Let’s talk about those Tea Partiers. When I see their boisterous antics, I’m reminded of my younger days when some of my friends were causing the older generation heartburn by their rowdy and disruptive protesting. During the Vietnam War, these protesters used a variety of outrageous stunts to get peoples’ attention and focus it on what the protesters saw as issues vital to the country. The Tea Party is doing the same in shouting at our representatives during the Health Debate Town Hall meetings and mounting other lively protests against the bank bailouts.
Today the Tea Party views itself the way the Sixties Protesters did way back when---they’re angry and they want us and our representatives to know it. They are generating a lot of press and making plenty of people nervous.
I’d say this is democracy in action.
The question will be whether the Tea Party can sustain their protests over healthcare, taxes and bailouts and gather enough members to force a change in the political climate. The Vietnam protesters had a clear goal—stop the war. For now, it’s not clear exactly what the Tea Party wants in terms of healthcare reform, or at least they haven’t yet articulated what they are in favor of when it comes to fixing our system.
The Sixties Protestors wanted the War stopped and the troops brought home. They found the argument that we were saving ourselves and the rest of the planet from a communist takeover via a bunch of falling dominoes to be, well, just not true. Ultimately, the country agreed and turned against the war. And in retrospect, nearly every thoughtful observer from both political parties, has said that the protesters were correct.
But right now, every major economist, liberal and conservative, says that as distasteful as the bank bailout was, the alternative would most likely have been 25% unemployment and a general economic collapse rather than the 10% unemployment and slow recovery we have now.
I remember my fifth grade lessons on the Depression—you can’t let the banks fail. I’d like to hear from the Tea Party how they think that alternative—bank failure-- would be useful. Maybe it would have taught those disgraceful bankers a lesson, but it would have brought the rest of the economy down with them. I believe that it was the repeal of banking regulation that led to this fiasco and that the better course is to put those banking regulations back in force, so that this doesn’t happen again.
But back to the Tea Party. I doubt that shear anger, without proposing viable alternatives will turn their movement into a substantial political force, but I’m always glad to see people who have never participated in government, get out there and do so.
--Denise Zito lives in Free Union.
- ▼ February (4)