Don't Drink the Tea Party Kool-Aid
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As I continue to read the goings on at the Tea Party Convention, I am overwhelmed by my disbelief that this is a serious movement. However, when I step back to take a rational look, I completely get it. Humankind has a long history of rallying around hate and propaganda. If you recall the Frank Capra films used by our country to rally the nation during World War II, you understand that we have a rich history of being taken in by effective messaging. The American Right Wing movement over the last thirty years has known exactly when to pounce on any deep-seated fears in order to gain political advantage. In the guise of patriotism and our so-called freedom, the public has been hoodwinked into believing that government is evil and government services are only for the poor or someone else. The roads we use, the mass transit we ride, the public schools that serve our children and yes, the air we breathe, can only work with an effective and well-organized government. To say over and over again that government is evil and actually believe it is the most Un-American rhetoric anyone could buy into.
It is time to distinguish between those in government who serve the public, and those who serve to protect whomever can buy the most votes for their own coffers. The irony is not lost in this situation. At a time when the Supreme Court has effectively set back the desires of those trying to wrestle control from the corporate purchase of political favor, the American people are willing to believe the Kool-Aid of these anti-government groups calling for the overthrow of the very institutions that protect all of us from tyranny. If the rhetoric coming out of the Tea Party Convention was coming from the lips of the left wing, they would be considered Anti-American. The tea party crew feels they are just being patriotic.
Here is the disconnect: how can a democratic society exist in an environment that accepts as truth that government is evil? I have trouble understanding what our country would look like if we bought into their proposition. Somehow we’ve gone from “no new taxes” to “no taxes”. In their fantasy world we will have everything we need for free because we can take care ourselves and we do not need a government to survive. Last time I hit a pothole, I don’t recall thinking I should blame anyone but our local government. Nor when I see that in Hawaii they are so on the brink of the financial abyss that to balance their deficit, they have “furlough Fridays” for school children to save money.
Over and over again, people in this country are hoodwinked into believing that they are going to get something for nothing. The vast majority of economists advocate for deficits in times of downturns to stimulate the economy through government spending to create jobs. However, when people like Scott Brown declare that the economic stimulus package did not create or save one job, it defies the facts. It plays into the right-wing playbook of misinformation. As with any good propaganda, if they say it over and over again in perfect lockstep, there will be people who will buy into the big lies.
Today I received a rational email from a good friend, Steve Fischman. He laid out a list of actions we need to focus on as a people. He entitled it, The Soul of Our People. After pointing out the unselfish response we made in this country to the millions in need in Haiti, he said the following: