Feb 07 2010
When the Tea Parties were non political gatherings of Americans challenging the deficit spending, deficit in tax cuts and deficit in respecting the judgement and goodness of Americans to do the right thing I was a big fan. But as the movement gained followers, it also attracted the same political wannabes who have tried to turn it into a ‘true ‘conservative’ movement. Which has destroyed the movement’s attraction with independents and centrists.
When you have Birthers given center stage to promote absurd conspiracy theories based on ignorance of law and technical issues you have gone way out of the mainstream. When you have nativist Tom Tancredo as a major speaker you have sunk beyond the fringes.
The Tea Party had a chance to allow center-left, center-right and as much of the far right who could stomach the center of America to come together in a modern Reaganesque coalition to oppose the liberal madness gripping DC. That opportunity is now gone:
You see, the popular conservative meme right now is that Democrats are arrogant and condescending and think that voters are stupid.
Given Democratsâ€™ condescension, I wanted to see how a real American conservative would relate to the average voter. How would the far right express its deep belief in the power of the people?
Here isÂ Tancredoâ€™s opening: First, we should have a â€œcivics literacy testâ€ before people are allowed to vote. Second, â€œPeople who could not even spell the word vote or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House whose name is Barack Hussein Obama.â€ Convention organizerÂ Judson Phillips helpfully explained that “Tancredo doesn’t feel like a lot of people who supported Barack Obama understand the basics of this country.”
I am not wasting anymore time with the right-wing fringes. I and many others are fed up with both fringes and their condescending arrogance (usually as unfounded as their wild schemes and purity tests). And I feel for those who think this movement has any future, including one person I have supported recently with great hope:
During her speech at the National Tea Party Convention on Saturday night, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) ripped the Democratic Party and Obama administration, calling on them to â€œstop lecturing and start listening.â€
That is a universally good idea. Stop lecturing and start listening. Start listening when it becomes clear there is no science behind global warming, nor is there any behind ntelligent design. Start listening when it becomes clear the science of biology proves human embryos are precious human beings with all the potential of anyone other human being, especially when that science is rooted in the real science of evolution and genetics.
Start listening when Americans want to be proud of their diversity, not see it as a wild eyed threat or constant handicap. Start listening when we make clear we are not interested in ignorance based conspiracy theories about the President not being a US Citizen or the President wasting time listening in on American telephone calls and not terrorists.
Over the years both fringes have more than demonstrated their inability to do more than tell everyone else what to do and screw up everything they touch. We have Democrat and Republican leaders in jail for bribery, destroying their families through the lust for power, talking out of multiple sides of their mouths and not doing what they preach.
Let me quote Palin again:
â€œCompetition is good, it makes us work harder and produce more,â€ Palin said. “Despite what the pundits want you to think, contested primaries aren’t civil war, they are democracy at work and that’s beautiful.”
To a point. When you get to the Birthers and the immigrant haters it is not a beautiful thing. It is a train wreck. Count me out. As Palin said, there is a segment of the movement I am completely comfortable with:
Asked in a pre-screened questioned-and-answer session after the speech if the movement should become an independent party or join the GOP, Palin said, â€œThe Republican Party would be very smart to absorb as much of the Tea Party movement as possible.â€
But it is an ever shrinking segment it seems.
Update: See what I mean – NJ, VA and MA were won by winning over centrists, not repulsing them or rejecting them.
Update: For folks who think I am off base here, I suggest they stop by and see Ed Morrissey’s take on this incident. Others may waster their time with the fringe, but I won’t.