Commentary by James H. Shott
Watching the left try to cope with the Tea Party movement is fascinating. Some evidence suggests that fear is in control, like the desperate marginalizing and demonizing of the Tea Party movement that so effectively shows the dissatisfaction of millions of Americans with government over-reaching. The left resorts to name-calling and tries to paint the Tea Party participants as a bunch of wild-eyed radicals, bent on revolution, perhaps even violence. But that is a gross distortion of these Americans, the vast majority of whom are everyday citizens merely taking advantage of their God-given and constitutionally-protected right to speak their mind.
Some on the left are unable to accept this movement as a genuine citizen protest against Big Government excesses and intrusions into personal freedom. That perspective is represented by columnist Reg Henry, who wrote last week, “If you happened to see the health care summit that President Barack Obama hosted the other day … you saw the Republicans insist with great certainty that Americans don’t want health care legislation.” Well, Mr. Henry, that’s not what Republicans said, which is that Americans don’t like “this” legislation, and are saying so loud and clear.
And as for their certainty in saying so, well, it’s because Republicans aren’t deaf or blind. They hear from their constituents, both Republicans and Democrats. They recognize that Tea Party participants are fed up with the over-bearing nature of the federal government, and the arrogant way the president and the leaders of Congress ignore their objections, and they say Congress had better not enact legislation affecting 17 percent of the economy by a 50 percent-plus-one vote when the country is so sharply divided on the issue, and Republicans are finally paying attention.
They also realize that opinion polls conducted by respected polling organizations portray the mood of the country pretty accurately, using proven and accepted methodology to randomly sample Americans who usually are registered voters, and whose statistically relevant opinions can be extrapolated to the citizenry at large with 96 percent accuracy.
They know multiple polls conducted repeatedly over several months continue to show a consistent disapproval of the direction the country is heading, ranging from 60 to 73 percent, and a small percentage of approval, in some polls as low as 22 percent.
But Mr. Henry seems to think the 2008 election was the definitive statement by the people of what they want the president and the Congress to do, even though President Obama’s campaign was one of cavernous rhetoric, devoid of detail. Furthermore, Mr. Obama’s victory margin was only seven points, 53 to 46 percent, and that isn’t a mandate to do anything. In fact, seven points is a fraction of the margin between Americans who dislike the country’s direction and those who approve of it.
Another columnist, Ann McFeatters, relies on superficial thinking and insufficient research to help her misunderstand this phenomenon, in her column taking President Obama to task “for wasting political capital and failing to get as much done as he could have.”
“The tide began to turn against health insur¬ance reform, aided brilliantly by Republicans who began talking nonsensically, but effectively, about ‘death pan¬els’ and socialistic medicine,” she wrote. But just because the bill does not say specifically “in our socialized medicine system there will be death panels” doesn’t preclude a mechanism evolving that will make life and death decisions based on budget considerations, nor does it mean that the system won’t become one where private health insurance cannot survive against the government’s monopolistic tendencies, and in a few years we will have socialized medicine. What Republicans did – and folks on the left didn’t do – was to look at the reform measures, and project them into the future to see what might happen.
After revealing that she didn’t look into the future to see where reform measures may lead, she blamed “Wall Street fat cats” for the recent financial crisis, showing that she also didn’t look far enough into the past to find out what really caused the financial crisis. It’s true that Wall Streeters and big bankers contributed to the collapse, but they were only playing by the rules past Congresses and administrations created for them. Ms. McFeatters only looked back a couple of years, but the government meddling that created the environment for the problem began decades ago.
She criticizes the president’s failure to fulfill promises like closing Guantanamo Bay, ending the Iraq war, and capturing Osama bin Laden. Here, she fails to consider the ramifications of his promises, or obstacles to their fulfillment. So much of what Mr. Obama promised was unrealistic, and an objective analysis showed that. But Ms. McFeatters, the news media, and 53 percent of voters didn’t analyze his promises.
No surprise that the left doesn’t understand the Tea Party movement; and no surprise that it fears its opposition. Many liberals are unable to cope with logical disagreements, and because they don’t think things through cannot present logical arguments for their ideas.
Hence, instead of working with the opposition to find common ground on the nation’s problems, the majority party tries to force its ideas on the country, which is government at its worst.
Cross-posted from Observations