There is a really sad truth about the Tea Party Movement. The majority of the protesters are not sophisticated political operatives. I know many of them personally. These are people who have lived the good American life – they worked and struggled, they saved some money, their children went to public schools, they drink cheap beer on Sunday afternoons – or they oppose drinking on any day. They attend a variety of Christian fringe denominations. The point is that many of these folks have not had the time in their cramped lives to study economics, political science, history, the humanities, or literature. Thus – they are relatively unsophisticated and vulnerable to political con artists.
Over the years the Republicans have managed to take the wind out of the Union sails. The consequence is generally lowers wages across the working class board. The end result of this action is both parents working, less parental time with children, more anxiety in the home, ec0nomic stress in marital relationships, and a tendency toward debt to relieve the immediacy of economic pressure. The stage is set for the GOP to protest taxes as the cause of economic woe. A family too busy for their own children hardly have time to study and understand the larger economic picture.
“Less Government,” is the popular refrain. “Less Taxes,” follows the logic. The GOP follows the strategy with outbursts of ‘socialism’ and ‘communism,’ and even ‘Nazism.’ The struggling working class man and woman, already in dire economic straits, looks for relief. The terms presented have no specific meaning to these people – what they interpret is ‘Dictatorship’ and ‘Totalitarianism.’ Even these words have no specific meaning – but everyone is certain that they are evil and should be avoided. Taxation becomes an easy target – an emotional response to complicated economic maneuvering maligned by confusing concepts.
“Terrorists are trying to kill Americans,” is presented as the ultimate threat to our safety. Working mothers, already feeling guilty about lack of time with their children, jump at the chance to offer more security for their children. The facts are that terrorists really are trying to kill Americans – no one disputes this – but the war on terror costs money. Money that is raised by taxing the population. Or in the case of the GOP, money that is borrowed from China.
“Brown skinned immigrants who don’t speak our language are taking our jobs.” This paraphrase is intended to accentuate the real message of anti-immigration. Fan the flames with a little racism – something emotionally charged to increase the fear of the future. “Build a big fence, an iron curtain, along the Mexican border,” seems to be the solution. Along with, “Hire more border patrol law enforcement officers.” We don’t need a fence along the northern border because those immigrants look like other European immigrants. Where does this money come from? You guessed it, higher taxes.
The GOP advocates tort reform – citing obscure legal outliers, extraordinary events like a man being awarded millions of dollars because McDonalds coffee was too hot. The GOP cites abuse of the legal system for rising health care costs – it reminds me of a story: The Doctor meets the patient in the recovery room. “I have good news and bad news,” the Doctor says. The patient sighs, “Give me the bad news first Doc.” The Doctor says, “The bad news is that we took off the wrong leg. But the good news is that the other leg is going to be alright.” What is the GOP argument – the patient agreed to have a leg removed so everything worked out as planned?
And how about those guns? The GOP, through their emissary in the Tea Party Movement, insists that the socialist dictator Obama is trying to disarm the people so he can further trample their God given rights. The reality is that Obama has not made one proposal to take anyone’s guns. This is another case of all-or-nothing preaching by the GOP fear mongers. Gun control can be reasonable and thoughtful – and actually create more safe neighborhoods.
Taxes, homeland security, immigration, tort reform, and gun control are all presented as if they are interconnected. As if they are all issues that lead to a safer and more economically stable life for good working class people. There is no real logical connection – only an emotional connection planted in the minds of the dumbed down working class people.
When people feel out of control – and tough economic times makes life feel out of control – they tend to buck up, to fight for control The Tea Party has tapped into this emotional fear and played their jokers as wild cards. The working class public has been conned by sophisticated political operatives who have no intention of helping regular people have better lives.