”: “I am a child of Ronald Regan [sic], Ronaldus Magnus. ”

Houston, we have a problem.

As NASA recounted in its statement in honor of Reagan’s death in 2004, “President Reagan spoke … about how the shuttles were the modern day equivalent of the Yankee Clipper ships that opened new horizons for our young nation.” In his 1984 State of the Union Address, the statement continues, Reagan “announced plans for a permanent human presence in space with the construction of a space station, and he tasked NASA to including the international community to be part of a project designed for the benefit of everyone on Earth.”

It seems the Gipper – or President Magnus, if you prefer – wasn’t exactly opposed to a little government socialism now and again when it came to space exploration.

But Tea Party in Space does not consider itself wholly unreasonable. As Andrew Gasser continued, “There has to be limited government. There has to be a partnership.”

Unless Tea Party in Space hasn’t noticed, the U.S. government is no longer the only game in space town. On Tuesday, NASA announced that is partnering with seven private spaceflight companies to work on new technology for future spaceflights. All of the companies are also producing their own commercial spaceships. And just last week, Boeing revealed plans to finalize its own spacecraft, to be launched by 2015.

Still, you can imagine the placards at the next Tea Party in Space rally: “Keep your government hands off my Solar System!”