RE: The Tea Parties from a Leftist POV.

Rick O'Shay

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RE: The Tea Parties from a Leftist POV.

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Boston Tea Party, circa 2009

In these tough times, with the Mexican drug war and all, I couldn’t raise enough cash to attend the G20 and NATO protests in London, Germany, and France. Way down the list of other things to do on a sunny day was the Flathead Tea Party at Depot Park in Kalispell, Montana on April 4. Oh well, a protest is a protest. Out of morbid curiosity, I zipped up my coat to hide a red Hugo Chávez t-shirt, grabbed a couple of tea bags, and waded into the huddled masses of all-white rightwingers thinly disguised as populists. I’m happy to report that I made it out two hours later mostly intact…other than a persistent urge to stick an ice pick in my temple.

I often wonder why maniacal rightwingers feel the need to lie, even when they don’t have to. The organizers inexplicably billed it as a non-partisan event with no Obama bashing and no liberal baiting, even though that would rob them of their two biggest applause lines. Of course, I knew better. (GLENN BECK? ARE YOU KIDDING?) Still, there was an off chance that some truth teller would grab the mike and sing the accolades of a social democracy; after all, it was being held in a public park and there were lots of old people on Social Security and Medicare milling about. At the very least—given a theme reminiscent of the Boston Tea Party of 1773—you’d think that an angry mob would be surging onto the docks of Wal-Mart and dumping cheap, imported merchandise into the mud.

Surely, the organizers must realize that the original battle cry of “no taxation without representation” was a protest against a globalized monopoly that had successfully lobbied a government for a substantial (corporate) tax break. Since their huge stockpile of tea, 17 million pounds, couldn’t be sold at a profit anywhere else because of a worldwide economic downturn, this preferred treatment gave the East India Company an unfair advantage over small businesses in the colonies, which still had to pay duties as well as deal with higher prices in the privateer markets. The Big Bad Company, of which the King was a shareholder, attempted to drive out local merchants by flooding the colonies with subsidized tea priced far below fair market value. Sound familiar? It was crony capitalism in powdered wigs.

Things have only gotten worse. Today, the senior rightwingers (from both parties) are gaming the system for their wealthy benefactors, the lords of finance and industry, in ways that are ever more devious. Among many other goodies, the well-connected class in this country not only enjoys one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the world (after factoring in all the loopholes), it has awarded itself the lowest marginal income tax rate and the lowest dividend tax rate in modern history. The burgeoning cost of government (fueled by monster corporations that externalize their hidden costs, such as military protection, environmental destruction, poison, and disease) has been systematically shifted downward onto the backs of middle-class taxpayers.

It certainly shows; in the last thirty years, the steep income disparity and the mountain of public debt—created almost exclusively by the Republican Party agenda of deregulation and tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires—have rendered the commoners powerless. Yet, duped by a spoon-fed ideology, the junior rightwingers stubbornly cling to their incorrect conclusions, the main one being that our government is the enemy. Actually, the megalomaniacal corporate mindset that has taken over our government via campaign financing laws is the real enemy.

Looking down from 30,000 feet, most of the planet’s scourges can be traced back to the gleaming glass towers dotting the landscape. The Patriot Party of the Thirteen Colonies threw off the yoke of imperialism by refusing to play by rich-man rules. They absolutely revolted against the totalitarianism of the economically powerful in every way possible. These days, just a few short months ago, the Rebels would have been classified as enemy combatants, charged with domestic terrorism, and rendered to Berserkistan. Possibly, Cheney would have had the organizers assassinated.

The spark of revolution—that “raging forest fire” in Chuck Norris’s B-rated head—could have been lit right here in downtown Mudville. It was not to be. Just like the Republican National Convention of 2008, this sedentary bunch, sprouting cookie-cut signs and Chinese-made flags, stood at rapt attention and applauded dutifully but otherwise seemed unmoved by the predictable parade of boring speakers ticking off the same boring talking points of the same boring party.

The final keynote speakers were two warmongers of the highest order, gasbag generals who invaded our bucolic valley in their retirement: Ret. Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely (of Pentagon/media scandal fame) and his lackey, Ret. Brig. Gen. Jim Cash. The usual Fox News echo chamber of repetitious platitudes (liberals bad; conservatives good; taxes bad; war good) didn’t sound quite right outside of the TV box, where some of the words were snatched away by a beautiful sky…and a faulty speaker system.

To someone who has attended rousing Democratic rallies, this whole scene came across as a repackaged, rather feeble attempt at populism. Thankfully, one free spirit standing a few feet from me, sporting full dreadlocks and clashing colors with an equally feisty dog in tow, injected a bit of life into the otherwise dreary event. Despite the many furtive looks, he defiantly shouted out against war as the two generals reached their crescendos. The hostility of those around him was palatable. Cool.

I felt like a traitor somehow for not adding to this lonely voice of dissent, so when it was all over, in my own futile act of civil disobedience, I dumped my two tea bags onto the dead grass of Depot Park instead of returning them to their proper wicker basket. Then, feeling even more pathetic for that lame gesture, I went back home to watch wild mobs rage against the machine in the streets of Europe, and to wonder what ever happened to the spirit of the American Revolution, and my own.


I know responses are supposed to be longer than two words, but all I can say at the moment is, "Huh?"
I know responses are supposed to be longer than two words, but all I can say at the moment is, "Huh?"

I dunno. I stopped reading after "In these tough times, with the Mexican drug war and all, I couldn’t raise enough cash to attend the G20 and NATO protests in London, Germany, and France."


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