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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

3 Tea Party Poopers

The last year and a half’s worth of politics has marked the first time in my life where anything political actually frightens me. I spent the preceding 35 or so years as a happily-registered Republican, watching the ebb and flow of the peaceful transfer of power as the parties battled out their ideological opposition in a manner which only seemed to affect me in an attenuated and muted way. After all, there was so much government between me and the White House, Congress, et al., that by the time any change, upheaval, discontent, etc., made its way to me, it had been watered down to the point of banal irrelevance. In fact, I can’t think of a single bit of government reform that affected my life in any significant way. But in our now outsized-everything world, the otherwise predictable backlash that should have followed the wholesale change of a new party taking over two branches of the government has been replaced by a movement so profoundly mindless and outspoken that I finally get where Thoreau was coming from. So while I’m busy booking a trip to Concord, Mass., I present 3 reasons that the “Tea Party” should make us all very, very afraid:
  1. Falling For You. As any regular reader of mine knows, I’m not the biggest fan of old sayings. There are, however, a few precious gems amidst a sea of mostly useless cliches that do warrant a permanent spot in the public consciousness. And “if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything” is right up there in the top spots. The “tea party” is, at its core, a party of discontent - which only has a clear message/direction if you ask one of them at a time. There hasn’t been a more disparate collection of malcontents since Turkish prison, the Island of Misfit Toys and Britney Spears’ exes. Seriously, this “party” is comprised of everyone from people who believe the President was born in Africa to people who think the core idea in health care reform is to create “death panels” bent on exterminating anyone over age 65. When asked to define its party’s “planks” in mid-2009 via the “Contract from America”, tea party members submitted over one thousand ideas. I don’t think I’ve had a thousand political opinions total - in my life, let alone having that many currently. Seriously, I’ve seen more coherent direction in a mosh pit. Which is, come to think of it, a perfect metaphor for the intellectual focus of this group.

  2. The Dumb Leading The Blind. There haven’t been this many idiots in charge of something since your Prom Committee, and the only thing they could screw up was decorations and punch flavor. I’d rather give a teenager the keys to my car than these clowns the keys to the national government. The “champions” of this cause celebrate simplicity like a badge of honor, and preach the abject fear of anything that can’t be explained without the use of multi-syllable words. It’s as though “Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” got its own political party. Seriously, if you truly believe that we can build a society based on finger-painting, reciting the alphabet and trying really hard not to eat paste - you almost deserve to get shot by some flag-waving militia captain firing his assault rifle into a crowd of people because he thinks he’s seen a Mexican trying to take his factory job. Listen, government is complicated. Economics, especially on a national scale, are even more complicated. The fact that you don’t get what’s going on in Washington D.C., (a) does not mean that it’s a plot to eradicate you (and those with similarly double-digit-ish IQs) from the planet, (b) is not a reason to elect someone with a simpler explanation (because that just means they don’t get it either) and (c) is a fantastic reason to use the world’s greatest collection of easily referenced information for something besides nut-shot videos, midget porn and Facebook. Spotting the idiot in the tea party leadership is like looking for the single guy at a Star Trek convention.

  3. The Cult of Extremity. Like any good cult, the “tea party” lures even the most marginally disillusioned observer in with promises of commiseration and an end to the helplessness inspired by watching the evening news (Damn you, Brian Williams!). You then begin to agree that the government bailout of banks doesn’t seem to be working (though you wouldn’t know macroeconomic principles if they walked up and slapped you) and before you know it, you’re calling for the President to be deported to Kenya and for Arizona cops to have the right to shoot anyone who looks even the least bit “brown” in middle of the street. The “tea party” is like the Spinal Tap of political dissent - better to be loud than be any good. The unofficial front-man of this merry band of idiots, Sarah Palin, has made casual extremity its own fashion statement. She dresses up like Jackie Kennedy, flashes that maternal smile with those sensible but stylish glasses and then confidently declares that she’d make her daughter to have a rape baby, that the President is secretly trying to kill you, and that we’d all be much better off carrying automatic weapons. All the while, the Tea Party Channel (i.e. Fox News) is so slanted that it ought to have runaway truck ramps, and is making millions selling ugly ideas with beautiful people. Bottom line: stupid isn’t the natural enemy of intellect, extreme is.
* * *

The battle lines drawn by these so-called “patriots” simply don’t exist. The Republican party is no more the party of idiots than the Democratic party is the party of intellectuals. The fact of the matter is that both of the parties are rife with fools, pandering and misinformation. And while I’m no more enamored with the current administration than anyone else (despite having voted that direction) I’m certainly not ready to abandon my otherwise reliable good sense and start carrying around hand-written signs and shouting with the NASCAR set. Hyperbole certainly has it’s place in commentary (political and otherwise), but I’ve seen more Nazi references on Fox News in the last year than I have in all of the history classes I’ve ever taken, combined. The “tea party” isn’t scary because it threatens the current administration, it’s scary because it threatens our long-standing tradition of not letting the mentally feeblest amongst us be in charge. Besides, the only people who should be at tea parties are British, 6, or stuffed.


Anonymous said...

"There haven’t been this many idiots in charge of something since your Prom Committee, and the only thing they could screw up was decorations and punch flavor." -This was your line of the year!!! I'm at work reading this right now and can't stop laughing! Of course how bright can I be!? I always have to comment as anonymous because I forgot my google sign in!!


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