I’m temporarily living in a small Alabama town that’s still safe enough to allow my children to ride their bikes down the street unattended and to leave your door unlocked while you run to the store. It’s quaint and seems untouched by the goings on in Washington, DC… and sometimes even Montgomery. But of course, it’s not. And conversations with the people you meet at the grocery store or the park reveal that. People are angry. Very angry. Thankfully, they’re also becoming organized and that is starting to make a difference.
I’m not a whole-hearted Tea Partier. I have my doubts about its long-term effectiveness, especially at a federal level if they continue to put all their efforts behind big-ticket races. But I think their potential is almost unlimited when it comes to smaller, local offices.
Recently, our town had a street festival featuring music, crafts, vendors and of course, politicians running for office, busy greeting people and kissing babies. I stopped to talk to one of the candidates who is running for a state house seat as he stood in the middle of the street handing out balloons. Though my questions were asked with cynicism, the answers returned were thoughtful, sincere and refreshing. Before too long, I realized I was talking to a real Tea Party candidate. This guy was a true believer in the need to shrink government and his mannerisms were about as un-politician like as you can get.
But it got better. As he told his story, it become clear that he had been the underdog in the primary, battling against a better-funded, establishment-picked candidate who hardly qualified to even be called a Republican. But he’d won. By a very large margin.
After the much ballyhooed tour of the country by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, he came up with a brilliant plan called America Speaking Out. His great plan is pander to the American people as to what a Republican Congress should do the next term. There is nothing more depressing than to see a Congressman stand before you and with a white board and ask you what you want Congress to accomplish next year.
Has Boehner, Cantor and the entire Republican leadership been so devoid of ideas that their best idea to win control of Congress is to pander?
It has been over a year since the American people started to rise up in anger over the out of control spending, the forced socialization of our healthcare, and the never ending stream of bailouts. It was a rather simple message that the American people were trying to convey. It wasn’t all too complicated. In fact a simple kindergartener could understand it, but not the House Republican leadership.
Is it so hard for them to stand before the American people and say “We as Republicans pledge to you to not raise your taxes, hold the line on spending, and repeal ObamaCare.”
If they can’t do this one simple thing it is difficult to imagine them convincing anyone in the Tea Party movement and the larger Conservative movement as a whole that they deserve another chance at controlling Congress.
Recently, former Vice President Dan Quayle offered his two cents about the tea party movement:
Like many influential causes before it, the “tea party” movement appeared on the scene uninvited by the political establishment. Democrats in the White House and in Congress recognize it for what it is — a spontaneous and pointed response to the Obama agenda — but some Republican leaders still aren’t sure what to make of it, as tea partiers have risen on their own and stirred up trouble in GOP primaries.
The tea party movement is not exclusively a reaction only to “the Obama agenda”. And if the GOP buys into that, they’re buying trouble. Quayle even acknowledges that without knowing it when he talks about trouble in Republican primaries.
This grass roots movement didn’t begin when Obama took office or in reaction to his specific agenda, but instead began to form during the Bush administration as government continued to expand. About the time TARP found its way into the political lexicon, it went public. It was the size of the crisis and response – the trillions of dollars thrown around like confetti – that finally spurred people into the streets and birthed the official “tea party movement”.
I really wish that were true, Bruce, but Quayle is right.
In the greater Seattle suburb of Kirkland, a very quaint and beautiful area where I would love to live someday, there is a grade-A @$$hole who has led a fevered vendetta against gay rights. He’s the pastor of Antioch Bible Church (where he’s been for over two decades) and has not only been a firm opponent of gay marriage, but of anti-discrimination legislation and domestic partnerships. He is arguably to the right of many gay marriage opponents from far more conservative areas of the country.
It’s worth noting that the pastor in question, Ken Hutcherson, is black. Whatever solidarity he is supposed to have as an ethnic minority for a sexual minority is apparently quite lost on him. Ken Hutcherson’s existence shouldn’t be shocking to those with life experience outside of textbook indoctrination. I’ve met many racists and homophobes, some white, some Hispanic, some Asian, and they all come in many different colors, shapes and sizes. It’s nearly a waste of time to confront them about it. Bigotry is not something people like to admit, and if you mention it they tend to act like they’ve been unfairly attacked.
Now that the high emotion surrounding the passage of the health care bill is in the past, it is very important to remember this. Racism and xenophobia is rampant in the culturally homogenous society of Japan, where even those of Japanese ancestry who were born elsewhere have difficulty being accepted. I’ve personally heard very disparaging remarks towards blacks from Hispanics, heard bigoted comments towards blacks from Indians, heard whites say horrible generalizations about black people and vice versa. Racism is not a homogenous factor of one particular ethnic or political group; it’s the result of the natural tribal instinct that we share with our primate cousins.
