Tea Party. The two words don’t conjure up anything malign, do they? They don’t to me, anyway. Either I think of nice polite English tea with chocolate cake or scones and cream, or I think of Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter.
Yet it’s a big movement now in America, according to some polls. There sure are plenty of Search Engine results. After having my buttons pressed so wildly yesterday by anti-Obama rhetoric I did a bit of reading. I was bothered by how some people seem to believe that the Obama administration is destroying America. I was also bothered by how some of those people distort facts, with no compunction. I wanted to see where the truth lay. Well.
According to Bruce Drake just over 25% of Americans support the Tea Party movement. David Winston said 17% do – which Chris Thomas says is “within the margin of error for the percentage of Americans who claim to have seen a UFO…” (True/Slant April 5).
Gallup reports that 28% of Americans support the Tea Party. 26% oppose it, and 46% either doesn’t know or doesn’t care. Chris Thomas put an interesting slant – or maybe he’s unslanting it? – by pointing out that 6% more Americans support the Tea Party than supported G.W.Bush in his last day of office.
Then you could look at the makeup of Tea Party supporters. If the 28% was fully Republican, then maybe there’d be some reason for taking them seriously. But according to Gallup only 49% are Republican. And the rest? Are they all Democrats? Nope. 13% are Democrats, and 28% are Independents – and who knows where they come from (some people say they’re disenchanted ex-Republicans).
Ideology – being against too much centralized power – is what’s brought them together on the surface, but ideology only holds people together when they’re genuine about it. When it’s strong and inspiring enough they’ll set their own egos and pettiness aside. A leader will rise naturally. If that doesn’t happen, either the ideology isn’t powerful enough, or they don’t have a good enough leader – or people are using the ideology as a front to fight for their prejudices or a status quo they’ve had but don’t actually merit, and/or unload their frustrated anger and fear.
I can relate to a loathing of too much centralized power, but only if the power is promoting some at the expense of others. President Obama said the movement existed before he came into office, and that they had legitimate concerns – which his administration is addressing. Clearly the concerns arose out of the past administrations’ abuse of its power. Yes?
So how did the Tea Party movement turn into what it is now? It seems to be against the current administration even though it’s using its power to address the past administrations’ abuse of its centralized power. I don’t get it. Really.
I can’t help but wonder if now the objection is actually about centralized power or if it’s really about the shift that centralized power has taken since President Obama took office, and about fear of losing status quo. If all the Tea Party supporters who are so violently opposed to the current administration had been poor, and hadn’t been able to get jobs or health care during the Bush Administration, if they’d been on the other side of the fence, I wonder how discontent they’d be now with centralized power.
So it looks to me as if the fringe Tea Party supporters – the ones who distort facts without compunction – have a different agenda to the founding fathers and mothers of the movement. If that’s true, it has no real, solid foundation. Splinter groups, fundamentalist groups will latch on and try to use it to promote their own neurotic agendas, as probably will Republican politicians. Everybody’s going to try and gain control.
So I’ve kind of settled down. You can’t change the course of history. Not with a movement that’s called Tea Party. Please.
I’m not even an American, you could wonder what the heck any of this has got to do with me anyway? Well, I love America, I love what it stands for, and the last election proved to me that integrity isn’t lost, that people haven’t forgotten their ideals, that humanity is alive and kicking in America – which means it’s alive and kicking in the world.
I felt the same way when Obama won the election as I did when Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa. The world changed for me. Truth and justice held sway for some precious moments in time. Moments that would be etched into the human psyche. We don’t get so many of those moments and these kinds of political leaders that we can afford to trash them. Not in my estimation anyway. They are pearls of great price.
Whatever anybody says or does, I look to Barack Obama as an exceptionally inspiring man, for his open-mindedness, his capacity to see without judgment, his tolerance, his sense of humor in the face of what’s thrown at him, his inner compass. I love his intelligence, his articulacy, his immense energy, his far-sightedness. And I shall try not to lose sight of how difficult his job is, what hideous problems he inherited.
The last word on this from me today: the article I read which started all of this said the current administration has no honesty, hope, faith, integrity… – I wonder if the the author would be willing to say that to Obama’s face? The thing is, if they did, he would have something sane to say, he wouldn’t lose his dignity. Of that I’m sure.