Tag Archives: GOP

The Tea Party movement and why Liberals are so unhappy about it

I’m growing pretty tired of listening to Conservative politicians, surrogates, and commentators explain how elitist and arrogant Liberals are in their depictions and discussions of the Tea Party movement. Now, of course, the very nature of these arguments destroys their validity by constantly claiming that Liberals are elitist and arrogant, but I want to suggest that mainline conservatives are misreading what they see as snooty contempt.

Liberals aren’t “freaked out” by the Tea Party because they think it’s silly, regressive, and generally filled with rednecks (though many do believe this), but rather because the Tea Party has no ideological coherency. Clearly, the point can be made that the expectation of ideological coherency is, in itself, elitist or whatever, but what we are really looking at is the basic expectation of rationality in American public discourse. So far, Liberals have watched Tea Party members label Obama a socialist, communist, Maoist, Stalinist, Muslim, fascist Nazi, which for students of history makes no sense. How can somebody be both Stalinist and a Nazi? Anybody remember World War II (besides the clear ideological incompatibilities)?

Yes, Liberal sarcasm makes it sound like the Tea Party is being scolded for getting an ‘F’ in high school history, but what that masks is a legitimate fear that a movement has formed glorifying this sense that facts are irrelevant and actually elitist. What that world-view means is that I could claim absolutely anything, and not be held responsible for what I say. So, for instance, if I were to say that George Washington hated Communists that would be alright, regardless of the obvious problem with this statement. That’s a lie, but benign. And if I were to say that Republicans are attempting to pass legislation that will allow banks to accept children as payment, can you prove me wrong? Well, even if you could, it wouldn’t matter because trying to prove something through the use of facts shows that you are an “other.” Once you are an “other,” an insular group couldn’t care less what you think because you have been delegitimized.

The Tea Party is quite obviously made up of many people who are really more interested in fiscal responsibility than in holding up Hitler-Obama signs. Unfortunately, these are not the people who make it onto television or into news stories. Frankly, showing an ideologically coherent Tea Party limits the GOP and Conservative media’s ability to harness the movement for literally any purpose, regardless of how far it may be from the Tea Party’s original intent. Tea Party members become incensed when accused of across-the-board racism, as they should be, but do they really not see where Liberals are getting this from? This sense wasn’t born out of some memo written by radical Liberals living in a secret bunker underneath the streets of San Francisco, but rather from an inability to figure out what else could account for what appears to be a severe and irrational over-reaction to some fairly moderate reforms (Yes. Healthcare was moderate). Hearing the actual use of the N-word is not the impetus. Watching thousands of people across the country claim that Obama is a communist fascist, which again is ideologically impossible and thus perceived as disingenuous, is what gives Liberals cause to believe that there is really a different underlying sentiment.

Liberals don’t really believe that Tea Party members are just copying Glenn Beck’s talking points (which is actually giving them a lot more credit than Conservatives believe Liberals are even biologically capable of), but that Tea Party members themselves are purging facts and mixing up political and economic systems on purpose to dupe others at the behest of people like Glenn Back and the GOP. When Liberals see signs that depict Obama with a Hitler mustache, there is a general feeling that since Obama’s politics are so unlike Hitler’s as to make the comparison silly and deceptive, that what the sign must really be saying is that Obama, like Hitler, is again the “other,” the enemy, a foreigner in our midst. He’s unlike “us” and thus can’t represent “us.” That kind of tribalism would seem scary and un-American to ANY party that stands in opposition.

Right now, the Tea Party is ideologically incoherent because it a) contains many people with different foci, and b) because the Republican Party and popular Conservatives (as opposed to intellectual) have turned it into the fundraising and activist arm of the GOP. Knowing this, Liberals should expect this irrationality. The Republican platform is filled with inconsistency, as is the Democrats’, and thus turning it into quick three-word yells without the spin and gloss of seasoned politicos is inevitably problematic. This is not the Tea Party’s fault. This is the fault of Republicans who have convinced regular people to shill for absurd political positions (or oppositions) to help their 2010 chances.

