Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tea Party Animals

I just can't get overly concerned about the 138 or so candidates running for Congress under the auspices of the various Tea Parties. I understand the electorate is mad, but it's not insane. I'm sure the pundits are correct that Democrats will lose seats in the upcoming election, but this plethora of extremists running as Republicans are the true inheritors of the nativist "Know Nothing Party" of the 1850s. Like the Tea Party, the Know Nothings exploited the  fear of immigrants, only Catholics instead of Latinos, to fuel the resentment of white, male, Protestants. In fact, that was a qualifier for joining the party. They had minor success, especially surrounding locales in Maryland and Massachusetts that had once held witch trials, but their base of wealthy, white guys was not sufficient to compete with the Democrats and they were eclipsed by the anti-slavery Republican Party before the Civil War. Their national agenda, however, sounds eerily familiar to the corporate-sponsored, grass-roots confederacy of pissed-off white people that intend to "take our country back" in the coming days. Formerly the American Party, the Know Nothings earned their nickname after being instructed to reply, "I know nothing," when asked about the party's platform. With good reason, since it consisted of restricting immigration, especially from Catholic countries, demanding all public office holders to be American-born Protestants, mandating daily Bible readings in public schools, and requiring immigrants already in the country to wait 21 years before applying for citizenship. Arizona Republican Governor, Jan "headless bodies in the desert" Brewer, would have fit right in were it not for her disqualifying genitalia.

Observing Tea Party candidates in action, from Kentucky's Dr. Rand Paul, whose libertarian philosophy is so inflexible as to be closer to anarchy than democracy, to Colorado Gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes, who called the Denver bike-sharing program a "socialist plot organized by the United Nations," is like watching a series of sideshow oddities while strolling down an old-time carnival midway. "Step right up and see the Mama Grizzly bare her manicured claws." Add Delaware's non-masturbating witch, Christine O'Donnell;  Alaska's man with the handcuffs and a 10 o'clock shadow, Joe Miller, and a few more, and you could film a remake of Tod Browning's 1932 horror classic, "Freaks." The single difference is that in the original movie, the pinheads, Zip and Pip, were far more lovable than microcephalics like Carl Paladino or W.Va. senate candidate John Raese, who advocates abolishing the minimum wage while his wife lives in Palm Beach, Florida. Electoral victories by these corporate shills would be disastrous, yet some secret part of me harbors a perverse desire for a few of them to win, just for entertainment's sake and to watch them join in the tired denunciation of our illegal alien, Marxist, Muslim, president. I have a personal confession to make. When the redundant office of Shelby County Mayor was first created, I voted for Prince Mongo.

On the other side of the demilitarized zone known as the aisle, the spineless Democrats are acting like the Mugwumps. They were "progressive" Republicans who fled their party in revolt against the corruption surrounding their presidential nominee in 1884. They threw their support to Democratic reformer Grover Cleveland and swung the election in his favor. Today's Democrats are much like those extinct moderate Republicans who formed the Mugwumps, now a term for a party-swapper like Arlen Specter. Still, the group opposed cronyism during the Gilded Age despite criticism that they were "members of an insecure elite." Historian David Tucker wrote, "The Mugwumps embodied the liberalism of the 19th century," and their writings are "testament to a high-minded civic morality." The problem was their grievances lasted only as long as Cleveland's campaign when most were absorbed into the Democratic Party. That's why the term "mugwump" has also come to mean a fence-sitter, like the passive, timid Democrats who can't even manage a counter-attack in the face of the ugliest campaign in modern history. The responsibility has fallen upon everyday citizens, who dread a return to the Bush era, to save the Democrats from themselves.

