Taking Back America ~ A Common Theme of Tea Parties

Why, you might ask, have the Tea Parties been so successful? Simple: for most people most of the time, emotion trumps reason.

September 24, 2010   In case you haven’t been following recent events, Tea Party candidates have done well in state primaries this month. And if you’ve been turned-off by all the ugliness in the campaign rhetoric and have therefore tuned-out, you might not know that there isn’t just one Tea Party; there’s no national committee or “official” Pledge to America. Members of different groups tend to be ultra-conservative and most excited, angry might be a better word, about different things — things like high unemployment, immigration, taxes, government spending, “Obama” Care, gay rights, Islam in America.  There’s something for everybody. But there are at least two things they all seem to agree upon: hatred of their arch-villain, Barack Hussein Obama, and the strangle-hold that career politicians seem have on Washington.

The overall Tea Party strategy, if there ever was one, has been brilliant, i.e., using the blogosphere and forwarded emails to organize and rally local groups and demonstrations, playing to regional anxieties and fears, giving the people someone and/or something to blame for their fears, then whipping their fears into focused anger and bringing them together as a force for the establishment to be reckoned with.  If in fact, as Tea Party spokespersons claim, it did start spontaneously as a grass-roots movement, it has since been exploited by charismatic, opportunistic individuals like Dick Armey, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich.

“Take Back America!” is a phrase often used by Tea Party key-note speakers. Their claim is that Government of, by, and for the people has been hijacked by the elite. And Barack Hussein Obama fits the description of an American elite perfectly. He is smart, he articulate, he is well-educated, he is well-connected, and, most of all, he is a self-made man having not descended from the privileged class. But he’s black, and some (though admittedly not all) Tea Partiers, though they disdain from acknowledging it, just can’t accept the fact that this historically WASP (White Anglo-Saxon, Protestant) nation now has a black president. It’s been made obvious to me by many of the signs and slogans showing up at Tea Party rallies.

The elite (from the Latin meaning “the elected”) is a hypothetical group of relatively small size that is dominant within society. Consequently, the elite are perceived to have privileged status and are envied by others who judge themselves to be less worthy.  Those at the top of the social strata are almost always put into positions of leadership, whether by force or by choice of the people. Once in-power, the holders of elite status are often pressured to maintain their status. This gives rise to counter-elite movements. Ironically, leaders of these movements inevitably become the new elite.

No, it isn’t the elite that Tea Partiers aim to topple. After all, the Founders themselves were the elite of their day, and doesn’t it just make sense that the best and brightest among us should be chosen to lead? No, they aim to topple anyone in-power who isn’t conservative enough to back extremist objectives such as:

  • Forcing literal compliance with specific provisions of the Constitution in every new law passed (Gee… according the Article Three of the Constitution, ruling on the Constitutionality of laws and Executive Orders is the responsibility of The Supreme Court).
  • Congressional term limits.
  • Repealing the new Health Care Reform law.
  • Stopping “cap and trade” economic incentives to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Limiting annual growth in federal spending.
  • Demanding a balanced federal budget with a two-thirds majority in Congress needed for any tax modification.
  • Authorizing the exploration of additional energy reserves to reduce American dependence on foreign energy sources and reducing regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation, e.g., nuclear energy.
  • Simplifying the tax system with a single rate for everyone and dismantling the IRS.
  • Eliminating all earmarks in legislation.

Some of these objectives are appealing, even to a Social Democrat like me, but they are simple in concept and dangerously radical in application. Rather than returning power to the people and helping to restore the middle class, some would  serve only the ensure the propagation of government of, by, and for special interests, i.e., corporations. Others would benefit only the wealthiest of Americans. Some are downright mean-spirited. Accordingly, the objective of the Tea Parties is to obstruct and repeal, turning back the clock on President Obama’s agenda of change — from the economy, to health care, to the environment, to education, to immigration and to social justice. In short, Tea Party candidates are the most extreme candidates the GOP has to offer, and, should they be elected to Congress, they will make it all the more difficult for conservatives, moderates and liberals to find good faith, common-ground solutions. I liked John McCain a whole lot more when he was still a maverick.

Take Christine O’Donnell, the Sarah Palin-backed Tea Party Senate candidate in Delaware. She’s so far out of the mainstream that even the Delaware Republican Party has called her “reckless,” “hypocritical” and “dishonest.”

