Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Liberal Democrats misunderstand
the tea party movement

Commentary by James H. Shott

In just six weeks Americans will go to the polls to decide who will fill all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives and 37 of the 100 US Senate seats.

As elections near, things in the political realm always get a little crazy, as candidates do whatever they can to attract votes. A hot topic these days is the tea party movement, and the effort to minimize the movement and its candidates has reached fever pitch.

Folks involved in and friendly to the movement it say it is largely made up of normal Americans, many of whom usually do not participate in political rallies, but have been driven into activism by what they view as intolerable behavior by their government and their elected public servants. This dissatisfaction runs all the way from the President of the United States through both houses of Congress, and in many cases to state and local governments.

Both Democrats and Republicans oppose the tea party movement, and the vitriolic reaction is truly stunning, particularly among liberals, who like to paint the tea partiers as “extremists” and no more than a bunch of “angry people.” There are a few crazies in any large group, of course, but tea party members are as normal as any group of Americans you can name, and broadly labeling them as extremists is dishonest and just plain wrong.

These wild characterizations are primarily the work of people who are scared to death of the potential this group has to wreak havoc on their narrow political plans and their political self-interest.

Democrats are front and center right now, by virtue of their control of the House and Senate since 2006, and the White House for the last year and nine months.

With 58 Democrats, 40 Republicans and 2 Democrat-friendly independents in the Senate, and 257 Democrats and 178 Republicans in the House – working majorities, both – the Democrat majority could pass almost anything it desired, as it did with the odious health care reform bill.

The Democrats unilaterally produced a 2,700-page monstrosity that supporters hadn’t read and couldn’t explain. Nevertheless, President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders bragged on the bill and all the good things it would accomplish.

Republicans, on the other hand, suggested some ways to improve the health care system without passing that huge bill, including selling health insurance policies across state lines and reforming the tort system to hold down the costs of defensive medicine.

But the Democrats persisted, and in one of the ugliest legislative spectacles in recent memory the measure passed with no Republican votes and in spite of the opposition of a majority of Americans.

Since its passage we have learned what the health care bill contained and it has become so toxic and unpopular that Democrats seeking reelection take care not to mention it in their campaign speeches.

We should all be appalled that such a bizarre process could take place in our country, or that our elected public servants would behave like that. We see our leaders doing what they want, not what we want. They do not respect the wishes of those who hired them.

There is no better example than the health care reform debacle to explain what has gotten the attention of normal Americans and has driven them to attend political rallies and publicly protest what is happening in their country for the first time.

While in control of the Legislative and Administrative branches, liberal Democrats have led the country in a different direction than a majority of the American people wants it to go, and have failed to repair the economic damage they did so much to create over the last three decades.

Where the economy is concerned, liberals either do not understand basic economics, or basic economic concepts run counter to their political goals, and are thus ignored.

The Bush tax cuts, which expire this year, illustrate this situation. Democrats want to extend the cuts only for those making less than $200,000 a year, because doing so will punish those horrible rich people that President Obama calls “millionaires and billionaires.” They tell us that Republicans want to extend the Bush tax cuts to give a tax break to “the rich.” This is disingenuous, at best, and demagogic at worst; the Bush tax cuts give a tax break to everybody.

Worse, however, when unemployment is nearly 10 percent and under-employment exceeds 15 percent, this class warfare approach is particularly harmful. A rational person once observed that “‘no one ever got a job from a poor man; you get a job from a wealthy man.” Imposing higher taxes on wealthy people, many of whom are small business owners and employers, will hinder their ability to create jobs for the middle class, the very people the Democrats care most about.

This poor leadership spawned the tea party movement: people are tired of arrogant, inattentive, and self-serving politicians and want changes. Not the changes that will “fundamentally transform” America, a la Barack Obama, but changes that will put America back on the proper path.

Those who don’t understand that are out of touch and in the way of needed change.

Cross-posted from Observations

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