Analysts have compared this year's election to Clinton's 1994 disastrous mid-terms and to the Reagan Revolution of 1980, but I have yet to hear anyone correlate the correct period, so once again, allow me. When the Democrats imploded after the 1968 bloody convention in Chicago, voters were horrified by what seemed to be a takeover of the party by leftist radicals. During the 1972 Convention, which nominated anti-war hope George McGovern, the televised images proved it. Party discipline had acquiesced to the demands of political activists for every imaginable cause. Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem bitterly clashed over the feminist agenda and the first African-American woman, Rep. Shirley Chisholm, was nominated for president. Abortion rights and gay rights were not just discussed openly from the podium for the first time, there were floor fights over whether the issues should be included in the party platform. (They compromised with a "right to be different" clause). Party sessions began in the evening and lasted all night and when McGovern was finally nominated, his acceptance speech came so early in the morning, most viewers had gone to bed. What my young eyes witnessed was contentious progress for civil rights. What the American people saw was chaos mixed with a small group of fire-breathing, radical extremists carrying the party over a cliff. The revelations about Vice Presidential nominee Thomas Eagleton's electric shock therapy for a depressive illness merely sealed the deal and Nixon won re-election by a landslide.

What happened on the left in1972, is happening to the right in 2010. History is repeating, but in mirror image. The rhetoric is just as inflammatory and the loudest voices are those on the fringes, purging Republican establishment candidates and replacing them with the wildest bunch of rabid ideologues since the days of  the Yippies, only with Sarah Palin playing the role of Abbie Hoffman. The Tea Party folks say they're mad? Well, now I'm mad too. I'm mad about candidates for office referring to the president as a "committed socialist" or a "secret Muslim." I'm angry that so many people's minds have been twisted by right-wing broadcast propaganda that they somehow believe Obama is actively working against the interests of this country. I'm sick of GOP lackeys blaming Obama for Bush's disaster while simultaneously refusing to work with him on anything and everything, because, in the words of Rush Limbaugh, they "want him to fail." And I'm particularly weary of the Tea Party "patriots" who have yelled and screamed and threatened and disrupted for two years without managing to form a coherent argument about just exactly what is their message, other than antipathy toward Obama. I believe sanity will win out on election day, but only if Democratic voters are motivated to protect what gains they have made. And if the threat of a Congress full of Tea Party mini-despots with subpoena power isn't enough motivation to go out and vote, nothing is. 

Thanks to Bill Day. Click on cartoon to enlarge.

28 comments:

Sputnik57 said...

P.S. There is a wild card in this election that the media is ignoring. The Jon Stewart - Stephen Colbert rally in D.C. on the 31st, could be a game changer. I know my stepson and his friends have discussed going. Could be a political Woodstock.

Anonymous said...

Well at least you didn't call them teabaggers. How far off the rails has this country gone when folks who want a balanced budget, fair taxes and smaller federal government are called extremists?

Anonymous said...

Sputnik, this Ole CA hippy, Viet Vet is heading to the rally Tuesday in appropriate VW bus. There's room for you if you believe that being part of a million sensibile people at a rally will help embolden the voters and the hapless Dems to get out and keep our nation on track, not "take it back" from the blacks, the muslims, the immigrants, outer space chimps, and any other group who happen to fit the radical, right wing extremist agenda.

Mr. Anon, I think you forgot to mention that those teabaggers you mentioned also harbor the most outlandish homophobic, xenophobic, sociopathic and myopic views that have ever come together under one banner in 60 years. You need some "sanity". You're welcome on my bus too!

zephyrman

Gatorade Partier said...

This nation has moved so far to the right that moderates are now called 'socialists'. Barry Goldwater in his later years spoke out for gays in the military, legalization of marijuana, and the threat of ultra-right extremists taking over the Republican Party. How correct he was. He would be called a socialist in today's political climate. With the Teapublicans in control, we can expect complete gridlock. Great column, Mr. Sputnik.

Anonymous said...

I, too , voted for Prince Mongo in that long-ago election. I thought it would speed consolidation -- something I've only wanted more and more with each passing year. Maybe this year? I sure hope so because we're running out of options... and hope.

Another Anonymous said...

I'm traveling from CA for the rally. Cannot miss it.

Cary W said...

Actually the Stewart-Colbert rally is on the 30th. That our most astute political commentators are a pair of comedians is a most appropriate note to this latest version of the culture wars. Really, without them I think I would have ripped my own head off by now. The overwhelming tide of moronic/vitriolic, short-sighted ideas passing for actual "thought" makes me want to weep.

