There are people in this world who my mother likes to call “agin-ers.” To paraphrase, if yer fer it, they’re agin it!
There was a guy like that in our church. Every time the church had to vote on any sort of business, we would affirm by saying “aye.” Invariably, there would be one “nay.” Always.
I’d like to think this guy — who is probably long dead and gone — would be a good candidate for the Tea Party. In the immortal words of Jerry Seinfeld, “Who are these people?”
Well, basically they’re agin-ers. Nothing wrong with being against something. In fact, you have to take a stand when you feel led to do so. If not, something like a church or a government can run right over you.
But what is becoming more and more disturbing is that not only are the bulk of these people against everything, they don’t really stand FOR anything. Actually that’s not true. They stand for this: Keep off my lawn, and stay out of my business. If someone needs help, they can help themselves. (Now that’s the definition of compassion.)
The most recent case of the Tea Partiers becoming a force of “agin-ness” was during the Utah Republican Party Convention, where longtime conservative Sen. Bob Bennett was ousted by the TPers in favor of two men who have never held elected office. Bennett has very high ratings from the American Conservative Union and the National Rifle Association, and he had strong endorsements from fellow Republican Mitt Romney. His offense? He dared to work across the aisle with Democrats.
Shock and disdain!
With the Tea Partiers in Utah, if you are even caught talking to a Democrat, you are suspect. Let’s just remember that this was a conservative in Utah — and he wasn’t conservative enough for these people! Fellow Sen. Orrin Hatch, who is one of the most powerful conservatives in Washington, is probably glad his term isn’t up until 2012. Maybe he thinks the Mayans are right, and he won’t have to run again.
So bravo to the anti-everything crowd. This is a group that takes Social Security, drives on interstates, benefits from government in so many shapes and forms that they can’t count it, but they would rather act like they don’t need anything.
The majority of TPers come from the central part of the United States, an area that was practically saved from ruin by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Tennessee Valley Authority. But those are the enemy. That’s the way they see it.
And what could result is much more than a locked-out government like we saw in the mid-’90s. This is a group that sees anyone who doesn’t agree with them not as someone to debate with, not as someone to engage in political discourse. These fellow representatives who have differences of policy are only one thing: The Enemy.
Shake their hand? No way. Exchange Christmas cards? Are you kidding? This could be the beginning of a Civil Cold War that could stretch on for years.
Seems like if the leaders of the Tea Party had their way, every person left of them would be quarantined for the foreseeable future. It certainly looked that way during the health care vote when several lawmakers of African American heritage were pelted with racial epithets.
And we can’t discount that part of this uprising is racial. There is the slimmest of a fraction of TPers who are not white, usually enough to count on one hand. But it seems that it is more because of a region. Obama is a president from the north. He is well-educated and from the big city. He is an academic and a lawyer. That scares the pants off most TPers.
At least the past three Democratic presidents — Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and Lyndon Johnson — were white men from Southern states. Although they may see the world differently, they understood the lay of the land. But not this guy. Not to these people.
It is the easiest thing for the TPers to paint Obama as the enemy. He had a different path to the presidency than most. But where Carter, Clinton and Johnson saw a willingness to work on key issues together, Obama may see a Republican base that is too scared to upset this fringe part of the party to make any concessions about anything.
So working together towards something beneficial to all may become a thing of the past. And that seems to be the way the Tea Partiers want it.
Richard Duke is News Editor at the Courier. This column represents his opinion and does not represent the views of the newspaper. His column appears on Fridays.