REFLECTIONS

Posted on October 23, 2010

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TEA PARTY CONTRADICTIONS

Midterm elections are less than two weeks away, and the 2010 election cycle will be defined by a surprising presence and a remarkable absence.

The presence, of course, is the tea party movement, and what’s absent are the social issues so bitterly dividing the electorate in recent campaigns.

The tea party has been the big beneficiary of this year’s stealth funding that is, groups and corporations who can donate to political parties and campaigns without accountability. This situation must change, and it will take an act of Congress to do it. The Supreme Court ruled that such donations are permissible.

The tea party’s unique character has helped to push social issues off the table. Also, Republican candidates try to identify Democrat candidates with Obama and the Congressional leaders even if they are running for state office.

Essentially, the tea party is a populist expression of deep anger at what is regarded as at both the regular political parties’ mismanagement of the economy, and also the anxiety over the consequences of that failure. It is good that these issues are presented to be addressed. But, most of the tea party solutions to the problem are off the wall.

Some of the issues various tea party supported Republican candidates bring up are: repeal of the 16th and 17th Amendments (either or both) of the U.S. Constitution which provide for a progressive income tax and the popular election of senators; abolishing whole federal departments and agencies including the Internal Revenue Service and the Departments of Energy, Education, Commerce and Homeland Security. Many tea party backed office seekers urge privatization or even doing away with Social Security and Medicare and certainly Obamacare.

One Republican tea party supported candidate for Northern California’s 11th Congressional District urges the abolition of public education because it is “socialistic.”

A recent “New York Times” analysis has 33 tea party backed candidates running in Congressional districts that are either leaning Republican or are too close to call. Eight “stand a good or better chance of winning Senate seats,”  the newspaper reported.

If that is correct, the next Congress is going to contain a significant tea party caucus, and that may bring social issues back to the forefront.

The problem would be that tea party candidates and members are anti government, and also, they are anti politics.  They believe that politics is essentially corrupt, and the deal making and compromise are an abandonment of  principles.

The tea party is a political fundamentalist movement. Like the religious fundamentalists who do  not tolerate waivers to Scripture, tea party members believe in abiding totally to the U.S. Constitution as written in 1787.

The tea party’s internal contradictions are so numerous that it’s difficult to see its coalition of discontent surviving a single Congress.

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