Monday, May 17, 2010

Your weekly dose: The Tea Party and the 17th Amendment

I just have to ask, "How has the movement known as the "Tea Party" (A.) managed to grab so much media attention, and (B.) how, given the fact it is based on little more than misdirected anger and whacky conspiracy theories, not to mention ignorance and fear, has it transformed the once great and honorable party of Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, Henry Cabot Lodge, Margaret Chase Smith, Edward Brooke, and William Weld , into the party of Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Glenn Beck, and, more locally, Bill Hudak?"

It truly boggles the thinking person's mind; be one a Republican, a Democrat, a genuine conservative, a liberal, or an independent.

Thankfully, I think more and more intelligent Republicans and independents are asking those questions, especially since it's come to light that the Tea Party, rather than expanding citizen participation in our democratic processes, is actually trying to limit it.

They are doing so by calling for repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution that, in 1913, took the power of electing US Senators away from often corrupt state legislatures and gave it directly to the registered voters in each state.

The amendment greatly expanded voter participation, strengthened democratic processes, and gave power back to the people.

There's a strange irony in the Tea Party, a movement that calls itself "grass roots", and an advocate of taking the government "back" on the "people's" behalf, championing a cause that will do just the opposite.

But then, this movement is full of "strange ironies".

It is a movement based on the belief President Obama is an impostor president.

It is a movement that believes health care reform will bring a new, Nazi like Holocaust to America.

Its members, in one of the most disrespectful displays I've ever seen relating to the Holocaust, used actual photographs of Hitler's victims at their rally on Capitol Hill last September to score cheap political points against the health reform legislation wending its way through the halls of Congress.

The Tea Party's de facto leader, Sarah Palin, a woman who can't seem to decide if she is a good Christian woman or a leather dominatrix in the making (twice, in the last few weeks, she's showed up at political events dressed in some kinky looking leather outfits), revved up the Tea Partiers' paranoia with claims that Obama was looking to euthanize people like her little Down Syndrome son Trig, not to mention Grandma and Grandpa - and most of the Tea Partiers seem to have swallowed the lie, hook line and sinker.

Sarah's other half, no not Todd, Michelle Bachmann; the right wing, looney tune, congresswoman from Minnesota, drove the Tea Partiers' paranoia into overdrive when she urged them to break the law by refusing to fill out the census.

Why? Because Bachmann claimed the census was really a tool devised by Obamamaniacs to identify the impostor president's political opponents so that they could, at a later date, be rounded and up and sent to domestic Guantanamos run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Funny thing though, when one of her aides clued her in that if people in her district listened to her and didn't fill out their census forms, her district and, hence, her job, might be eliminated, bats in her belfry Bachmann became a born again champion of filling out the census.

More locally, the Tea Party is represented by none other than Bill Hudak, the apparent GOP nominee for the 6th district congressional seat held by Democrat John Tierney.

Hudak is an admitted "Birther", in that he, like most of the Mad Hatters of the Tea Party, believes Barack Obama is an impostor president.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Hudak had life size cut outs of then Senator Barack Obama dressed as Osama bin laden on the front lawn of his home in tony Boxford.

He has publicly stated he believes issues pertaining to people's civil rights should be put to popular votes, but won't answer if that applies retroactively to things like Brown v. Board of Education, the 1960's Voting and Civil Rights Acts, woman's suffrage, or the right of interracial couples to marry.

He's a piece of work, this Bill Hudak. But he is our local Tea Party candidate for Congress. It makes me feel badly for the many decent and intelligent Republicans I know who reside in the sixth district.

A lot of this might be funny if it weren't for the fact that, not too far below the surface of the Tea Party movement, there is a level of racism, xenophobia, and homophobia, not to mention rhetoric that comes perilously close to inciting violence, that should concern all intelligent and reasonable Americans, regardless of party affiliation or political philosophy.

It's all so ironic. The Tea Party claims it cares about people's freedoms and is working to defend them but, the record shows, and the call to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment proves, its intent, if its members were to ever gain real political power, is to do just the opposite.

Michael Cook
2 Willow Street
Gloucester, MA

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

where are you getting these claims that the tea party wants to repeal the 17th amendment? You cite no source...

Anonymous said...

Straight from the horse's, um, mouth:

http://virginiateapartypatriots.com/2009/12/can-we-recall-senator-warner-and-senator-webb/

http://www.richmondteaparty.com/2010/05/explaining-the-17th-amendment/

http://www.alan.com/2010/05/15/radical-tea-partiers-urge-repeal-of-17th-amendment/

Happy to help!

