January 16, 2013 By Jack Jodell
reactionary adj. : of, pertaining to, or marked by, or favoring reaction, especially extreme conservatism or rightism in politics; opposing political or social change.
The abovementioned adjective, reactionary, is the perfect word to describe the backward-looking, government-hating movement called the Tea Party, which now infests the Republican Party like a voracious group of dangerous termites. As with Puritans and Salem Witch-hunters of a bygone era, it has proven itself to be ruthlessly unyielding and malevolent in nature. It wishes to impose its will on the country by means of overthrowing long-existing government norms like compromise and common consensus through the replacement of existing moderate government officials with its own narrow-minded zealots. It seeks to achieve this government takeover by flooding oft-poorly attended off-year party primaries with its own members and uprooting any and all potential opponents. Like a group of ferocious political killer bees, it wantonly destroys any moderate Republican in its path. It relies on stealth and disinformation, and practices the shouting down of opposing viewpoints so that no real debate or discussion can occur. As such, it is decidedly anti-democracy and therefore should have no place whatsoever in contemporary American politics!
The very name of the Tea Party is a dishonest misnomer to begin with. Its adherents cling lovingly to the anti-tax sentiments expressed during the Boston Tea Party of 1773, when American colonists living under British rule dumped three boatloads of tea into Boston Harbor in protest of a newly-enacted tax which Parliament had imposed on them targeting that popular drink. It was imposed because the colonists had absolutely no say in the matter. It was taxation without representation, a situation which definitely does NOT exist today. These days, as has been done ever since the earliest days of our country, Congress levies taxes and it is our elected representatives who are the ones doing this levying. Angry Tea Partiers, many of whom hate taxation and who are wedded to the idea that the United States must be a nation of very small government with as little scope and power as possible. Of course, those of us who live in the real world know how ridiculous and impractical that notion is. After all, how can a global American empire be maintained on a small budget? How can we protect our business interests abroad without a strong and battle-ready military? How are we to maintain and build roads, fix or construct bridges, or uniformly educate our people without a large, strong government in place to do so? Who would repair devastated cities in times of great national and natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy? Who would protect citizens from outside invasion, or who would ensure that the barest minimum of necessary human needs like adequate food and shelter would be in place for every citizen? The answer is obvious to all but the most blindly naïve and stubborn Tea Party member. Only a strong, well-funded federal government can provide these absolutely necessary services for its citizens. And this type of providing cannot be done on the type of austere budget the Tea Party is advocating.
Not only that, but the Tea Party (through its sullen opposition to taxes) conveniently forgets (or outright ignores) the FACT that it was Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson who initially took strong PRO-TAX stances. Washington put down an early 1794 Pennsylvania protest against a Whiskey tax using military force, and Jefferson voiced strong support for a progressive tax system in a letter he wrote to James Madison in 1785, wherein he stated, “Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they
rise.” Take THAT, Grover Norquist! In their zeal to oppose taxation, modern Tea Partiers entirely miss the point that taxation is a necessary and vital function of our government, and fail to notice that American citizens all across the income scale are taxed far less than are the citizens of almost all other developed countries!
The government-hating Tea Party suffers greatly from a fundamentally flawed rationale. They claim to hate autocratic government, but, if allowed to attain total power, that is exactly what they would inflict on the entire country. They are far too intolerant on both social and cultural issues. They view compromise as surrender, which it certainly is NOT. After all, the very Constitution they supposedly revere so much came about entirely due to a series of compromises among its framers, and it has more than stood the test of time! Many of them appear to be woefully ignorant about current events and important lessons we have learned from history. They are also far too absolutist and unyielding in both attitude and behavior. For example, just before the last election, Tea Party elements in Chaska, MN (an exurb of supposedly tolerant and liberal Minneapolis) actually refused to participate in a candidates’ forum sponsored by their local League of Women Voters chapter. They claimed that the League was a leftist organization and they would only participate in a forum sponsored by the Tea Party. Really! ANYBODY in their right mind knows that the League of Women Voters is totally nonpartisan and hardly a “leftist” organization! This Tea Party militant and hostile demeanor simply does not square well with traditional American mores and values. Tea Party members harass public officials at Town Hall meetings and sometimes even beat up political opponents. Such displays resemble early Nazi Brown Shirt methodology more than they do American democratic traditions, and they are very unhealthy. For these Tea Partiers call themselves conservatives, but they are, in reality, actually dangerous ideological bullies and radical, extremist reactionaries. They are not at all like you or I, and are wholly unfit for governance at any level. It is time that we permanently end their scourge, and throw them overboard and off of our current ship of state!
In my next segment, I will identify some of the more prominent members of this wretched movement and will demonstrate why none of them deserve to be on the public payroll.