Monday, November 18, 2013

On the Tea Party

Putting aside the usual nonsensical ravings that we usually hear from the mainstream media regarding that national embarrassment we call the Tea Party, I want to take a moment to examine what it is that they're really standing for.  The tenets of the Tea Party Platform are as follows:

Eliminate Excessive Taxes, Eliminate the National Debt, Eliminate Deficit Spending, Protect Free Markets, Abide by the Constitution of the United States,Promote Civic Responsibility, Reduce the Overall Size of Government,  Believe in the People, Avoid the Pitfalls of Politics, Maintain Local Independence.

On the surface, these headings look good and beneficial, but if we actually look at what these headings mean in real terms, they very quickly fall apart.  I’ll go through them one by one.  Ultimately, they will show that the Tea Party is an Anarchist Party of Corporate dupes, dedicated to the destruction of the Federal Government and the American Way.

ELIMINATE EXCESSIVE TAXES – The question is on WHOM?  Corporate tax rates are the lowest they’ve been since Eisenhower, so I ask again – on WHOM are we trying to lower taxes?  The Government needs income in order to function and provide for the services we all agree are necessary (National Defense, the Postal Service, Maintaining interstate highways, Aid to the various States, etc), so if we keep lowering taxes on those with the most disposable income, the balance of the burden falls on the average person, who’s least able to bear it.  If anybody in the Tea Party supported raising the Corporate Tax rate to take the burden off of the small business owners, the way the President tried to do in his first 100 days in office, I’d believe that this heading is genuine. However, that was not the case.  The GOP, under pressure from the Tea Party blocked that particular initiative.  And when we consider that the Tea Party’s champion, Romney’s tax plan was based in mathematical falsehoods, one has to wonder can a Political movement really be so daft?  I don’t think this is the case –  what this really means, when examined is “Defund the Government by the most direct means possible”.  EXHIBIT ‘A’ in my case.

ELIMINATE THE NATIONAL DEBT – again, a very nice sound byte, but if our chief means of national income – taxes -- is eliminated, how does the Tea Party propose to do that aside from cutting essential and Constitutionally-mandated Government functions?  It doesn’t.  In fact, when we consider the Tea Party’s later tenant, REDUCE THE OVERALL SIZE OF GOVERNMENT, it’s pretty obvious that the goal is to weaken and eventually dismantle the Federal Government entirely.  EXHIBIT ‘B’. 

ELIMINATE DEFICIT SPENDING – again, very hard to do when, by eliminating taxes, we’ve eliminated our government’s chief source of income.  Clearly the goal here is once again to force the cutting of essential governmental functions.  A functionless government is a non-existent one.  EXHIBIT ‘C’.

PROTECT FREE MARKETS – A statement that implies what many Regressives have explicitly stated, that the Government should absolutely NEVER interfere with the Market.  We actually had that system in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  The divide between rich and poor was greater than it is today and the abuses of the Captain of Industry/Capitalist Class were so terrible that Unions were created among workers to combat life-threatening working conditions and work-weeks without sick leave, weekends, protection for children in factories or even 8-hour work days. When we look at what happened with OWS and compare it to the early Union Riots with the Pinkertons, the parallels are...well, striking.  It wasn’t until Teddy Roosevelt’s Square Deal and later FDR’s New Deal that the Social Problems of the time were effectively dealt with – but the Right loves to disparage such measures that DEMONSTRABLY RAISED THE AVERAGE PERSON’S STANDARD OF LIVING WITHOUT UNDULY HARMING THE WEALTHY as “Communism”,thus showing a poor understanding of the term. The Roosevelts demonstrated a central fact about Free Markets that is too often ignored  by the Right – that without the power of a Government to Check & Balance it, the Free Market becomes a Social Darwinist  playground, a perpetual game of “Asshole” where exploitation of everyone too poor to compete becomes the rule.  It’s a common misconception that the rules of a small mom-and-pop business are the same as for a multinational corporation with Billions in yearly profit.  Such corporations wield power and resources equal to or greater than most nations – and you expect the Government by, of and for the People to stand by and do nothing while such power is used to exploit the average person with impunity, as it has done in our own national history?  EXHIBIT ‘D’ 

ABIDE BY THE CONSTITUTION – A lovely sentiment and one all sides could actually agree on…provided we are on the same page.  I’ve heard many people argue that the Constitution is a document which should not be changed, despite case after case of the Founders themselves stating their belief that it should be adapted to the times, and despite the very provision within the Constitution itself giving Congress the Right and Responsibility to do so (Article One of the United States Constitution, section 8, clause 18: “The Congress shall have Power - To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”), so which version of the Constitution should we abide by?  The one the Founders wrote which counts black people as slaves, equal only to 3/5 of a person?  The one that we’ve Amended over time?  Which Amendments, put in through due process of law count as “valid”?  I’ve never gotten a direct answer to that question, but I’ve gathered that the Tea Party in general prefers a Government similar in scope and shape to the Articles of Confederation – a system so woefully inadequate to our national needs that it was replaced by the Constitution.  There’s a conceptual disconnect here.  If the Tea Party wants to abide by the Constitution, why does it object to everything the Constitution provides for?  I submit that it’s because the Tea Party doesn’t want a Federal Government at all. EXHIBIT ‘E’.