Recently, the TEA Party movement celebrated its first anniversary. At first the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party activists were dismissed as a few grumpy right-wingers upset that America elected a black president. They were given little credence beyond being an amusing political side show. That soon changed. On April 15th hundreds of thousands of average Americans showed up at protest rallies across the nation, outraged at the “stimulus” package of goodies doled out to special interests, liberal activism organizations and Democrat pet projects. CNN reported that a few thousand people showed up at the rally in Atlanta, but I was there and can assure you that it was close to ten-fold that amount. It was shoulder-to-shoulder for about four blocks in one direction, not counting the people on the side streets.
Once they could no longer be dismissed as a fringe element, TEA Party activists were labeled as “Astro-turf” (fake grass roots), accused of being flunkies of Big Corporate America, mindlessly doing the bidding of their masters. They were accused of being a fabrication of FOX News and the Republican Party. They were accused of being everything except what they are…average Americans, generally with traditional conservative values, who were fed up over 20 years of Bush-Clinton-Bush politics, two political parties who paid only lip service to the people they claimed to serve while engaging in a bacchanalian orgy of political perks, who had finally been pushed over the edge by a pork-laden spending bill of almost $800 billion. They were saying “Enough is enough!”, and they were going to make their voices be heard.
There were alot of wackos at CPAC. As I journeyed from booth to booth, I encountered several nutjobs. One man was dressed in eighteenth century garb, complete with rapier, illustrating that cosplay is not just a phenomenon of comic book and anime conventions. LaRouche cultists asked me if I was “ready to send Obama to the moon.” I heard quite a few Old Guard Republicans declare, when provided with literature from the Campaign for Liberty, “Ron Paul! That son-of-a-bitch wants us to surrender.”
Those amusing eccentrics were outweighed by the energy and enthusiasm there. I was among alot of leftists during the Bush years, and there was nowhere near the hatred and venom toward Obama that the left displayed towards Bush. While Dick Cheney scoured and groaned through his speech, Newt Gingrich, Glenn Beck and Ron Paul delivered magnificent speeches in which they provided counter-solutions to what the Democrats and Obama have put forth.
With all of the talk about markets, freedom and the foundations of America (countless venders were giving out copies of the Constitution), CPAC could have been confused with the 2008 Rally for the Republic. Keynote speaker Glenn Beck even spoke that America should not spread democracy but instead “lead by example.” Ron Paul winning the presidential straw poll was the icing on the cake. Sarah Palin, the incredibly unqualified beauty queen from Alaska, was nowhere to be found and a distant third in the straw poll. CPAC was wonderful and renewed my faith in conservatism, the Republican Party and America.
I must admit that this is a subject I wanted to stay away from but the continuing “uproar” saddens me. I want to like Sarah Palin but she makes it hard sometimes . At some point she is going to have to stop playing the victim card and act like a big girl.
I heard the Rahm Emanuel “retard” comment before Palin responded to it (I actually agreed with him). But something told me somebody would say something. Somebody would be offended. Somebody would act like a speech Nazi. Somebody would express an opinion that would attack the natural right of free speech.
As a former member of the GOP I can remember getting into debate after debate with “lefty” Statists on the subject of language. I guess because of who I am and how I was brought up I feel like I have a right to speak my mind and if you’re the “political correct” type you can get over it (Being raised in NYC probably contributed a ‘lil as well). I am not offended by anything that comes out of somebody’s pie- hole. Many people say things that alarm me, but being offended is somehow being “hurt” by what is said. Ms. Palin kept referring to her “thick skin” on the campaign trail. Did it somehow disappear?
I’ve already heard other people make the point that Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck use the word “retard” on their shows and Sarah hasn’t criticized them. Blah, blah, that isn’t nearly the issue here. The fact that the “Right” is now acting like the language police leads me to believe I left the GOP at the right time.
Let me create a scenario for dear Sarah and see how she would handle it.
Taxes were very high, but no real revenue was coming in. That’s because the system of taxes at that time was an early form of income tax that centered on the government taking a large percentage of a farmer’s crops.
So Ching Ti did something bold and innovative: he cut taxes.
Overnight, taxes went from over 50% down to about 3%. Farmers, who had fled to the hills to escape draconian tax rates, now came home and began farming again. To make a long story short, Ching Ti’s greatest problem while governing was trying to keep all the grain in his barns from spoiling.
It seems that ancient Chinese history is good for more than just cutesy script on a fortune cookie.
It has been observed that the up-and-coming generation of young people are more socially conscious than their spoiled Baby Boomer parents and their SUV-driving, yuppified older siblings.
This new generation is keyed into world affairs and world suffering and is doing something about it. They march against the War in Darfur; they do fund drives for AIDS Orphans; and they largely vote for candidates who pledge to recruit the government (i.e. the taxpayer) to solve these problems.
Increasingly, these young people are voting more and more Democratic. Of course, liberal Democrats have always enjoyed the majority of the youth vote - what little there was. But today’s socially conscious youth are making up an increasing percentage of the electorate and are going to play a larger role in certain elections.