An American Editor

January 11, 2011

A Tea Party of the Alice-in-Wonderland Kind

Filed under: Politics — Rich Adin @ 10:35 am
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The Tea Party movement is all the talk these days. The chances of electing Tea party doctrine adherents to public office is great, as the recent election shows (with the possible exception of the most extreme Tea Partiers like the Senate candidates in Nevada and Delaware). And if Theodore Roosevelt had been able to muster this kind of passion, perhaps his Bull Moose Party would have prevailed.

Yet no one has seriously considered the ramifications of the Tea Party positions. There has been some discussion of the contradictions, such as the desire to do away with Social Security and Medicare for future recipients but the unwillingness to give up their own Social Security and Medicare, but no following of the positions to their logical (or illogical) ends.

Has anyone considered that the final straw that broke the back of the extended family in the United States was the Eisenhower Interstate System, which made traveling across America easy and convenient? That was an unintended consequence of building the system (its original rationale was to create a way to quickly speed troops where they were needed in the event of a Russian invasion), but a consequence nonetheless. So what will the unintended consequences be of electing inflexible Tea Partiers to office? I guess we will soon know.

Consider the idea of going back to only those government agencies identified in the original Constitution. That immediately does away with tons of agencies and multiple cabinet offices, including the Department of Commerce which is responsible for the federal highway system. I can see it now — responsibility for repair and maintenance will fall to the states but without federal funding. Montana will complain loudly because it would have to charge each citizen multiple times what New York or Massachusetts would have to charge its citizens simply based on numbers. Montana has lots of highway miles in a difficult climate but few citizens. How happy will Montana Tea Partiers be? Or will Montana simply let the infrastructure crumble?

I may be one of the few who are bothered by the apparent need for the new Republican House of Representatives to waste time and energy to repeal the health care law, when they know it is purely symbolic. In light of all else that is problematic with America today, I would prefer to see the time and energy devoted to practical things that have a chance of being enacted and helping us on our way to full recovery. The problem with Republicans has always been the need for symbolism, even at the expense of bettering our country. After all these decades of such posturing, one would think the party would finally grow up.

If there was any hope of Republicans and Democrats turning more centrist and putting America first, that hope was shattered by the 2010 elections. I find it to be inherently wrong for any legislator to be so dogmatic that meeting in the middle is considered selling out. Take any congressional district and look at the vote — no candidate for office was elected by 100% of the voters, nor even close to 100%. So does that mean that the elected person intends to represent only a portion of his or her district? In today’s politics, yes, that is exactly what it means.

The rant against the health care legislation is the most galling of the partisanship approaches being taken in the current congress. On the one hand, Tea Partiers and Republicans rail against anything that might be considered a tax increase, at least in so far as it might be an increase for the top 1% of earners. And the cry is often heard that a tax increase will ravage small businesses, which are the economy’s backbone.

Well if the health care law is repealed, my taxes will shoot up because, among other things, I will lose the tax credit I am entitled to for providing health insurance. If the deduction is returned, that will be partial reimbursement, but there is a big difference between a credit and a deduction. So why aren’t the Tea Partiers rallying against that tax increase?

One of the other problems with both Republican and Tea Partiers’ thinking is Social Security. I’m still waiting for the first congressperson to give up his/her pension benefits (paid for by us taxpayers). I’m still waiting for the first Tea Partier to give up his/her Social Security and Medicare. Why is it that under the Republican/Tea Party plans the only ones who need to sacrifice are everyone but them?

Okay, one more bit of tomfoolery — well, maybe idiocy is a better word choice: If you don’t make cuts to Homeland Security and Defense budgets and you don’t increase taxes, how can you ever balance the budget and reduce the deficit? Even cutting Social Security and Medicare completely won’t do the trick.

I am not opposed to some of what the Republicans and Tea Partiers want in the broad sense. I agree that we need to balance the budget and reduce the deficit. (Interesting, isn’t it, that the Republican/Tea Party idol, Ronald Reagan, never submitted a balanced budget and never reduced the deficit — it took a Democrat, Bill Clinton, to accomplish that and provide a surplus that the Republicans flushed down the toilet.) But some common sense has to be part of the equation, something the Republicans/Tea Partiers, as they move further away from the center and toward the right, increasingly seem to lack.

Perhaps the Mad Hatter wasn’t so mad after all, at least not in comparison to the new Congress.


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