Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Tea Party’s phony outrage

November 7, 2010 | 13 Comments


To history buffs, the recent election of Tea Partyers has a sense of déjà vu. In 1850 angry voters elected people who supported an agenda of anti-immigrant sentiment, religious intolerance, racist bigotry, and jingoism. I refer, of course, to the brief rise of the Know Nothings, America’s particular version of Britain’s Luddites. Tea Partyers, Know Nothings and Luddites all share a common emotion: irrational anger.

By 1857 the Know Nothings had run their reactionary course and fairly disappeared from the U.S. political scene. However, after 161 years, we are witnessing Know Nothing-ism being resurrected under the banner of Tea Party-ism — proving yet again that there is nothing new under the sun.

Today’s GOP, and its Tea Party acolytes, represent the ultimate expression of Reagan’s philosophy: the “Selfish Generation” whose motto is: “I want it all, I want it now, but I don’t want to pay for it. Après moi, le deluge!”

What, exactly, do Republicans and Tea Partyers offer to alleviate the damages wrought by the “Selfish Society?” Their answer is “more of the same!”— more tax cuts for the rich, in spite of the fact that the notion that tax cuts pay for themselves has been debunked beyond question. That so many voters believe in alchemy (“voodoo economics,” Bush Senior called it) gives substance to the report that we have become a nation of ignoramuses.

The National Academies (Sciences, Administration, Mathematics, etc.) recently released a report indicating that, among industrialized nations, the United States ranks 24th in life expectancy, 11th in the number of 24- to 35-year-olds who have a high school diploma, 27th in the number of students who receive engineering and science degrees, 48th in the quality of K-12 math and science education and 28th in the quality of health care. The repetition of mindless slogans like “We’re No. 1” will not make it so.

In the face of this report, what do the GOP and Tea Party offer as solutions to problems principally created by decades of Republican profligacy? Nothing beyond failed policies like tax cuts for the rich. Reagan, Bush I and Bush II gave us the largest deficits in U.S. history, and, except for World War II, the largest increases in U.S. government payroll. Where were the GOP and Tea Partyers when the government was growing exponentially under Republican presidents and legislatures? I believe that the phony outrage generated by the Tea Party is simply racial politics disguised as concern for this nation.

With unbounded chutzpah, the GOP and Tea Partyers blame Obama for not turning our $15 trillion economy on a dime — an economy that tanked under eight years of GOP presidential and congressional misrule. Had John McCain been elected, we’d be lucky to be in a barter economy — or at war with Iran and Russia. Conflicts are profitable for corporations and distract the population.

At the risk of sounding “elitist” which, in GOP parlance, means “educated and/or informed,” the report of the National Academies demonstrates, as previous surveys have, that there is a correlation between the general educational level of a nation and its overall success/prosperity; a similar correlation exists between a country’s low educational level, and its populace’s attraction to simple solutions to complicated and complex problems: The less educated a people, the more likely it is to fall prey to demagogues and charlatans.

There is a silver lining, of course. Tea Partyers and their ilk will run their string the way the Know Nothings did. Along the way, they will enrich the FOX demagogues and cause some damage to the social fabric of this nation, but probably nothing that a more enlightened generation will not be able to repair. Is there a nation that ever existed for long that banked its future on “backward progress,” as the Tea Party and GOP promise?



Letters to the Editor


Discussion | 13 comments

  • Jeffrey GoodrichNovember 07, 2010 - 8:56 pm

    I see little evidence that the Tea Party is anything other than traditional conservatives dressed in new clothes. Already they are insisting that the President "compromise" by adopting their number one priority: preserve the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% income bracket. Even though preserving the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% is not at all what the "American People" are asking. For the few remaining conservatives who think that the top 2% are carrying the water for the rest of us, think again. Eisenhower rates were 91%. Kennedy dropped them to 70%. Nixon dropped them to 50%, where they stayed throughout Reagan's first term in office. For almost all of Reagan's presidency, the top rate remained at 50%. The Clinton/Gingrich compromise raised the top rate to 39% and Bush dropped it back down to 35%. But Obama, who is merely considering letting the top rate return to 39%, is called a socialist. Who do you think comes up with this label? Yup, the top 2%. To those newly elected to Congress, I say grow a pair. Our fathers, who not only fought and won WWII, managed to grow a vibrant and wealthy nation with 50%, 70% and even 91% top tax brackets. The idea that high marginal tax brackets "stifles growth" is hogwash. High marginal rates ensure that American earnings are spent in America. Give a $100 million a year American a tax break and he'll just as likely spend it building a factory in India or China. Tax him to pay for American education and American infrustructure and you'll help the middle class. It ain't rocket science, folks.

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  • John GaronNovember 07, 2010 - 9:16 pm

    We ought to call this bunch for what they are: proto-fascists. There's nothing 'conservative' about them. Conservatives I've met (way back when) were generally thoughtful, considered people--nothing like the wild eyed tea-party reactionaries we see today

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  • James LonghoferNovember 07, 2010 - 10:34 pm

    Tea Party = Neo-KnowNothings. I like it.

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  • James LonghoferNovember 07, 2010 - 10:37 pm

    I Like Ike -- put those top rates back at 91% and America will be able to pay its bills.

