TEA Party Ascendancy

by on March 20th, 2015
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There was something remarkable about last week’s TEA Party-CNN Republican debate. No, it wasn’t Michelle Bachmann beating up on Rick “the Hair” Perry about his executive order requiring vaccinations made by a company which coincidently hired one of Gov. Perry’s former honchos as a lobbyist. No, it wasn’t Gov. Perry tap dancing around what he had said about innate, from the start, built in, illegality and criminality of the Social Security System in his recent book/diatribe against the Federal government. Nor was it Rick Santorum’s desperate effort to be included or Newt Gingrich’s even more desperate effort to be relevant in the 21st century. Or even Ron Paul’s attempt to make his every man for himself libertarianism compatible with over 200 years of America’s tradition of public works and public benefits approach to shared responsibility of public business. It was that the whole shootin’ match had the name of the TEA Party on it. And above the title at that.

It goes to show how far the TEA Party has come in just a few short years. Some view this as an example of what a great and well funded PR campaign can accomplish; taking the idea of not wanting to spend any public money on helping poor minorities in this country and dressing it up in neo-intellectual but inherently simplistic rhetoric about being Taxed Enough Already. But the T’s aren’t really worried about how much they pay in taxes; they seem not to mind giving their hard earned tax dollars to all kinds of corporate welfare programs the Federal government run. The T’s are a-okay with subsidizing turning corn into fuel into carbon emissions, which gives their tax money to agribusiness billionaire. They never complain about the too long running, way too expensive with no observable US benefit, wars in the Middle-East (except for Mr. Paul). The T’s don’t mind Warren Buffet and his fellow uber-rich paying a lower marginal tax rate than they do. What they hate and are dead set against is any growth in the so called “nanny” policy of increased public services; even where those national programs can be most effective and beneficial. They hate things like; universal health care; a strong FDA; an effective EPA. All because the money behind the T movement comes from large industrial entities, trying to get the government’s protection of American citizens eliminated as much as it can.

Once upon a time debates by people seeking the highest elected position in the land were host by real civic organizations like; the League of Women Voters; for the purpose of helping the electorate become more knowledgeable about both candidates and issues. Such organizations didn’t have a particular political platform agenda, or a group of issues they felt extremely committed about. They didn’t force the candidates to pander to a specific (perhaps even smaller than many people say) narrow contingent within a major party. In traditional debates sponsored by independent organizations, the candidates didn’t have to deal with just a few issues of special significance to a few people until recently considered on the fringe of the GOP.

But that’s how big the T-Folk have become in what appears to be their dominance and control of the agenda and workings of the Republican Party. Conservatives, both social and economic, have been a significant part of the GOP since the days of Barry Goldwater in the 1960’s. The difference between then and now is the lack of tolerance among the T-People bosses now trying to run the Republican Party, which has all but eliminated what were once known as moderate Republicans. Not only were they called moderate, but they actually acted and voted as moderates. And as such they were a moderating force within the party. There were even Republicans known as liberal, at least on the social issues of civil rights, immigration amnesty, etc.

Just as there were Democratic “hawks” and conservative Democrats on economic issues, back in the day. But the Dems too have, to some degree, become less tolerant of those among them with a more center-right point of view. However the Dems haven’t forced all of their number to fall in step and align themselves with the most liberal wing of the party, in the way the Reps have made everyone with a thought or chance of running for national office toe the line of T-Party orthodoxy.

Forced adherence to inflexible orthodoxy or ultra-conservative positions on all and every issue is not a good thing for any party or political group. Eliminating positions or points of view from a political party not only narrows the thinking, but also the appeal. With the real key to winning national elections being attracting the independent or swing voter; any party has to have a tent big enough to accommodate a balanced mixture of opinions and approaches to governance. That is if governance is the goal; as it should be. However if autocratic control of the government in order to make or eliminate policy that conforms or conflicts with a narrow specific agenda is the goal; then orthodoxy and intolerance is almost a requirement. The autocratic regimes of the Communists in Korea and China, the theocracies like Iran and the strongman dictatorships of Syria and the world ’round, all know this rule of ruling. A monolithic political/social agenda must not only glorify their goals and positions but also vilify the opposition and their aims. This is usually done by insisting that God is on one’s side and dead set against everything the opposition is for. Of course in the case of Communism; God is eliminated from the formula and collectivism (for the masses only) is made the goal and capitalism is made the boogie man and enemy.

