It’s very easy to become mesmerized by the Tea Party shenanigans. For instance, can you remember the last time that masturbation (for or against) was a serious policy issue for a candidate for the United States Senate? What about chastity before or after marriage? What about the right to carry your favorite assault weapon into church or the local high school football game? And have you thought about a state’s ability to nullify federal laws? (Aside from the fact that I thought we had fought a war over that idiocy, imagine giving the New York State Senate more power to do anything?)
These are just some of the great ideas that have boiled up in the tea party rallies. I haven’t even mentioned that old problem about taxes which the baggers also hate. Everyone on the planet dislikes paying taxes, but in our soberer moments we know that money is necessary to pay to pave, plow and maintain our roads, pay and equip our police, pay for our armies and our defense and provide other essential services, such as fire engines.
Once we finally agree that there has to be taxes, the question for all of us, Tea Baggers included, is who pays and how much. The Republican Party now wants the Bush tax cuts for the rich to continue, while screaming about how awful the national debt is. (Paul Krugman estimated (here) that continuing the Bush tax cuts would increase the national debt by $700 billion over the next ten years.) The Democrats wish to let the tax cuts to the rich expire but extend some tax relief to the suffering middle class and the poor. And if the baggers were really interested in the interests of “the people,” wouldn’t you think that they’d be on this Democratic bandwagon?
Logic doesn’t seem to play in these political waters these days. Since the Democratic response has been so tepid and timid, that rightwing folks seem to be able to say most anything without anyone holding them accountable.
Carl Paladino, a Teabagger who has won the Republican nomination for Governor of New York, is a case in point. He is a multimillionaire from Buffalo whose real estate empire leases office space to government agencies. His personal yearly take from those rentals is estimated at several million a year. Yet, he is running on a platform of cutting state spending and state services--20% the first year.
Bob Herbert, one of the few journalists who have been continually calling our attention to the economic disparity within our society, has once again written passionately about the plight of the poor and the utter lack of attention being paid by politicians in this election cycle. As he wrote in his Saturday NYTimes column:[Here]
...there is nothing that society’s leaders are doing — no sense of urgency in their policies or attitudes — that suggests they understand the extent of the economic devastation that has come crashing down like a plague on the poor and much of the middle class.
Herbert went on to write that 44 million people are living in poverty in this country, an increase of 4 million from the previous year, and yet no national leadership is taking up this issue with any force. And the baggers are screaming and yelling for precisely what the corporations want--lower taxes and deregulation. Yet these corporationists and bankers are the boys who got us into this economic mess.
Let me end with Herbert’s final exhortation:
What is desperately needed is leadership that recognizes the depth and intensity of the economic crisis facing so many ordinary Americans. It’s time for the movers and shakers to lift the shroud of oblivion and reach out to those many millions of Americans trapped in a world of hurt.
Amen, Mr. Herbert...