Monday, April 20, 2009

The obstacle

I try to write quieter posts on Sundays, even though “sometimes circumstances have interfered with that good intention”. I simply couldn’t write a “quiet post” yesterday, although I did try: It ended up becoming what was on my mind, so I gave up and left the day without a post.

In the past couple weeks, America has seen crazy christianists, the “rebel” Texas Governor and the teabaggers. They’re all related.

I wrote about the teabaggers last Thursday. Since then, I’ve read extensively and I’m convinced of a few things about the participants. First, the portion of true Libertarians was small. There was a larger number of “Ron Paul Libertarians”, folks who came to identify as Libertarian after Paul’s quixotic campaign for the Republican 2008 presidential nomination. But by far the greatest number came from the hard right generally, most Republican by voting behaviour, if not by self-identification.

The teabaggers were whipped up by Faux News performers and by traditional Republican “leaders”. And what were they protesting? President Obama. Libertarians (new and old) aside, teabaggers had no coherent tax message, and all of them probably will benefit from President Obama’s tax cuts—the largest in US history. So what do they want? To extend Bush’s tax cuts for the rich and super-rich? Obama’s budget doesn’t even raise taxes for them, but allows Bush’s cuts to expire, restoring them to the same rates as the Clinton Administration, which, by the way, were still lower than during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. So why protest a non-existent tax increase?

For some it was about having to pay any taxes at all. Yet not one of them said what, precisely, they’d give up to end taxes.

Some claimed to be protesting “government waste”, whatever that means. What one person sees as “waste” another will see as indispensible. It all comes down to priorities, and reasonable people can have a reasonable discussion about priorities. Dismissing all government spending as “waste” is both unreasonable and downright irrational.

But the real purpose of the teabaggers stunt was to lay groundwork for the Republican attempt to retake Congress in the 2010 elections. That’s why the focus was solidly on President Obama: Republicans think—or desperately hope—that the lies they churn out about Obama and taxes will get some sort of traction.

Partisan politics is also the reason the governor of Texas talked about his state seceding from the Union (clearly not understanding the conditions under which Texas joined the US in the first place). He was pandering to the far, far right of the Republican Party, the “I hate my government” crowd, who the governor hopes to win over for his presidential campaign.

And looking even more isolated and downright weird is that extremist christianist group and its gathering stormtroopers (or whatever) ad. They seemed to be the only ones left on the right fighting marriage equality. Faux News performer Glenn Beck was okay with Vermont passing marriage equality (because judges didn’t do it), John McCain’s old campaign manager endorsed marriage equality, far right preacher Rick Warrern now claims he’s not and never has been a leader against marriage equality, and even “Dr. Laura” Schlesinger said gay relationships are A-OK.

So, the extremist group is increasingly isolated in making marriage equality an issue as much of the right wing moves on. At the same time, Republican governors and other party “leaders” are pandering to the far right, whether it’s joining grandstanding “teabaggers” or loudly opposing marriage equality. And the teabaggers themselves presented a multi-front unfocused attack on President Obama and anyone who supports him.

Taken together, this could very well be the collective death whine of the far right as they fade deeper into irrelevance. Or, it could just the loony tip of an extremist and potentially violent political underbelly. I simply can’t tell which it is. We may have chased off the monster in the 2008 elections, but it certainly isn’t dead yet, and it remains an obstacle to restoring American democracy.

And that’s why I couldn’t write a quiet post yesterday.

The image at the top of this post is a montage I made from photos of teabaggers’ signs. The original photos are all available for viewing at the Huffington Post. These signs were pretty representative of ones I saw all over the Internet, on sites belonging to both ends of the spectrum. The racism—both blatant and not-too-thinly veiled—was everywhere.

1 comment:

Jason in DC said...

The governor of Texas was pandering to the far right not for a presidential campaign but to save his campaign for a third term as governor:

In Texas, Perry finds himself in a challenging environment for reelection as he seeks an unprecedented third consecutive term as governor. Another Republican, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, will be running against him. Hutchison is viewed favorably by 67% of voters statewide, Perry by 55%.

Follow this link to read the whole story http://news.yahoo.com/s/rasmussen/20090417/pl_rasmussen/texassecede20090417_1