The Tea Party Movement: “Birth of a Nation 3D”
I have seen snippets from the original movie “Birth of a Nation” while channel surfing over several decades. I don’t recall anything in particular from what little I have seen of the movie, except to say that what I have seen is grossly ridiculous. Although I understand that this movie was fear-mongering propaganda of that time, it is chilling to be confronted with the fact, that in some quarters within this nation, nothing has changed. The sad plight I find today is that there a 3D version of this tragic epic playing out right before our eyes.
I certainly understand some of the frustrations Americans of all social and political groups might be feeling during these trying times. I have taken the time to educate myself over the years on the concepts of social, religious and fiscal conservatism. Having been raised a Catholic, I understand the difficulties of trying to reconcile debates surrounding difficult issues such as right-to-life versus women’s rights, gay rights and a wide range of other topics of the day. I also understand the history and genesis of the Boston Tea Party. Today’s Tea Party Movement is something… well… very different. This movement seems tied inextricably to the Republican Party. In spite of its origins, the Tea Party Movement has also become emblematic of social degenerative behavior and a revitalized overt hate movement; the “New Klux Klan”.
When George W. Bush was running for reelection to his second term, he made a campaign stop here in Northwest Florida (the conservative bastion that I reside in). I have never been a supporter of the former President, and I think many, if not most his policies both, domestically and internationally have had tragic and sweeping negative impacts for this nation. Even so, I have a Republican acquaintance who is a heavy-hitter here. I decided to call in a favor, and although the tickets to the event were immediately sold out, I was given two ‘primo’ tickets. I took my oldest daughter, nine years old at the time, out of school for the afternoon so that she could attend the rally.
I explained to my daughter that I was not a supporter of President Bush but that I would not be voting for him, but that I wanted her to be able to say that she had at least once in her life, seen the President of the United States. Until that day, that was not a claim that I had never been able to make. My daughter is almost 14 now and she still remembers it as if it were yesterday. The former President’s remarks and the event in total were excruciating for me. Even so, I politely and stoically endured it. To me, this is part of what it means to be an American. We are able to be dignified, respectful, informed, and free to adopt the political ideology of our choosing.
I have to imagine that the Tea Party folks don’t see things quite like I do. When I watch the news or read the newspaper, I really struggle with what the Tea Party has come to represent. No doubt there are informed, dignified and respectful members within their membership. I sense that something ominous is also afoot. Included within your numbers are people carrying hateful signs with despicable caricatures of the President. Stuffed monkeys and nooses are openly displayed. Guns are openly brandished.
In these circles, state succession and literacy tests are talked about as if they are groundbreaking viable options or rational concepts. In their gatherings, the veil of legitimacy is pierced, revealing a dark side to the Tea Party movement that has plunged it into a corner of political society and our nation’s cultural fabric that is dark, vicious and even dangerous. This scenario is not unlike the rhetoric in the old black and white movie, except that it is playing out in graphic daily images in front of our eyes.
Do I think the Tea Party Movement is representative of any substantial block of mainstream America? Hardly. That litmus test was passed when citizens across this nation saw a man, heard his message and elected Barack Obama as President of the United States. The election said more about America than it did the man (as impressive as he may be). This nation has undergone a social evolution that receives far too little commentary, observation or praise. So the idea that such a movement would or could spring up in today’s America and be so closely aligned with a major political party (Republicans) is truly telling. “People judge you by the company you keep.” Then again, a good many of those who openly fuel the horrific antics of the Tea Party Movement, also roam the Halls of Congress.
Some of our Congressional leadership, like Tea Party supporters, want the same things. We all know what some of them really want. As Gill Scott-Heron said, “They want to go back to the days when movies were in black and white; and so was everything else”. Over time, this may be the rhetoric and ideology that becomes their undoing.
For now, I imagine that some in the Tea Party Movement and their supporters in the United States Congress will continue to busy themselves stalling legislation while terrorizing their membership and constituents with tales of doom. We all know full well what doom really is. Doom was when the stock market nearly crashed or when your retirement fund was raided. Doom was when the marriage of Corporate America and government was presided over, and when the Justice Department was purged of non-partisans, or when the housing market fell off a cliff, or when your jobs were shipped overseas. Doom was when the nation was attacked on September 11th 2001, or when someone you knew or loved was sent off to die in Iraq. Those are tales of doom! Where were all of the Tea Party zealots then? President Obama would be hard pressed to accumulate such a horrific record of socially crippling accomplishments. All that remains is the hope that some of this damage may somehow be undone.
I was digging around in my “junk drawer” the other day. Yes, the good American that I am, I actually have a junk drawer. Compressed into this drawer of wealth, I actually found an old pair of 3D glasses. Now I keep this pair of 3D glasses next to the remote control when I watch the evening news. When I see the clips of recent Tea Party activities, I put on my 3D glasses. I raise my arms over my head and wiggle my hands and fingers as though I were on a roller coaster. Hey, I figure if I’m going to watch something that ridiculous, I may as well look the part.
By the way, my daughter’s class had a mock election when incumbent Senator Obama, was running for President. She told me that she was one of only two people in her entire class that voted for him. We laughed all the way home.
L. A. Walker