Howard Beale, does the name ring a bell? He was the impassioned newsman from the movie Network who coined the famous line, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” In the movie he became a voice, a voice with a simple message that people responded to. Today our Howard Beale is The Tea Party. The Tea Party people apparently are all “Mad as hell,” and they aren’t gonna take it anymore! In fact they have made this abundantly clear with their rallies, and marches, and, how should I put it, oh so interesting and inventive characterizations of our President and what his “true” intentions are for our country. If we were to blindly accept what the Tea Party movement tells us, then we would be required to believe that President Obama, most likely was not born in the country and therefore has no right to be president in the first place. We would have to believe that he hates white people, even though his mother was white, which actually makes him half white, which would mean not only would he have to hate his mother but fifty percent of his own family not to mention himself, well at least half of himself. We would also have to believe that he is a Socialist, or Fascist, or Communist, or Nazi, all of which apparently to the Tea Partiers is interchangeable, and he wants to turn our nation into a socialist state. If I’m not mistaken, didn’t the President just reject the idea of government controlled, universal health care, and refused to even include a government run public option in the recent health care insurance reform act? I guess if I’m gonna fully accept the rhetoric of the Tea Party movement, then yes, I am mistaken.
But just to make certain that I fully understood the Tea Party movement I wanted to go by more than just talking points from the liberal media, so I decided to do some research on my own. I decided to look at Tea Party sponsored web sites and I decided to Google, “Tea Party platform”. The interesting thing wasn’t what I found, but instead was what I didn’t find, and that was a platform. That is because there is no Tea Party, well at least not in the sense of a Republican Party or a Democratic Party. There is no actual “party.” What there really is, is a bunch of sore loser, pissed off Republicans, who got way to comfortable during the eight years of the Bush administration, and for some odd reason were just fine with having a President who wasn’t able to finish a war that we should have been in, who started a war under completely false pretenses, that we shouldn’t have been in, who diverted billions of dollars away from issues at home such as education, infrastructure, strengthening our boarders, investing in small and medium size businesses, and job creation, just to name a few, in order to pay for these wars, who completely deregulated the mortgage and banking industries that led to the eventual collapse of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, a record number of foreclosures and bankruptcies and a complete meltdown of the stock market, with the ultimate demise of Lehman Brothers and the bailout of AIG. They became all too comfortable with eight years of George Bush running our country into the ground, destroying us financially, and decimating our relations in the world with foreign governments and there people. I’m not sure what ever happened to coming together as a nation and standing behind the candidate who won, but I guess that doesn’t apply when he supports gay rights, stem cell research, thinks it’s OK for women to have abortions in the case of rape or incest, and is black.
What the Tea Party really is, is nothing more then a backlash, but not a backlash against the Democrats or the President, but against the Republicans. The fact is, in 2008 the Republicans didn’t simply loose, they were obliterated on all fronts. The election became more of a referendum on the dissatisfaction of the country with eight years of George Bush and the Republicans, then on the election of Barack Obama. They became a party with out direction, without focus, and without a voice. They were lost and so were the people who followed them. The Tea Party grew out of this. Unfortunately for the Republicans, the loudest voices became the most radical, and the most extreme in their views. They became the voice while the mainstream Republicans faded into the background. And this is where the problem lies for the Republicans. The voice of the Republican party, the ones to rise from the ashes and speak the loudest are those that associate themselves with the Tea Party movement. And in this lies another problem for the Republicans. The voice that is the loudest is also the most disorganized and that is because unlike the Republican party, the Tea Party movement has no central leadership. It is a mish mosh of various groups, with different platforms and with various degrees of radicalism. And this is exactly why I could not find a central platform. It simply does not exist. The fact is, the Tea Party movement is the best thing that could have ever happen to the Democratic party. The Tea Party is nothing but a cancer on the GOP. Instead of bringing them together under one voice that could provide true leadership it has splintered and divided the Republicans. The Tea Party, of no fault but their own, has come to be associated with redneck bigots, who can’t correctly spell a protest sign and thinks Obama is like Hitler. Whether this characterization is accurate or not, it is not something that your average Republican congress person wants to be associated with. There is a reason why the most prominent “politician” associated with the Tea Party movement is Sarah Palin. It is because most legitimate Republican congressmen and women won’t come within ten miles of a Tea Party rally.
