Friday, March 26, 2010

A Conversation

My first readers are my most faithful.  The ones in my family are also the ones who call me to task the most often.  Listen in on this g-chat I had with the Big Cuter this afternoon.

BC: Read your post today.  I'm not super worried about the tea-party idiots causing '60s level unrest
A/B:  So sanguine, so young.
BC:   They don't have a unified goal or enemy; they are too fractured to actually acomplish anything
A/B: But they are armed
BC:   They might do some stupid stuff at your "bring your guns" rally
A/B:  They are certainly being urged to do "stupid stuff"
BC:  I just think, if you look at the demographics of the teabaggers vs the hippies it points to them not being as sustainable at being pissy.
Allow me to interject here, that we were not being pissy ... were were frightened and felt ignored and that led to rage and fury and demonstrations and the closing of universities.  Pissy wasn't it at all.
BC: Middle-aged, midwestern/southerners just don't frighten me as much as unwashed-unlettered teenagers
A/B:  Yeah,Tim McVeigh wasn't scary at all
BC:  Well, if you're talking about lone-crazies then there's nothing you can do about that
 A/B: For a variety of reason
BC: But as a movement that has serious legs and the opportunity to accomplish actual social change - eh.

A/B:  Eh  indeed on accomplishing anything.  They have no plan that I can discern. I know that they are against....  but what are they for?
BC: Right, but the thing is, they don't even really know what they're against. They're just mindlessly angry. It's too easy to lose that focus without clarity.
AB: They don't need a focus. We've got a man of color in the White House and they don't feel he represents them.  And they have guns and are being urged to use them.
At this point it became clearer to me that the piece which is bothering me the most relates to the death threats and guns.  Read this excerpt from this morning:
When (House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH))  was asked about a quote he gave to the National Journal about Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH) being a "dead man" for his health care vote, he said his words were taken out of context. "(I meant) politically... No one saw this quote until Congressman Driehaus and other people made an issue of it."
Now, here is Rep. Driehaus's response*:
I think it's really important for folks around here, especially leader Boehner, to understand that his words have consequences. ........

(Driehaus confronted Boehner about the interview on the floor of the House, telling him)  it was inexcusable. "It doesn't really matter the way you meant it, nor the way I accept it. It's how the least sane person in my district accepts it."
The fact that this piece of political theater could take center stage makes my point more eloquently than I ever could.  I'm thinking that Rep. Driehaus had some Tea Party people in mind in referring to "the least sane person in my district."  When the people in charge start using terms like "dead man" at the same time that there are Bring Your Guns to Washington rallies being scheduled, I'm not sure it's at all inappropriate to be worried, just a tad, at least.
BC: "They have guns," yes, but lacking the will to put them to a unified purpose, they're no more dangerous on a large scale than if they didn't have guns.  And honestly, I can't think of a way to galvanize the white-yuppie-we-won-with-Obama-establishment against the Tea Partiers than if they descended on DC in an armed mob. At this point, we tolerate/ridicule them as a meaningless side show.
On a micro-level, there's some reason to be a bit nervous, but 10 years ago we were nervous about Arabs, 10 years before that we were nervous about the Soviets. There's always going to be a reason to be nervous but ultimately, on a macro level, the tea baggers are too stupid/unfocused to be a real problem
A/B: I think you've hit the nail on the head - they are not FOR anything and being against something is harder to sustain --- the Vietnam War ended and we became investment bankers and university spokesmen and CEO's of Fortune 500 companies.
The "no war" protests were different than the world peace movement which still exists.  Once the war was over, there were no more SDS meetings on campuses, though there was still a need for Students to create a Democratic Society.
BC: "The only thing I hate more than neo-liberal anarchists are the corporate fat cat suits they grow up to become"  (quote from John Casey on Chuck)

I'd take your point about them being against something a step further. I don't even think they know what they're against. It's just random discontent with the fact that their lives are small and meaningless.  And with the diminution of organized religion's ability to act as an opiate, that type of person has turned to talk radio.  And the message of the Church of Fox is fundamentally different than that of Christianit
But the two work in parallel these days milking money from the same folks who, ironically, are probably best served by the economic ideals of the democrats.
A/B:  Too true.  I was in the grocery store yesterday and a pretty girl was promoting the fact that there were now 500 generic drugs in  the pharmacy.  A man asked the girl at the table "Is this Obama's plan" as if in 2 days there it was! And as if it was somehow providing our local market with generic medication.  She grimaced and said "OH NO" with such horror in her voice that I had to restrain myself from jumping in and telling them that they were idiots. I went and bought my pomegranate juice instead
BC:  At the same time, there are articles fluttering around now, talking about how the radicalization of the Republican Party is ultimately going to hurt them at the polls.  Which makes total sense to me.  
And it's funny that those articles are coming out now because it's the easy article to write, whereas before the passing of health care reform it was easier to write about how passing the unpopular bill would hurt Democrats. 
That said, the teapartiers are just too extreme to actually carry a national party so, let the Republicans continue to be the party of "we're dumb and we're proud!"
A/B: Yes, reporters can't follow through and see if,  in fact,  the Democrats are finished because of health care.... that is not a sexy issue anymore. And so, we move on.
There was more, touching on Machiavelli's notion that it is easier to control a fearful than a loving population among other things, but we ended with this story:

We were at dinner Sunday night with old friends and their friends. The 24 year old waiter, overhearing our conversation about the vote that evening,  was asking us if we thought it was a good idea.  Mr. Dreamy Cakes told him that there were many provisions which were directed exactly to his generation, going on to explain that he could remain covered under his parents' health insurance plan until he was 26 which freed him to do whatever..... and he interrupted and said, with a surprised and very pleased smile on his innocent face "And it'll be free????
I'm not sure how to counter the mis-information that's out there, but I'm going to have to join the conversation and do my part.  This is a good thing, America!!! Are you listening?



  1. I'd be able to see BC's point of view a little easier if John McCain, Mr. Maverick (at what, exactly?!?), hadn't essentially thrown his lot in with the teabaggers by seeking Sarah Palin's endorsement in his re-election! And if Lindsay Graham, that almost-moderate Conservative, hadn't co-sponsored a healthcare law repeal bill with Jim DeMint. When the Republicans have decided to let The Tea Party speak for them, we need to worry.

    You handled him well, Mom. And I would add that, in the sixties, our generation was being killed via a draft system. A few protesters were being killed, too. We know scary when we see it. I hope the BC never knows that feeling.

  2. Yes, draft=death is an equation that I pray he'll never know.

    And McCain campaigning with Sarah Palin puts the lie to BC's oft repeated statement that "America is too smart to vote for these idiots." McCain's challenger is well-spoken and respectful of "Mr. McCain's service to our country" but his ideas put him somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun. The fact that my state's senior senator thought he needed Political Barbie to help him out scares the s$^*#t out of me.

    I think we are at a real inflection point in American politics; I'm glad that I have you to worry it with me!


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