About Me

My photo
I am a former middle and high school science teacher pursuing a doctorate in Science Ed. at George Mason University, with a concentration in cognitive science and the evolution of cognition and learning. Postings on this blog represent my own views, not those of my employer or school. All writing displayed on this page is original work unless otherwise noted, and thus copyrighted.

18 August 2011

I'll take the tea, keep your "party" to yourself...

 Ah, how the tide turns... http://news.yahoo.com/poll-tea-party-less-popular-muslims-atheists-135203079.html

  Everyone's favourite mock populist party is facing the wrath of the rest of the nation, which it should have faced once the views were fully exposed. The comments on the yahoo article demonstrate that normal people think very little of the Tea Party, and that Tea Party Republicans are keeping their hand in the sand. If you're one of them, I have to point out something that should be painfully obvious: nobody likes you. No, really, they don't. You've won elections on a national scale, I'll grant that, but there're reasons behind that amounting to little more than poor choices. The energy the 'movement' produced was viable, real, raw energy; such energy led Tea Party backed candidates to win primaries, and, left with no one else to vote for, the rest of the Republicans/conservatives/Libertarians came out in force to ensure that the election wasn't won by some 'liberal' (American liberals rarely are, but we'll get to that in a bit, I sense a long rant coming)

  Some further commentary directed at the members of the Tea Party is necessary here, not that it will sink in to anyone's mind. Firstly, there are few politicians in the U.S. that are liberal on anyone's scale but your own. What you call liberals are centrists, people that are liberal by comparison because your views are not just antiquated, but seem to have ignored two hundred years of post-Enlightenment thinking. Adam Smith and Thomas Paine's Rights of Man (why do you like Paine, being that he was an avowed atheist? I thought you hated us?)  were not the end-all of Enlightenment thought, incidentally, but nevertheless you cling to those ideals and those ideals alone. There is almost a fervent worship of the free market system, a system that hasn't really been tried since the early 1900's when we realised we were being completely ass raped by huge corporations, both as consumers and as workers. Look, pure Communism was so ignorant of human nature it's hilarious (REALLY?! People are going to take what you give them and not want anything else? We saw how that worked out), but without some sort of safeguards against the Enrons and Standard Oils of today, you won't be paid what you're worth and you won't pay "what the market demands" for goods; you'll be paid whatever they want to pay you and you'll pay the highest amount for which something can be sold and still turn a decent profit. Corporations are about making money for themselves, and they're not going to care if that means you personally can't afford your blood pressure medication, or that nice new scooter that Medicare just bought for you because your cholesterol laden, chain smoking, obese ass isn't capable of walking through Walmart on it's own to stock up on Lucky Strikes and twinkies. Besides, it was never about you, or this pseudo-Populist bullshit that sucked you in, was it? You're the pawn here, a complete and total shill for the Dominionist pricks that want to seize control of every last nation on the planet save one, so that when their zombie overlord returns from the dead (again) everything is ready for the global war he promised to bring. Palin, Pawlenty, Bachmann, or Perry: not a one of them, or any of the other manipulative clowns behind this movement (Pat Robertson can be counted amongst them too) gives a flying fuck about your personal rights once they have power. By all means, put them in charge. Just don't bitch and whine when they  bring the Dark Ages back in the 21st Century, and don't be surprised when anyone with a brain not turned to mush by Rush Limbaugh and Faux News decides to seek asylum somewhere that might be free of the taint you've begun.

 Let's dissect the Tea Party as it stands: the typical (read nearly everyone) member of the Tea Party is white, rather well off, conservative (yes, yes, I know), and apt to be highly religious. The core of the movement stems from populism-- the elected members of the party rode in on a tide of frustration-- but there are more sinister factors at play. Aside from the ties to traditional religion, worth discussing in their own right, nationalism, xenophobia, and a profound hatred for anything intellectual (whilst referring to anyone that disagrees with pejoratives demeaning their intelligence) are the glue the tie the movement together. The actual ties to religion are also a key to understanding this movement: a large portion of the members are born-again, Dominionist Christians that firmly believe that the United States should be ruled by Christians under Old Testament laws. This clashes a bit with the beliefs regarding upholding the constitution and state's/individual rights, but those are frankly a mask. The end goal of this party is not to eliminate "Big Government", it's to install their version of it. Social welfare and entitlement programs, pay-in benefits like Social Security, even education programs; nothing that provides for anyone but themselves is considered an acceptable use of their tax money. However, the limits in spending don't seem to apply to military excursions to anywhere they have brown people. 
  The association is sadly overused, but there are parallels well worth drawing, so I'm doing it. Here are, verbatim, Lawrence Britt's 14 defining characteristics of Fascism, as taken from study of Italy, Spain, and Germany at the height of Fascist power:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread
domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.
6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

  I'll let you fill in the pieces yourself, but the only ones that seem to be missing in the Tea Party movement are 13 and 14. Those are only missing because I'm refusing to count GW Bush's regime as part of it, otherwise I'd think that appointing all of daddy's buddies to cabinet counts for cronyism, and screwing with voting machines in Ohio and failing to count votes in Florida seals up fraudulent elections. 6 is a bit iffy too, upon reflection, which might be why certain people are perennially complaining about the "liberal media". Fox News makes a good start at it, though.

  Another important facet of this political philosophy is the belief that taxes are immoral, illegal, etc (or at least taxes in excess of the traditional 10% tithe demanded of Xians). Corporations needn't pay taxes, churches needn't pay, nor should individuals have to pay income tax. That's all fine with me, but then how do you expect to fund anything? The highway system isn't self-maintaining, yet I'd imagine most of the people in the Tea Party (save for the ones running it) have to use it. Your precious freedoms are going to be quite a bit less valuable when you can't run off to a wilderness area to hunt, because you've allowed some corporation to log, mine, and drill every available strip of land that isn't your own backyard. 
  The supporters of the Tea Party, while seduced by the image of an America that never existed, do have one piece of history on their side: they, like our founders, are a bunch of rich white men that don't want to pay taxes.

1 comment:

  1. I may borrow this "fascist list" for some future writing. It's spot-on in its description of the know-nothing wing of the Republican Party that answers to "Tea."