What I Learned at the Tea Parties

TeaParty.jpgBoth the media and many high profile politicos still seem to be flailing around trying to find some way to label, quantify and pigeonhole the myriad tea party groups which are springing up all around the country. Even Karl Rove, during a stop to promote his new book, expressed concerns over whether or not they might spur some sort of third party movement which could hurt the Republican party. After some time out in the trenches I regret to inform them all that the task of defining this movement may well be impossible.

Early on, I was also taken in by a lot of the media hype and found many of my preconceived notions being challenged. I’ve been spending my time this year working on a Congressional campaign which keeps me on the road quite a bit with my candidate, hitting all of the usual stops as well as some ventures into unknown territory. Many of these events are the same old song and dance. I don’t wish to put too cynical of a face on things, but there are plenty of groups out there where you know in advance which points you need to hit. The pro-life groups want to know you’ve checked the right box on your application. Gun owners and sportsmen clubs need to see that you’re up to date on the Heller decision. But when we started receiving invitations to address some tea party meetings I got nervous.

My immediate reaction was to insist that we didn’t send out any invitations to the press. I’d seen all of the provocative video clips from MSNBC and CNN, along with the blaring headlines at Huffington Post. My mind filled with images of pitchfork wielding townsmen carrying around signs with nooses, swastikas and allegations of secret communist plots. “Good Lord!” I thought. “This election is going to be hard enough. The last thing I need is a picture showing up in our local paper of my candidate hanging around with a bunch of Klansmen.

I’ve now met with more than a dozen groups in both Upstate New York and Pennsylvania, and my suspicions have been almost unanimously confounded rather than confirmed. We’ve been greeted by surprisingly large groups of citizens who were polite and obviously very well informed on the issues of the day which concern them. The tone has been far more energized and excited than hysterical. And any expectations of a friendly, conservative base reception were quickly dismissed. They asked questions – very tough questions in many cases – and listened patiently to the answers.

The topics of interest came as a bit of a shock also. As part of my duties I help with crafting the candidate’s stump speeches. Again, not wishing to sound overly jaded, but for the usual Republican gatherings I know what works. I always include the key buzz phrases: “respect for life” and “keep and bear arms” along with all the rest. They are the reliable barn burners which always bring the house down. Imagine my dismay when these tried and true stump winners were met with either silent nods of approval or polite smatterings of applause. It’s not that the audience didn’t agree… it’s just not what they came to hear.

Another part of the speech caught the crowd’s interest instead. The congressional hopeful spoke of his career as a high school history teacher. (For the record, after these speeches I generally have to scurry around and remind people that he teaches at a private Catholic school and isn’t affiliated with the teachers union.) He talked about stressing to his students the importance of Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution and the 10th amendment. That is what brought the crowd to their feet. We had to pause and wait for the ovation to die down. They knew their history and were focused on what they saw as the proper function and authority of the federal government. (And let’s have a moment of brutal honesty here… how many of you had to flip open another tab on your browser to be reminded of what Article 1 Section 8 says?)

These groups do not just hand out their endorsements lightly, either. They don’t toss up the banner of every candidate with an “R” after their name. Thus far they seem to be paying a lot more attention to the state Conservative Party than the GOP. A couple of them have endorsed Libertarians over Republicans.

The point is, meeting with tea party supporters has been a surprising experience. It’s not politics as usual and the old rules about Red vs. Blue and D vs. R don’t apply. Like any large gathering, you’ll find a couple of people with some more fringe outlooks, and that seems to be who the television cameras focus on. (We had one couple at a recent meeting who were obviously birthers and wanted to ask about Obama’s birth certificate, but they were quickly shushed by the rest of the crowd.) But for the most part, each group seems to carry its own distinct flavor and topics of interest. The one thing they seem to have in common is that they are unhappy with the current leadership in D.C. and they have come to play a serious game. If you think you already know the tea party movement, there’s a good chance you don’t. It’s kind of like trying to say you know the ocean. It’s big, it’s powerful, it’s rarely the same twice, and you never know exactly what it’s going to do next.

UPDATE: Thanks for the reminder and my apologies for the omission. Disclosure Statement: The author is currently serving as Director of Communications for George Phillips, Republican candidate for Congress in New York’s 22nd District.

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  • shannonlee

    When they get into the booth, they'll vote R….unless there is a legit L candidate. They may be different than the pro-lifers and NRA, but they'll still vote R…even if they have to hold their nose to do it.

  • ProfElwood

    I'm in a Democratic area (conservative Ds, but Ds none-the-less). Jazz's experience didn't surprise me because it's what I've seen with my own eyes. They may vote R this time only because, like most people, there's still a large group that can't get out of their R/D thinking. That cycle has got to be broken before politicians start caring about what people really want.

  • CStanley

    I don't think it's just a reflex that would cause most of these people to vote R…it's the conundrum in our two party system whereby a vote for a third party candidate almost always results in a win for the party that you least want to win.

