Ramble On

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tea Party Irony - part 2

Maybe it’s just simple old me, but in my mind I cannot separate the words and deeds of many of these Tea Party candidates from any other policies this group is trying to champion – whether I agree that they are good ideas or not. The risk that these fringe positions present to our Democracy is just too great. We are all frustrated by the pace of the recovery but we cannot allow those frustrations to cloud our judgment and take our country backwards.

I want to start the post today with a few follow-up thoughts I need to add to yesterday’s, in which I was trying to capture some things that went through my mind while following an RV on Skyline Drive. I don’t begrudge the couple I wrote about yesterday anything; after all, we were both out for the same thing Sunday morning, a bit of recreation in the beautiful setting we have there in Shenandoah. I am sure their retirement is well-earned – and that we all should be able to enjoy a worry-free situation at that age.

And that is really what it’s all about for me, as a Democrat. That couple was enjoying a lifestyle that all of us are trying to earn. The policies our party's candidates propose are meant to preserve and protect the country at large, and create those kinds of opportunities for all, without a preference over one group or another. Yet, when I hear some of the statements coming from some politicians or candidates today – Palin, Miller, Angle, and Paul, to name a few – I don’t hear proposals that resonate with that same goal.

Palin, who this week, by not ruling out a run, threw her hat in the ring for president in 2012, "if there is no candidate out there who seeks to protect the Constitution the way she does" (paraphrased)…yet the candidates she has endorsed have all stated for the record that they would repeal elements of that very same Constitution. Maybe they haven’t read it? It includes instructions on how to amend it…everything in there, subsequent to the first ten amendments, are there because the majority of the country voted in favor of them.

Miller, the Alaskan candidate for Senate, recently suggested that East German policies might work for us here in the United States. Having served in Berlin and closely observed East German policies at work for a few years, I don’t even have to try and digest anything else this guy has to say – I certainly don’t have the patience after such an outrageous concept.

While we are on the topic of these two Alaskans I can’t leave another rhetorical argument aside. That state receives one of the largest shares of federal subsidies per capita of any in the Union. These “income redistributions” from the lower 48 form another irony, in that this is a major “against” issue for the Tea Party, a banner that these two Alaskan politicians proudly fly. At least the write-in candidate in that state, Murkowski, has embraced the simple truth: apparently it’s an Alaskan senator’s job to come to Washington in order to bring home the bacon. If Miller wins, I predict: status quo.

Then we look at Angle from Nevada, who looks to be the favorite for that Senate race – despite racist campaign ads and some mind-boggling speeches to children about race. Some of the early rallying cries for Tea Party activism were “I want my country back.” Exactly how far back does Angle want to take us?

I’ll stop after a note about Paul, the Kentucky candidate – who also looks to be headed for the Senate. The footage of one of his campaign workers stomping someone – a woman, in fact – and the unapologetic remarks that follow this incident, is the single lasting image I will be associating with the Tea Party for the next few years. That is why I put together these two posts. 

Paul’s early statements in his campaign were problematic as well – ones he made about revisiting portions of the Civil Rights Act. Another Constitution lover and protector, right?…at least the part of it that he likes.

In conclusion, I’d add that there is nothing wrong about being frustrated by the need for change, or by the pace of implementing it. That's part of why the Founding Fathers established the electoral cycles they did.  But we need to be careful about who we elect in response to that frustration. The positions I highlighted above are part of the package you get with the Tea Party – they can’t be separated from other parts of the platform.

To me, that means we’ll have to be carefully diligent about protecting the Constitution over the next few years, because Palin, Miller, Angle and Paul are no friends of it. There is a real chance that their era will leave our country with lasting damage, and that is a shame.

I received some comments and feedback from friends on both sides of some of the issues here. I will try to assemble them into follow-up posts over the weekend, and get them up on Monday.

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