September 16, 2010

Treading on the Tea Party

It is not always easy to discern what the Tea Party is about.. But Tea Party rallies are generally a pretty good indication of what the group is against. Ironically, the party is purportedly named after the eighteenth century Boston Tea Party. At the Boston Tea Party, colonialists protested a tax imposed by Great Britain on tea. Their protest expressed a righteous indignation on taxation without representation. Colonial Americans didn’t want their tax money to fund a foreign empire overseas. The trouble with the present day American Tea Party is that they appear to be averse to paying taxes to support their own government and their fellow Americans. That’s quite a different thing entirely from what colonialists were all about. Emblazoning themselves with a patriotic name that alludes to taxation without representation could be cause for confusion - unless we are to conclude that they consider the present government a foreign power.

It is not that they don’t have some legitimate claim to ire over the excesses in government, in particular the pandering to corporate interests. Yet if it is true that the Tea Party itself is being bankrolled by Koch Industries, then they could be the biggest corporate toadies of them all.

With regard to their hostility towards taxation, has anyone in the Tea Party paused to think through the implications of their promoting a candidate who literally did not pay her taxes? Someone who benefits from paved roads, library services, public education, ambulance services, police and fire services without bearing her share of the burden to support these institutions - leaving everyone else to pay for them for her?

It is especially ironic that Glenn Beck , a prominent spokesperson for this group, crowed about being a self-educated man who benefitted enormously from free books checked out of public libraries. Are not public libraries funded by taxes? And are not many of them in peril today because of lost tax revenue? Don’t the rest of us deserve to benefit from the same “socialist” institutions that Glenn Beck benefitted from and commends?

From what I have been reading about the Tea Party, it seems to be a rallying point for angry people of means who are afraid that their personal resources are in danger of being squandered by other Americans they deem to be unworthy of their help or support. Mr. Beck underscored this sentiment by emphasizing all the things he declared Americans should not consider entitlements: “healthcare, hand outs”, and, he seemed to imply, education. This is interesting on many levels.
If what studies show to be the demographics of Tea Party constituents are correct, that the majority are middle class white Americans, then many of these “entitlements” that Glenn Beck says we should not expect are in fact already secured by his admirers. Thus would it be too outlandish to conclude that for the Tea Party it is the other Americans that should not have access to affordable health care, education and unemployment benefits? Just as long as the Tea Party folks themselves avail themselves of these rights?

.The general tone of Tea Party rallies, especially those that proclaim to “restore honor to America” are nearly always belligerent. There is even something pugnacious about their choice of the phrase “restoring honor.” It implies that someone or something dishonored the country and its people and we therefore should demand redress. Restoring “honor” does not have the humility that a call to restore “pride” or “hope,” does. And it might be wise to consider who will be hurt in their quest for “honor,” and who could end up paying for their irresponsibility.

I’ve posted two little paintings of paw prints. They are pictures seventeen and eighteen of my Puma series. I was going to post one a day but I am posting two today instead because I am taking the day off tomorrow.

No comments: