Wednesday, October 06, 2010

An open letter to the Tea Partiers

I might well be flying in the face of conventional wisdom here, trying to reason with people who are generally considered to be unreasonable and irrational.  But it occurs to me that at least some of us are coming from the same place initially, in that we're sick of the status quo and want to see meaningful change that doesn't involve selling us out to multinational corporations and Wall Street.

Am I wrong?

Many of you, like us, are angered by the Wall Street bailout.  They gambled with our money, lost it, then turned around and extorted it back out of our government--out of our taxes--by threatening to take the whole economy down with them.  Infuriating, right?

We're on the same page here, believe me.  Now what I'm asking you to do is to stretch your imagination a little.  Imagine for a minute--just a minute--that there may be an element of truth in the things I'm about to share with you.  Imagine for a moment that the people who you currently get your information from are misinformed or just plain wrong.  I know it's a stretch, but I have faith that you can do it.

Now you've been led to believe that FOX News is the only source of news that isn't slanted to the left.  So you don't trust any other source at all--be it CNN, MSNBC, Routers, AP, the BBC, the New York Times, or anyone else.  So imagine for a second if your only source of information was a channel maintained by the government for just that purpose.  Imagine that you were told not to trust ANY other source of information.  Would you trust it?  So why would you think a  private organization with a clear profit motive would be any more honest?  Why would ANY source of news declare all other sources suspect?  Perhaps because they'd invalidate their bias?  Saying one source--maybe MSNBC--is heavily biased (a recent development, really) might be okay.  But all of them?

Imagine you knew a socialist.  You may, but you may not know it.  Or you may not.  Imagine asking him (or her) if they believe President Obama (or Nancy Pelosi, or Harry Reid) is one of them.  I will guarantee you that your most likely response is a snort of derision.  What you're being told is a "socialist agenda" is seen by those who actually are socialists as nothing of the sort.  Unless you think this is deliberate misdirection, it's pretty clear at this point that someone is embellishing the truth.  The agenda isn't remotely socialist.  It's barely even liberal.

Why do you think this so-called 'enthusiasm gap' exists?  Because many of us on the left feel betrayed by those we have elected to represent us.  You've been there.  You're there right now, as a matter of fact.  You're trying to replace those you don't feel represent you well enough.  That's a perfectly reasonable thing to do.  Except, honestly, you're walking into precisely the same "hope and change" trap we walked into.

How do I mean?  Well, imagine you've picked a couple of choice apples.  You've got them in your hand and you want to take them home.  But the only thing to carry them in is a barrel full of already rotten apples.  Do you think those nice crisp apples will refresh those in the barrel, or do you think the ones in the barrel will infect the shiny new ones?  Congress is like that.  You can send your best and brightest, those with all the idealism in the world, into the fray.  But here's something to remember.  Junior senators have no power.  They don't make policy.  They barely influence it.  So therefore, by the time they rise to the level of being able to do something about the mess, they've become part of it.  Why do you think we're all still fighting the same battles?  Some of them have been going on since the dawn of the Republic.

Ain't that a stinker?

What's worse is that, by replacing our people with your people, you risk handing power back to the same exact people who have betrayed you again and again and again.  Oh, sure, they say they're concerned about the same things you are, but when have they ever done anything to change it?  Did the last Republican Congress--teamed with a Republican President--do anything at all about the issues you consider the most important?  Did they balance the budget, create jobs, eliminate pork, return decision making ability to the states, or did they simply set the stage for the economic collapse we're experiencing now?  No, you can't blame the Democrats.  This mess belongs to all of them.  It's the responsibility of both parties, and neither seems to be able to see its way out of it.

The notion that simply leaving the tax cuts in place will somehow magically heal the wound is ludicrous.  They've been in place, and yet, things aren't getting any better.  The same things that motivate companies to off-shore the best jobs, leaving behind only low-level service jobs--haven't gone away.  And even if one buys into the idea that it's all the regulation and taxation--well, what kind of a working environment do you want, anyway?  Do you want to work in a place where they can put your life and limbs in jeopardy for a little higher profits, where if you are injured, there's no recourse but begging on the street?  That's what would happen without safety regulations and worker's compensation.  The people you'll be putting into power don't believe in limiting what corporations can do.  At all.  You'd have to strip yourselves to the level of Chinese slave labor to make it worthwhile for this organizations to bring those jobs back into the country.  And what will you have gained?

You don't have to accept any of this on faith.  I wouldn't expect you to.  But I implore you to ask yourselves--what if I'm even a little bit right?  What if the people you support don't have your best interests at heart?  What then?

And, by some chance, if you're one of those for whom it's really about the so-called 'culture wars,' who really wish this country to 'return to its Christian roots,' might I ask one question?  Which sect do you follow?  Anyone who's studied the history of Christianity knows it's a long history of breaks and schisms, often followed by bloody warfare.  Let's assume for a second that the religious wrested control of this nation from the secular.  Let's say you actually won this culture war.  How long would it be before your differences began to bleed through and infighting began?  It's easy when you have a common enemy--the atheists, pagans, and secularists.  But, defeated, they'd no longer be an issue.  Then your enemy would be your former ally.  And before you say it wouldn't happen, think again.  That's the way it works.  One group would gain ascendancy--let's say the Baptists--and the Catholics would resent it.  And start working against them.  So the Baptists would have to pass laws limiting the Catholics... and the Mormons, and the Lutherans, and who knows what other sects.  This is why the founding fathers created that (allegedly mythical) wall of separation in the first place.  Because nearly all the original colonies had their own church, and they knew that the most destructive force in Pre-Enlightenment Europe was religious infighting.  So they made it so no sect could gain power over another by keeping government separate from religion.  No sect could command the government, and the government could hold no power over any sect.

The individual beliefs of the founding fathers don't matter.  What matters is the reason why they thought this wall a necessity.  Violate it at your peril.

All I ask is that you consider my words.  I'm not lying to you.  Imagine, for a moment, that you believe that.  What then?  Where do we go from here?


Eric said...

Great essay Saje, I have "borrowed" it and re-posted to my blog. Here is the link to my blog, If you check it out, I hope you find it interesting.

Shaiha said...

If only they would change their name. It gives us tea drinkers ulcers.