The holidays, for me, are the time of year for friends and talk, and reading. I like to take a little staycation of the mind and consider the year gone by and the one to come. One can’t help but think about life, art and politics, and the connections between.
The Tea Baggers are abandoning national priorities they are uniquely qualified to contribute to in favor of another battle in their ongoing war on the middle class and the American healthcare system. And why? Because they flunked American History, not to mention Civics.
A couple of things I’ve recently read come to mind. First up, in the New Yorker, is an account of the rather spotty tale of the first Tea Party, in which merchants like Sam Adams and Hancock were far more interested in inciting mobs to protect their smuggling businesses and prop up their prices than actual patriotism. It’s an article of faith with the conservatives that the Boston Tea Party was the epitome of patriotic fervor that united the colonies, but both Washington and Franklin, along with a huge segment of the colonial populace, deplored it and it was really the ham handed reaction by Parliament that brought calls for a Continental Congress, and consequent colonial unity of purpose. Ultimately, it was left to progressive thinkers among the Founding Fathers to focus the mobs on truly unified and progressive patriotism, and thanks to “England’s dreaming” good things eventually happened.
Now, after a very productive lame duck session, in which several Republicans bolted the lockstep agenda of “No” their leaders had for political purposes employed, and actually contributed to important legislation, the Tea Baggers/GOP are now insisting on a return to “No”.
As in, no immigration reform, no deficit reduction, no tax reform. These are all crucial issues that the GOP is uniquely capable of contributing to, and politically benefitting from, if they work together with mainstream legislators in the Dems and in their own party. And judging by wide ranging approval of the stimulus and other accomplishments of the 111th Congress, it would be in their interest to do so.
The leadership has instead decided that a vindictive war on the American Health System, and tarring and feathering Obama must be top priority in their ongoing crusade to enlarge the wealth and income gap at the expense of the middle class. So let’s have a return to gridlock!
The agenda of No is an agenda of merchant profiteering and states rights. Let’s see, manipulation of angry boobs by rich merchants to keep prices high, and social progress stalled. Sound familiar?
The only way for this to succeed, to paraphrase, is for true patriots to say nothing. The nation could be spared a lot of grief if the Tea Baggers and states righters would simply look past their anger and self interest to see that they are on the wrong side. Again.
Something even a child could see.
In the Times’ Opinionator blog, which is now running an excellent real time review of the Civil War’s seminal events in anticipation of the 150th anniverseary of that essential struggle, one of the current posts concerns the cleverness of Major Robert Anderson to outwit the Confederate militias, and withdraw his men to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, where the first shots of the war were fired in the name of states’ rights. That left other forts in the harbor undefended, and one was held with only a token force: an officer, an enlisted man and his daughter were left to await occupation by a large Confederate militia. The Sergeant’s daughter Katie Skillen, as the American flag was lowered to be replaced with a Confederate banner, burst into tears. The militiamen assured her that she wouldn’t be hurt, but that wasn’t what she feared. It was the raising of “that dirty thing”, the banner of states’ rights, that saddened her. As it should any thinking person.
Similarly, the Tea Baggers waving “that dirty thing”, are trusting that we don’t know our history. States’ rights, once used to justify slavery and segregation, is now being trotted out by the corporate interests to derail Healthcare Reform.
But that won’t happen. It’s going to be a long tough struggle, and free thinking Americans will need a bit of Katie Skillen’s wit, pluck and sass. But the militias of greed and self interest will in the end be defeated. Again.