Bitter Brew

The Democratic Party is likely to receive a harsh rebuke in November’s midterm elections. Republicans will probably take control of the House of Representatives, while a loss of seven or eight Democratic Senate seats may bring even greater gridlock to that now notoriously dysfunctional legislative body.

With the unemployment rate still hovering near 10 percent, Americans are understandably dissatisfied with the pace of economic recovery and apprehensive about the country’s future. What is perhaps less understandable is the degree of rancor toward President Barack Obama and the federal government as a whole. The condemnation and vilification of Obama by his political opponents has only intensified in the wake of each of his modest but undeniable legislative achievements. Among a certain sector of the electorate, that antagonism has been driven by the so-called Tea Party movement, and perhaps best personified by the demagogic high jinks of figures such as Fox News’s Glenn Beck and former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Republican leaders in Congress have been scurrying to stay ahead of what is commonly regarded as a populist or grass-roots revolt within their own ranks, although it has become increasingly evident that much of the “revolt” has been orchestrated, if not fabricated, by right-wing political operatives and their traditional financial backers. In primary after primary, a small sliver of alienated conservative voters has disposed of moderate Republicans, replacing them with antigovernment radicals such as Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle, the Republican candidates for Senate in Delaware and Nevada respectively.

What is going on? How representative of the alienation of the larger electorate is the Tea Party? Do most voters really think it was possible to pull the economy out of a near depression in a mere eighteen months? Why haven’t the Democrats gotten credit for saving the American auto industry? Why is health-care reform, once popular with a majority of Americans, now widely suspect? Why have Republican voters, who complacently accepted the massive deficit spending of President George W. Bush, been born again as deficit hawks?

If the unemployment rate were 6 percent, many political commentators note, the mood of the electorate and the tenor of our politics would be different. Perhaps. In any event, President Obama has gone out of his way to acknowledge the enormous frustration Americans feel. Certainly, economics and fiercely partisan politics have played a large part in voter exasperation. Yet there is also a worrisome cultural component to the Tea Party “insurrection,” one exemplified by Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally at the Lincoln Memorial. The Tea Party is overwhelmingly older, whiter, and more Republican than the nation as a whole. It emerged as a response to the election of a black president supported, as E. J. Dionne has written, by “a demographically diverse coalition anchored among younger voters.” It is hardly surprising, then, that among the Tea Party’s rallying cries is the call to “Take Back Our Country.”

In order to do that, the Tea Party must first “take back” the Republican Party. In fact, the Tea Party is perhaps best understood as the latest effort by conservatives to rout what remains of the old Eastern “country club” Republican establishment. This struggle has been going on for fifty years. An appeal to similar resentments and anxieties propelled Barry Goldwater to the Republican presidential nomination in 1964, culminating in one of the more raucous political conventions in American history. Nelson Rockefeller, the very incarnation of Wall Street Republicanism, was roundly booed and jeered by the delegates when he attempted to speak. Anger at both the mainstream media and mainstream Republicans convulsed the convention. Upon accepting the nomination, Goldwater famously declared that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.... Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

When it comes to resisting the supposed radical threat posed by a federal government headed by Barack Obama, many in the Tea Party seem to agree with Goldwater. If the polls are right and a new phalanx of conservatives, convinced that “government is the problem, not the solution,” is sent to Washington this November, the nation’s political paralysis will only deepen. Yet as the history of the past forty years shows, paralysis in Washington serves the political, economic, and social forces behind the status quo, not forces for change. Impassioned denunciations of government resolve nothing. Such misdirected anger is good for the corporate and moneyed interests that hold the real reins of power, but it will not help the vast majority of Americans, including those who identify with the Tea Party.

September 28, 2010



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Perhaps the reason there is discontent is that many perceive that each day more and more the government is getting involved in most areas of its citizens. And the second reason which for me is number one, is that the amount of money [which we dont have] which is been spent on EVERYTHING is ridiculous and all it does is add to the problem in the long run. I guess for most Americans the idea of spending money which one does not have [and ironically got us into much of the mess we are in to begin with] is not something we would do at the personal level if we have a tight budget. Quite the opposite, you tightten your belt and spend judiciously. But what we have seen since day number one is a government, that is spending money which is not there. I am a democrat and I voted for the current president, but as the time has passed I realized that the direction the government is going is not good for us as a country.

