We saw, supposedly, a budget cutting smack-down in the 2010 midterms. The talking heads and deficit hawks have said repeatedly that the heavy Democratic losses were a rejection of heavy spending, a repudiation of the Obama Administration’s “weak” job-creation, and a massive dose of humble pie. We were told that the biggest threats to our nation were government spending and government debt. The Tea Party, we were promised, had the solutions.
This song sounds strangely familiar. Without overindulging in policy debates previously covered in this space ad-nauseum, the initial legislative priorities of the Tea-publicans don’t seem to have much to do with the problems at large. In the Congress, and in state houses across the nation, these folks seem Hell-bent on addressing Roe v. Wade, gay marriage, and union-busting. Efforts at ending “reckless spending” have been exclusively (yes, exclusively) limited to cutting salaries and benefits for working Americans, attacking education, trimming indigent health care, bludgeoning Sesame Street, putting the cuffs on law enforcement, and of course, making the homes of the poor a little colder next winter.
It was 234 years ago that the Jefferson-penned Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 men from the 13 crown colonies of North America. First and foremost, the signing was an act of treason against the Crown and, during the time of Manifest Destiny, and act of sacrilege. While Jefferson and the founders are often acknowledged for their bravery, it was the meticulous legal craftsmanship of the Declaration that proclaimed the credibility of a nation. This move was not a hectic power-grab, nor was it politics run amok. Thomas Jefferson took great care in explaining the case for separation from England.
It is perhaps necessary, in our current political climate, to explain the reasons for rebellion to a new generation of patriots. If our great nation is to see another 200 years, we must all have a clear understanding of our origins. Anyone presuming to talk or write of the simplicity of those origins is either ignorant of the truth, or else ignoring the truth. More than five years of war followed the signing of the Declaration; the construction of the Constitution took a further six. The men who framed the Declaration, rebellion, and Constitution that followed, were farmers and tradesman, lawyers and doctors, pastors and soldiers. The Founding Fathers were anything but a uniform group of idealists.
Lexington, Concord, Patrick Henry, George Washington, and John Hancock’s extra-large signature (so the King would be sure to read it); these are icons of our nation. Our heroes, including their actions and documents, are part of the shared treasure that is America’s heritage. And yet, in today’s politics, there is a movement that proposes to co-opt that history for its own purposes. From Glenn Beck mindlessly dressing up as Thomas Paine, to countless YouTube videos, to rallies dominated by muskets and tri-corner hats,to Rick Barber’s unhinged campaign ad, the Tea Party and its adherents are turning our history into a campaign slogan.
To be sure, there is nothing wrong with advocating for a libertarian approach to government (and the drastic reduction in taxes and regulations it supports); it is a perfectly rational argument. There is nothing wrong with advocating for a balanced budget amendment, which can also be rationally argued for. There is no great crime or moral deficiency in being either liberal or conservative. Nor is there any loss in dignity attached to being somewhere in between. The damming moral and ethical component to the Tea Party’s method, is that they seek to deliver a one-sided veiw of our nation’s history with the goal of rationalizing its own political agenda.
The pundits are in overdrive on the subject of the so-called entitlements. The theme of conversation is fairly simple;
- Greece and Portugal are broke
- Greece and Portugal are large welfare states
- The U.S. welfare state is large and growing
- The U.S. will soon be broke
- We need to dismantle the U.S. welfare state
The pundits certainly are in overdrive, and proving every day that speed does in fact kill. The ultimate target of this theme, a theme being driven through financial reporters who got F’s in their ECON 101 courses, is the privatization of Social Security and Medicare. Never mind the brief use of Medicare as a tool for the right in its fight against health care reform. That was then, this is now. Privatizing the two pillars of the U.S. retirement system would drive $2 trillion or more annually, into the hands of Wall Street investment concerns. We have all seen how much profit those boys on the Street can generate even while they are losing their investor’s money. Combined with Grover Norquist’s push to strip away taxes and Americans making more than $250,000 per year, and you get a $2.5 trillion Wall Street windfall; an annual bailout if you will…and a redistribution of money away from the working class.
The House Minority Leader, John Boehner, issued a message today that underlined the American process. While acknowledging the anger over the law, Rep. Boehner reminded Americans that violence and intimidation are not the tools of our democracy. He encouraged those that were most angry to register to vote and lead others to do the same. The House Minority Whip, Eric Cantor, also condemmed the violence while making the claim that Democrats are at fault. The reporting of his press conference is understandably mixed, depending on who is doing the reporting.
The Rational Middle feels that Rep. Cantor may have a point about the Democratic Party’s response to the ugly displays outside the capitol over the weekend. While it is the opinion of this site that reckless and baseless accusations about the plan by Republicans are the source of the problem, the use of the attacks in fund-raising material by the Democratic National Committee is both crass and irresponsible. Acknowledge the attacks and talk about the causes, then leave the issue alone. Dwelling on the ignorance and hatred of a few does the many a disservice.
Across the nation tonight, millions of armed Liberals lurk in the shadows, waiting for unwary Tea-Partiers to cross their path. Their Socialist agenda advanced, the liberal hordes look next to the guns and values of American Conservative families. Glenn Beck’s doomsday is upon us all!
What the heck is going on with our nation? For the last nine months, a series of bills have been debated that would attempt to resolve a problem that better than 75% of the citizens believe needs to be solved. The bill signed into law was consistently opposed by 45%-50% of the nation that hated it, and the 10%-15% of the nation that felt it wasn’t LIBERAL enough. Do not take my word for it; go to this poll, and this poll. A majority of your neighbors wanted something to be done along the lines of what was signed into law by the President. If you are one of the many who believe that this bill is wrong, for any reason, then you can be thankful that you live in the United States. There are a number of democratic avenues for redress of grievances available to the citizens of this proud nation; many of which I will cover below. I would also note that most of the items in the bill that anger folks the most, don’t take effect until 2014.