Friday, April 17, 2009

Tea Parties and Make-Believe

When I think of Tea Parties the image that comes to mind is my little sister playing dress-up-- using her mothers clothes for a costume and having a make-believe moment. It's all about children pretending and using their imaginations to keep themselves entertained.

This same kind of make-believe is what the Republican "Tea Parties" were all about this week. The so-called "Tea Parties" were basically PR creations, crafted by Republican Strategists, sponsored by Right Wing front groups like FreedomWorks, and promoted by Right Wing Republican media. These people are masters at creating their own reality when the real world doesn't suit them. The events are designed to whip the Republican faithful into a frenzy. You even had Texas Governor Rick Perry (one of the Confederate Governors opposing Obama and rejecting stimulus funding) attend one of these events saying that Texas could secede from the United States... that whole Confederate thing again (if not in geographical's definitely alive in terms of ideology). What is it with Republican Governors and seceding from the Union? Sarah Palin and her husband have actually been connected with secessionists in Alaska.

One of the big ironies in all this is the fact that most of these "protesters" actually received a tax cut, which went into effect this month. I really don't believe these people understood exactly what they were protesting. All they knew is that this effort was part of the Right Wings anti-Obama campaign...and at the end of the day...that's all they really needed to know.

But are most Americans falling for this mostly manufactured outrage? Are Americans buying what Republicans are selling? Apparently not... at least not at the moment (although the power of Republican media has a way of changing that rather quickly). According to a new Gallup Survey, the tax issue is much ado about nothing, especially when put in historical context.

The Following Is Courtesy Of Gallup:

Views of Income Taxes Among Most Positive Since 1956

PRINCETON, NJ -- A new Gallup Poll finds 48% of Americans saying the amount of federal income taxes they pay is "about right," with 46% saying "too high" -- one of the most positive assessments Gallup has measured since 1956. Typically, a majority of Americans say their taxes are too high, and relatively few say their taxes are too low.

These results are based on the Gallup Economy and Personal Finance poll, conducted each April, including April 6-9 of this year.

Since 1956, there has been only one other time when a higher percentage of Americans said their taxes were about right -- in 2003, when 50% did so after two rounds of tax cuts under the Bush administration.

The slightly more positive view this year may reflect a public response to President Barack Obama's economic stimulus and budget plans. He has promised not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $250,000, while cutting taxes for lower- and middle-income Americans. The latter has already begun, as the government has reduced the withholding amount for federal income taxes from middle- and lower-income American workers' paychecks.

In this year's poll, slim majorities of both lower- and middle-income Americans say they pay about the right amount of taxes, while upper-income Americans tend to think they pay too much. The views of upper-income Americans have not changed in the past year, while both middle- and lower-income Americans are more likely to say they pay the right amount of tax. Read more of the Gallup report here.

The Republicans, especially those in the Republican media, are trying to convince the American public that this is an issue with legs and that there is genuine anger towards taxes across the social and political spectrum...when in reality, most of the noise about taxes and fiscal responsibility is coming from a small fringe within their Party... almost a fringe within a fringe...because the Republican Party is down to its base at this point. Where were these people when George W. Bush and the last Republican majority were running up huge deficits, trying to hide spending by keeping it off the books, not monitoring Wall Street, allowing the Oil Companies to rape ordinary working Americans, and allowing Special Interest Groups (Government contractors) to literally rob taxpayers blind in Iraq with thefts of historic proportions. They weren't trying to stage these grand protests then. In fact, it was the Republicans lack of fiscal responsibility that largely contributed to the current mess that the Country finds itself in.

This is clearly an effort by Republicans and their media apparatus to whip up anger towards Obama. Many of the people at these "Tea Party" rallies did not show up to complain about taxes at all. Instead, they were complaining about a list of other perceived grievances with Obama... with signs suggesting that he's Muslim, friendly to terrorists, is a communist, a Nazi, name it. To me, the events appeared to have the feel of last years General Election campaign where folks were calling for violence against Obama, carrying racists signs, vandalizing campaign offices, and using stuffed Monkeys to represent him. It almost harkens back to the Southern tradition of lynching picnics, where lynchings were social events. I know that's an extreme comparison....but race is surely playing some role in these events. How many Blacks did you see in these crowds? Let's be honest...these are generally White Americans who are simply looking for any excuse to protest Barack Obama.

This is really an example of Right Wing media using fear & propaganda to take advantage of the ignorant and the uninformed. They prey on folks who are driven more by ideology (religion, race, xenophobia, fears, prejudices, and culture war issues for example) than by facts. It sends the message that Right Wing media is still strong and can make themselves as relevant as they want to be... regardless of whether they are dealing with the real world or not.


redante said...

What gets my goat is the amount of media attention (and hence, mainstream credibility) these so-called Tea Parties got. For an effort that yielded around 200,000 participants nationwide (most of these tea parties were sparsely attended) and pushed aggressively from February to April 2009 by Fox News, conservative bloggers and free PR from CNBC, they sure got a lot of sympathetic press and momentum.

Compare that to the amount of press the antiwar movement or the antiglobalization movement protests get when they have online activity in the millions (online hits) and turn out people in force for rallies and marches that dwarf the nationwide numbers of these tea parties. For example, the last big antiwar march in Washington DC in 2003 got around 200,000 people but press coverage was sparse at best.

These misguided people who participated in these Astroturf Tea Parties might actually believe they are sticking it to the Man by participating in these protests. In actuality they are just being manipulated by K Street lobbyists to serve a right-wing, corporate-friendly agenda.

Truthiz said...

The truth is, the day before the so-called "revolution" I'd shared with some friends that I would be suprised if the numbers of "teabaggers" was to go higher than 400,000.

H*ll the actual number was MAYBE up to 200,000!?!

So Um_depsite the NOT-so-hidden insidious agenda of Rethuglican hierarchy aided in no small measure by, mostly, their reich-wing media to bamboozle the "base" AGAIN_it appears to have been pretty much a PATHETIC washout.

I think it actually says a lot about Republicans who are NOT theoCon or neoCON reich-wing nuts (for which there seems to be NO hope). "Newty" and those other good ole boyz have got to be worried that the ground really might be shifting beneath their feet, threatening to take the GOP under for good!

How worreid might they be?

This worried:

[ WASHINGTON (CNN) - Steve Schmidt, a key architect of John McCain's presidential campaign, is making his first public return to Washington a bold one.

Schmidt will use a speech Friday to Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group, to urge conservative Republicans to drop their opposition to same-sex marriage, CNN has learned.]

Steve Schmidt:

“It cannot be argued that marriage between people of the same sex is un American or threatens the rights of others,” he says in the speech.

“On the contrary, it seems to me that denying two consenting adults of the same sex the right to form a lawful union that is protected and respected by the state denies them two of the most basic natural rights affirmed in the preamble of our Declaration of Independence — liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Well. Well. Well. THIS should be interesting :)

Hat-tip: Huffpost