Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tea Party Dynamics

This is the kind of person who is drawn to the Tea Party:

SANDPOINT, Idaho — Pam Stout has not always lived in fear of her government. She remembers her years working in federal housing programs, watching government lift struggling families with job training and education. She beams at the memory of helping a Vietnamese woman get into junior college.
But all that was before the Great Recession and the bank bailouts, before Barack Obama took the White House by promising sweeping change on multiple fronts, before her son lost his job and his house. Mrs. Stout said she awoke to see Washington as a threat, a place where crisis is manipulated — even manufactured — by both parties to grab power.
She was happily retired, and had never been active politically. But last April, she went to her first Tea Party rally, then to a meeting of the Sandpoint Tea Party Patriots. She did not know a soul, yet when they began electing board members, she stood up, swallowed hard, and nominated herself for president. “I was like, ‘Did I really just do that?’ ” she recalled.
Then she went even further.
Worried about hyperinflation, social unrest or even martial law, she and her Tea Party members joined a coalition, Friends for Liberty, that includes representatives from Glenn Beck’s 9/12 Project, the John Birch Society, and Oath Keepers, a new player in a resurgent militia movement.
I guess this is kind of predictable, and it certainly makes sense. 

The last ten years have been horrible for our country, and especially the last 2 years as the fallout from the Bush administrations systemic destruction of America has really manifested itself. 

Suddenly, people who previously had no interest in (or knowledge of) economics, or public policy, or anything to do with the direction in which our nation is moving are becoming concerned. 

And because they know nothing about any of this, they look for easy explanations. And when they see something that is simplistic enough to make sense to them (regulation is bad for the economy!), they latch onto it with fanaticism of the recently converted. 

For example, most of these people aren't racist, but since they don't really know what racial code words are, they don't notice when they are used by the right nut cases who sound more and more like undercover Nazis every day.

And so you end up with this woman, who is probably a very nice person with great intentions, but who has never shown any interest in politics or public policy and therefore knows diddly-squat about anything, is suddenly elected President of the Sand Point Tea Party Patriots.

Now, I'm not saying that people shouldn't get involved. They should. People should be angry. But misdirected, uninformed rage is dangerous. And these people nothing if not misdirected and uninformed.

On the bright side, perhaps they will come to realize that there is always more to an issue than the first thing you learn. Perhaps they become more informed and still remain politically involved.

Perhaps this long national nightmare has prompted the citizenry to take that first and most important step, which is to wake up. Hopefully, now that they have, they'll start looking around them and seeing that racists like this guy are not the kind of people they want to hang around with:

Perhaps I'm dreaming.

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