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  • Rob PurdieNovember 08, 2010 - 3:26 pm

    I suspect this election will prove to be the high water mark for the Tea Party although, as Mr. Garon has observed, they will probably reappear at some point with a catchy new name

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  • Tom GibneyNovember 09, 2010 - 8:34 am

    The Tea Party initially was a protest against fiscal idiocy. Obama is not smartening the pot with his policies either. There are also conservative involved who would like to see some common sense returned to the country. However, that may be much to ask. People are frustrated and tired of idiocy THe republicans may not help much more or maybe they will grow a pair? We have become spoiled children and it goes farther back than blaming Bush. So now when you say you have to sacrafice everybody whines. We have taxed everything imagianable and yet we are broke? granted not everybody pays taxes thats for sure. Trying to push a Healthcare overhaul as well as doling out money to worthless banks and CEo's who should have been let out to dry was no the answer. One question. WHere is the Money? Oh wait China has our Money.... So I have an idea. Lets sell southern California to the Chinese! We may reduce some of the debt we to them and at the same time fix the border issue since they are rather stringent on illegal immigration to a better extent than us. Better Yet Boxer and Brown would have a love fest trying to become Party members SEIU would be in heaven..hehe! It does make you think though doesn;t it?

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  • James LonghoferNovember 09, 2010 - 9:20 am

    Where is the money? In the hands of the top 2% of course. Yes, it does make me think.

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  • John GaronNovember 09, 2010 - 1:16 pm

    Sorry, Mr. Gibney, but the Tea Party is not about anger, otherwise the anger would have manifested itself long before Obama's election. First, and foremost, the Tea Party is about racial politics. No matter how much lipstick you put on that pig, it's still a pig. Look at the Tea Party voter profile: white male, in his 50s, high school grad at best and terribly insecure about seeing a black man in charge. I have an acquaintance who told me outright that he could not vote for a black man in spite of the fact that he is a registered Democrat.

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  • Roy DavisNovember 10, 2010 - 3:19 pm

    John is right, as usual. I admire his perseverance. Too few Republicans or Democrats have thought about the cost of WAR in grief, suffering, energy, money, and labor. If we spent the cost of the Afghan "surge" (30,000 troops at a cost of $30 Billion per year) on infrastructure, education, and health care, we would not have to debate tax cuts. And the surge is only a tiny fraction of the cost of 2 wars and our 800+ bases around the world. (How many foreign military bases does China or Russia have?) The biggest waste in government can be found in the defense department, and now we are paying for hundreds of thousands of private contractors at much greater cost (and more fraud and incompetence) than troops. WAR should be a legitimate target for those Tea Party folks who want to downsize government -- and for the youth who make the biggest sacrifices. We should be marching in the streets.

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  • James LonghoferNovember 10, 2010 - 3:28 pm

    Mr. Davis, we are a nation at war living in peace. Except for military personnel and their families, we can easily forget the wars are going on -- even minimal coverage on our televisions -- no visuals of blood, gore, or death of our soldiers. And while living in peace many of us love the parades, the flying flags, and the feelings of patriotism while chanting USA, USA, USA. Really a sad commentary on our soft bloated citizenship.

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  • Tom GibneyNovember 10, 2010 - 4:14 pm

    Mr Longhofer- China holds our debt...the 2% may have helped that...alot of them are democrats as well... Mr Garon...nice Race card...keep trying. Both of you seem to be in step. obviously not much on humor. though.then again, the sinking of America is not a laughing matter...unless you're Chinese, but even they will have to hold the Foreclosure. As far as war, we should have been out of there a while ago since our hands are tied trying to fight a PC war. It is war after all. death, mayhem etc. The whole notion of a polite war is absured (Unless your British LOL)

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  • James LonghoferNovember 10, 2010 - 5:11 pm

    Mr. Gibney, China holds about $1 trillion of our $14 trillion national debt. China's $1 trillion is about half of the $2.4 trillion owned by foreign governments and other foreign owners. Who owns the remaining $11.6 trillion of our national debt? I once had an economics professor tell me not to worry about national debt because we owe most of it to ourselves. The $11.6 trillion remaining: The federal government, our state governments, Social Security, and American investors. So, China is not our main sugar daddy. It's mostly us. Not to say that owing China so much money is good, but China does not "hold" our debt as in most of it.

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  • Tom GibneyNovember 11, 2010 - 8:47 am

    Thank you for the correction but none the less, China can make a dent, not to mention the amount of manufacturing they do. They have us by the short and curlys. It became so expensive to manufacture in the US due to regulations form EPA to Taxes, slave labor was a deal! I still say we should have let those banks fail and perhaps take the raines away from the Fed Reserve. Now we are headed for inflation, printing more money is not that grand of an idea . The whole NAFTA thing put a further dent into manufacturing in the US as well. I personally get tired of seeing 'Made in China' on everything I buy! So...wouldn;t it be nice to bring the manufacturing back to the US? Provided of course, we don't strangle the manufacturers with taxes and regulation. Hard to make a widget in this country anymore! Hmmm ... what would any of this have to do with the angry racist Tea Party LOL!?

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