    I still think it's healthy that these people aren't responding to the typical partisan dog whistles and are motivated by core principles. They may not be willing in most cases to vote for the party that opposes the GOP, but I'd bet a lot of them will stay home if there isn't a GOP candidate that meets their standards and show up to vote for the ones who do.

  • http://www.BigGuv.com/ Hoss at BigGuv

    I think it's safe to say the core binding principle is not guns, abortion, or foreign policy — but fiscal conservatism: limited government, reduce spending, growth through reduction of burdens on people and businesses — and for heaven's sake, at a minimum, do not grossly swell government as is happening now. At least that's why I call myself a Tea Partier and contribute to the cause where I can…

  • casualobserver

    Hey, Jazz……..stop with this firsthand reporting stuff. We need to stay with unsupported armchair speculation like shannon offers above.

    I have residences in FL, AZ and NH. In all locations, the political conversation from fiscal conservatives is actually moreso anti-incumbent than favoring R over D.

  • Rambie

    From school I do remembered the main subjects of each article: “Article 1: Legislative branch”, “Article 2: Executive Power”, “Article 3: Judicial” and the first ten amendments are the “Bill of Rights”. I will admit I don't know them down to specific sections and a little fuzzy on the exact order of the amendments.

    So which section of A1S8 are they question you on the most? Immigration, Declaring war, Pirating of the high seas, or printing money, or something else?

    Amendment 10 is the tug of war with States rights. There is legislators here in Utah are trying to it for a law that would give the state final approval in forming National Parks within states borders.

  • VeratheGun

    Then please tell us specifically what you would cut to reduce the size of government–and none of that “waste, fraud” nonsense. Mind you, your cuts, to be at all realistic, would have to involve the cutting of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

    Please proceed.

  • http://www.BigGuv.com/ Hoss at BigGuv

    Well it makes sense doesn't it if D's core principle is to fight for expanded government control and R's supposed (though not recently followed) principle call for reduced government?

    You also have to remember that there are primaries. There are currently races around the nation where once-considered-shoe-in establishment Republicans are fighting against up and comer, more fiscally conservative rivals — where folks are trying to turn the “supposed principles” into “true principles.”

    Incumbant/establishment R may be a gun-loving, abortion-hating, war-fighting R, but if they support Cap&Tax-All-Energy, GovernmentMonopolyCare, raising taxes etc and their opponent does not… see what happens.

    Look at here in Florida: Crist was the hands-down, R party establishment-backed favorite for Senate. After his support of — and worse his actual campaigning for — failure called “Stimulus” you see Rubio up by a crazy 32 points.

  • http://www.e3gazette.com/ The Monster

    Jazz, you might talk to George about the idea of repealing the 16th and 17th amendments, to put the teeth back into the 9th and 10th. I bet if he used that exact phrasing, the crowd would instantly know what he meant, and blow the roof off the hall.

  • http://www.BigGuv.com/ Hoss at BigGuv

    Re: S.S., Medicare, Medicaid and health care in general: here are some very sensible ideas here from Rep. Paul Ryan for starters: http://ping.fm/sKn13

    Hint: more power to individuals to make decisions rather than mandating that power lie solely in these failed government monopolies. Consumer choice and competition has worked in every other industry, why not here?

    And to have a true safety net — not a catch all for everyone or a system designed to create dependencies — for those who need help.

  • galtin86

    Not trying to sound like a sound-bite, but why is this outrage just appearing now, Hoss? Both George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan (I presume a hero to most Tea Partiers) swelled government spending and were fiscally irresponsible, whereas George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton scaled back the size of government and were fiscally conservative (recall Bill Clinton pushing for, in his words, “the end of big government as we know it” in the State of the Union).

    But I don't recall any Tea Parties breaking out from 2000 to 2008, when the W. Bush pushed through the largest unfunded tax cuts and spending increases (Medicare Part D, NCLB, etc.) in American history; on the contrary, I recall howls of protest from small-government conservatives against the fiscally conservative George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations.

    This is not to say that the protestors in the 1990s were all the same people (if you supported those administrations, don't take this as an assault on you), but they seem to profess to hold similar beliefs, even if they don't apply them consistently. In other words, there seems to be same large-scale inconsistency here: when Reagan & W. Bush pushed through bills that expanded the debt by trillions of dollars, including for example a single bill (Part D) that increased spending by about $500 billion, we get silence. When Obama pushed through a single bill (ARRA) that increased spending by substantially less than that (about $300 billion of the $787 billion in ARRA was spending, the rest being tax cuts and aid to states), we get howls of protest. When Obama proposed cutting government spending on waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare, we also saw Tea Parties protesting about death panels and Medicare cuts. And when H.W. Bush and Clinton act fiscally conservative and balance the budget, we also get howls of protest.

  • http://www.BigGuv.com/ Hoss at BigGuv

    Well, sorry, but it is a sound bite. I hear it often. Is the issue of the role of government / what it should and should not do — is this not the issue that we can debate? Do you or others who try this course of debate suggest that we don't believe what we say? Or is it that you (not sure?) or others who bring it up not comfortable defending large expansion of government spending and control?