Tea Party leaders need to sit down by themselves and hash out a list of coherent political goals. For example, they can’t both fiercely fight to preserve Medicare and Social Security and call HCR a government takeover of our healthcare system for which they want full repeal. They need to decide whether they want repeal more or less than they want Medicare and Social Security. The Tea Party won’t be seen as a legitimate player by the Left or independent lovers of ideological consistency until they get past things like this that just appear irrational, hypocritical, and self-serving. I believe there is indeed opportunity for the Tea Party activists to perhaps play a role in policy-making. They just need to decide if they would rather be “patriots” or Republicans first.

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Maybe They Just Want to Belong? Confederate History Month and the Tea Party

It’s been a really, really long time since I last posted. This time around, I hope to vastly improve on the quality of my former posts (it’s always strange looking back at opinion bits and realizing that you kind of sound like a moron…eh). I guess we’ll just see…

This is not a true “post” in the sense that any of this is meant to be coherent. Rather, just a jumble of thoughts I can’t get out of my head at 2:23am. In fact, this was originally written as a comment for an article on NY Liberal State of Mind (you might want to read this first), but I jumped over here before clicking the send…:

I’m from the South, North Carolina specifically. That may not be important to impart, but having spent the vast majority of my life in the South, I have had plenty of opportunity for observation. Having said that, I will now make a ridiculous claim.  I think I might understand, to some degree and academically, a bit of the need that white southerners feel to “honor” the Confederacy. Let me just state that I do not support, to any degree, a Confederate History Month, or any sort of dismissal of Slavery. Leaving Slavery out of the Civil War is like leaving religion out of the history of the Crusades- absurd, historically inaccurate and just, plain bad (“wrong” seems like an indictment too light). My theory, though, is this:

Essentially, I think it comes down to the sense that, as the U.S. became more mobile, as more people began moving into the Southern states and others out, the structures of the original community organizational schemes were lost and those people left behind, aka white southerners, were left feeling not a part of any particular community. A century ago, white southerners, for the most part, would have either been part of a town community filled with people they knew because there wasn’t that much mobility and they had all lived there for a fair amount of time, or they were newer to the country and perhaps still identified with their origin nationality (Irish, Germans, Italians, etc), or they were still identified with a specific Southern church community. All of these areas provided identities for those who were a part of them. Now that the organizational structures are gone, white southerners are those with power but no sense of identity or self, no greater organization into community.

When I say, “I’m Jewish,” I’m claiming a host of experiences, point of view, and history that are specific and give me a place in the world. White southerners have no label like that. Though there are those who believe that labels are generally detrimental, we all use them to self-identity and show identification with larger groups that we consider ourselves a part of. White southerners only have, for the most part, a shared geographic history. Memories of the Confederacy do remind them of a better South as long as they forget that slaves were not just there for the “paternal coddling,” but I think that behind the portion of hardcore racists, most of these people just want to be a part of something.

I see the same thing in the Tea Party. There is, of course, an element of the Tea Party movement that is legitimately racist and just afraid of the black man in the White House, but I think the majority of Tea Party members are looking to be part of a group, to belong somewhere, something we all desire. This doesn’t excuse the bad behavior by some and lack of condemnation by most, but it seems to explain, in my mind, their totally contradictory and inexplicable ‘ideology.’ The ideology isn’t what’s most important, the important part really is the party itself.

Goodnight!

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Jon Stewart on Health Care Reform- Pt. 2 (With “M.D.” John Hodgman)

Every American becomes a congressman and sick people move to a leper resort — all paid for by your kidneys.

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Jon Stewart Discusses Health Care Reform- Pt. 1

Republican scare tactics filter into the real debate on health care reform, taking their toll on President Obama’s sales pitch.

HILARIOUS!

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My Healthcare Day Dream…In All of its Most Likely Unconstitutional Glory.

Here is my dream healthcare plan (it’s most likely unconstitutional, practically impossible, doesn’t address really any of the nuanced issues, and is highly unorthodox). Regardless, I do believe that it represents the greatest use of democratic principles:

Step 1: Design a strong public healthcare option in Congress. Forget about the rest of it, just make sure the public option is everything that it should be (“Socialist” or not). 

