In the 1962 film, “The Manchurian Candidate,” a fictional right-wing U.S. senator named John Iselin takes every opportunity to sound the alarm about Communists in the Defense Department to promote himself in the public eye.
Today, members of the Tea Party – the Republican right wing – are sounding an alarm about reckless spending that’s scaring the crap out of moderate Republicans, because they figure the electorate’s going to turn them out if they don’t trod on Uncle Sam’s wasteful ways.
Back at the original Boston Tea Party, historians say, some scalawags tossed British tea into Boston Harbor because it was taxed by Parliament and not by the Colonies. Seems even then, taxes got a bad name.
But today’s Tea-totallers want to abstain from spending and from government intervention, period.
Whether that’s Obamacare, increasing the minimum wage, providing college tuition grants, or giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, gun control measures … it doesn’t matter – they’re against it.
They’ve done their best to deadlock Congress into immobility and budget sequestration. Well, if there are to be cuts across the board, then by all means, let there be cuts made to congressional salaries and health benefits.
(President Obama has reportedly committed to providing health insurance coverage for members of Congress and their aides so they don’t have to trudge to the insurance exchange like the rest of us, so never mind about that part of it.)
Generally speaking, the Tea Partyers figure the less government in our lives, the better we are for it.
Well, I say they’re misreading their Tea leaves.
I know of two friends, originally from the New York/ New Jersey metro area who are college educated, hard workers, in their 50s and 60s, who’ve been drummed out of the marketplace.
One, who lost a job in publishing as a result of the industry downsizing, has spent five years in temp jobs in California and Oregon before landing a health care-related job in North Carolina; the other had a state job in Alaska before relocating to Nevada and Oregon in search of employment opportunities for the past two years.
In the process, they’ve collected unemployment, gone through their savings, borrowed, burned up computer terminals sending out hundreds of job applications, only to be told they’re overqualified or there are no openings.
Since the advent of the national recession in 2008, there have been countless other Americans cast out with no real safety net to catch them. And, no doubt, the Tea Partyers will say don’t expect the government to bail you out.
But what has corporate America done to help? Since the big banks are still keeping a tight lid on their assets, the private sector has generally been handcuffed in efforts to grow and expand.
Enlightened governments of Canada, Scandinavia, Europe have stepped up to try to improve the quality of life for their citizens, particularly with medical care, education, worker rights and public transportation.
We’re capable of doing that, too. We need only to readjust our national priorities.
It’s time to throw the Tea Partyers overboard.
– Ron Leir