Reflections on Tea Party victory; reading the leaves…

The Real Tea Party

The Real Tea Party

“Victory?” you’re thinking.  Somebody’s smoking the good stuff… or got cut off by TWC… or is now reporting from another dimension.  No, really, I’m serious.  There is no reason for Democrats to be celebrating right now, any more than there is reason for Tea-baggers to be crying in their… tea?  They’ll be back, and we all know it, and sooner than later.  They win by default; by definition.  All they have to do is sow confusion (wreak havoc, mix metaphors, etc.) and they win.  Markets hate that sh*t.  They like us fat and happy, freshly f*cked and sassy, the better to market their products to.

This should not be depressing.  This should be inspiring.  This should be inspiring us ersatz-Dems to follow their lead.  What happened to Earth First!?  And what about the Monkey Wrench Gang?  Democrats have gotten complacent on their fat technocratic asses, assuming that FaceBook and Twitcher will save the world for them.  Yeah, right.

After all, the Tea Party has done nothing illegal, not much anyway, though they’ve certainly pissed all over the concept of democracy.  But we should be able to do better than that.  Are they better radicals then us flower-children-of-the-60’s types?  Gross!  That’s disgusting!  What do they pass around the group at parties, lemonade?  And what books do they read, Ayn Rand or Adam Smith?  What happened to Chairman Mao’s Little Red One?

I bet there are some Americans born since the end of the Reagan Era in 1988, who’ve seen prejudice against homosexuals declining and prohibitions against marijuana declining, and who are now scratching their heads wondering, “WTF?  What is the deal with these redneck crackers holding the country hostage just to impose their weltanschauung on the rest of us, their abolitions and their prohibitions and their inhibitions?  For while LGBT is gradually normalized and marijuana is gradually legalized… at the same time, abortion is being made illegal and poor people are being turned out into the street for lack of funds.  What gives?   Is this country conservative or liberal?  Is this country living in the past or the future?

There are profound paradigm shifts occurring in the USA—and the world—and to ignore them would be suicide.  And in this era of paradigm shifts, I think people need help, not rejection.  How would somebody have known forty years ago that libraries—or record stores, or assembly lines—would be dying institutions within a lifetime?  You couldn’t know.  Nobody knew.  Those people need to be retrained, not tossed out into the street.  And what about global warming?  Remember that?

Though the changes are mostly economic and ecologic, politically they are best exemplified by the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.  Actually, I really don’t object to the means that the Tea Party uses as much as their ends (and the implied racism, which leads me to prefer their Libertarian predecessors, since it predates Obama).  If Occupy Wall Street were in the same position, then I’d say go for it (just lose the camp-out and flash-mob mentality).  These two entities are the natural complements and antagonists of each other, and are likely paradigms for future Dems and Repubs (and never the twain shall meet, despite mostly misguided efforts to forge bonds between them).

The bond that the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, others and I all share—albeit for different reasons—are disenchantment with the status quo, and distrust of excess bureaucracy.  The problem with the Tea Party is that they want a return to a (largely imaginary) past of good guy cowboys, bad guy Indians and Stepin Fetchit negroes, a past more accurately characterized by genocide, slavery, and robber barons.  I’m not sure about the loosely formed Occupiers, but I personally am more aligned toward a future defined by environmental correctness, modest lifestyles, and community involvement.

I’d like to see radical cuts in the US budget, too, but not to so-called ‘entitlements.’  I’d like to see cuts to our bloated and bullying military that creates more terrorists than it deters.  I don’t like welfare cheats any more than the Tea Party/GOP, but I don’t seriously think those percentages reach the 47% figure bandied about by Mitt Romney, nor anywhere near.  I’m more concerned about corporate welfare for the filthy rich than nickel-and-dime welfare for the filthy poor.

I don’t know why I even care.  I could leave the USA on a day’s notice, and never return, and likely be none the worse for it, probably just the opposite.  But for some reason I do… care, that is.  I guess I’m just the sentimental type.  If there’s anything good to be had from the Tea Party stunts that have been de rigueur for the last five years—and for the foreseeable future, it could be the realization that America is not fit to rule the world, and has no reason even pretending.

So let’s quit bullying the rest of the world under the guise of “protecting freedoms” and start letting them deal with their own problems in their own ways, under the umbrella of international consensus.  If we’re true leaders, then that implies a moral high ground, not a bigger military.  It’s time to start shutting our overseas military bases down, all 666+/- of them, depending on how you count.

There may be one more silver lining in the grey cloud, too.  Maybe diminished economies will even mean an enhanced ecology.  Has it occurred to anyone that the timeline for climate change and economic growth are parallel?  No?  It just may be that the only way to care for the environment is to quit caring so much about economic growth.  If that’s true, then the Tea Party may be a viable alternative to Islamic fundamentalism and/or Communism in their feudal slow-growth sympathies.

Now there’s a pleasant thought.  Of course, a revitalized and increasingly radical Green Party should be even better.  Maybe it should be called the Pea Party.  It’s time to start focusing on the quality of life, not the quantity.  Then maybe there will be hope for the future after all.