Tag Archives: Bill Clinton

The Tea Party: Fed Up Fiscal Conservatives Or Anti-Obama Crusaders?

2009 saw the birth of America’s latest political outsider movement. In the 90’s it had been Ross Perot and the Reform Party. After that we had Ralph Nader and the Green Party. Today, in the age of Obama, we met the Tea Party. What was unique about the Tea Party was that they had no singular leader. There was no face of the movement. They were touted as everyday Americans fed up with Washington. An upstart grassroots movement meant to overthrow the establishment and put the power back in the hands of the people. That may be how it started. It didn’t last that long.

Since its inception the Tea Party has seemed to be a conservative movement. They claimed to have members from all walks of life; all political ideologies. They had only one core message. Control the deficit. Get government spending under control. Keep government limited. The banner at teapartypatriots.org reads: “Fiscal Responsibility, Limited Government, Free Market.”  Fiscal conservatism is supposed to be a Republican cornerstone. In the past 20 years that has changed. People who desire a balanced budget do come from both sides of the political spectrum. In fact, the only time recently that we have had a balanced budget was with divided government. When government has been completely in the hands of one party or the other the budget has not been balanced.  For a group of people to rise up and demand accountability from the government about its finances, and its intrusion on personal freedom, should be no surprise. That’s what the Tea Party’s message was. That’s what the Tea Party said they had been speaking out against for a long time. That wasn’t what happened. That version of history didn’t exist.

To claim that you are a group fed up with fiscal irresponsibility in 2011 means you need to account for some things. First off has to be why did you show up just now . The earliest references I can find to the Tea Party movement are in 2009. Our fiscal house was certainly out-of-order by then. It had been for some time however. Pres. Bush’s budget proposals led to the highest budget deficits in U.S. history. They were not only record-setting in number of dollars, but even if those dollars are adjusted for inflation. The first time the deficit has gone down since FY2002 (Pres. Bush’s first budget proposal) was FY2010 (Pres. Obama’s first budget proposal.) Yes Pres. Obama passed nearly a trillion-dollar stimulus package and the Tea Party was upset. Pres. Bush pushed a nearly trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street. Tea Party members today will tell you they were against it. They weren’t upset enough to protest. There were no raucous town hall meetings. Where was the anger over fiscal irresponsibility spanning a decade of deficit spending that ended with a collapse of the economy not seen since the Great Depression? Where was the anger over TARP? Where was the anti-establishment feeling against Washington run amok? It didn’t exist.

It doesn’t get any easier to explain the Tea Party’s desires for limited government. The Tea Party really gained traction during the debate over healthcare. The original healthcare reform proposals included a provision known as the “public option,” or the “government option,” depending on which party or media outlet you listened to. The idea was that the government would provide an option for citizens to buy health insurance from a government program if they could not obtain it through an employer. Republican’s denounced it as a “government takeover of healthcare.” Town hall meetings about the reform descended into chaos across the country. Finally the “public option” was removed from the final bill. The Tea Party movement generally seemed to be against the bill even after the “public option” was taken out. As the Tea Party Patriots website says, they are for limited government. Are they? The healthcare bill does put government into the healthcare field, but only slightly. It doesn’t even give the people the freedom of government help. It only helps people deal with private companies. That’s something the “free market” Tea Party should be happy about. The real problem is that this is small government intrusion compared to what has happened over the past decade. After Sept. 11th, the Bush Administration used the fear of the American people to start a war and engage in the largest expansion of the federal government in 50 years. They created a new cabinet level post. They established a new level of bureaucracy over the intelligence community with the NID(National Intelligence Director.)  It later came out that they authorized the NSA to conduct a warrantless wiretap program that circumvented all laws set by Congress for surveillance.  Was that limited government? Was that the freedom ensured in the Constitution? Where was the Tea Party outrage? Where were the calls to end the invasion of our rights? They didn’t exist.

