Monday, October 18, 2010

A Tea Party America

Although there is some time until the November mid-terms tell us what is in store for the nation politically, and even more time before anything remotely resembling a tea party hegemony emerges, I believe we can extrapolate what a tea party America might look like based on the signs that its candidates have given us thus far. It bears stating what follows here are not merely predictions borne of the fevered imaginings of an over-active liberal mind, but conclusions based on a well documented succession of eye-opening, which is to say flat out bizarre words and actions of tea party candidates and supporters over the past year or so.

When the tea party burst onto the scene with its seething, angrily disruptive performance during the first days of the healthcare debate, it was a faceless mass of people howling from the fringes of our politics. Now that leaders have stepped forward to claim the mantles of various elected offices, a clear picture is beginning to take shape.

First up, Nevada tea party candidate, Sharron Angle. At the outset of Angle’s campaign, she remarked "What is a little bit disconcerting and concerning is the inability of sporting goods stores to keep ammunition in stock...That tells me the nation is arming. What are they arming for if it isn’t that they are so distrustful of their government? They are afraid they’ll have to fight for their liberty in more Second Amendment ways. And that’s why I look at this as almost an imperative. If we don’t win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?"

Buried in this gibberish is the patently un-American idea that if the outcomes of elections which are carried out legally and fairly are not to our liking, then its okay to take up arms and begin threatening the body politic with deadly force. Presumably, if this is a fine and dandy way for tea party members and ultra-conservatives to behave, it should be equally condoned if liberals follow suit in the event that any given election cycle leaves their noses out of joint.

Next is Carl Paladino, seeking the governorship of the state of New York under the aegis of the tea party. Paladino recently upbraided his Democrat opponent as a poor example of parenthood for marching with his gay daughter in a gay pride parade to demonstrate his acceptance of her and indeed of all gay Americans. We can reasonably suspect that we are through the looking glass when we are forced to endure lectures on morality from a man who has been known to routinely send bestial, pornographic, and racist e-mails to his friends, which Paladino has admitted doing.

Christine O’Donnell certainly stunned the citizens of Maryland by trouncing a well established, long-time Republican politician in that state’s primaries. More stunning have been the revelations that have subsequently emerged regarding her one-time status as a witch, her bogus claims to academic achievement, and her strange involvement in campaigns to "cure" gay people and to abolish masturbation. As a liberal, I don’t think I could write a fictional narrative that could compete with the whacked out, lurid plot points of this woman’s actual life
Which may pale in comparison to the exploits of Ohio tea party candidate, Rich Iott. In a move that defies everything heretofore known about political optics, this man entered a high profile race even though he has been photographed gamboling through the Ohio countryside in full Nazi storm trooper regalia. He was once (but no longer) a WWII re-enactor who, sad to say, chose to align himself with the losing side of that conflict. One would assume this could only bode ill for his campaign, but in this year of the rise of the tea party, who can say?

I began this column with the intention of bringing to light all of the strange candidates that the surging tea party has deemed acceptable to lead our country, but neither time nor space will allow me to insert them all. I must leave for another day Rand Paul, who after winning the Kentucky primary opined that restaurant owners should be allowed to discriminate, on the basis of race, who may and may not patronize their places of business. And Ken Buck who, as a Colorado DA five years ago, refused to take an alleged rape victim’s case because her charges might be seen as a case of "buyer’s remorse."

But I think the point is made. Based on the examples above, the country that tea party candidates would bestow upon us would be a place awash in a fair amount of callousness, hypocrisy, racism, violence and a tenuous grasp on reality. I realize that if a majority of the voting public sees no problem with the above, then the joke could be on me.

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