Friday, April 17, 2009

Why I Hate Tea-baggers

I think I have found a way to shed even greater clarity on why I have such abject contempt for the Tea Party protesters (or as Rachel Maddow has charmingly begun to call them, "tea-baggers"). It all begins with an excerpt from one of the few campaign speeches delivered by President Abraham Lincoln during his re-election campaign in 1864:

"We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labor... The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty."

For me personally, the cause of a given protest, as well as the origins underlying its development, plays a key role in how I view it. While I certainly respect the Constitutional right of the Tea Party protesters to say what they wish, I am disgusted by the dishonest manner in which they characterize themselves. Although they claimed to represent voices from across the ideological spectrum, the Tea Party protesters were overwhelmingly led by and composed extremist right-wingers. While they depicted themselves as being grassroots in origin, they were actually orchested and funded by wealthy corporations and other well-moneyed conservatives, all of whom wanted to manufacture the appearance of popular discontent with Obama's policies. Although they shout about how they are concerned with "socialism" in the Obama agenda and the loss of freedom due to increasing power of the federal government (concerns that they didn't seem to harbor when George W. Bush declared war on false pretenses or passed the Patriot Act), in reality the seeds of this nationwide protest were planted on the day that President Obama announced that taxes would be raised on all Americans who earn in excess of $250,000.

Why would they lie about all of this? The answer is obvious, but to better illustrate it for those who are intentionally obtuse to reality, let's refer back to Lincoln's 145-year-old analogy. It is a well-known fact nation's current economic crisis was triggered by the reckless cupidity of America's financial elite, as well as exacerbated by the quarter-century long acceleration of the gap between the rich and the poor that began with Ronald Reagan's plutocratic economic program (and was then continued by his two Republican successors). As such, the 95% of Americans who are experiencing real economic hardship feel like the sheep from Lincoln's campaign speech, whereas the wealthy are the equivalent of the wolves. Now that the sheep recognize their lupine foes, they are beginning to bleat with ever-increasing noisiness about the need to keep the wolves penned up.

What is a wolf to do? The wolves, of course, do not want to be deprived of their "right" to devour sheep. Now that the sheep are insisting that a shepherd be chosen who will keep a closer watch over the wolves to guarantee that they are unable to cause any more harm, the wolves are in real trouble. Even worse for the wolves is the fact that they live in a democratic pasture; as a result, the only way they can regain their previous privileged status (and thereby devour as many sheep as they please) is by convincing those very same sheep to sympathize with the wolves and against the only individual who can stop them, the shepherd.

That is what is happening right now. The wolves are dressed up in sheep's clothing and bleating as loudly as they can in protest of their suffering - only instead of chalking up the origin of their suffering to the wolves (which of course they can't), they are instead claiming that their suffering is due to the actions of the shepherd. Whenever the shepherd steps in and shoos a wolf away, the wolf cries out about how his liberties are being breached; when the shepherd demands that the wolf find ways to make the pasture more inhabitable for the sheep, they claim that the shepherd is being an oppressive tyrant. The ultimate objective of the wolves is to cause enough confusion in the sheeps' minds that they eventually do wind up blaming the shepherd for their misfortune. Once that has been done, the wolves can then go back to raiding the flock, confident that with the shepherd gone they will be able to do as they please, and often with the approval of the very sheep they are consuming (who are at the very least grateful that they aren't being bothered by that dastardly shepherd).

Did I milk this analogy with far too much zeal? Perhaps, but my point has hopefully been clearly made. The Tea Party protesters are angry that President Obama wants to raise taxes on Americans who earn more than $250,000, but they know that most Americans aren't going to be inclined to sympathize with their cause. Thus they are deliberately misrepresenting themselves as being among the oppressed classes in this country, with the hope that they will ultimately convince the average American that the real enemy is President Obama and not themselves. I could have at least a modicum of respect for them if they openly admitted that they were wealthy Americans who wanted to protect their privileged status; at least then their honesty would be above question. What makes them so morally repulsive is that their entire nationwide protest was based on a deliberate lie about who they were, what they were fighting for, and why they were fighting for it. They are the quintessential wolves-in-sheeps' clothing, and the average American better watch out.

I shall close by recommending Paul Krugman's excellent analysis of the Republican Party's current state of affairs, which centers by and large around the Tea Party protesters.

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