First of all, parroting the mantra that the Democrats are coursing towards their Waterloo just gives credibility to the lies of fabricated polls and so-called generic 'surveys.' While there is trouble in Obamaland, it is mostly from radical right pundits and media such as Rush, Beck, Palin and even Rove/Cheney. Any kind of fact-checking would dismiss these radical speakers as racist, erroneous and purely political hacks. But the media, perhaps in search of boosting circulation and readership, seems to build upon these falsehoods in order to foster a kind of controversy that sells papers or drives audiences. People who otherwise might be of sound mind are inundated with continuous lies and anti-Obama noise that they seem to ultimately give in and accept it as true. Fact: people do not oppose the recent health care legislation - any number of polls find people supportive of almost all its provisions. Fact: the TARP funding has been mostly paid back and a financial disaster averted under a program both Democrats and Republicans supported. Fact: the stimulus did stave off several million job losses and saved our auto industry as well as boosted schools, police, firefighters and infrastructure investment. The claims and BS from the so-called Tea Party folks notwithstanding, There has been much positive to brag about. All the charges of socialism, communism, impairment of freedoms are simply buzz words to inflame and mislead. The media should repent, now!

Most Americans don't share the views of the left-leaning editors of Commonweal. What's so complicated about that?

On a political level, I don't think investing the federal government with more of my hard-earned money and with more control over my life is particularly wise. I also believe that when one is in debt, one shouldn't go on a spending spree with other people's money. 

From a Catholic perspective, I think President Obama's policies are not only divisive and arrogant, but they run roughshod over the Catholic principle of subsidiarity. That's another reason why many Catholics are so upset with the healthcare bill aside from the abortion and conscience protection concerns, and despite the good that could be obtained from a more sensible reform of our healthcare system.

Sure, President Obama and his administration give lip service to the Church's social teaching, but they mean something very different despite the Catholic vocabulary. In this regard, I recommend "What's So Funny About Peace, Love, and Social Justice," which I posted a couple weeks ago.

The Democrats have gotten credit for bailing out GM and Chrysler -- both are losing market share to Ford. 

Facts: There has always been rancor toward the President from those in the party out of power. There have always been radical conservatives within the Republican party dating back to Hamilton Fish in the early 50's. Rarely have they been the controlling faction.

The Democratic Party has a majority of registered voters, and in some states like California, Republcans are a rarity. This means that should the  Republicans regain control of Congress it will be because a significant number of inependent voters and disaffected Democrats joined in the vote.

The race for control is very close and it is unbecoming for America to indulge in partisan



Your description of  Tea Party movement." illustrates an amazing ignorance as the majority of those attracted to the Tea Party movement which I and many members of my family are proud to support in opposition to the marxist/socialistist programs, the tax, borrow and spend policies, the bureaucratic imposed rules and regulations controling both our personal lives and the private business sector are hard working, middle class, taxpaying individuals who are fed up with government intervention. It is said that President Reagan once said the most frightening words are “I am from the government and I am here to help you.” The industrial might of the United States did not result from government leadership but from the government getting out of the way of inventors, investors and entrepreneurs. The industrial might of the United States is slowly but surely being tied down by ill-conceived and unnecessary rules, regulations and mandates as surely as Gulliver was tied-up by the Lilliputins. Did some Republican moderate write the following:"We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work ... After eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started ... And an enormous debt to boot!"No it was Henry MorgenthauTreasury Secretary under FDRThose who continue to advocate for more and more government spending and higher taxes obviously have never read or understood Santayana's words "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it", FDR's big government programs failed to end the depression of the 1930s as any review of that period's economy history shows conclusively. However, tax cuts and economic incentives to the private sector introduced by Kennedy, Reagan and Bush brought ends to recessions and generated economic growth. Following FDR's failed policies for the past 18 months led to higher unemployment, has not produced job growth except in the public sector, more IRS agents to investigate working taxpayers, many of those are temporary, and for some unionized workers, GM and Chrysler. Saving public sector jobs by robbing from taxpayers like Peter and Patricia or borrowing from lenders like Ping and Pong to pay Paul and Pauline is not a sustainable path to create jobs and end a recession. It is "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" Albert Einstein

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