Fall Waxing Harvest Moon
The tea party. What a change that phrase has experienced from the days of 5 year old girls with their princess themed tea sets and imaginary tea. Or, maybe not. These folks seem to have a fantasy going, too, a party in which they serve a tea called small government that has no money, no responsibilities and no Democrats. Now, I appreciate a good anarchist as much as anyone, but these folks seem to have missed the Bakunin/Kropotkin memo. When you eliminate the guberment, a sentiment I was known to espouse in my youth, something must replace its function. The anarchist solution was mutual aid, co-operation, co-operatives. That is, individuals would band together and create systems that distributed wealth and power and therefore goods and services. The trick here is that those systems would be run by individuals for the sake of the community.
This is different from the tea party notion of no taxation, ever, under any circumstances so I can continue adding to my bank vault. Very different. A libertarian may look like an anarchist and sound like an anarchist, but in fact they are stalking horses for the moneyed elite, eager to eliminate any and all impediments to the rapid and persistent collection of wealth. Lots of just folks have taken up the tea party banner, also wanting the government out of their lives. “Keep your hands off my social security and medicare!” “Don’t mess with what goes in my schools!” Oh, yeah and fix those damned roads. And fight the terrorists. Well, freedom from contradiction has never been a political virtue, no matter what stripe, but at least cover it up a little bit.
Here’s my read. This is a populist uprising, one of many over the history of the US. People are angry. They’ve lost jobs, wealth, homes and dignity. Somebody’s gotta pay and it’s gonna be political incumbents in this by-election. It makes more sense to me to direct this anger at Wall Street, large corporations, bankers in particular, but government always shoulders the blame.
Why? Because, The government is our designated problem solver for collective problems. I understand the angry flailing, since I did a lot of it when the government insisted on fighting in a 3,000 year old civil war in Vietnam, killing thousands of Americans and Vietnamese. Government is supposed to find solutions and when it can’t or won’t people get mad. Democracy, or representative democracy like we have, is the solution to civil war when real problems and solutions divide us. I can appreciate the desire to tar Washington and its career insiders with the brush of infamy. It’s great fun and you meet lots of people while engaged in the act.
Yet when the tea party is done ranting and politicing and blustering, we will still have an economy in peril. It will still be up to somebody to fix it and that somebody will be the Federal Government. Instead of starving the beast, Reagan’s favorite tactic, we need to demand the government and corporate and financial sectors get serious about upgrading the lives of the former middle class, about finding work for all those for whom college education does not make sense. The solution to these vexing and real problems: unemployment, a widening gap between wealthy elite and poor everyone else, a sense there might be a lost generation, lies in a great coming together of us all, recognizing that each of us has a stake in the others success. That to be strong we must do well by all our citizens. That to be the beacon on the hill Reagan wanted us to be we must continue to offer hope to those who would immigrate here. Will the Michele Bachmans of this political climate move us in that direction? I don’t think so.