The Tea Party folks have our attention. Now what?
There is a tale about a dog that, every day, chased a bus. The poor animal tried over and over to catch the vehicle but, each day, the noisy object of the pooch’s desire escaped. One day, however, the bus made an extra stop and the dog caught the rear bumper, finally victorious. And the dog learned that he had a new and more serious problem: what was he going to do next? What was he going to do with the darn bus?
The Tea Party movement is made up of different groups. There are the crazies, those with anti-Obama obsession and hatred who carry misspelled signs accusing the president of being the same as Hitler, a foreign born pretender to the throne, determined to cause the destruction of America and the slaughter of the elderly and disabled children. These nutty souls live and will continue to live with their paranoia; nothing can be done to introduce reality to these folks. One of my personal favorite nut jobs cannot even say or write the president’s name, never mind his birthplace! She calls him “Barry Soetoro” the name of his stepfather.
Another group within the Tea Party umbrella is that led by Richard Viguerie and Dick Armey. This team has been attempting to use the Tea Parties as a device to purify the Republican Party. Mr. Viguerie, for example, has spent much of the past decade arguing that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were too liberal. He and Mr. Armey now declare that the days of even the most minimal moderation are now over in the Republican Party. These extremist views are now on full display in Florida where Governor Crist is being drummed out of the Party.
What Messrs Viguerie and Armey wish for should be welcomed by Democrats but is not in the best interests of the nation. The country needs strong and vibrant opposing political parties. The nation as a whole is in the ideological center of Right and Left, most people feeling most comfortable in that neighborhood. “Purification” of the GOP forces a candidate to cater to the Far Right fringe to win a primary where chances for election in a general election are slim.
But, as I have written in the past, the Tea Party movement is comprised of many rational and frightened people. They are worried about what they perceive as overpowering national government, oppressive taxation, a society that has lost its moral compass and a general distrust of politicians of both parties. The websites of the Tea Parties are filled with the things the members are against: high taxes, an oppressive federal government, socialism, Obama, failing educational systems, in short, a plethora of grievances. So they want to elect representatives who will fix everything.
And now we’re back to the dog that has the bus in his grasp. What the Hell will he do with it?
The Tea Party movement is the successor to the Ross Perot movement, people dissatisfied with politicians of both parties, sick of partisan squabbling. And the problem these folks have is that they have no coherent positive message. They are against “oppressive taxes”, “socialism”, Barack Obama; but exactly what do they want? Get rid of all socialism, all government entitlement programs? Certainly not to the extent of getting rid of Social Security or Medicare or VA hospitals or benefits. Get rid of oppressive taxes? One may have the right to his or her opinions but not of facts! In fact, middle class taxes are the lowest in over 50 years. Cut local budgets? Sure but then how do you support an adequate police force, a fire and rescue department? What other local services will be cut?
When a politician becomes an office holder, it is to be hoped that it is with the intent of using that position for the public good and not to justify a future election. If he or she is honest, they soon learn the difference between campaigning and holding an office. Slogans won’t cut it. The Partiers have to decide what to do with their recognition. Right now they have the bus in their teeth with no plan on what to do next.