Thursday, August 05, 2010

What’s the Matter With the TEA PARTY?

For starters, tossing overboard good public servants like Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) and Senator Bob Bennett of Utah. Their sin? Not being conservative (to use an inadequate Tea parlor term) enough, and refusing to lie and pander to the extremist elements to the right of the Republican Party (which is as fringe as fringe can be). Inglis happens to be a fairly normal, mainstream, honest conservative. The type of lawmaker who could disagree with his adversaries without being disagreeable, who knows how to build bridges across the aisle, and gets things done for his constituents.

So what do they do? They toss him. At least those extremists who often hold sway in Republican primaries, because Mr. Inglis would most likely win easy reelection in the general. And why did they toss him? Well, he called on Joe Wilson to apologize for yelling “You lie!” then told people to stop watching Glenn Beck: “They say, 'Bob, what don't you get? Barack Obama is a socialist, communist Marxist who wants to destroy the American economy so he can take over as dictator. Health care is part of that. And he wants to open up the Mexican border and turn [the US] into a Muslim nation.’”

What would you do in Mr. Inglis’s place, listening to such ignorant tirades? I’d tell these Teabagger jackasses to stop watching Beck, too, read some history suggested by reputable sources such as the Smithsonian or any number of universities … then if they have health insurance, or are recipients of hugely popular socialist government programs Medicare and Social Security, to consult a psychiatrist. (But I’m not running for anything.) Mr. Inglis clammed up. But he also refused to describe the President as a socialist. “It's a dangerous strategy to build conservatism on information and policies that are not credible...This guy is no socialist.”

He REFUSED TO LIE because he is a man of integrity. Are there Republicans of integrity? Not so many in office. Or, like Bob Inglis and Bob Bennett, they’re being excised from government by the extremist elements that control their party. Most Republicans pander shamelessly to the extremists. Those who take up the Tea Party banner and run with it are being defeated. Most voters, even Republicans, aren’t stupid. They’re slow on the uptake, many are fooled by the propaganda, but many take the time to scratch below the surface platitudes. And the more they look, the less they like. They may be for smaller government conceptually, and for tackling deficits, but they’re not for privatizing Social Security, defunding Medicare, or abolishing the EPA and the Department of Education, among many issues. And most Americans are decent people who abhor racism.

The extremism on the right that has defined the Tea Party movement is not where the American people are. Recent election results demonstrate this, as the Tea Party candidates have been shellacked by the voters –- Republican voters. It’s too bad they weren’t around or didn’t turn out to give Bob Inglis a vote of confidence. Democrats and progressives may not agree on a single issue with Mr. Inglis. But no one can ever question his honesty and integrity.
Each time ideology –- a sick and ignorant one at that –- trumps honesty and integrity in politics, we are diminished, no matter what side of the fence we happen to be on. This is why turnout and voting are so important. The lunatics may rule the asylum, but they can only take over town hall if we stay home and let them.

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