As tax day wound down a helicopter flew over hauling a banner that read “no new taxes” and the sounds of a Tea Party rally wafted up the hill from the river. I could not make out all of the words but I did catch something about preserving liberty and being God fearing (the implication being that if you don‘t agree with the Tea Party you are an atheist or a secret Muslim).
And then I heard a woman speaking and maybe because of the distance and the echo effect I took what she said out of context, but I swear I heard her say “war is inevitable”.
I went outside and walked closer, but still out of range to hear it all clearly, but I did hear some twangy country music and a song about patriotism and liberty.
And I heard a military officer urging folks to honor those who died in our wars in the cause of our liberty. Our wars are always sold to us that way.
While the World War II struggle against fascism and Nazism and militarism may have been a struggle for freedom, it seems we got the raw end of the deal. We spent the next forty years or so protecting Western Europe from the Soviet Union while our allies reindustrialized and rebuilt their economies free from overburdening defense costs. And Japan was conveniently kept from maintaining a giant military and meanwhile built an economic powerhouse to rival us. And China, the nation we saved from Japan, turned into our adversary and then found out the best way to beat us was to trick us into being dependent on it for consumer goods (we fell for that one a little too easy).
And today private contractors enrich themselves on Uncle Sam’s dollars (our dollars) while mostly young Americans die in questionable wars sold on the notion that they are fighting for freedom (to an extent maybe, but more for oil and geopolitical gamesmanship and the cost of being the fastest gun, someone always wants to challenge you).
But back to the Tea Party. One speaker said that people need to keep the government from “wasting the efforts (earned money) of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
Strangely though, part of the purpose of government is to take care of people in kind of a cooperative effort among the populace. Constituents prevail upon their elected representatives to have government do things such as build roads and levees and water systems and schools and maintain order and a national defense and so on. Not everyone agrees on the level of service the government should provide or exactly what services. One man’s necessity is another man’s waste.
Another thing the speaker, who I think identified himself as a Republican office holder, said is that many Republicans had betrayed conservative values and of course it went without saying that he was against Democrats (where I live, to say you are a Democrat is tantamount to saying you are a card carrying communist — or least it seems so at times).
He also said that too many office holders are politicians, not statesmen. He said they are in it for the power but not the real job of representing the people.
That last part echoes my sentiments, but I am sure at the same time that many politicians take umbrage at what they must see as an unfair accusation and probably privately think that the public are ingrates.
The problem in all of this is that even if this conservative splinter group were to get its way its members would find that since people have a hard time agreeing on anything except generalities and platitudes and since as I said one man’s waste is another’s necessity they’d be back to square one. But it is healthy that they might at least want to take part in the debate. I mean, where have they all been all these years as things were falling apart?
There was also a line about Thomas Jefferson warning not to let the bankers take over. Wasn’t Jefferson the founder of the Democratic Party (a complicated history)?
And of course standing up for the Constitution was the mantra of the day. But who does not believe in the Constitution? Trouble is it is open to wide interpretation. If it were not the Supreme Court would have little to do.
P.s. P.s. P.s.
But finally, I hope this Tea Party movement is something new and not just another version of the worn out conservative movement that has not been all that conservative.
P.s. P.s. P.s. P.s.
I just can’t stop. This rally took place a few miles south of the giant Shasta Dam, a big government project that provided one heck of a lot of employment at the time (1940s) and provides flood control, irrigation, and recreation. I’m sure some thought it government boondoggle.
Still another irony occurred to me. This Tea Party rally, as one or more before it, took place on a pedestrian bridge over the river that was decried as a boondoggle by local conservatives when it was built a few years ago thanks to public dollars. It has become a destination for locals and tourists — the Tea Party sure finds it handy (but I suppose any Libertarians among them would rather it be a toll bridge).
On the administrative portion of my WordPress blog site I saw that someone apparently typed in: “what does the tea in tea party mean?”
Please tell me this person is a foreigner. At least being aware of the fact that the Boston Tea Party was an historical event leading up to our War of Independence (we usually call the Revolutionary War) is about as basic as you can get in American history. I have to admit, though, it was an illegal destruction of private property then and such an incident would be today — but these kinds of things happen in revolutions.