Gregg Grinspan said...

Randolph--I will be in DC with the mass (which I hope will reach critical proportions) on Saturday afternoon, Oct 30, from about noon to 7pm. Am taking the train from Penn Station along with a few hundred thousand other sane individuals who are bussing with Ariana from Manhattan or driving to Baltimore to get close and then bus or train from there, most or all of whom have seen and heard enough stupidity for a lifetime this election cycle.
How do you have a conversation with someone who thinks it's ok to have an "opinion" about two plus two. "Well, you can have your opinion that it's four. And I can have my opinion that it's five. That's what's so wonderful about this country. And, that's why I want us to get it back!"
---WHAT!!!! Could you please move back to wherever your ancestors came from and try to tell them this same bullshit. Please!!

I'm going to Washington because Jon and Steve have given me the opportunity to make my discouragement in the IQ of America felt (if I'm alongside as many people as I hope will show Saturday).

Can no longer watch TV. Can no longer see the 3rd grade crap that these "Tea Party/Republican/wannabe in Washington so I can be powerful" idiots have purchased on our visual media with long green from a bunch of Fascists.

This is not about issues. This is squarely about stupid vs not stupid. About stupid being in power vs not allowing and not standing for stupid being in power.

You piece is a beaut. Your research top notch. You are a clear signal. Read Michael Moore's research on Juan Williams for another clear head writing truth. I think I sent you the link.

I, obviously, am out of control. But, I'd be the same way if someone was threatening my children/grandchildren. Is the potential for ignorance in control of the most armed nation in the world a gigantic threat to them? Is ignorance in how to educate them, in how to care for them if they become ill or injured, or in how to try to develop a society in which the members actually care about each other as evidenced by the laws they create, or finally in how to maintain an economy that is rational a problem for my children/grandchildren? Is there any room for any ignorance at that level of power?

Come on.

Let's put a million people in DC next Saturday all saying, "wake up anybody who has any rational intellect and get out and vote for someone who has been blessed with same."

Betty Furness said...

And the Democrats who have been elected to get something done and have been given the power and then stand around with their guns in their holsters because pulling the trigger is scary are making me just as sick.

Make some law! Tell the other side that they are wrong and that while we have a majority we are going to take care of the business of taking care of ourselves and our country! Stop standing around shaking your hands and others. Do what you were elected to do. Make some law! Get rid of the insurance companies! Get rid of the ridiculous tax breaks for millionaires! What is going on here? Get rid of the too big to fails! Use your power!

Anonymous said...

Just like Woodstock, you won't go and then you'll be pissed that you didn't go and then in twenty years you'll TELL everyone that you did go. So go or not but for gosh sakes VOTE.

will reed said...

rando,
i confess to voting for mongo.

am looking for a ride.

senor willie

The Watcher said...

To begin with, there are two sides to every story, then there is the truth. This commentary and most of the responses to it bear witness to a plethora of misinformation from the left. Where do you get the idea that most of the folks that you call your opposition are outlandish, homophobic, xenophobic, sociopaths with myopic views? I am one of your enemy and the only issues that are brought up in our camp deal with a return of our government to the Constitution, creating smaller government by curbing taxation and spending, growing the private sector, and rolling back government intereference in our private lives. Fifty years ago such people were seen as ordinary Americans. I only know of the depredations that you paranoiacs rail about by reading blogs like this. In the real world, your opposition is nothing like the hysterical claims you are making. Who are the real fear mongers? I don't know any people who focus on homophobia. That is so 50's. Practically everyone that I know doesn't give a shit about how anyone gets off. The so-called xenophobes just want legal immigration and realize the value of immigrants who enter legally. And the other hysterical claims can all be similarly shot down. Granted, there are nut cases on both sides of the spectrum. You guys make the nut cases seem to be the norm and this discredits all that you say. Sane, balanced observers know that your rantings and disingenuous at best and down right lies at worst. The same can be said of the rabid right. You come across like an army of Bill Maher clones. I despise liberals, but I don't make false accusations about them. I just believe that they are misguided and deceived. I am happy to allow elections to settle issues. If it so happens that the American people elect leaders that drive America off of a cliff, then it just means that America's time has come and gone and that it is ready to die. That eventually happens to all countries regardless of their form of government. This is because all governments ultimately are built upon sand.

