Response To Cathy, Part 2

So, do I think all Tea Party followers are “toothless hillbillies,” as Cathy suggests?

Not at all. I believe the Tea Party is NOT the political tool or sociopolitical home of its supporters as much as it’s a tool and a message of the GOP elite, the Dick Armeys and Koch Brothers and State GOP strategists who lend their considerable backing to a “populist, grass-roots” movement that convinces people to vote against their own bests interests as well as the general interest of the United States.

It’s the GOP rich, not the people carrying signs, who benefit from absurdly low marginal tax rates on incomes over $265,000, continued tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and massive government deregulation and slashing of social-services funding like continued unemployment checks for those — even those unemployed sign-carriers — still unemployed in the worst recession in most of our lifetimes. The “grass-roots” Tea Partiers are being deceived, and when I say they “stupidly” support a movement that has prospered from their deceit — a deceit made easier by the bland lack of discernment and powder-keg anger they demonstrate — I mean just that.

The people are not “stupid,” but it is undeniably stupid to vote on the basis of wrong information (the President is a Muslim, his trip to India cost $200 million a day, Congress wants to take your guns, Obamacare is “socialized medicine,” etc.) and be proud of it. Bright, concerned people seek out good information, which is why I don’t get mine from either Fox or MSNBC, but from CNN, which is hardly liberal, unless you define liberal as “willing to expose Tea Party-dishonesty,” and from the Associated Press, a fixture of unbiased media for decades. I get both The American Standard and Mother Jones and balance it with Time Magazine; I enjoy MSNBC, but it’s dessert after the meal, not the main meal itself that feeds my political engagement.

Polls consistently show that people who watch FOX News are overwhelmingly more likely to give factually-wrong answers to questions on current events; I think it’s not just “conservative-bashing” to infer that FOX News is less a news source than a purveyor of the GOP party line. MSNBC, whose readers poll higher in their grasp of current events, is nonetheless more a source of liberal analysis than it is an unbiased news source, although its “straight news” coverage appears unbiased, if bland. Acknowledging that ought not be painful, and woe to anyone whose political views come solely from one side or another.

I see the Tea Party as a group of hypocritically angry and shockingly mis- or un-informed people who have decided now that we have a Democratic President, it’s time to get mad about the deficit, about overspending, about Big Government. This is typical whenever a perceived liberal — and Obama is not — is in the White House. What’s atypical here is the incongruity of a movement that sprung up AFTER eight years of staggering ineptitude, gross overspending, reckless overfunding and vicious underfunding resulting in a weakened country and a Chilean mine-deep budget deficit.

Where were these “outraged patriots” when George W. Bush, who took office with a budget SURPLUS, ran us into the ground by launching two wars (one deceitful and unnecessary, the other disgracefully planned) AND cutting taxes on the wealthiest Americans, something generally considered in American history to be almost criminally stupid? Where was their outrage when their cities were falling apart because of a studied lack of support for basic infrastructure needs — needs that haven’t gone away and have in fact worsened, and that have to be addressed now, even with a budget crisis, because “W” ignored them?

Where were these “patriots” and “big government” foes when Bush lied to get us into a war with Iraq? Would real patriots countenance such a blatant “false-flag” operation? Do proud veterans necessarily have to accept the deaths and maiming of younger veterans in a war birthed long before 9/11 and launched with hysteria only barely polished for public consumption? THAT’S patriotic? Where was their anger at Bush’s Patriot Act, the most obscene example of Big Brother looking into your metaphorical window and stationery chest seen in this generation? I don’t recall seeing them on the streets hollering when the GOP and the Democrats in previous Congresses raised the debt ceiling numerous times in the last decade or so. Do you?

Where were all of these angry lovers of America and committed haters of bloated government under eight years of unleashed GOP spending? Does the Tea Party have any concern at all about the biggest recipients of “welfare” — the corporations who seek and are granted unfettered access to the trough with nary a thought toward re-investment in their communities. And take a look at history: It’s Republican presidents, not Democratic, who have presided over the biggest deficits in this half-century. But have you ever heard the Tea Party thank Bill Clinton for ending his tenure with a budget surplus, or excoriate “W” for blowing it to hell and back by trillions?

Finally, has it occurred to you that the grotesque and sinful preoccupation with casting Barack Obama as the dark, shadowy, suspicious, not-like-us “other” — a foreign-born, anti-American secret operative of God-knows-who-or-what — might explain the sudden “outrage” of the Tea Party? For eight years, Bush’s Washington exhibited diarrheac spending and gross abuses of power. For two and a half years, the Obama Administration has spent on those things that have to be repaired and supported, like infrastructure and schools, and his contribution to the national debt is largely a necessary response to the preoccupation of the Bush White House not with making this country strong, but with further fouling the situation in the Middle East — resulting in an America much less respected, and frankly much less secure.

I believe the Tea Party supporters, then, are acting hypocritically — either because they’re pitifully uninformed and thus manipulated by the rich who stand to benefit from policies enacted by their “outrage,” or because they’re comfortable in a bigotry that, if not directly against Barack Obama’s name and skin tone, certainly privileges the good-ol-boy person of George W. Bush. If they continue in a movement that makes a virtue out of embracing misinformation and fueling itself by irrationality, they deserve to be judged as having acted stupidly. And if Tea Partiers continue to focus on creating a “shadowy, suspicious ‘other’” out of their President, they deserve to be judged as those exhibiting a toxic civil bigotry.

I intend to judge those actions, while praying for the lower-middle-class and poor people in the movement so duped, so exploited, and so manipulated by the very people largely responsible for their disenfranchisement and despair. That will be the topic of my next post, but for today — I’ve gotta give these fingers a rest!

Thanks, Cathy, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Leave a Reply