Why, you might ask, have the Tea Parties been so successful? Simple: for most people most of the time, emotion trumps reason. This is the reason the Founders included the Electoral College in the Second Article of the Constitution and why the twelfth and twenty-third Amendments have been added for the indirect election of President and Vice President. They feared the electorate being swayed by powerful, charismatic influences.

Perhaps state electoral colleges for Congressional candidates and a single, eight-year term would be a good amendment for the Constitution. This would help to ensure that legislators are truly qualified to serve. It would serve to free legislators to vote their conscience on difficult issues and would limit the influence of special interests. It would also save a lot of money from being spent on reelection campaigns.

Yes, according to recent polls, Democratic candidates for Congress are in danger. Obama’s agenda for change, especially his goal of changing the way government works, is in danger. And rank-and-file Americans — middle class Americans — are in danger too. Personally, I would hope for an evolutionary change in the way we Americans govern ourselves rather than a retrograde, dangerous, revolutionary change like this.

Feel free to post a comment whether you agree with me or not.

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Published in: on September 24, 2010 at 11:26 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi, Opa!

    I don’t advocate voting for strictly Tea Party-backed candidates any more than I advocate voting a straight party ticket. If a straight party ticket works for you, fine, but we have the ability to pick and choose and folks should vote their conscience.

    You mention that voters are “angry.” I don’t doubt that a lot of them are – mainly because the democratically controlled congress (since 2007, not 2009 as some choose to remember) have consistently ignored the will of the majority of citizens. The most glaring example of this is the passage of the horrendous health care “reform” bill with nothing but democrat votes. I feel its the arrogance of the congress in ignoring the will of the people that has led to any success the Tea Parties may enjoy at the polls. Payback comes Nov. 2nd.

    Thank goodness cap & trade (“cap & tax”)appears deceased – at least for now. I’m not anti-environment, but I can’t see penalizing the American people with an onerous tax in the name of controlling air pollution when no other major nation on the planet is willing to do the same (e.g. China, India, etc).

    You say that the Tea Parties, and Republicans want to turn back Obama’s agenda of change. You’ve hit the nail on the head. What he preached on the campaign trail is not what he’s practicing since taking office. What happened to posting bills on line for 3 days prior to any vote? What happened all the bill debates being broadcast on C-span? The so-called transparency doesn’t exist. I think that Obama once told an interviewer that he’d rather be an “effective one-term president” than a mediocre (?)(not sure of the exact quote here) two-term president. I hope that he believes himself to be effective as of election day in Nov., 2012 and that he fulfills his wish to become a one term president.

    I do agree with your idea on term limits – I think that that concept is overdue for members of congress. I’m not sure what format those should take, but it would be a good idea to prevent “dynasties” such as the Kennedy’s, Murtha’s, etc.

    We do live in scary, but interesting times. I just hope we can survive them.

  2. Yes, the health care debate spelled the end of Obama’s illusions that anything could get done in Washington on a bipartison basis, devided as the parties are days. Hense, the business as usual way that health care got passed. I for one think that we’d have had a much better law had the president not tried to placate and cajole Republicans into supporting it. So, if jobs don’t come back in the next couple years, which they probably won’t, no fault to the his administration by the way, Obama probably will be a one-term president.

  3. Where were all these protests about the Constitutio when Bush and Cheney said it was okay to torture enemy combatants…againest the advice of the military. I would find it amusing if it were not so sad that so many of these people are fighting againest the very things that have made their lives comfortable….Social Security and Medicare for example. How many of them have Grandma’s money stashed in thier own name so they don’t have to pay for her nursing home?

    As for the racist slurs…I have posted the video to my Facebook page. After living through the civil rights movement and being the niece of a liberator of Buchenwald I find it very hard to not get very upset.

  4. The current system does not provide some kind of check on the “mobs.” There have been 22,000 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only 10 have been cast for someone other than the candidate nominated by the elector’s own political party. The electors are dedicated party activists of the winning party who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges. Faithless electors are not a practical problem, and most states have complete authority to remedy any problem there could be, by means of state law.

    If a Democratic presidential candidate receives the most votes, the state’s dedicated Democratic party activists who have been chosen as its slate of electors become the Electoral College voting block. If a Republican presidential candidate receives the most votes, the state’s dedicated Republican party activists who have been chosen as its slate of electors become the Electoral College voting block. The winner of the presidential election is the candidate who collects 270 votes from Electoral College voters from among the winning party’s dedicated activists.


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