The Tea Party and The Debt Crisis

Some thoughts on the Tea Party and on the GOP in general . . .

1. All of the Tea Party Republicans appear to have in common two things: Great hair, every one of them, and an astonishing lack of understanding of how catastrophic a U.S. forfeiture on its debts would be if the debt ceiling isn’t raised by August 2. Every single one of them appears to be dangerously insouciant in grasping how this would affect regular people, including those who stupidly voted them into office, and it’s evident that a basic course in civics, not to mention civility, is greatly needed for those on the right side of the political continuum.

2. Tea Party house members, some 80 or so freshman representatives, were catapulted into power on the same wave of misplaced anger and ignorance that gave us Sarah Palin in 2009. That wave misappropriated actual populism and instead gave us a divisive, poorly informed, combative and reactionary group of zealots who represent not the best interests of the common man and woman, but a wholesale caving in to the institutions and power structures that have caused and will continue to cause great economic and social harm to those most vulnerable. Real populism encourages people to vote in the best interests of the middle class, the poor, and the economically disenfranchised. Tea Party “populism” is a vile toxin offered to desperate voters under the guise of “taking back” Washington. But Washington — government — has great power to aid the people and to strengthen the society around them; it is not in itself an evil, and this “taking back” is nothing more than an unwitting embrace of policies that guarantee shattered people, shattered communities, and a shattered economic climate. Christians would call these anti-people institutions and policies “strongholds,” and real Christians would seek to overthrow and overcome them in the name of Christ.

3. The Tea Party may be full of so-called Christians, but there is nothing about it that resembles anything even remotely Biblical, Gospel-affirming, or Christ-honoring. Savvy culture watchers would call “charlatans” what desperate and desperately uninformed Christians would call “saviors.” Biblically-grounded Christians would do well to become savvy observers of culture and call these false prophets out for their ignorance and duplicity.

4. My President has given up much ground — too much, in my view — in the name of sincere compromise. The Tea Party devours all around it and then petulantly whines that others, even their fellow Republicans, won’t give them more. Obama has pulled so far to the right that his identification as a Democrat is now strained; the Tea Party has pulled so far to the right that it’s off the table, off the charts, beyond reason, and out of its mind.

5. The last thirty years or so have given us a soul-draining picture of what results when one party co-opts Jesus Christ and then does all in its considerable power to drag His message and ministry through the political and social mud as it rushes headlong into the political theatre with an ethic that is at best un-Biblical and at its worst damningly anti-Biblical. In the eschatological search for an archetypical Whore of Babylon, I nominate the Religious Right wing of the Republican Party. Rarely has religious idolatry and shameless adultery been so clearly demonstrated by the Church in its lie-back-and-open-up courting of the GOP.

6. The Christian punk band Crashdog spoke prophetically in the 1980s when it sang, “Jesus and Republicans, they are not the same — Jesus a Republican? Have you gone insane?” You, of course, have not ever heard of Crashdog, and that’s not just because you don’t share my love of punk music. Prophetically-oriented Christian bands who don’t toe the party line, it appears, don’t get much marketing support or air play. Too bad. There’s a message there worthy of a wider audience.

7. I am unabashedly praying for an Obama victory in 2012. More than that, I’m praying for an unabashed voice of Christian reason and compassion to drown out the decidedly not-Christian clamor of the Tea Party, a voice that gives rise to a movement that progresses in this country’s best interest as those who would destroy so much of what America stands for dissolve and drown in their own morass of stupidity, ineptitude, and divisiveness. It’s that “tearing down strongholds” thing again — this time, focusing on those strongholds that slap “Jesus” and “moral values” on slime and call it gold.

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