April 1, 2010
With so much news coverage surrounding the heated rhetoric coming from the tea party, I thought it would be instructive to dissect their anger to see if we can come away with some understanding of their issues.
But let’s be clear on something. Tea party members are aligned with the Republican Party—no matter what both sides say. Name me one tea partier that is supporting a Democrat or the president’s agenda. This is part of the perception problem each group is having—the public doesn’t distinguish one from the other. Furthermore, both group’s rhetoric is so similar so as to make the public think they are Siamese twins.
Tea party members use hostile rhetoric such as: “we want our country back, Obama’s trampling on the constitution, he’s a socialist, he’s destroying America, and he’s taking away our freedom.” Let’s deal with each of these concerns one at a time.
When they say, “we want our country back,” who is the “we?” Are they referring to white people, since that is what their group is comprised of? And, “take our country back” from whom? The only group that can make that demand with any sense of entitlement would be the Native Americans, since they were here first!
“Obama’s trampling on the Constitution.” I assume they are saying that Obama is in direct violation of the Constitution, thus breaking the law. If that be the case, when will someone file articles of impeachment to remove him from office? Members of Congress are sworn to uphold the Constitution; therefore, if Obama is “trampling on the Constitution,” they are bound by duty to impeach him.
“He’s a socialist.” Most of these tea partier couldn’t define socialism if you paid them. So, let me help them. Simply put, socialism is a system where the state (U.S. government) owns or controls the means of production. Over the past two years the government has intervened in the private sector (bailing out the banks, the auto industry, home owners on the verge of losing their homes) in a manner that is not consistent with capitalism. So, if Obama is a “socialist,” what does that make George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, since these bailouts started under them? I don’t remember seeing signs of Bush with a Hitler mustache or in blackface. Where was your anger then?
“He’s destroying America.” Do you really think any president or member of Congress would actually set out to destroy our country? This is not even worth discussing. I fail to see the connection between a person with a different point of view and them “trying to destroy our country.”
“He’s taking away our freedom.” I have a simple question for my tea party friends. Name me one freedom that Obama or the Democrats have taken from you. If your freedom was so important to you, where was your voice when Bush and both parties in Congress passed and reauthorized the Patriot Act (2001 & 2006, respectively)? That bill actually did take away your freedom! The official title of the law is, the USA PATRIOT ACT (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001). The bill was passed in response to 9/11.
Despite what all the pundits and strategists say, tea partiers cannot help the Republicans in November, but they can hurt them. They will never vote for a Democrat, but yet they are pulling the Republican Party too far to the right. The more the Republicans become indistinguishable from the tea partier, the more they will alienate the independent voter, thereby giving the Democrats continued control of the House and the Senate.
The only way the Republicans can take advantage of this favorable political climate is to tone down the heated rhetoric and to lay out a clear vision for where they want to take the country. A bumper sticker campaign will not give them victory this time. No more, “we’re the party of lower taxes, less government, more individual freedom, yada, yada, yada.”
What taxes would you lower and how will you pay for it? What government agencies would you shrink? What individual freedoms would you increase?
The American people want answers and solutions to the problems facing this country. You may not like what Obama is doing, but he’s got the numbers in Congress and he won the election. So, stop complaining and win elections.
But, if the tea partiers continue this vitriolic rhetoric and this hate-filled anger, the American people are going to be tea-ed off and their movement will be the only thing that will be bagged!
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm. He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com).