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Like most folks, I’ve been a bit put out with our Congress lately. It seems like they’ve put ideology before the well-being of the American citizens they are supposed to represent. Their mindset seems to be, “Well, if I can’t get everything I want, then nobody’s going to get anything.”
Some things haven’t changed. Republicans still can’t pass within 50 feet of one of the super-rich without being possessed by the overwhelming urge to drop to their knees and genuflect. The mere mention of welfare programs still gives Democrats a case of the warm fuzzies.
But the catalyst for their total inability to compromise seems to be the influence of the tea party. Their “my-way-or-no-way” attitude was best shown during this summer’s debt ceiling crisis when they held up negotiations for what had always been seen as a “must pass” measure to try to push through their unworkable Cut, Cap and Balance bill.
Even Republican Congressman Ron Paul, a longtime opponent of big government and big spending, blasted this amateurish attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people. This bill was nothing more than an effort to erect a constitutional firewall to safeguard tax cuts and tax breaks for the most well-off Americans. An impoverished, elderly widow trying to get by on Social Security income would’ve had her assistance cut back, even as millionaire hedge-fund managers retained their lucrative carried-interest tax breaks.
I’ve never been able to really get comfortable with tea party ideology, even though I actually agree with them on one or two points. I’m sure that many of the rank and file are just well-meaning people who believe they’re only exercising their rights as Americans.
But, on the other hand, some of these folks are just a little too nuts for me. Way too many of them are so far to the right that they’re in danger of falling off the edge of the known universe.
The depths of their extremism is disturbing. Last year, I ran across a video on the Internet of a tea party rally. One woman was waving some tea bags about and screaming that, like her tea bags, all liberals should be dunked into boiling water. When the person making the video questioned her about this, she replied, “Yeah, the only good liberal is a dead liberal.”
Like I said, just a little too nuts.
More recently, Republican presidential primary candidate Herman Cain, while campaigning in Tennessee, talked of building a barbed-wire electric fence that could kill those who tried to climb it to enter the country illegally.
This drew raucous applause from the tea party crowds. Later, on “Meet the Press,” Cain backpedaled, claiming that it was just a joke. His 9-9-9 plan, which would raise taxes on 84 percent of Americans, is a bigger joke.
And to top it all off, on Oct. 19, the Tea Party Nation sent an e-mail to their members, urging small business owners to stop hiring people in an effort to sabotage the economy and make President Barack Obama fail. This is a prime example of their “sink-the-ship-to-drown-the captain” mentality. That they are willing to bring the economy crashing down in a hate-inspired effort to bring down the president is sickening.
As silly as it seems, one of my biggest problems with the tea party is its name. “Tea party” just conjures up a picture of an 8-year-old girl, dressed in her best fairy-tale-princess dress and tiara, sitting at a little plastic table with her playtime tea set, surrounded by a collection of dolls and stuffed animals. This isn’t the image that a tough-talking political organization should want to cultivate.
They need a catchier name. Something with pizzazz. Something with a more memorable acronym. TP doesn’t work because it makes one think of bathroom tissue.
Maybe they could change their name to something like – hmmm, let me think – something like the Coalition of Responsible American Patriots. Catchy, huh? And the resultant acronym is much more fitting. Then again, why not use both names and, in particular, their acronyms? They would certainly go together.
S.R. Marshall is a Lancaster