VIEWS: 6 PAGES: 3 POSTED ON: 11/29/2011
TEA PARTY EVALUATION Jason D. Jordan Friday September 2nd 2011 What began with one noble mission outlined by the acronym in their name Taxed Enough Already (lower taxes) has been corrupted by every single interest on the right hand of the political spectrum. First it was the second amendment crowd, and then it was mainstream Republicans who wanted to keep the party from fracturing. Then big business got in on the act, and The TEA Party became something that was no better than those at whom they were aiming their holier than thou attitudes towards. I never hated what the TEA Party was, but I cannot believe it has lasted this long and there are so many hangers on after the corruption of its platform became evident. This corporate take over of the Party kept them from becoming a widely accepted populist movement, and instead further hardened the opposition. There has been a complete lack of control over their overall message since its inception. The primary problem is that there has been no clear leader or voice of the TEA Party from the beginning, just an amalgamation of self interested people with ulterior motives who are constantly trying to deify themselves by running down their opponents. The TEA Party as is exists today owes its popularity not to the issues they support, not to good solid organizing tactics, but to the hatred of Democrats. Much of my problem with the TEA Party is based in their portrayal in the media. Organizing around the: anybody but Obama slogan, signs that show President Obama as Hitler or threaten his life are inappropriate. However, Fox News pundits will defend it to the death as Freedom of Speech. While a rally of organized labor constitutes a dangerous exercise in Communism which aims to incite class warfare and threatens the very fabric of America. It all reminds me of the 1960s when Democrats were demonized as reefer smoking, head in the clouds, dirty anarchist hippies. I am not saying that the TEA Party and what it stands for as a whole is racist or bigoted. What I am saying is that it is not very well thought out and I think purposefully leaves out or alienates a lot of people when considering their platform including many who back them. The plain and simple truth is that most people have no idea what they are getting behind, all they know is that they’re mad and that is no way to organize. Those who believe that the TEA Party and its rallies are full of diversity have a very narrow idea of what America is and should be. Sure, there will be one or two ex- Democrats upset by a single issue who have lost sight of the big picture at Tea Party events, others show up to counter-protest or to fulfill their curiosity. They use the TEA Party moniker and calling themselves patriots to popularize the hatred of specific government institutions and opposing parties. Some organizers knowingly used and exploited the void left by the defunct birther and Obama is a Muslim conspiracy theories which were outwardly and unapologetically racist on many levels. For me even one racist or classist epithet (By organizers and guest speakers, not bystanders) at a rally is one too many. For supporters to insist that the flying of rebel flags, the talk of secession, and dehumanizing people who are recipients of public assistance is not bigoted is disingenuous. I also find it ironic that many people who rely whole hog on public assistance claim to support the TEA Party. At a recent rally I spoke to one gentleman in his late forties or fifties. I asked him what he did for a living, making small talk. He said that he drove a truck for a construction company. He was now recovering from his third heart attack and unable to work. He, along with many other people in the crowd that day had forgotten exactly who and what was paying for the care they otherwise could not pay for, and the people they were backing for office intended to alter or eliminate those programs. While a student at Syracuse University in March 2010 the TEA Party Express tour rolled into town and I decided to go. I was considering a run for public office at the time and wanted to see what the fuss was all about. If their message was solely about fiscal conservatism I probably would have gotten on board. As I mingled with the crowd talking national politics nearly everyone said I don't care who the next president is as long as it’s not that damned Obama. At that point the debate of Healthcare Reform was beginning to heat up, and people were choosing sides. A group of about 150 Democrats organized on the other side of the park in support of the President. They hailed passing motorists, and they honked their horns in response to signs favoring the President. They got harassed and cussed out by some of the TEA Partiers for their counter gathering. This incident further cemented in my mind the idea that these people at least in part were purposefully confrontational; an attitude that seemed to be exemplified by the politicians representing them. Their Our way or the highway ultimatum didn’t play well during the summer debt ceiling debate. The House TEA Party Caucus led by Presidential Candidate Michelle Bachmann has perverted their supporters message to justify attacking the big 3 government programs which 80% of people (including many professed TEA Partiers) say they want to preserve as is. They believe that by cutting spending they can lower taxes across the board and thereby create jobs. Sounds good in theory, but in practice not so much. I have already levied my opinion on this stance many times in the past, and to sum it up briefly. . . The health of big business and the availability of capital to big business is no longer attached to the creation of jobs. Big business will continue to find reasons to sit on their money instead of reinvesting in American labor. Start ups and companies in their first 5 years naturally have the most incentive to hire. It takes more people to climb a mountain than it does to stand at the top and pat yourself on the back. The problem is not Medicare and Medicaid. The rising costs of care which are inflated by HMOs and insurance companies who only offer a fraction of the cost of care, and pass the buck to those without insurance who rely on government paid care. Hospitals also take advantage of Medicare by running unnecessary tests on patients because it is a pure profit enterprise. All things that are addressed by the TEA Party dreaded Obama care; and these facts are not a big secret. Prime time hospital dramas mock that fact week in and week out. The TEA Party began with good intentions and a moral direction. However, people armed only with good intentions stand no chance against an army of experienced political organizers and business interests who are perpetually looking for the next hot ticket. Because of this I see no longer see value in the TEA Party and see no reason for people to continue hanging on to a once noble dream now deferred by power, money, and undue influence.
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