I like a good political rally. As an independent moderate, I enjoy listening to both sides and coming to my own conclusions on where the truth is in all the politics. I’ve been known to make solid, impassioned arguments solely for the opportunity to hear myself talk sometimes, even. Rhetoric can be good, clean fun.
This is how the Tea Party movement began in this country; a group of people got together as way to protest what they felt like was wasteful government spending on bail outs and special deals. Fun. Some people even dressed up in little colonial costumes and read from scrolls. Nice.
The “Tea Party” designation is a throwback to the famous Boston Tea Party where colonists illegally boarded a vessel, tastelessly ‘disguised’ as Native Americans (I don’t know who would ever mistake a bunch of milky white europeans for Native Americans – but whatever…), and dispensed with the British tea that was aboard in protest of the excise taxes that were being charged to goods imported into the colonies. Not exactly a 1:1 mapping, but I can see the poetically American notion of taking a pleasant thing like an afternoon “Tea Party” and turning it into something violent, loud, crazy, and weird. What is more American than that?
This makes great theater and a fun story for the nightly news.
But then Fox News had to jump on board. And Glenn Beck. And then other people wanted a Tea Party. Then there were more of them. Then Fox News manufactured an entire day of Tea Party coverage (made for a real snoozer of a day on a cable news station).
Not surprisingly, serious politicians, the ones in office and the ones running for office, took notice and decided this might be at least a short-term ‘wave’ they can ride in the seriously identity deficient Republican party and the seriously under-heard Libertarian party. Largely conservative places (like Texas) started a horse race to be the most conservative, most pro-Tea-Party candidate, which led to many gaffes like Governor Perry’s secessionist talk.
But where does the Tea Party go from here? Even Karl Rove has weighed in on the issue with an op-ed in the WSJ. He strangely recommended that the Tea Party stay unaffiliated with any of the existing parties.
Why? Why would Karl write an op-ed asking the Tea Partiers to butt out of his party? Couldn’t the GOP use some new energy in their base? Couldn’t they rally around the banner of “stop the wasteful government spending” as a 2010 or 2012 theme, as resonant as “Change” was for 2008?
Well, whatever Rove is thinking, I have my own theory on the Tea Parties. They annoy me because they are as useless as the Republican minority in Congress. All they can say is “No.” The Tea Party has no solutions. They aren’t proposing a better way that we could recover from the recession. They aren’t proposing a better way to unwind the mess caused by the financial collapse. They aren’t supporting new financial reform or regulation. They aren’t paving a way forward. They are just sitting on the corner, whining and complaining.
Recently, in our marriage, I’ve been teasing A2 that she is becoming the “Party of No.” This began sometime around our anniversary when we saw Alice in Wonderland and cracked up over the Red Queen’s oft-repeated slogan “Off with his head.”
Now, whenever I make a disagreeable suggestion to my wife, it’s met with a quick, sharp “No” followed with a resounding “Off with your head!”
It’s hard living with such a lady… but someone patient and loving has to do it.