Thursday, August 04, 2011

The Tea Party, and Know-Nothing Politics

Once again I find myself cobbling together a blog post out of something I wrote on Facebook. In this case, a response to this article: "Reminder: 44 Percent of Tea Partiers Are on Medicare". It (partly) attacks the hypocrisy of this movement, specifically wondering at the end, "Cutting government spending is all well and good when it's happening in the ghettos; what happens when austerity comes to their door?"

Someone responded to the posting of that link, first saying that it is wrong to paint the Tea Party as one homogeneous movement (point taken... after all, that's how they view everything), but also adding that "in this instance, if they've paid into Medicare over their lifetime there certainly is some significant rationale for wanting to see that returned in some fashion."

Absolutely. But that proves the hypocrisy rather than disproves it.

The underlying hypocrisy(*) is this idea that the Tea Party believe in that the government is some vague, shapeless boogeyman... and this leads them to believe even the most mundane things (ie. the census) are conspiracies to rob them of freedom.

Yes, Medicare is a service that they (and we) have paid in to our entire working lives... and they want it. Why? Because it's a much better deal, and much more efficient system, than private insurance.

And that is the point. This is what government does- it provides services to us that we want (whether police, firefighters, roads, schools, libraries etc on a local level... or entitlements, the EPA, military, FDA, Pell Grants, etc on a federal level), and we pay for those services in the form of taxes (which are at a post-WWII low). This is not oppression, or some Orwellian conspiracy. It's just basic governance in a modern, first-world nation.

Part of people's aversion to government is not taking into account the many things it does for them-- that we take for granted-- believing instead in the boogeyman version that the GOP has manufactured through top-rate spin ("job creators" is my new favorite buzzword). See this chart to see how big that disconnect is:

Of course, government-- like any entity, public or private-- is not perfect. Ours has made some very bad choices in the last decade. The answer to that, though, is to fight to make government better and more responsive to the needs of the many... not to try and kill it by attrition, which has been the Tea Party governing philosophy. Moreover, a movement that fights to elect people who privatize/corporatize vital public services and continue America's upward redistribution of wealth can hardly be called "populist" by any honest definition of that word.

To me, the Tea Party is simply a mix of misdirected populist anger, and a rebranding of old Birch Society or Know-Nothing right-wing politics. That it has gained such a strangle-hold on our national politics is as much a failure of the left (to form its own populist movement) as it is a success of the right.

[*And that's ignoring the hypocrisy of a Republican Party which ran to the left of Democrats on Medicare in 2010 (by misrepresenting, once again, the healthcare reform bill) and then voted en masse in 2011 to support turning it in a privatized voucher system. Spoiler alert: They're planning the same trick again for 2012.]


At 3:25 PM, Blogger Tobias Hornblower said...

You seem like a smart guy, It's a shame that politics itself has become ridiculous. Just inherited this laptop from my dead grandma. Still mostly clueless how it works. Wrote a letter to the tea party about the most rediculous thing in politics right now: Herman Cain(and it's not about sexual harrassment).

Dear Tea Party "Patriots",

Just close your eyes and imagine for a moment. It's the 2012 Republican National Convention. Your hero Herman Cain emerges triumphantly from the fog, resplendent from head to toe in red, white and blue top hat and tails. James Brown's "Livin' in America" blares in the background. You did it! You beat the Mittster and now it's time to take back the White House!

Now, WAKE UP! This right-wing wet dream is OVER!

Sorry "patriots", but you belong to the GOP....and you've been duped yet again. You didn't think the party was actually going to let you pick your own candidate, did you? Your beloved pizza man may be the Koch brother's "Brotha' from anotha' motha' ", but do you really think they want him to be President. Wow, you really ARE dreaming!

Herman Cain is allowing himself to be used to ensure that establishment Republicans and K Street lobbyists get what they want...and what they want is Mitt Romney

Here's how the scam works: Mitt is stuck at 25% in the polls, and the tea party vote is being split between several nitwits..and the GOP heavies want to keep it that way! Enter Herman Cain, entrepreneur and long-time Americans For Prosperity stooge. He's charismatic, entertaining, and most important of all, he's a conservative! He's also a great place to warehouse the tea party vote.

As long as the Herman Cain travelling road show continues, no other conservative candidate will be able gain any traction. As long as the media is focused on accusations of sexual harrassment, Michelle Bachmann doesn't have a chance in hell! Rick Perry is going NOWHERE! Santorum? I DON'T THINK SO!!!!

Mark my words. Twenty minutes before the early primaries and caucuses, the Koch brothers will pull the trigger on Herman Cain. He will self destruct, or drop out, and the tea party vote will be dispersed among the other conservatives. Mitt's 25% will be more than enough to win the primaries and delegates in the caucuses will be sold off to win the favor of the GOP establishment. Remember in 2008, when Huckabee threw his delegates to McCain, securing the nomination?

It was McCain's "turn". That's how it works in the GOP. Your vote counts for nothing! It's Romney's turn now!

Great Americans, culture warriors..."patriots", let not your hearts be troubled. A steady diet of revisionist history and right-wing bullcrap has left your long-term memories squishy and malleable. You won't even remember how much you hate Romney by the time November 2012 rolls around. You're gonna love Mitt Romney...because the right-wing punditocracy is gonna tell you who you love. And you're gonna believe it...because you ARE just that stupid!

Love and kisses,

P.S.-Who the hell IS the President of Ubeki-beki---beki-beki---stan-stan, anyway?


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