As a tolerant guy with a natural aversion to labels and stereotyping, I am nonetheless very prone to realism and reality – no matter how uncomfortable that reality is. So what to do when these two personality traits conflict? What do you say to yourself when a stereotype is obviously true, but you pride yourself on being as unbiased as possible? Well, in this case I’m going to come down easily on the side of reality and damn the consequences.
I’m talking of course about your average teabagger having less than stellar cognitive abilities. ‘It’s not nice to discount another’s viewpoint.’ We’re told. ‘You can’t just lump them all together as idiots, some of them are very educated.’ Then you hear them speak. How many arguments does one have to get into, online and in person before one admits the truth? It can be difficult for the naturally polite to stereotype, but in this case, it’s necessary. ‘Obama’s a Muslim, communist, socialist that is taxing us to death!’ ‘He wasn’t born in this country!’ ‘The illegals is what’s ruining the economy!’ ‘Enhanced interrogation isn’t torture!’ ‘FDR made the Great Depression last seven years longer than it should have!’ And on and on. The evidence is overwhelming.
“Global warming is a hoax by the scientists to get more money!” Gee, sorry I thought you were stupid. A quick trip through modern Tea Bag Nation (and there has been a decrease in media coverage and rally sizes since their heyday a couple of years ago) and one can see a disconnect from reality and a self-destructive embrace of the inane. Richard Mourdock who just recently defeated Senator Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary is a Tea Party candidate. He is just one person, but he illustrates nicely where these people stand. He wants to end the Departments of Energy, Commerce, Education, HUD, and the IRS. He thinks Ryan’s budget, which is a monument to greed and mean-spirited politics, doesn’t go far enough. He wants to be mentored by Senator Lee of Utah who thinks we need to end FEMA, child labor laws, food stamps and thinks Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional. The House which has sixty-six members in the Tea Party Caucus and many more hangers-on, voted last week to cut money from the child care budget, food stamps, Medicaid and Meals on Wheels. For personal responsibility? Do they expect the children and elderly to get off their lazy asses and get a job? It’s like they moved into the role of cartoon villains.
There is an un-named phenomenon that gives rise to the dumbest person in a meeting of strangers, also being the loudest and most talkative. Is that what happened on a national level with the Tea Party? Maybe partially, but that is certainly not the main reason. As any casual observer of history can tell you, government power is upset by those who challenge the status quo. The difference between the way the Fox News led Tea Party rallies were greeted by the police and the way that Occupy Wall Street was greeted, will tell you all you need to know about who was threatening the status quo. And that is with the teabaggers threatening violence on a regular basis. “We came unarmed – this time!” was a common sign at their rallies. They are fighting to dismantle the public safety net, and deregulate business. The power behind the power must have been shaking in their boots. From laughter, I suppose. No, the teabaggers were not a threat to the status quo, they were pawns used by those in power to fight for the status quo, hence their rise to prominence.
What’s at stake here is the future of the nation. We cannot build a future that we would want to live in if we don’t invest in that future. Education should be free through college, not more expensive. Banks should not be allowed to gamble with the money of others, especially with limited or no oversight. Derivatives need to be heavily regulated, not ignored. We should be spending more on primary education and give the poor as well as the rich a fair shot at success. We should be investing more in our infrastructure and alternative energy, not less. We should be making our food supply, water supply and work environments safer. We should make our corporations pay their fair share of taxes, and have the energy companies pay fairly for the resources they take from publicly owned land. The Tea Party fights all these ideas that would help the country’s future. Cutting NPR and taking rights away from women just won’t build the past they are trying to recreate.
So, we have a stereotype which is obviously true. And although not every person in the Tea Party is in the conventional sense an idiot, many of the ‘smart ones’ are blinded by ideology. The end result is the same. What does it matter if the reason one can’t accept facts is because of not being capable of understanding them or because one refuses to understand them? (Don’t answer that, there is a difference, but for this discussion it’s rhetorical.) Liberals are often derided for looking down on the right for being slow. Sometimes, that label is deserved.