On Saturday, February 27, a number of our fellow citizens will take publicly funded roads to a public park to participate in a Tea Party rally at which our publicly funded police force will maintain law and order if necessary. Once our fellow citizens arrive, they will rail against the unfair redistribution of wealth and the size of government.
Hypocrisy In Action
Of course it is that very redistribution of wealth which provides them with those roads, that park, those police. And it is that very redistribution of wealth that provides their “entitlements” of Medicare, Veteran Benefits, and Social Security; that provides their children with public education, parks and recreation centers and libraries. The Tea Party comes with an enormous side of hypocrisy.
It is statistically probable that 95% of those in attendance received a tax cut under the Obama administration. It is also statistically probable that only 2% of the Tea Party people will know or that their taxes decreased. Tea Partiers are not about to let the facts get in the way of a snarling sound bite aimed at the Obama administration.
Will the Real Tea Party Please Stand Up?
On a national level, the Tea Party movement is clearly suffering from multiple personality disorder. There has been a rush by entities to brand themselves as the “real” Tea Party.
The corporate sponsored FreedomWorks and the GOP itself have been shamelessly pimping off of the anger and frustrations of amorphous grass roots groups which appear more inclined to align themselves with the Tea Party Patriots. And then there is Libertarian/ Republican Senator Ron Paul, who launched the first Tea Party rally in 2007. At the recent CPAC (Conservative Party Action Convention) Ron Paul received the most straw votes as conservative presidential candidate while simultaneously being booed when the results were tallied.
The tenants of the Tea Party Patriots Official Grassroots American Movement of “freedom, fiscal responsibility, free markets, limited government” are not enough to unify the various factions. The competition for political power, economic gain and the desire to insert ultra-conservative social agendas into the movement have raised leadership issues, resulted in dueling conventions and a demand for conservative values” purity” tests.
East County Tea Party: Guys, Guns and Glory
On a local level, the Tea Party movement isn’t any more cohesive. An East County Tea Party was held on Saturday February 20 at El Cajon’s Renette Park. The San Diego Union Tribune estimated the crowds at 1,000 and staff writer Michele Clock quoted El Cajon Councilman Bill Wells, candidate in the Republican 77th Assembly District as saying that the gathering drew people who “want to take back their government, take control of their lives and keep what they earn.”
The East County Magazine presented a substantially different picture. In their article Bill Wells estimated the crowd at 500, Channel 8 reported dozens in attendance and Channel 9 estimated several hundred. Ah yes, the Union Tribune would estimate 1,000 attendees… East County Magazine also noted speakers who addressed other elements in the movement “ranging from abortion to battling terrorism.”
The recently formed East County Tea Party’s website has a largely incomprehensible homepage which belies their slogan that “Spreading intellectual wisdom has never been easier.” Their Tea Party Declaration reflects their intent to preserve and defend the constitution “from the forces of oppression, socialism and wasteful government spending.” The details aren’t surprising. While they “demand that our elected officials immediately stop the practice of redistributing the hard-earned wealth earned by its citizens,” they don’t see the inherent hypocrisy of protesting in a public park. The paranoia and thinly veiled hint of violence regarding the right to bear arms, however, is worth noting.
“Be advised, we view our right to bear arms as a vital mechanism to stop any attempt of our democratic republic’s evolution into a despotic autocracy. Beware, it is evident as to what is being done and we will use any and all measures available to crush these efforts.”
That kind of up-in-your-face language certainly ratchets things up a notch. The declaration ends with a strong reprimand to President Obama about his foreign policy-
“We want to express how strongly we feel that we want our President to STOP apologizing for our country. On several occasions Mr. Obama seems to have this compulsion to constantly apologize for our past mistakes…”
The Temple of Mut: Women, Flaming Capitalism and Tut, Too
The East County Tea Party does not present a complete picture of the local movement. San Diego’s urban Tea Party members, as reflected at the Temple of Mut have yet a different approach to the movement’s tenants. They have been around longer, have young women leaders (or unleaders) and are very much trying to break through the leaden strategies of their El Cajon brethren and most of their national counterparts.
It is worth comparing their assessment of the El Cajon Tea Party rally to the coverage in the U-T and the eastcountymagazine. Described as an “Epic Fail: Local GOP Leader ‘blends’ with TEA Party activists,” the author continues:
Dear Readers: I wanted to share this story to offer a great example of local Tea Party/Citizen Action groups experiencing specific problems with the Republican Machine, while offering some (hopefully) helpful suggestions.
There was a Tea Party in East County recently, which I did not choose to attend for the following reasons:
1) It is known to me that the East County Tea Party has received seed money for an event from the San Diego County Republican Party and the group is the most heavily promoted Tea Party entity by the local GOP in the region. While, as a registered Democrat, I have no problem with this fact — what troubles me most is that the East County Tea Party tries to hide its GOP ties. I would be more impressed with the group if they were open about the Republican connections and let the citizens decide whether to attend or not.
…However, I talked with my close compatriot, Charles Caesar, about this event. He indicated that approximately 300 citizens were there (the San Diego Union Tribune reports 1,000, highlighting the continued challenges with crowd estimates). He said the event “was essentially candidates on parade”, and hopes to provide this website a few details.
The Temple of Mut site makes no mention of the conservative social agenda elements presented at the rally or being floated nationally. I remain curious about their position on the government intrusion into the reproductive rights of women and their position on gay marriage, for starters. And I’d love to speak personally with the registered Democrat (?) contributor on this site. (Sarah- you can contact me at OBRagBlog@gmail.com )
The issue from my perspective is whether a segment of largely middle class white people who feel that they are the only citizens who work hard and pay taxes, feel extreme holster anxiety and then throw in everything from the Fairness Doctrine to Planned Parenthood into the mix constitutes a viable political movement in this country.