Are you a Tea Party member? And I don’t mean the tea parties held by little girls and their dolls, but, of course, I am talking about the most rebellious and hard line political activists seen in American politics in the last decade.
In the current political landscape people who consider themselves centrist or even slightly right leaning from the center will not identify themselves as Tea party folks for fear of being labelled as a right wing nut case. Although its a stereotype of a Tea party activist, its an accurate stereotype of a tea party activist. Since Obama’s presidential win, Tea partiers have managed to cause huge changes in the make up of the US congress and have influenced some of the significant legislations of recent times. The Bush tax cut debate, new health care bill and of course, the debt ceiling bill where all shaped by their massive influence. All things considered, it is fair to say that there is big wave of resentment within the liberals and independents of this country towards the tea party and the way they conduct business.
Again, I am talking about the political group Tea Party, not the playtime activity from children’s books.
As we have seen in recent times, none of established political groups, be they Democrat or Republican, are capable of making real decisions. In fact this has been true for a while in Washington, because the problems that the country is facing now have been brewing for many years and they are so scalding today due to years of inaction from the elected officials. For far too long politicians could get away with not standing up for anything. They could say anything they want to get elected but once they get to the capitol, they collude with their colleagues and almost always vote to favor their personal agendas and political donors. They change their stances so many times, and so easily too, that it was hard for anyone to know what each politician stood for.
And that is where, I think, the tea partiers have shown their usefulness. Although they are very rigid in their beliefs, they make sure that the politicians they elect follow through on their promise, even if it means laying off workers or taking away their collective bargaining rights. For good or bad they are showing everyone in Washington how an agenda can be gotten done almost exactly as they wanted. For years, many liberal groups that lobby for things like women’s rights, minority reservations and eco-protection have failed miserably in getting meaningful bills passed through congress. Either the bills take too long that they never get done or they get watered down so badly that they are not even worth the paper in which they are printed. May be these groups can learn from the tea party activists about how to effectively deal with congressional mud pool and get things actually done. By not compromising, the tea party activists are, at least, making the politicians make hard choices, one way or the other. Instead of just maintaining the status quo, elected officials are now forced to take a stance.
It is undeniable that what the tea party is doing currently will hurt the country and its people in the long turn, but if there is silver lining in this quagmire, it is that they are literally teaching the rest of America how to make the government bend to people’s will. Yes, they are making it bend the wrong way now, but may that’s what we needed to learn.
May be if everyone starts showing up in their district’s town hall meeting and started yelling and putting up signs for their cause and started calling their elected official in the middle of the night, then may be we can all make the government bend towards us too. That way, both the right and the left wing can pull the government on either side and may be we will finally balance it at the center.
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