- The Carrot

anon2 said...

it's much easier to remain ignorant or obtuse than it is to cite facts...

Anonymous said...

Anon2,

Agreed. The fact that the Tea Party lunatics are WILLINGLY ignorant AND obtuse is what makes them both laughable and scary.

- The Carrot

macsurf said...

Thank you Carrot.

The more I learn about who's really behind this so called "grass roots" Tea Party movement, the more unsettled I become.

Anonymous said...

Mac,

I think there's some sort of end-game afoot with regards to who's financing/influencing the Tea Party and the hidden agenda behind this (which is, once again, the idea of a permanent Republican majority).

The strategy appears to be keeping people distracted enough to take their eye off the ball and then, once the game is over, to keep the vast majority of the American public poor, relatively uneducated and so busy struggling that they don't realize what's happening (along with a smattering of bread and circuses).

This is absolutely terrifying to me.

- The Carrot

Anonymous said...

ah liberalism...tolerance and diversity in action.

macsurf said...

I hear you Carrot.

I just hope that, as more people start paying attention to politics as the fall approaches, and they learn more about the Tea Party movement, they will be as appalled and concerned as we are at what lies just below the surface and who's really behind this faux grass roots movement and reject it.

This movement is a hybrid of Nixon's cynical race based Southern Stratgey in the late 1960's, and of the unholy alliance forged between the Christian Right and GOP economic elites in the late 1970's that successfully lured what were once known as lunch bucket Dems, who tended to be more traditional and conservative on hot button social issues like abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, and the environment, etc, into the fold even though the alliance, once elected with the lunch bucket Dems' help, put the economic screws to those very working class people with policies that overwhelmingly benefitted the rich.

It was a brilliant and effective strategy. The Tea party is just the next geneation in the Right slow evolution into overt fascism.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

Please explain why tolerance is a bad thing. Use your own words.

P.S. I am going to Hudak's event this weekend.

- The Carrot

Anonymous said...

tolerance isn't a bad thing, you should practice it sometime

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for tea partiers and Bill Hudak! I am sick of watching the liberals and socialists destroy this country and I am optimistic with the discussions that result from the tea party movement. The overblown accusations you refer to are politically motivated by liberal bloggers fearful that their precious, Liberal, Pelosi-lovong Congressman, John Tierney, has a real challenger. Real, as in
1. not a Washington insider-politician like Tierney
2. A real working guy with small business know how.
3. A real fiscal conservative that does not approve of the huge spending spree our federal government is on.

Anonymous said...

Mr Hudak has said the Obama signs were a little over the top, but expressed his deep frustration at the direction a President Obama may take our country. He was proven right in an Obama administration which has frequently disregarded the will of the American people and the Constitution. And at no time has Mr. Hudak ever admitted to being a so-called "birther" or thinking President Obama is an imposter.

macsurf said...

I don't know how to link to it, but HooHah Hudak was, indeed, quoted in the local newspaper rag associated with the Eagle Tribune mothership as saying he believed then Senator Obama was ineligible to be president because he has been born outside the country.

What's even more fascinating is today, a neo-fascist, 30 something, talk show host, who is listed as a director of the national Tea Party Express, referred to Muslims as the "animals of Allah", and Allah as a "monkey God".

These are the exact same tactics the American right used against Jews during the worst of the Great Depression.

The economic meltdown and subsequent social turmoil in the 1930's were, according to the American Tea Party of that era, the fault of rich, socialist, Jews, mostly based in Europe, who were determined to bring down America's capitalist, free enterprise and overwhelmingly Christian political and economic system.

The ignorant, paranoid, and racist parallels today are there for all, whose eyes are even barely open, to see.

let's just hope more people start rejecting such homphobia, xenophobia, racism, and faux "Christian" nationalism, before its too late.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Cook would seem to be an embodiment of Ronald Reagan's observation: "It's not that liberals are ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so."

And Mr Cook appears honor bound to, week by week, catalog just how much he knows that isn't so.

As a cautionary note....as much as our self styled "betters" lampoon Sarah Palin for her positions....it is telling to note that her positions are supported by roughly 60% of the US population. And as much as they continually belittle the teaparty movement, the teaparty group enjoys extremely high popularity, nationwide, as well.