Anonymous said...

Well done and well-researched; while I don't agree with every conclusion, that's ok, as the author would probably say, "That's what this country is about--the right to disagree." The Stewart-Colbert rally in DC is more likely a large "comedic laugh-a-thon," which is appropriate, because Congress has turned into a collection of comedians and deserve whatever comes out at the rally. One final note: Am I the only one who thinks that "Half-Gov. Sarah Palin's voice sounds like a razor blade scraping a blackboard?

Anonymous said...

Liberals have always preached that stereotyping is wrong. I guess that the denizens of this blog are an exception to this rule. And what is with this name-calling fetish? Do you find it too difficult to discuss issues? Will you people be littering, ranting and cussing, throwing bottles and rocks, looting, and setting fire to everything at the insurgent rally (aka political Woodstock) on Oct. 30? It would not surprise me at all if you did. Reading this blog over time gives me the impression that you share a strong resemblance to your spiritual father who was a disheveled bum who lived off of hand outs from others and who refused to even care for his own family. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Alan said...

If you are going to condemn the opposition by sighting the nuts, let’s talk about the nuts on the other side. Alan Grayson, Maxine Watters, Charlie Rangel, Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards. Should we judge the democrats based on these individuals. Have the Tea Parties called for silencing the opposition? Do you ever read the hatred coming from Media Matters? What about Ed Schultz wishing for opponents to die. Fact: George Soros gave 1 million to Huffington Post to silence Fox. Fact: Tides Foundation gave 1.8 million to NPR to hire reporters. Two days later Juan Williams is fired. Relateted? I will let you decide.

Read Paul Ryan’s roadmap to see what the next congress will try to do. I can’t count the times I have heard the statement that the Republicans want to take away your Social Security. That is a blatant misrepresentation (Lies) of what is said, but is presented as the truth over and over. Is this not scare tactics?

Was the 2008 election bought by the Democrats? They outspent the McCain campaign by over 300 million. This is the charge I keep hearing about this election. Don’t you think instead of name-calling we could discuss the issues? I mean the real issues and proposals brought by both sides, not the talking points that are often false.

Pat Rohrbacher said...

Hey Randy:
Spiritual Father a Dis-sheveled Bum ? Mercy, Anonymous almost sounds like a name caller...
While I don't have to agree, with the parties, I do enjoy the politcal awakening!
I think the Dems & Repubs both suck, and drink enough Tea and you have to pee (sorry I could help it) but I am sure a AC Warton fan!
Pat

Anonymous said...

Alan, thanks again for interjecting some balance and sanity to this left-wing propaganda blog. Pat, the reference was to the spiritual father of the Marxist/liberal/progressive left-wing mind set which is, of course, Karl Marx. It wasn't name calling so much as an exposition of the roots of their thinking. I also despise both parties. The horror that was the Bush presidency gave us the mega-horror of Obama and his America destroying radical henchmen...Pelosi, Reid, Dodd, Bawney Fwank, Schumer, Grayson, the Obama Czars, et al. The Dems needn't worry though. The Repubs will screw things up in their own inimitable way and everything will go back to the Dems who will get on with the really serious deconstruction of America. Their eye is on the prize...the New World Order and world socialism. My heroes are all dead. I am just biding my time while the ship of state sinks and awaiting the onset of chaos. Needless to say when that day comes it will ALL be the fault of Republicans...how childish. Clear thinking people know that the Dem/Repub juggernaut represents a one-two punch into the solar plexus of what used to be a great country. The Repubs play like they are different, but they really aren't. Both parties constitute two different wings of one party...the Big Government Party. The Dems didn't bring us to the brink of destruction all by themselves. Their alter-ego helped all the way along.

Anonymous said...

