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Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Teabagging

The image that pops into your head on my post title up there says a lot about where you fall on the political spectrum in the US. For those of you thinking about unsanitary practices, there was recently some discontent about taxes in the US, as there often is. And long ago, there was the Boston Tea Party, where angry revolutionaries threw cases of tea off of a boat rather than have anybody pay taxes on them. Somebody more recently was inspired by this story and organized a protest where people would throw tea into a body of water. And since loose leaf tea is uncommon, or, at the very least, more expensive than Lipton, tea bags were littered into a water way. This seemed like an idea worth copying on other places and somebody gave it the name "teabagging." Somebody wholesome gave it that name.

These unfortunately-named parties were not originally organized by the Republican party, but they seized on it. Now if you want to see somebody holding up a sign calling Obama a Nazi, a Muslim, s Socialist or the Anti-Christ, well, here's the venue for you. It's too easy for us urban elites to mock these parties. They share a name with a sex act. They attract spectacularly misinformed people, some of whom are clearly racist. But I think it's an error to dismiss them out of hand.

How many of you, when writing you check for the last tax day, thought of some of it going to a $5 million AIG bonus? Or some kind of bank or financial institution. Admit it, you felt even less good about mailing in your check than usual. What's the point, they're just going to give it to a hedge fund, right? This annoyance you feel could be rage. Maybe it should be rage. Houses sit empty while homelessness grows and we give our tax money to bankers!

If you ask any of the folks at these tea-tossing rallies what they think the word "socialism" means, they will start talking to you about giving away money to banks. If you say, "what if we spent it on healthcare for everybody instead?" most of them would think that was a good idea. These folks actually want a mixed-socialist economy, they just don't know it's called that. Thanks to Fox News Newspeak, they use all the wrong words for things. There is no word in their heads for what they want, so they express their extreme discontent and social and economic insecurity by symbolic protest (and misuse of another, less innocent term).

People are becoming radicalized by the economy and they could go either way. Obviously, I would prefer it if the left won, and so would most of the people throwing Lipton around. There used to be a quite popular flyer that listed all the stuff you could buy for the cost of a single stealth bomber. Hundreds of schools, hospitals, etc. Well, what could you buy for trillions of dollars? How many YEARS of universal healthcare? How many bridges could be rebuilt, giving people jobs and making roads safer? You see where I'm going, but instead of just listing the object that would be there at the end, also mention the means. Workers build those projects. Workers like the folks at the rallies.

The financial sector is fucked to be sure, but we didn't get out of the Great Depression by giving money to banks, we got out of it through a massive government spending program. Rather than a devastating war, we could rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. Giving these folks the security and employment they need is also the key to fixing the economy. But this plan does not widen the gap between rich and poor, so it's not on the agenda and it won't be until protests force it to be. This could be the germ of change. Stop snickering and start a conversation!

1 comment:

vj said...

Yes, but, these people really were crazy. Obama Hitler? Ron Paul 4evar? Without the amplification of Faux News, nobody (with good reason) would ever know they exist. And now that we do, are we really willing to ally with folks whose core beliefs include UN black helicopters descending on small towns and forcing our youth into Obamerica Corps re-education camps? Yeesh.

I'm sure you noticed, but the vast majority of the people who were at the tea parties (won't say the other verb) were WHITE. The not-so-subtle racism isn't so much that they don't know what socialism really means, it's that they can't stand that an actual negro is in the WH and acting all Presidential. What's a poor white trash gentleman to do but throw tea bags around and pretend it's the coming of the anti-christ?