I happen to read a lot. Partly because it comes with the territory when producing a newspaper. But, mostly because I like reading and have since elementary school, read a lot. Once it was only books and periodicals, but now with the Internet I have a major library right on my desk.
A considerable amount of the material that I read is politically and socially conservative, or at least what passes for conservative these days which is more properly labelled neo-conservative. I find much of it both humorous and destructive. Destructive because many of the ideas that the neo-conservatives hold run counter to the well-being of human society. Humorous because I find it full of contradictions and incredible that sane people could fall for much of it.
In the U.S. the neo-conservatives are being taken over by what has become known as the tea-baggers, those who are part of Dick Armey’s Tea Party. These tea-baggers do not like way the government in D.C. operates. They do not like lobbyists. Of course Dick Armey, the retired House Majority Leader, is now a lobbyist. Go figure.
They claim to be real Americans and against terrorists. Armey lobbied for an Iranian terrorist organization. Oliver North, another neo-conservative, betrayed his country and did an arms deal with the Iranians for neo-conservative icon, Ronald Reagan.
These tea bag people want to bring back American values as expressed in the Constitution. Of course they stand behind their heroes like Dick Cheney who ran the country for eight years through his puppet, George Bush. An administration that passed laws narrowing civil rights granted by the Constitution.
A biggy for these baggers is fiscal restraint. They do not want massive government spending and deficits. Strange, that, since most of them support the grossly expensive and needless war currently being waged from Iraq to Afghanistan, a war that is not being funded by a fiscally responsible tax increase to cover its costs.
The Obama administration says that the tea-baggers are driving the Republican agenda, and it appears to be so. This is no surprise given the direction the party has taken over the past 30 years with its program to undo many of the advances made during the 1960s and 1970s.
Republican strategists are seeing the danger that lies in this takeover, and in a recent article Karl Rove wrote:
The tea party movement must also distance itself from the “birthers” who insist Mr. Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., the 9/11 deniers and other conspiracy fans who make wild comments the media will seize on to undermine the movement’s credibility.
Of course if it does distance itself from these people, and those that turn up to rallies with fire arms strapped on, and rabble rousers like Sarah Palin, Tom Tancredo, Glenn Beck and so on, there might not be much of a movement left.
Conservative writer Jack Tymann likes to portray the tea-baggers as:
Hard working, non-violent, non-partisan tax-payers; mothers, fathers, grandparents, grandchildren, Republicans, Democrats and Independents of all social, economic, religious and racial backgrounds.
This, of course, is somewhat disingenuous since the bulk of the movement is made up of white male conservatives, and almost half of the members are Republican, with most of the rest Independents.
My bet is that there are two kinds of Tea Party followers: those who do not really understand what is going on and are happy to be lead around by the nose like countless unfortunates in history before them; and those who do know and are using the others to further their own selfish agenda.
Some times this whole Tea Party thing makes me think about Germany between the First and Second World War.
Jerry West is the publisher, editor and janitor for The Record, an independent, progressive regional publication for Nootka Sound and Canada’s West Coast.