Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party

This could have been a boring mid-term election season, but thankfully, we have the tea partiers to liven things up. Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, Sarah Palin – the fun just never stops. Tea Partiers complain that they’re fed up, and they’re a legitimate political movement, but it’s difficult to take them seriously when they appear to be channeling the Mad Hatter.

Take Rand Paul, the Tea Party candidate who won the Republican primary in Kentucky in the race to replace retiring US Senator Jim Bunning. Right after winning the primary, he was caught up in controversy over his remarks about the Civil Rights Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act. He said that he’s in favor of ending discrimination, but opposed to telling business owners that they can’t discriminate, and that’s pretty much what he said about the ADA. Not only did he say this stuff, he went on television to justify it. That didn’t go well for him. Apparently the GOP hasn’t been able to reel him in, because he steps in it every time he opens his mouth. After the Deepwater Horizon explosion, where 11 people were killed, and millions of gallons of oil drained into the ocean, Mr. Paul’s sympathies were with BP. He told Good Morning America that “accidents happen” and that President Obama was “un-American in his criticism of business.”

Shortly after that, the disavowals began. Mark Meckler of the Tea Party Patriots said of Rand Paul, “He’s a politician. HE doesn’t represent the movement on anything regardless of what he says.”

Since then, Rand Paul has gone on to further distinguish himself with his knowledge of coal mining in Kentucky. At a campaign stop at the Harlan Center, Paul was asked about the disaster at the Big Branch Mine, where 29 miners were killed. Paul said,” "Is there a certain amount of accidents and unfortunate things that do happen, no matter what the regulations are?" Paul says at the Harlan Center, in response to a question about the Big Branch disaster. "The bottom line is I'm not an expert, so don't give me the power in Washington to be making rules. You live here, and you have to work in the mines. You'd try to make good rules to protect your people here. If you don't, I'm thinking that no one will apply for those jobs.” It’s a charmingly naive Libertarian viewpoint, to think that no one will apply for jobs in a dangerous setting, but it’s not based in any kind of reality. The mine had been cited for over 1300 safety violations over a 5-year period. Sometimes an accident is not an accident. This Randian philosophy hasn’t endeared him to coal miners, who rely on safety regulations to protect them. Paul also believes that business should be self-regulating, a tired bit of baloney that is continually recycled by people who work behind desks.

Another Tea Partier running for the US Senate is Sharron Angle of Nevada. Last week, I mistakenly gave her credit for the plan to barter health care for chickens. That was Sue Lowden, who was apparently so crazy that Sharron Angle defeated her in the primary. Angle’s been in the news this week, because a reporter unearthed an interview where she discussed her belief that the agenda of the Democrats are a “violation of the first commandment.” Not amendment. Commandment. Angle is in favor of a theocracy, and in her view, social programs being pushed by Democrats are turning our government into God. Apparently Ms. Angle’s Bible is uncluttered with all that stuff about compassion, and caring for the poor and needy. Angle is opposed to abortion even in the case of rape or incest. She advocates that young women pregnant by rape or incest should “turn lemons into lemonade” by having the baby. One wonders if she would counsel a family member in the same way – and one is certain that Ms. Angle has never been raped. She wants to make Nevada the spent nuclear fuel capital, by promoting the waste dump at Yucca Mountain. Angle also called the escrow fund for victims of the oil spill set up by BP “a slush fund.” She backtracked on that pretty quickly, though; later saying it was “an important first step.” In any case, a Republican with a pulse and a flag lapel pin should be able to beat Harry Reid in this election – but Tea Party Sharron is apparently too crazy for Nevada.

Meanwhile, back home in New Hampshire, the Tea Party is hard at work. Tea Partiers claim to be opposed to government interference, but it’s hard to see any sign of that at the NH Tea Party Coalition website. They’re opposed to marriage equality – which means they support government interference in our private lives. They’re opposed to abortion, which means they support government interference in women’s lives. They claim that schools are for brainwashing children, which does make a certain amount of sense. People who lack literacy and critical thinking skills would be far more likely to blindly follow these Tea Partiers. There’s plenty of talk about “socialism” a term always erroneously used by teabaggers and Republicans. They support the Arizona immigration laws, but they aren’t racists.

Of course not. Tea Partiers claim to be defenders of the Constitution, and angry about runaway government spending. It’s surely a coincidence that they ignored the Patriot Act and the decadent spending of the Bush administration – and chose to form up during the administration of our first black president. Are we the Dormouse, or are they?

“Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea tray in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you're at!”

The Mad Hatter, in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

published as an op-ed in the August 6, 2010 edition of the Conway Daily Sun
© sbruce 2010

1 comment:

DissedBelief said...

Great article again Susan. Exactly like the Mad Hatter, well said. What do tea partiers (perhaps emphasis on "partiers" is the clue) drink/eat to have turned their brains to mold? More and more they resemble the Voortrekker crows of apartheid South Africa who remain today the finest examples of hypocrisy. Rand Paul and Palin are today the finest examples of cheap entertainment. Who are they pandering to? I do believe you answered that yourself in your column. They pander to the ignorant and uneducated of our society who love remaining that way. And that perhaps is the saddest of all. The faithful followers of W who don't read and don't research and don't think for themselves, but prefer to have someone else yell factless nonsense at them. How will all this end? Perhaps we are seeing evidence of it right now.