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THE TEA PARTY MOVEMENT: SAME GIFT, DIFFERENT WRAPPING PAPER


 

My previous two posts addressed where the tea party movement gets the majority of its’ financial backing and the general characteristics of those that support the cause.

In this post I want to address the cause itself.  What is it that they want?  What policies do they want to implement?   Generally speaking, the group is made up of many smaller organizations so it is very difficult to get a 100% accurate handle on the policies and actions that they want our elected representatives to take.

The tea party movement wants to be recognized as the only true patriots.  In that regard, there is nothing new here.  This has been going on for a long time.   The movement has co-opted the typical Republican tactic of using key words and phrases to describe their plight.  They throw around rhetorical terms and phrases such as “freedom”, “tyranny”, “Constitution”, “forefathers”, “original intent”, “socialism”, and “taking their country back”. 

It is not difficult at all to see that the terms and phrases they throw around so freely are designed to stir the emotions and actions of their followers by staking the claim that they alone represent the desires and intent of the country’s founding elite.  Conservatives have always made it a point to make the claim that they are the only true representatives of how “it was supposed to be”.  The more vocal elements of the movement have always been the ones to make the most noise about this.

The intent of the rhetoric is to cement the claim that they are the only “true patriots”.  Thinking differently than they do will get you branded as “less American”.  I am sure that supporters of the movement who read this post will completely disagree with these statements.  Of course they do, they are true Americans. Those who do not believe exactly as they do don’t love the country.  As an individual who used to belong to that crowd, I can unequivocally state that their concept of what it means to be a “true patriot” can basically be classified as bandini.  Conceptually, for the more ardent supporters of the tea party, those who are not with them are their enemies and are treated as such.

Tea party supporters want to eliminate excessive government spending, reduce taxes and the federal deficit.  Take a close look at the following statistics before making up your mind as to which administrations had the most effect (positive or negative) on the national debt.

  • 1961-1965Kennedy/Johnson  (-8.3%)
  • 1965-1969Johnson (-8.3%)
  • 1969-1973Nixon (-3.0%)
  • 1973-1977Nixon/Ford (-0.2%)
  • 1977-1981Carter (-3.3%)
  • 1981-1985Reagan +11.3%
  • 1985-1989Reagan +9.3%
  • 1989-1993H.W. Bush +15.6%
  • 1993-1997Clinton (-0.7%)
  • 1997-2001Clinton (-9.0%)
  • 2001-2005G.W. Bush +7.1%
  • 2005-2009G.W. Bush +20%

Every single Democratic administration since the time of John F. Kennedy has presided over policies that resulted in a reduction in the national debt.  Every Republican administration with the exception of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford have presided over policies that resulted in increases in the national debt.  Five straight Republican administrations have presided over policies that have increased the national debt. 

George W. Bushs’ last administration increased the national debt by 20%. His administration presented President Obama a country that was in the worst financial shape since the Great Depression.  There is no way to describe this other than it was a national disaster. 

The Obama administration has put policies in place that have added to the national debt on a level that scares all of us.  You can not look at the policies implemented in efforts to overcome the disaster presided over by the Bush administration without being concerned about the national debt.  All of us, regardless of whether or not we align ourselves with tea party solutions, are nervous about the national debt.

I am not one who takes the same attitude as Dick Cheney about the debt.  Remember he said that “Reagan proved that deficits are don’t matter”.  Obviously they didn’t matter to them while George Bush/Dick Cheney were in office and the Senate and the House of Representatives were in Republican control.  $9 trillion of the present $13 trillion of national debt, was brought to you by the Bush administration in just eight years.  Basically, deficits don’t matter as long as we are in office.

So while I share the concern for the national debt with those who align themselves with the tea party movement, I am not so short-sighted as to believe that giving control of the government to individuals with the same basic philosophies that caused the debt to balloon in the first place is a wise move.  Let me ask a few questions that might give you a different slant on the issues.  I might be considered unpatriotic by some who read these questions but I can live with that.

  • Why is it that those who align with the tea party movement have only recently “gotten religion” about the national debt?
  • Where were their voices during the last five Republican administrations as they ballooned the national debt?
  • Is it possible that their concern about the national debt only occurred when a Democratic administration took over the reigns of the country?
  • Did you expect the current Democratic administration and Congress to continue the policies of G.W. Bush and drive the country into a complete financial meltdown?
  • Do you believe that returning to the policies that have proven to be so disastrous to the country will somehow solve the problem?
  • Do you really believe that electing a rather small number of political neophytes with limited understanding of how things work in Washington will change the thinking of the Republican party?
  • Have you considered that tea party candidates that actually make it to Washington will have limited power to change things and will be forced to “go along to get along” by those currently in power within their caucus?

The tea party wants to limit the influence of government  (regulation) in the free market system.

As covered in one my recent posts, removing regulations designed to protect the American people from the greed of individuals and corporations whose only objective is to make more money has been a major contributor to the country’s financial collapse.  Without legitimate regulations designed to prevent the financial rape of the American people we will have more Enron’s, more BP oil spills, and the like. 

Have you heard this argument before?  You bet you have, it has been coming from Republicans for many years.  Just because the package has a different wrapping, don’t expect that it will do anything but make the rich even richer at the expense of others who are not so fortunate.

You have heard the oft-used phrase that states that doing the same thing and expecting different results is insanity.  The tea party is the same gift wrapped with different paper and ribbon.  There is nothing new about the movements way of doing things. 

Often times  members of a given political group have difficulty understanding how people who think differently could possibly think the way they do.  In this case, those of us who think differently than those who align with the tea party do so because their remedies have been used before without benefit. In fact their remedies have made major contributions to the national disaster inherited by the Obama administration. 

There are those within the tea party movement who question the patriotism of anyone who thinks differently than they do.  Those of us who voice a different opinion risk being called “un-American” or “un-patriotic”.  I will gladly wear that mantle rather than risk placing people into government that want to return to disastrous policies.  Thinking that their presence will somehow make those policies work differently than they have for the past 25 years is insanity.

Questioning the patriotism of someone who doesn’t agree with you politically does nothing to strengthen your political argument.  In fact, it calls attention to the fact that there are times when it is the technique of those whose arguments and policies have failed in the past.  When you can think of nothing new, nothing effective, nothing that will work, question the patriotism of those who think differently.  Even the techniques of some in the tea party movement mimic long-practiced Republican behavior.  Just another piece of the gift that remains the same.

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