Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tea-party 'terrorists?'

Soon after the recent deal in Washington on the debt ceiling, my congressman, Mike Doyle, complained that, referring to the tea-party movement that challenged any proposal that raised taxes, "We negotiated with terrorists." Of course, those remarks, echoed with similar comments from Vice-President Joe Biden, received considerable play, especially criticism from the political right.

But before you consider their remarks an outright slur, let's consider a few things.

One, the tea-party movement has never, and I mean never, operated within the existing political structure. Considering our anti-establishment political culture, that sounds wonderful on the surface; however, it also comes from an utter ignorance about basic civics -- how bills are passed and just how people are elected in the first place. Tea-party members often complain that, rather than finding ways to stay in office, elected officials should be about "the people's business." Well, guess what, folks? If you ever spent any time with them, you know that they're doing just that. Tea-party adherents don't want to understand that we have not just one nation but also 435 distinct regions which represent different constituencies that are often at odds with each other, and our "bottom-up" way of doing things simply doesn't allow for the type of "top-down" representation that the movement feels would be more efficient to focus upon their narrow agenda. And that's why you have to have deal-making in Congress.

Two, the tea-party movement has always fancied itself as "grass-roots" when in practice it's now anything but. This recent imbroglio was sparked by longtime anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, who will tell you that he's not a Washington "outsider" -- indeed, his "Leave Us Alone" coalition was instrumental in having Bill Clinton impeached in 1999 -- and who had numerous Republican lawmakers sign a pledge not to agree to any tax increases. Furthermore, much of the funding for the movement came from the now-notorious Koch brothers, the latest in the gaggle of super-rich libertarians/conservatives eager to keep their gravy train rolling and that has spent large sums of money over the past 40 years or so to skew the discourse.

In essence, we're talking about bullies who demand their way no matter what. They have no qualms about insulting, then punishing people who don't agree with them and will wreck the country in the process in their pursuit of power.

If Doyle and Biden were guilty of anything, it's hyperbole. But perhaps that was their point -- because when only your group alone decides what's "best" for everyone without any consultation from anyone else, be advised that it's acting just like a terrorist. However, as New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has said, "Terrorists [substitute 'bullies' if you prefer] always overplay their hand." And because it's making a ton of enemies as I write, the tea-party movement will be lucky to survive the 2012 election.


Mark said...

Hi Rick,I formally intend to change my voter registry to independant.The Washington outcome was exactly how they intended it to come out from the beginning.And the Tea Party was a godsend for them.I am not Tea Party,Democrat and no longer Republican.These masters of mind control now had someone else to blame instead of each other.The Republcans got to keep the loop holes for those super rich (Whether Republican, Democrat,or other),The Democrats got to keep their vote getters intact.The immediate cuts hit students, and other less influencial voters.No one told Obama it was terroristic to threaten us with no checks on August 3rd for our parents, grandparents or servicemen,if we didn't raise taxes and the debt ceiling.March 14th 2013 may be the next debt ceiling.How fast has the last 1 1/2 years past.I gave them the solution, neither side was interested.They knew what they were going to do all along.They knew that a default on August 3rd would have meant you couldn't get elected unless your party started with a T.It's my 1 and 3 year olds future and they don't care.Every article, and I mean every article the forefront of their talk was "how will this hurt my re-election".They came out smiling like they saved the world(maybe for a year or two),all they saved was their careers.The S&P 500 didn't but it.The Dow investors didn't but it.I don't buy it.WE the People can fix this,Who wants to help with this?

BlueDeacon said...

Mark -- Here's the thing you have to consider: Our representatives are accountable to the people; however, you have 435 competing regions of the country vying to be represented, which is why you have to compromise and make deals. There is no one, singular way of doing things that will benefit everybody or even the majority; indeed, our political system was constructed to be as inefficient as possible due to our cultural contempt for authority.

Mark said...

Hi Rick, I wanted to amend my previous comments. I was very irate at the Debt debacle, and people to understand. I am not anti-government. I love America and If i beleived it were hopeless I would feel it futile to speak out here. I have heard how the president takes the state of his country to heart. And bears the burden personally. It is always the President's legacy that suffers if the present writing of history is not good. Among the sincere members of congress' there is intermingled Agendists wjoh do not care if the first Black President has a positive Legacy. It's only about win Red or win Blue. "My election , my gain; country second and ' oh well, it's not me who gets the bad Rep in history. Pray for the president , pray for the country. Do what you can,,,personal or public Americans, especially American Christians are the change makers. .. Mark