PROMOTE CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY – Another lovely statement with absolutely nothing stating how the Tea Party proposes to do so, or in whom it proposes to promote such values.  If we’re to promote civic responsibility in our elected officials, how are we to do so when Citizens United  allows Moneyed Interests to outright BUY our political process, cutting the average person’s influence in their own government to meaninglessness?  If we’re to promote civic responsibility in our fellow citizens, how does the Tea Party propose to do so when Tea-Party-backed State Governments cut Civics classes in our public education?  I submit that the Tea Party’s backers want nothing of the sort.  As I often argue during gun debates, the easiest and most cost-effective means of enslaving a population of the size and scope of the US is to (1) Make the economic situation for the vast majority of the citizenry so desperate that they spend all their time and effort trying to survive rather than pay attention to their government -- or, the Banana Republic Syndrome (2) Undermine the quality and access to public education so that the vast majority of the citizenry no longer are equipped to think critically about their situation and correctly assess a solution and (3) Inundate the media with so much misinformation that nobody can sort out the facts or how the facts fit together.  Sound familiar?  EXHIBIT ‘F’

BELIEVE IN THE PEOPLE – Another empty slogan, when you see Tea Party members not only demonstrating, but glorifying in the most vile and bigoted parts of human nature.  A person might do the right thing, but PEOPLE in large groups are only as smart or responsible as the loudest, dumbest and most assertive member of that particular group. Judging by the actions of the most high profile Tea Party members and representatives, I have to wonder in which people the Tea Party wants us to believe,because it’s clearly not in anybody that’s anything other than White, Christian or Male.  I submit that – judging entirely by the rhetoric sponsored and promoted by the Tea Party and the Right in General -- Aaron Sorkin was entirely right in his assessment of the Tea Party as an American Taliban.  Our Government is designed to limit the ability of fundamentalist thinking to determine national policy by relying on facts and evidence, not mere religious opinion.  That’s why it was set up with two houses of Congress – to slow down passionate belief-based action, so that it could be soberly and rationally examined.  Yet sober and rational thought seem to be an anathema to the Right – as evidenced by all the “Jesus is Lord” comments that get thrown at me when I suggest that the Government shouldn’t be unduly influenced by religion.  EXHIBIT ‘G’

AVOID THE PITFALLS OF POLITICS – Is that why Tea Party representatives have filibustered in Congress 121 times since Obama was elected and then shut down 3 branches of the Federal Government over a website?  When taking into account Grover Norquist’s famous quip about drowning the Government in the bathtub, it’s far more likely that the goal here is to stall all Governmental action until it’s once again a non-functional entity.  Again, a non-functional government is a non-existent one. Anarchists are the ones who want non-existent government and Totalitarians are ones who want a democratic republican government to fail, not true Conservatives.  EXHIBIT ‘H’.

MAINTAIN LOCAL INDEPENDENCE –  Yet another lovely statement that we all could get behind, but the actions of the Tea Party belie saying one thing and doing another.  As I stated under the FREE MARKET heading, local independence cannot be preserved when a multinational corporation has no barrier to moving in, driving out all the smaller businesses in the area, exploiting the area until it’s dry and leaving it destitute.  If each State were, as the Confederates of old contended, a separation country, rather than part of a larger whole, the Free Market  with an ineffectual Federal Governmental framework might be sufficient to achieve this goal, but a nation as large as ours requires some degree of centralized authority to function effectively.  The failure of the Articles of Confederation after the Revolution (see previous citation) demonstrated this profoundly, but that demonstration seems lost on the Right.  If our nation is to survive, the balance of power between local and federal is always one that has to be rigorously maintained.  It cannot be skewed in either direction or the nation will fail – but if the Tea Party wants it completely skewed in the direction of local over national, then I can only assume that the Tea Party really wants the United States to fail. 

It is often implied by the Regressive blogosphere that one group is using another as dupes to achieve a totalitarian goal on the Left. I assert that the Right is subject to a classic case of Freudian Projection – and to a far more obvious degree that too many people are either unable or unwilling to see because they’re satisfied with sweet-sounding slogans as a replacement for critical thought.  

It is a long-established truth that the best way to understand a person or a group in politics is to examine who's sponsoring them and what those sponsors stand to gain by doing so.  When enough of us stop critically thinking, the Anarchists think they win and the Totalitarians actually win.  It is my assertion that such is exactly the Tea Party's goal.

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