As a result of this, some people try to characterize the US as a "center-right" nation. This is both amusing and inaccurate.

In defining anything as left, right or center, the fact is that the majority define the center.....so the nation is always "centered"....and therefore can never be center-right.

People, on the other hand, can find their political positions characterized on this continuum...a continuum that finds its center, as defined about the median of the population.

Which means, by extension, (perhaps much to the dismay of those like Mr Cook) ..... the "progressives" are really quite far to the left. In fact, it would not be entirely incorrect to characterize their positions as being radical fringe....quite a bit outside of the mainstream. ----anon

Anonymous said...

Hudak is a little bit nutty, by which I mean 'dangerously insane'.

He's also a liar; his initial stances (birther, etc) is the true Hudak. Once he realized that marked him as nuts he backed off...but as someone who's had the bad luck to spend time in the same room with him rest assured that he's never really backed off of those initial positions. It was embarrassing to watch a grown man spout that nonsense. He's merely keeping his mouth shut...for now.

- The Carrot

macsurf said...

Carrot, I am sure John Tierney is coounting his blessings that Hudak appears destined to be his opponent.

had the Republicans been able to get Bruce Tarr or Brad Hill to run, Tierney would be in for the race of his life.

I cannot imagine, once people in the 6th start paying atention as the fall approaches, that Hudak will have a chance.

The sixth is not, despite claims to the contrary, big Tea Party country.

In fact, even nationally, the Tea party represents only a very small, albeit loud, angry, and often nasty sliver of the electorate.

Rand Paul, for example, scored an impressive Tea Party fueled win over the GOP's favored candidate in Kentucky. He beat Tray Grayson with a big 25 point margin.

But still, only a very small percentage of Kentucky's eligible voters bothered to turn out for the primary. So, all the prgnosticating about Rand's victory doesn't say much about what will happen in NOvember.

If more moderate Repubs and independents reject Pauls's sometimes almost messianic sounding rants, and sit out the general election, the Repubs could very well lose that seat.

If the Democratic candidate mobilizes his base well and if the Tea Party faction in the GOP continues to move rightward, we could see a groundwell of progressive Democratic participation in Kentucky that could tip the election in the Dems favor.

Likewise, if the GOP establishment can pull Paul more toward the center and get him to tone down the mesianic soundng rhetoric a little, something even Paul has acknowledged he will likely have to do to be truly viable in the general election, the Repubs would likely hold the seat.

Either way, it's way too early to make ANY predictions based on May, 18's results in terms of waht will happen in NOvember.

but one this is certain. This is going to be one of the most interesting and volatile mid term elections that we've seen in a very long time

Gillian Swart said...

I can't find on Facebook a blog post from a man who was saying something very interesting ...

That is, if "tea partiers" were angry black people instead of angry white people, this would be a different conversation ...

Think about it. A mob of angry black people toting guns and calling for all kinds of mayhem ... how scary would that be to you?

I'm all for people getting to say what they think, but don't try to pretend that if they weren't white, it wouldn't be a different story altogether.

And that's what sickens me most.

Anonymous said...

they aren't all white gillian, don't be ignorant.

Gillian Swart said...

Thanks, anonymous, your assessment really means a lot to me. And proves the point.

Anonymous said...

Gillian, they would BOTH scare me. Your example for the fact that a large percentage of the population feels disenfranchised, the other that someone is manipulating a percentage of the population into believing they've been disenfranchised.

I have a sneaking suspicion that none of this is going to end particularly well. Too many people have been fed too much false and inflammatory information; when people start insisting that the President is seeking to destroy the country, the Speaker of the House is demonized, and the Department of Education is seen as something evil that needs to be dismantled...well, it ain't gonna be pretty no matter how it ends.

- The Carrot

Gillian Swart said...

Carrot, of course they would BOTH scare you because you seem to be rational and reasonable (well, most of the time anyway). I was talking to anonymous, who seems to think (like most of his apparent ilk) that 98% white with a few token dark faces thrown in is enough to make it not a white thing. Anonymous, if was mostly black people, you'd be screaming "riot!" and breaking out your assault weapons. This is scary and the fact that you don't see that it's scary ... well, that's scary.

macsurf said...

You're absolutely Gillian on numerous of your points.

If Latinos in Arizona were behaving the way many of the Tea Partiers have acted at various events of theirs, if they'd been encouraging their compatriots to come to forums discussing immigration armed if they had licenses to carry weapons, as many Tea Party leaders did last summer, the Tea Partiers would be demanding the National Guard be called in and people be arrested.

