Trying to Understand the Tea Party crazies…

These guys are incredible, even nuts, and what’s amazing, they wouldn’t mind me saying that. Their flag is called The Second Revolution. I have done a little checking, it seems…

Here’s what they believe (and correct me if I’m wrong here!):

1. They have completely lost trust in the American mainstream. Centrist Republicans, Obama, the Democrats, all of them are wrong.

2. They want what can only be termed a revolution in politics and economics. They seem committed to this ideal, unbending.

3. Taxes are bad, seemingly, all of them.

4. Huge distrust of the mainstream media, and a disregard for what most people consider to be facts (Obama’s religion, birth country, evolution, climate change, and government activity in general).

5. Ideas about the US Constitution, a narrow, “original” interpretation. Limiting government evidently expands individual rights.

6. Laissez faire economics.

7. They want more details in plans from Obama.

8. The debt is nearly all of the issue in politics and economics, and want to radically cut – gut – the government.

9. Favor tight immigration laws, like the one in Arizona.

10. They like guns.

11. Against engaging Muslims and Muslim countries.

12. Against measures to mitigate climate change.

13. Mistrust of anything scientific.

14. They are big on conservative social values, like gay marriage, abortion, local schools.

Let’s look at who these people are next.

1. They tend to be white, male, older, conservative, republican, wealthy.

2. Others say they have a wide demographic, not too far from the general American stats.

3. About half are “born again Christians.”

Their agenda, taken from the “Contract From America”:

1. Identify constitutionality of every new law

2. Reject emissions trading

3. Demand a balanced federal budget

4. Simplify the tax system

5. Audit federal government agencies for waste and constitutionality

6. Limit annual growth in federal spending

7. Repeal the healthcare legislation passed on March 23, 2010

8. Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above’ Energy Policy

9. Reduce Earmarks

10. Reduce Taxes

Now, my comments…

1. Q. Was there ever a time in American history that these ideals have been tried, and what was the result?
A. The Gilded Age – 1890 – 1926 had similar ideals. To me, this period was marked by huge inequity of wealth, poverty of workers, and a wealthy class that brought on the Great Depression. Seems remarkably scary!

2. Q. Do these people have any real unity?
A. “The ideas that find nearly universal agreement among Tea Party supporters are rather vague,” says J. Ann Selzer, the Gallup pollster who created the survey. I personally think they are a loose coalition of gripers. Some of them have particular value issues: gay rights, abortion, immigration, etc. Some are fiscal reactionaries; people ticked off about taxes. Some (though I think very few) are bigots or racists. Some have a religious agenda; establishment of a Christian theocracy, end times, etc.

3. Q. What leadership backing do they have?
A. I think they have latched on to several issues they have created, and these issues (they love the right-wing for-profit media) have found leaders. These leaders are pundits, talking heads, frustrated minor academics, and religious authorities. And they have elected several really scary politicians (this is proof that our government responds to the voters, BTW!)

4. Q. Do I trust them?
A. Not really. I think they have out-dated values. I think they are misinterpreting the constitution. I think they are conspiracy theorists. I think they want to overthrow the government. I think they have been duped by career-minded talking heads. I think they are inconsiderate to those less fortunate. They would not agree, but I think their religious nationalism reminds me of what the shooting in Finland, or the group that predicted the end of the world last May, or worse. I blame the wild stock market swings, the American credit rating and the over-polarized congress on them. I think they want to create a kind of America I would not appreciate.

I do kind of want to understand them; I am trying to “get it.” But it’s difficult.


About Jim

I've been leading outdoor environmental education in the YMCA since the 1970s. I love teaching nature, history, current events, being a dad, fixing stuff, groups, and general thinking.
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