Our local paper carried a letter from a Tea Party leader who posed a series of rhetorical questions that would lead others toward Tea Party support. He asked whether his readers wanted:
- More government intrusion into their personal lives.
- Tax increases to make life easier for people who lead unproductive lives.
- Less public employment and more private employment.
- A return to the kind of American government envisioned by our Founding Fathers.
- Domination of public policy by ACORN, the ACLU, the Service Employees International Union, unelected federal czars, etc.
- A return to the American way of life.
I wrote back that his letter was very helpful since I have often been confused about what is on their agenda. I suggested that it would be even more helpful if he would write another in a bit more detail.
- What particular governmental intrusions into personal lives are troubling?
- Are there particular tax increases on the horizon that the Tea Party opposes?
- Who are the persons who lead unproductive lives, and are those lives worthy of any dignity?
- If I want to see less public employment and more private employment, what particular moves would make that happen?
- How important today is what someone believes the Founding Fathers might have thought over two hundred years ago about politics and politicians?
- ACORN is out of business, but what particular threats do the ACLU, the Service Employees International Union, and federal officials with the nickname czar present to the nation?
- What is the American way of life?
Here on this blog I want to go into more detail myself. For instance, from governors of certain states to local TP types everywhere, there is an outcry against governmental intrusion in to personal lives. I wonder if that outcry includes suspension of habeas corpus, warrantless searches, detention without charge and presidential signing statements that divert and void laws according to executive whim? Would restriction of governmental intrusion permit the greater flow of unsafe food, drugs and water? What role would public safety and welfare have in their society and under their government?
The TPs I know see a tax increase around every corner. They are easily egged on by those who want to keep the Bush cuts for the very wealthy and never seem to connect the dots between those cuts, increased deficits and lack of “trickle down” benefit to the rest of society. The tube is filled right now with an ad that easily appeals to an unreflective audience. It complains about “tax increases” on energy companies that, if their special exemptions are reigned in, would probably stop the flow of oil and spell the end of the industry.
At least locally there is a perception that the poor, the oppressed, the afflicted are the victims of their own poor choices, lousy work ethic and lack of self discipline. These are the people who lead unproductive lives, and the government should get out of the business of helping them. Moreover, we would all be better off with Social Security as something like privately invested individual annuity accounts, Medicare run exclusively through private insurance companies, and no, or very little, regulation of the medical-insurance industrial complex. I wonder if they have thought that through?
I’m struck by the constant appeal to the thinking of the Founding Fathers and wonder if any local TP leaders have ever read the Federalist papers. Hamilton, in particular, argued for a strong federal government, and anticipated opposition that he described in terms that are dead on for the current TP movement. No TP friend he.
I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why the Service Employees International Union has been singled out as a fearsome enemy. Maybe someone at a TP convention got short-sheeted? Who knows? And I love the irony of hating the ACLU, the one organization in America willing to take on the government over inappropriate intrusion into personal lives.
There is one point of agreement that I share with the TP, and that’s on the inexcusable level of national debt. Seems to me it’s been driven up by unfunded wars, and the legislative failure to finance Social Security and Medicare by removing the tax caps.
In the end, I recognize that our local TP folks are both frightened and anxious, but that does not seem to be leading them in any useful direction. Still, frightening anxiety sells easily and well, and can be effectively manipulated by others to acquire power and impose will. We shall see if it works. I hope not.