Sunday, April 19, 2009

And now the angst of Tea Party Politics

The Rally
I attended the Macon (GA) Tea Party during lunch this past Wednesday. It was unclear who organized it, and which organization(s) were behind it, but being loosely billed as a tax protest I felt obligated to show my support.

It was already being labeled in the media as an astroturf campaign organized by billionaires to create the illusion of a grassroots movement against government spending and taxes. Since I participated in several past "tea party" actions during the Ron Paul presidential campaign, and was aware of CNBC's Rick Santelli's impromtu call for a protest against the bailouts and how motivating that was to the libertarian/liberty groups I occasionally frequent, I assumed the media branding was more propaganda than actual truth.

There were about 300 people present when I got there, and about half of them had all sorts of clever signs that mostly reflected an anti-tax, anti-government sentiment. Signs ran the gamut from "Don't Tread on Me" to "T(axed) E(nough) A(lready) Party" to "Don't Share My Wealth, Share My Work Ethic" to "Pass the Fair Tax." I walked around and through the crowd several times trying to read all of them while hoping to recognize friends I'd met through the Ron Paul campaign. I only encountered three or four that I knew, but it was pointed out to me several others who were also involved.

I read somewhere that the state libertarian party was behind at least some of these rallies, and was aware that Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty supporters were enthusiastic about them also, but still was not sure who/what was really behind this one. Local talk radio personality Chris Krok assumed credit for organizing the event, but one of the speakers tried to attribute the organization "Americans for Prosperity" as the event organizer, and instructed people to sign up with the volunteer making her way through the crowd. Since I consider the DC-based AFP to be more concerned with redirecting government resources toward big business rather than reducing the size of government and spending, this Tea Party's significance suddenly began to wane.

I started to realize that this grassroots effort was in the process of being hijacked by those whose agenda was not entirely in sync with the crowd's. This assessment became even more pronounced when the participating elected officials began to hoist "socialist/fascist Obama" above the crowd as the single unifying target toward which all our anger should be channeled.

Prior to handing the mic over to some of the elected officials, a few regular folks made speeches that were right on point. Their speeches were focused on genuine conservative issues that included shrinking the size of government, reducing both taxes and spending, restoring freedom and returning to the principles of our country's founders (but alas no mention whatsoever of the insidious inflation tax). However, these speakers had the gall to suggest that we hold our representatives accountable by voting them out of office when their votes violate these principles (ie. the bailouts), be they democrats or republicans. And the crowd seemed to receive these remarks with enthusiasm.

But as one elected official after another took the mic, the rally shifted from its original anti-tax tenor to the primal anti-Obama (and by extension anti-liberal) rage. I commented to a friend that the rally was starting to sound more like an attempt to reinvigorate the GOP than to address the issue of taxation. A stranger overheard me and turned around to say that's correct, that's what we're trying to do. I asked him what about the tax issue, and he said they talked about the Fair Tax a few minutes ago. I just rolled my eyes and sauntered on, trying to come up with a concise rebuttal that explains how horrible the Fair Tax is and how it's designed to keep the government as corrupt and well-fed as it is now, in case the opportunity comes up again in the next few minutes.

By this time I'm no more hopeful that we'll accomplish any significant reductions in the government's size, spending or modes of taxation than before the rally started. This event had truly been overtaken by establishment party members and their accomplices intent only on deflecting all accountability and protecting the status quo.

In retrospect, I wish I'd had the guts to ask for the mic for two seconds and thank everyone for being here and especially the speakers who remained on point, turn to the crowd and empower them with their first assignment as a participant of this tea party movement: charge them with the task to impose accountability on our representatives by firing every representative who voted for any of the bailouts, and rally them as an army who's got Congress in its sights. "We're coming after you, Congress! If you voted for TARP I, TARP II, The Stimulus, the Auto Bailouts, then you're fired! Accountability starts right here, right now!" Sigh.. the good stuff always happens in retrospect.

The Groups
So "Americans for Prosperity" has gotten its tentacles into the movement; how deeply or irreversibly remains to be seen. Browsing around the web to grasp the magnitude of the event nationwide, I ran across these tidbits that only convolute the whole thing into a heaping pile of mess.

1. The libertarians have held tax-day anti-tax rallies for years, before Ron Paul's latest presidential campaign, though they weren't called Tea Parties. The libertarians are rightfully feeling a little bitter over the lack of attribution for this event, with not even an utterance of the word "libertarian" in any of the national media coverage. Thankfully, one tv station included a few words from local libertarian icon David Corr castigating the GOP for taking over and explaining the anti-tax rally origins.

National media coverage: what a joke! ... more on that later.

2. Apparently the "T(axed) E(nough) A(lready) Party" slogan is the brainchild of the American Family Association, whose theocratic extremist agenda includes more government control over all aspects of our lives, and is one of the main reasons the GOP has fallen out of favor with the masses. Come to find out the AFA, in concert with globalist Newt Gingrich and his American Solutions organization, are one of the leading sponsors of this event, which jades the movement even more. And it saddens me that I saw at least 20-30 Taxed Enough Already signs at the rally.

3. FOX News heavily promoted this event, which should give us pause to consider whether the perceived intent of the participants far and wide is genuine, since FNC's one notable consistency is its commitment to run interference for any criticism of the GOP. However, I've come to the conclusion that alot of the criticism from the left over Fox's coverage of these rallies is actually rooted in jealousy.

Over the last decade, the left held numerous nationally-coordinated rallies designed to draw attention to everything from human rights violations of corporations to the largely ignored anti-war sentiment felt across the country. But they never had the aid of a national broadcast network to bring these events into people's living rooms like they'd hoped would occur. So the mere fact that Fox promoted, and then spent ample time covering, these rallies makes them just a little upset. I think the word for that is butthurt, lol.

The Solution
My solution to preventing Newt, et al from being successful in their attempts to ride our angst back into power is to faithfully adhere to the accountability pledge, with only one condition placed on the leading challengers: no former congressmen allowed. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Newt.

"I vow to support the leading challenger of every congressman and senator who voted "yes" on any of the bailouts, regardless of his/her party affiliation, and will continue to do so until the last one of the big spenders has been FIRED."

How about you?


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tea Party politics

I went to the local tea party on April 15th and came away with mixed feelings that I'll share later. What I want to share today is a very inspiring clip from a tea party in South Carolina. The speaker is GOP representative Gresham Barrett, who supported both the $700 billion TARP bailout and the current Obama stimulus package. He's come to be known to his own as Bailout Barrett.

The crowd relentlessly rejects him throughout his speech, and watching this renews my hope that we the people will indeed rise to the occasion and start tossing these faux conservatives out on their butts.

I would like nothing better than to see the tea party movement immediately adopt an interim agenda to hold the big spenders in Congress accountable regardless of their party affiliation, by uniting the people to remove them from office. Anyone who voted for any of the bailouts MUST BE FIRED in the next election, and that means uniting behind the leading challenger in order to be successful in finally throwing the bums out.

So here and now, I'll take the accountability pledge, as a grassroots participant in the tea party movement:
"I vow to support the leading challenger of every congressman and senator who voted "yes" on any of the bailouts, regardless of his/her party affiliation, and will continue to do so until the last one of the big spenders has been FIRED."
Hopefully this sort of action will diminish the clutches of neocons and party insiders on the movement and restore the integrity of the voters' intent. In addition to actually holding our representatives accountable for once by the only means available to us.

Pass it on.