Had I still lived in Memphis, I would have voted for Prince Mongo, as well. The county, and the city before that, needed a Mayor Mongo. He might have changed the whole culture of the city. We coulda been a New Orleans. My major concern here, though, is your likening Palin to Hoffman. Good God, man! I was on the Mall the night Abbie and Jerry trashed a TV "set," after LBJ announced the bombing of Cambodia--belatedly, it turned out. "You Betcha" compares not to "Steal This Book." Or was that Rubin?? I don't remember those days so well, but they were the Good Ole ones. Sooooooooo, how might I spot Memphians and Friends of Sputnik, if I hop the Metro from Witchy Maryland and seek you out? I'm still Stuck Inside of Burtonsville with the Memphis Blues Again, and I REALLY DON'T WANT TO MOVE TO THE VILLAGES. (signed) Aging and Anxious

Anonymous said...

Say what!? Can someone translate the previous post into something comprehensible? It sounds like a 'this is your brain on drugs' commercial.

Alan said...

The yuppies were made up of 2 types of people, those for real radical change and Hoffman & Rubin who thought it was a big game. Either Rubin or Hoffman ended up on Wall Street. It is the ones that wanted radical change that are now working within the system to accomplish a socialist utopia that worries me. I was part of the movement in the 60's and early 70's and to me it was a game. We knew that to radically change the system we would have to do it from within. It would be naive of me to think that the real radicals all changed.

The Watcher said...

America doesn't need to be transformed, it needs to be restored to the original vision. What may be as important though is that the American people need to become more moral and upright. I remember one thing that Jesse Jackson said back in the early 70's that impressed me. After one of the big hippie protest gatherings in Washington D.C., he surveyed the litter and the drunken, drugged up hippies and confessed that such people were incapable of building anything worthwhile. All that worthless, dependent people become is either serfs or beggars. It may have been the most honest thing that he ever said.

Anonymous said...

This is first Anon speaking. And now I see Soros if for legalizing pot. When I was young I would have cheered and even now my libertarian side says freedom. Give the masses easy access to a substance that's keeps them submissive. Hmmmmmmm?

Anonymous said...

Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman were human trash on the hoof. The fact that they gained any nation-wide attention is a testimony to the low estate that America fell into back in the 60's. They were just useful idiots that promoted revolution and mahem. If America had been overthrown, the Marxists would have summarily executed all people like them. Like Jesse Jackson said, "...such people are incapable of building anything worthwhile". They are only good for tearing things down. They were Pied Pipers for the serf and beggar class.

Anonymous said...

First Anon, I think that you are on to something. I knew that Soros was in favor of legalizing drugs, but I hadn't seen the connection between that and the submissive state of mind that that would produce in a lot of people. There are lots of people that don't care about anything as long as they can stay stoned. Soros is definitely in the business of bringing America down. He practically owns the Democrat Party and he created the Center for America Progress, the preeminent progressive think tank. He uses that organization to pass along his mandates to Obama and the Democrats. It is startling to see how much influence he has upon American affairs. I suspect that he is an operative of the Rothschilds.

Zarathustra said...

That last statement sounds conspiratorial. But, if there is a Satan you can be sure that there is a conspiracy against both God and man. Evil is as real as the noonday sun. All of world history is a testimony to that fact. Of course Sputnik would say that Satan is actually the Republican Party. Maybe after a few more years the Republicans will evolve to the point that they become Democrats. Then, there will be no more evil and utopia will be realized.

Anonymous said...

Read Shelby Steele's article in the Wall Street Journal on 10-28.
A Referendum on the Redeemer

This dear ones says it ALL.

performs said...

A friend of mine has suggested that we may be on the wrong track with trying to change America. It is potty training that is needed now.
Isn't time we moved away from the illusion of either/or thinking and switched to and/both?
Good/bad, right/wrong thinking keeps us stuck in the muck of illusion. More "good" is not the goal. The goal is just enough. Even the simplest mind can grasp this.

Anonymous said...

Performs, oh so how we get to the end goal is of no import/ It's the end that counts.