I know I will get hit hard by some of your readers on the Right for saying this, but there REALLY is a neo-fascist element to the Tea Party movement.

Its leaders are engaging in tactics and rhetoric that include, scapegoating, making some nefarioous "other" responsible for the nations's curren problems, and mixing it all up with a good dose of xenophobia, homophobia, both overt and subtle racism, and what I call a new brand of "Christian nationalism". It is all eerily reminiscent of the methods Hitler and the Nazis used in the waning days of the WEimar Republic as they pursued political power.

Anonymous said...

what happened when mostly latinos rioted during the may day protests? were you scared then? property damage, open discussion of revolution, arrests and assaults...didn't hear any mention of that.

wow said...

Macsurf, do you ever get tired of being wrong. I thought Cook was misinformed but you take the cake. IF latinos behaved the way the tea partiers have then that would be an improvement. the tea parties are peaceful events, no riots, no destruction of property...honestly, how do you come up with this stuff?

Gillian Swart said...

I asked if YOU would be scared, but yeah, I would be scared. But somehow, angry-looking guys holding big guns are also very scary. You're the one defending the movement, anon ...

macsurf said...

Wow, I never said the Tea Partiers engaged in actual violence or destruction of property.

All I asked was what would happen if latinos or blacks were urging their movement's members to come to public forums armed if they had licenses to carry guns, if they were claiming the president of the US was illegitimate, or making statements that came perilously close to inciting violence.

I suspect the overwhelmingly white members of the Tea Party cult, especially if the president were a white Republican, would be screaming for the government to do something.

I abhor violence of any kind, regardless of who might carry it out - be it a white supremacist like Tim McVeigh, or some group claiming to speak for members of minorities.

But, altho you may not like hearing it, the reality is the Tea Party Movement has a well documented history of abusive treatment being directed at those who dare to disagree with it, and it also, or at least some of its spokespersons, have come periloously close to crossing the line from protected civil disobedience and free speech to the outright incitement of violence.

That should be unacceptable to all decent and intelligent Americans across the board.

Anonymous said...

please share the "well documented history" with us. you make these grandiose claims and never back them up with facts.

as far as incitement of violence, i've been looking for your condemnation of the may day riots, but i can't seem to find it anywhere....

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

Enough with the pedantic attitude. If everything needs to be spelled out for you in excruciating detail I'd hate to be one of your relatives, friends or your boss.

You and I both know what Mac is talking about, and furthermore you and I both know that the minute he presents an example you'll either disregard it, start another line of questioning or toss out a non-relevant post.

You remind me of a 14 year old: 'but he said it too!', 'If I'm really grounded I don't have to go to school!', etc, etc.

Here's a hint: having the last word doesn't mean you've won an argument.

- The Carrot

Anonymous said...

sorry carrot, i don't accept people's who toss out claims that aren't backed up by fact. the tea party is made up of normal people fed up with the way government is run, and its a simple as that. all your claims of radicalism and violence are as unfounded as your claims of racism and homophobia. it simply doesn't exist and repeating it constantly won't make it so. even a 14 year old can see that....

Anonymous said...

Then it's a darn good thing I never made those claims and dissed your poor behavior instead.

(And your last post proved my point, so thanks for playing.)

- The Carrot

macsurf said...

WOW, I watched the Tea party Convention and the racism, xemophobia, homophobia, and "Christian Nationalism" were on full display.

From the Reverend Rick Warren, to former Congressman Tom Tancredo, and several speakers in between, the key noters were pushing all the buttons that get the 98% white, right wing Tea Party crowd all fired up.

Bill Hudak's call for people's civil rights to be put to popular votes goes hand in hand with Rand Paul's "racist lite" remarks after his primary victory in Kentucky on Tuesday.

Fortunately, polls show the Tea partiers represent only a very small slice of the American electorate and, as more and more people become more familiar with its not so subtly racist agenda, that slice of the pie will shrink further still.

David said...

Obviously Mr.Cook is a true left wing lunatic and his opinion is not what most of the American people believe in.I am myself a Tea Party leader in this Congressional district

Anonymous said...

Whatever you say David, whatever you say.

Anonymous said...

macsurf, please provide proof of you claims of racism and homophobia, its been months since your first made these claims and yet, no evidence....