Step 2: Figure out how to set aside a chunk of money to pay for the public option. When Blue Dogs and Republicans get upset, just let them talk.

Step 3: Declare that we believe each state should have the right to decide whether or not to adopt this public option. Those who don’t want it, don’t have to have it. How can those who believe in States Rights not accept this? Let the advertising and mudslinging, state by state, begin!

Step 4: Put it on the ballot, state by state, and allow the citizens to vote on it.

Step 5: Those states where the proposition passes will have the public option implemented in their state (which will not take away the right to keep current coverage for those who are happy already), and will receive the necessary federal funding (as well as any other funding being provided by other elements of the healthcare industry).

Everybody (or at least a voting majority) gets what they want!

Epilogue: Two things might happen in this scenario- a) the vast majority of states could pass the prop, thus taking the decision making out of the politically motivated hands of their clearly incompetent representatives. This would be extremely bad news for Republicans. Or, b) the measure passes in some states (perhaps those that light up blue), but not others. If this happens, I foresee massive migrations over the next decade to states that offer a public plan, thus cutting down populations in some states and adding to others. This of course will have a major effect on the number of representatives allotted to a state, etc, but at least these states will be able to save themselves from what they perceive to be Socialism. 

Of course this is a pipe dream. But, then again, what would be so wrong with letting each state decide? Wouldn’t that be extraordinarily democratic? It would certainly serve to diffuse a lot of the political pressure on Congress. Then perhaps they could put together some legislation that will actually work.

UPDATE: I don’t believe that only those who are poor and uninsured would migrate to states with a public option. Rather, I think it would be a major selling point for businesses who would no longer have to pay for their employees’ healthcare, as well as for anybody with domestic help who pays for healthcare for their employees (ie upper middle class+).

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McConnell: Message Is Fine, Messengers Not So Great

Washington Wire‘s Susan Davis reports this story:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t believe the Republican Party has the wrong message, just the wrong messengers.

“We don’t think it’s a flawed message as much as we haven’t had the right candidates out there to put these races in the win column and we’re working very hard to turn it around,” McConnell told reporters today at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Senate Republicans have lost about a dozen seats in the previous two election cycles, and now control just 41 seats unless Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman scores an upset in the ongoing recount battle against Democrat Al Franken.

McConnell identified candidate recruitment as the biggest challenge the party has faced in recent years, noting that it was “really hard” to convince Republicans to run with an unpopular Republican president in office and a sour electorate.

He said he is working with Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who is running the campaign operation, to turn it around in 2010. “I’m optimistic that we’re going to do a lot better in candidate recruitment in this cycle than we have over the last two,” he said, “And it’s kind of a statement of the obvious that the better candidate you have the more likely you are to win. So I think that’s the starting place.”

McConnell likewise expressed frustration at the lack of diversity in the Senate Republican ranks. “I’m not happy with the fact that our only Hispanic member of the Republican Conference has retired,” he said of retiring Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, “We don’t have nearly as many women senators in the Republican Conference as we’d like to have. We’re working on all of those things.”

The minority leader was less candid, however, when asked about home state GOP Sen. Jim Bunning, who has publicly clashed with Cornyn and the press in recent weeks over his re-election bid. Some Republicans believe the party will have a better chance to hold on to the seat if Bunning, 77 years old, retires.

“I don’t have any observations on that,” McConnell said.

So…what’s the message? Low spending, low taxes? Was McCain unable to deliver this message? I thought I heard it loud and clear. If I’m wrong, if there’s a significantly more comprehensive and perhaps fresher message that I have yet to hear articulated, I think Senator McConnell should do the honors.

At the same time, I feel it odd that Senator McConnell seems to be stressing that the candidates his own party put up for election, candidates I want to assume the GOP thought would do a good job, were just…well…bad.

Perhaps the inability to recruit real talent  and the quality of the message are somehow related…

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GOP: The First 50 Days

Craig Crawford over at CQ’s Trail Mix put together this great video highlighting the GOP’s first 50 days of the new political term:

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