What is most interesting about the majority of the people who make up the members of the Tea Party movement is that they are also the people who will benefit the most from the initiatives of the Obama administration. They fall within the 98% of the Americans who don’t make above $250,000 and will benefit from the proposed tax cuts. They are the uninsured and underinsured who will be able to obtain affordable health insurance regardless of there employment status or previous medical conditions. They are the consumers who have been abused by Wall Street, the banking industry and the credit card companies and will now have a voice fighting for them by the appointment of Elizabeth Warren to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. What the Tea Party members don’t seem to realize is that the best thing that ever happened to them was President Obama yet they continue to fight against him as if he is the enemy. They were perfectly happy with President Bush who fought for big business while neglecting the rest of the country yet they demonize a President who fights for the rights of the middle class. I understand that there are ideological differences when it comes to issues involved with religion, like abortion or gay rights, and I also understand that many can’t get past the fact that we have a president whose name sounds like none other that we have had in the past, and I further understand that for many in the Tea Party movement the color of our Presidents skin may be an issue, whether they want to admit it publicly or not, but the bottom line is that this administration is focused on the issues that effect the bottom ninety-eight percent of Americans and not only the top two percent earners in this country who can actually afford the higher tax burden. And further more the fact is that regardless of the party that you follow, the policies of George W. Bush simply failed and that is why President Obama was elected. It is going to take much longer then twenty months to turn around an economy that took eight years to be decimated my President Bush. The members of the Tea Party movement decided long before President Obama was elected, long before the Tea Party movement even existed that from day one they would never give Obama a chance, and unfortunately even if things improve for all of us, they never will. Even if the President succeeds in turning this economy and the job market around, the Tea Party movement will come up with reasons that will have nothing to do with the President and may even claim he hampered the efforts.
In my research for a Tea Party Platform, what I was able to find was a number of different policy statements put together by different factions of the Tea Party movement. These policy statements were created as guidelines for what to ask local candidates so that a Tea Party member could decide if that candidate fits in with the values of the local Tea Party group. Candidates were to be asked if they agreed or disagreed with these statements. These are a sample of the statements that I found:
1. The Right to Life is a Constitutional right, therefore innocent human beings should have legal protection from conception until natural death. If you hold any exceptions please state them.
- Abortion due to rape or incest is not an option according to most Tea Party factions.
2. The regulation of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere should be left to G-d and not government and I oppose all measures of Cap and Trade as well as the teaching of global warming theory in our schools.
- Apparently to the Tea Party, global warming is just a theory with no scientific evidence to back it up and G-d forbid they talk about it is schools. Why this has become a political issue I have no idea. Maybe it’s guilt or simply denial that we were responsible for f—king up the planet.3. Marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman, any other type of Union is not marriage.
- That’s right, g-d forbid a gay couple should have the rights as any other couple in this country. No heterosexual couples ever screw up their kids lives.
4. Children should not be placed into foster homes where the parents are homosexual, bisexual, or transgendered.- But having children in homes with opposite sex couples who are sexual abusers, drunks, drug users, physical abusers, and so on is apparently fine. It’s only homosexual, bisexual, or transgendered persons that are called out.
5. Parental consent should be required for sex education that teaches more than direct abstinence.
- We all know that if we don’t tell kids about sex, they won’t do it.
6. Only US Citizens should be allowed to vote and a photo ID should always be required to vote.
- Exactly when did we start allowing non-U.S. citizens to start voting?7. I oppose the don’t ask, don’t tell policy of the military and believe that all same sex partners should be banned from combat duty in the military because of the propensity to transmit blood borne diseases in the theater of battle.
- Are you telling me that in 2010 these people still believe that AIDS is only a gay disease? They oppose don’t ask don’t tell not because it’s discriminatory but because it stops them from openly discriminating against homosexuals!
The truth is that the Tea Party movement is as American as apple pie, and over extending our military. It is people exercising their freedom of speech and their right to protest. The problem is that like my father used to tell me, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The Tea Party was created by those that supported the health insurance lobby as a vehicle to protest health insurance reform. The Tea Partiers, regardless of how misguided they are, are loud, vocal, and consistently out there, while the Democrats and progressives are not. The Democrats in 2008 were given a gift of being unopposed in both the House and the Senate and with some exception that gift was squandered. Had they banded together, had the President stopped trying to make friends on all sides, real change and progress could have been made instead of the limited progress that we have seen. Democrats now risk loosing an advantage that they had due to a small minority that is yelling the loudest. Not even the Republicans want to be associated with the Tea Party movement but they will take that any day over a Democratic majority. In Network, what got Howard Beale noticed was his passion, his anger and his voice. Whether he was right or wrong was irrelevant. He yelled as loud as he could, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” If the only people in this country who are going to yell as loud as they can, that they are mad as hell, are the Tea Partiers, then once again it will be the lunatics that will run the asylum and in 2012 we may all have to get behind President Palin.