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Tea Party UPENN

“I didn’t want to leave it up to the college professors,” said Daniel Chinburg, commenting on his motivations for starting a Tea Party branch on Penn’s campus last night at the Tea Party Debate.

The debate, held at 9 p.m. in Houston Hall, consisted of Chinburg, the founder and coordinator of the Philadelphia Tea Party Patriots Penn Branch and a Graduate School of Education student, and Emma Perkins, a Wharton junior, fielding questions from an audience of four.

After the event began with the pledge of allegiance, Chinburg framed the debate by setting out the three principles of the Tea Party: fiscal responsibility, constitutional limited government and free markets.

More of a discussion than an intense debate, the audience, Chinburg and Perkins discussed both philosophical and policy issues. A major theme of Chinburg’s comments was the importance of the individual. “Individual freedom is more important than free health care, free food, free everything. We increase the well-being of everyone with freedom,” he said.

One of the main topics of discussion was Obama’s health care plan, which Chinburg called “Obamacare.” He asserted that people who support government health care are “good-natured and have good intentions,” but that the Tea Party feels the plan “spells doom” for America.

Another main issue discussed was the viability of the Tea Party in American politics. Chinburg explained that the Tea Party is a movement based on economic principles and is not about social views. One audience member disagreed, commenting that, without creating a party, “it doesn’t seem like you’ll get anywhere.”

Chinburg answered, “We’ve had great success, I’d say,” and maintained that the Tea Party has “radically transformed the face of politics in the country.”

Other topics of discussion included the world financial crisis, national defense and the fundamental views behind the Tea Party.

“It was very informative. There is a lot of bias in the media,” Gen LaMarr LeMee, a College freshmen, said. “I’m disappointed Penn students didn’t show up,” LeMee added.

Chinburg said he was surprised at turnout because he invited the Penn Democrats, College Republicans and a socialist group. “Maybe they are afraid of the big bad Tea Party. Or they are apathetic. Or they’re busy. I don’t know,” he said. Chinburg plans on holding a debate with the Penn Socialists in November and a rally later in the year.

“I’ve got to be realistic,” he added. “Not everyone on campus is going to come out.”

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