The real story of the Tea Party lies beneath the rhetoric and anger of everyday people. Everyday people may have had the passion for the movement but they didn’t make it happen. The major Tea Party groups all have strong affiliations with some more familiar organizations like American’s For Prosperity. So what’s wrong with that? American’s For Prosperity is a front group funded by the Koch brothers. The heads of Koch Industries. Charles and David Koch are far-right Libertarians with a lot of money. Combined they have more wealth than anyone but Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet. It doesn’t end there. Tea Party rallies were organized by all kinds of conservative groups. Tea Party leaders have often been linked to conservative groups. A quick survey of the Tea Party Express website shows that they endorse only Republican candidates, and sometimes far-right candidates over more moderate Republicans. All this points to a movement funded by ultra-conservatives to achieve an ultra-conservative agenda. The Tea Party may have started out with a message of fiscal responsibility, but that has been lost. They are only the pawns of the conservative money movement. They are the far-right’s “Anti-Obama Army.”  When Obama comes out and endorses something they will be right there to refute him. That is why Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann have become Tea Party darlings. They oppose Obama no matter what. They will attack him and his supporters no matter how ridiculous it sounds. Evidence doesn’t need to exist.

Third party movements have made huge changes in American politics. The Whig Party shook us in the mid-19th century. Teddy Roosevelt’s third-party bid nearly won the presidency in 1912. The Reform Party can be credited with electing and keeping Bill Clinton in office. Without the Green Party Al Gore would have almost certainly been president. The Tea Party does not seem to be destined for that outcome. A movement based on opposition to a man instead of issues has no future. Until Obama, they were not against a decade of fiscal irresponsibility. Until Obama, they allowed government to expand unchecked and intrude into our lives. Until Obama, they didn’t exist. After Obama, they won’t exist.

My 5 Least Favorite Presidents

As with my previous list, this is in no way supposed to represent who I think the best and worst presidents were. This addresses only a number of things that annoy me about past presidents. So here are the five. Well, actually six, there was a tie for 3rd place.

5) Bill Clinton

Clinton probably shouldn’t be on this list, but I was having trouble with one thing and I think it needs to be said. My one problem with Pres. Clinton has always been that he cheated on his wife when he was President; with Monica Lewinsky.  That’s the part that pushed me over the edge.  Monica Lewinsky was the best he could get. He was the most powerful man in the world. He could’ve done better. I think it was just laziness. I mean look at JFK. That guy got Marilyn Monroe. That was ambition. JFK was a pro. I’m sorry to say it, but Clinton really let us down on that one.

4) Ronald Reagan

It is unfortunate that Pres. Reagan also has to be included. I’m no fan of Reagan’s politics, but this is not a list of who I think had the worst policies. This is about the Presidents I don’t like to talk about and why. Why don’t I like to talk about Pres. Reagan? I don’t, because I keep being forced to.  Republican’s can’t open their mouths anymore without pulling out Reagan. Try it. Ask a Republican politician a question and see how long it takes them to mention him. Who is a personal hero of yours? Ronald Reagan! What’s your favorite book? Reagan Diaries. (That’s actually a real question and answer from the RNC Chairman debate. Guess who won. It was the guy that said Reagan Diaries.) If aliens came down to Earth today they would probably believe that Ronald Reagan was the only Republican ever elected President. It’s killing me. I mean, Republicans have the guy that abolished slavery and I can’t remember his name because all I hear is Ronald Reagan.

3)  George W. Bush\Rutherford B. Hayes

This spot is a tie because both men made the list for the same reason. They were only kinda elected. For some reason our electoral system allows a guy to get elected when more people voted for his opponent. This apparently happens every 120 years roughly.
When you lose the popular vote and still win the election it makes your term less legitimate. It just goes against the foundation of democracy.

2)Richard Nixon

Nixon did a number of good things during his time in the White House. He ended the draft, and improved relations with China, among other things. Eventually, he was forced to resign because of his role in the cover-up of the Watergate incident. These things are not the direct cause of his place on this list. The main cause is that there was recorded evidence that he knew about the crime and the cover-up. He was the President and a seasoned, veteran politician. How did he not realize that there were recordings of the things he said. That’s just ridiculous.

1)William Henry Harrison

To start with the first Pres. Harrison is responsible for one of the most useless pieces of knowledge I possess. He ran his campaign on the slogan, “Tippecanoe and Tyler, too.”  The slogan stemmed from his role in the battle of Tippecanoe when Harrison was a military officer.  As the oldest President to ever be elected until Ronald Reagan, Harrison gave a two-hour long inaugural address on a cold and rainy day. He didn’t even wear a coat. 31 days later he died from complications brought on by what was apparently a cold. This makes him easily one of the most ineffective Presidents, but mostly I’m mad about the slogan. When am I ever going to need to know about that, but I can’t forget it now.