No matter how you slice it or tweak it, the concept and techniques of a winner take all approach to public governance are the same; and so are the weaknesses. Rule by a narrowly focused clique, for the exclusive benefit of a limited interest constituency, sooner or later will run into significant opposition. In autocracies or dictatorships; revolution (often bloody) is the result. In a neo-democracy such as America; the control of the government can be lost (temporarily) to this opposition. The pendulum will then begin to swing in the opposite direction as far as proposed policy and enacted legislation. Then predictably the “outs” will have cause and grievance enough to over throw the “ins” and the whole cycle of winner take all repeats itself. The temporary winners will grab as much as they can, creating the excuse the opposition needs to vilify them. It plays out pretty much the same no matter which party is in charge.

The Dems hated Bush and now the Reps hate Obama; with both sides thinking they are absolutely right. Their conviction in their “rightness” has allowed them to speak about and behave towards the President in a totally over the top manner and way that does no credit to concept of American republican democracy as one in which the opposing parties debate, argue, compromise and horse trade in order to come up with programs that satisfies, if not pleases, both sides. It has worked this way and most of the time worked well, for over 200 years. Recently it seems that the once “reasonable” oppositional positions between the two major parties has grown in mass and volume to a point where the traditional ways in which accomplishment has been brought about can no longer be achieved.

Not only is that too bad, but perhaps it makes it too difficult to have a functional, working, central government serving the most basic needs of the vast majority of the American citizenry. The rank and file of the T-Party doesn’t really want that sort of dysfunctional gridlock; but those who are the economic funding power behind the scenes do. The T-Folk don’t always see how some of the economic and social security net programs, which they falsely feel only benefit the “undeserving” are really essential; in that when properly and efficiently run, positively serve the interest and well being of all Americans. Unfortunately the economic interests purposefully misleading the majority of the right-wing T-Publicans are only interested in not having to pay more (if they pay anything at all) towards the necessary expenses of maintaining our democratic form of government in which all citizens are entitled to certain rights and subject to certain responsibilities.

Now that the T-Party and their fellow travelers among the Republicans have the power to fight those they have been told are their “enemy” to a standstill; it is incumbent upon them that do more than just block any progressive legislation or ideas for the improvement of the many problems facing America. They have to do more than just say No to whatever President Obama’s administration proposes. They have to put forward more than just the discredited theory of trickle down Voodoo tax cuts for the wealthy, which have failed for the past 10 years. They have to come up with something more beneficial to all Americans than, if you allow corporations to do whatever they want, without regard for environmental, health and safety regulations; they may make some more jobs.

If they really want to take complete control of the Federal government the Republicans, T-Publicans and Lib-Publicans have to tell America not only what they will eliminate such as; environmental protections, educational standards, appropriate contributions by the wealthy to the American general fund through tax payments, and a host of hard won civil rights and workers rights. They have to tell us more than what they won’t do. They have to tell us what they will do, if anything, to help the American people face the hardships caused by the policies that the GOP put in place in the first place.

Since they say they won’t enact legislation to prevent the Gangsters of Wall Street from the lying, cheating and stealing that has caused the current recession; what will they do? If they won’t allow the cost savings and health insurance for some 40+ million Americans included in the Obama Health Care Bill; what will they do about cutting health care costs and 40 million people not covered? When they won’t raise the revenue clearly needed to fund the social and economic safety nets we have put in place over the past 75 years; what will they do make sure future generations have the health and retirement benefits Americans have been promised and rightfully come to count on?

After three generations of successfully creating and providing public safety, health, and retirement systems that benefit all Americans; are the T-Reps et al just going to say – “No more” and turn their back on all the current problems facing Americans that they were instrumental in creating? Is that all we can expect from the ascendency of the T-Party to a position of determining the potential leadership of this country? Is that what the T-Party wants to take America back to – the nineteenth century?


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