A history lesson: back in the Sixties, when the fight for Civil Rights, Women’s Liberation and the protests against Vietnam War were raging, members of all these organizations formed demonstrations and held rally’s, marched from city to city, boycotted organizations that were against them and burned their draft cards and bras in protest. And in response they were beaten by police and Union workers, jailed or lynched and in one extreme case, even shot to death by the Ohio National Guard. The protests were happening because people were being blocked from voting, buying houses and drinking at water fountains because of the color of their skin, dismissed because of their gender and/or being forced against their will to fight and die in a very controversial war, one that by the end of the day cost 58,000 lives.
Today, people are protesting again, but for far different reasons. They’re angry because the government has been trying for the last year or so to stabilize not only the economy of the United States, but the entire world. They’re angry that that government wants to fix a healthcare system that even they admit is out of control, provide resources to major employers to let them keep their doors open and millions of workers employed and restructure mortgages to let people keep their homes. They say all these things… which are being done to insure the future economic stability of America…cost too much money and are too intrusive. They say these are examples of creeping socialism and will not only result in the government controlling our lives but leaving generations to come with massive and unsustainable debt, mostly because they’re not willing to pay any extra taxes now to help those future generations foot the bill…they just want the perks. Fucking Baby Boomers.
Odd though. These are the same people by and large who elected a president to two terms, a president who took the largest budget surplus this country has ever seen (at least in modern times) and gave it all away. Then, when their was no money left, he reduced people’s taxes to ensure there’s be even less money in the future. Once that was done he suddenly found himself forced to borrow (mostly from Communist China, our supposed enemy) enough money to fight not one but two wars (one of which he started without provocation and going so far as to manufacture evidence to justify it) at the same time, increased government intrusion by allowing warrant-less wiretapping, openly advocated the use of torture as a legitimate interrogation tool and a whole host of other things, including mandatory testing for children before they could graduate.
By the end of those eight years, which these present day protesters not just allowed to go on unhindered but actively supported, the nation was swimming in debt, the stock market had crashed, banks and mortgage companies were collapsing and people were losing their homes and life’s savings at an alarming rate. We were facing a Second Great Depression and that government which these protesters had elected had authorized trillions of dollars it didn’t have to give to the very banks, insurance companies and Wall Street firms that caused the collapse, mostly through the deregulation of their businesses by that very government. In short, it’s their own damn fault.
These present day protesters, which surveys indicate are by and large Conservative Republicans, felt betrayed by the government they put and kept in power for so long, so in a moment of severe stress and fear they did the one thing they normally would never do- elect a educated Mixed Race lawyer and university professor to fix the mistakes. And, at least in my opinion, against all odds early indicators show it seems to be working.
Banks have already paid back billions in Bailout monies. The stock market is up more than 4,000 points from when this man took office (you can say that that means nothing to the little guy, but those companies whose stocks have rebounded represent a great part of their pension plans and retirement accounts). The housing market, that great real estate Ponzi Scheme that a great many of these same protesters used as an ATM with bathrooms, is beginning to stabilize…hit it’s bottom is probably a more accurate term…and while the people who bought at it’s peak are screwed, the government is still trying to help at least some of them to re-work the binding legal documents they signed and allow them to keep those homes (even odder, in some cases those foreclosures weren’t so bad either…I know one guy who put $15K down on a place, borrowed $55K out of it over 3 years, then when faced with foreclosure, stripped everything out of it, including the kitchen sink, and sold it in a huge yard sale. By his own estimate, after his monthly payments he came out around thirty grand ahead.)
And on to healthcare, the big bugaboo of the day, the example of everything that’s wrong with this new Administration. At the beginning of 2009 when Barack Obama took office somewhere between forty and fifty million people had no coverage, or around 15% of the entire population, and more were losing it everyday due to job losses and just being priced out of the market. Not poor, starving homeless and Welfare cases, regular Americans with children. Costs were spiraling out of control, taking up about 17% of GDP ( by example, both Iraq and Afghanistan together cost around 4-6% of GDP.). Yet for some strange reason, giving 15% of the nation access to not free, but just affordable, healthcare has come to represent nearly everything that’s wrong with America today, even though I suspect a great many of these same protesters will benefit from it. Which bring us to the “Tea Party”.
It’s a slightly schizophrenic movement, this “Tea Party”. Taking over Chrysler and saving a couple million jobs was a bad idea, providing affordable healthcare to 40 or 50 million Americans is a step towards Socialism/Communism/ Fascism/ take your pick. Saving a single stem cell is more important than saving the lives of potentially millions of people that the cure using the research on that stem cell may produce. Carrying weapons into Starbucks (and yes, I’m a gun owner who holds a pistol permit) and scaring people is a way to show you’re a law abiding citizen. Driving in a Caravan around the country instead of working (or looking for work) is another a good way to show how concerned you are about the economy. Even using the name “Tea Party”, which was about American’s right to be taxed by their own elected government (which is exactly you’ve got), kinda shows this is not a Thinking Man’s (or Woman’s) Movement. It’s just like the Yippies of old- “Protest First, think later.”