    To answer directly: many fiscal conservatives did speak up previously: they stayed away or voted D's into office in '06 and '08. They blasted Bush for mega expansion of drug benefit bill. They saw through the “compassionate conservatism” to mean “spend like a liberal”. Or pissed at the Fed for artificially keeping the market too hot with extended low interest rates. It's why R-enthusiasm plummeted. They lost their way.

    But the R's and Bush did cut taxes… which is great. Helped small businesses thrive. He got points for that. Boosted the economy because of this (and brought in more tax dollars at the same time). His HSA – health savings accounts are great. They should be expanded. Etc.

    Re: Clinton: is it fiscally conservative to raise taxes? No. Why? As example shows above: it hurts rather than helps an economy. Was it fiscally conservative for Clinton to bow to the recently R-overtaken congress to reform welfare and reduce spending? Yes.

    Re: H.W. Bush, was it fiscally conservative to go back pedal on his “no new taxes” pledge?

    So the question I have for you and others who use this line of debate: are you seriously arguing that Bush/R's admin was on the same level as now re: spending, re: expansion of government control, re: government-is-the-answer takeovers of large sections of the economy (with assist by the SEIU), with goals of raising energy costs for every American. Of ignoring bankruptcy rules and forcing primary creditors to get in the back of the line so Obama can hand car companies to union supporters? Really? That's a defensible line of debate?

    If you think Bush and R's, as bad as they were (and we want better), spent like current Obama/Dems, someone may be hiding info from you.

    1) Please look at this deficit graph comparing the two admin's: http://is.gd/7aJpU
    2) Just today in news: monthly deficit hits $220 billion, highest in US history. Obama admin has “spent more money in less time than any administration in history.” http://is.gd/adou7

  • gcotharn

    galtin86,

    I will address your question as if you seriously want to know the answer, which is: Internet and social media.

    Internet and social media provide a method of education and of organization.

    As crucially, internet and social media provide a method of for conservatives to discover they are not alone, i.e. there are many who are conservative and who want and are willing to do something (tea party protest) about oppressive government. Here, something must be said about major media: it amounts to an informal conspiracy to convince conservatives that they are all alone in a nation which loves bigger and bigger government. It took conservative radio, then Fox News, then the internet and social media for conservatives to see how widespread was the desire for smaller government; to see how many conservatives were willing to take steps (tea party protests) to promote smaller government.

    The coverage of the tea parties themselves is evidence that major media amounts to a conspiracy to convince conservatives they are lone wolves in the wilderness. The author of this blogpost, Jazz Shaw, is educated, fair-minded, and well-informed about American culture. American major media misled Jazz Shaw into believing Tea Partiers were wacky, uninformed extremists. Mr. Shaw is so accustomed to trusting major media narrative that he had to attend somewhere between several and a dozen tea parties before he could fully trust that Tea Partiers are informed and serious Americans. Now, what if you were conservative and you had only major media to inform you: would you attend a tea party protest on your day off from work? NO! You, a regular and decent American, would NEVER lend yourself to an extremist cause which was populated with wack jobs. HOWEVER, in actuality, in 2009, you were sufficiently internet and social media saavy, and resultingly sufficiently saave about the way major media misleads its audience, that you discovered – via internet and social media – that tea parties were filled with regular and decent Americans. You didn't discover this via watching Katie Couric. Internet and social media (w/maybe a little conservative radio and Fox News thrown in) is the only way you discovered this, and is the only way you organized your schedule and your attendance.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Separately, two more things:

    1. Tea Party types were aghast at Congressional spending under both Reagan and GWB. In GWB's case, they made their voices heard via voting Repubs out of Congressional leadership in 2006.

    2. It's disingenuous to play tu quoque as Reagan/Bush vs. Barack. First: the Congresses do the spending. Second: Pelosi/Reid Congressional spending under Barack is triple anything which has ever been done – and, in actuality, if left unchecked, would go beyond triple the spending, and into quadruple/quintuple territory, or worse, and I am not even exaggerating.

  • http://www.BigGuv.com/ Hoss at BigGuv

    Re: “When Obama proposed cutting government spending on waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare, we also saw Tea Parties protesting about death panels and Medicare cuts.”

    What waste, fraud and abuse did Obama propose to cut? It's gauzy language meant to pretty up that he wants to cut Medicare Advantage solely for ideological reasons: it's a market-based system.

    Is Obama now considering real solutions to reduce waste? Tort reform perhaps? His largest donors, the trial lawyers, say, “sorry, not this time.” At least Obama is reportedly making a small concession to smart ideas (i guess it took getting schooled by nerd Paul Ryan at health care summit): http://ping.fm/sKn13

    “Death panels” were not about cuts to legacy government monopoly programs. “Death panels” were aimed at the ridiculous idea that its a smart idea to give power to politically appointed handful of people who would decide whether certain procedures and medicine would get federal thumbs up or thumbs down.

    And what happened during this time? We saw similar real-life examples: change in Obama admin policy where VA hospital literature advised VA patients to consider whether they are being a burden to their families or not (ie, is it better to off yourself?). And the mammogram flap: government panel says: don't do them until you are much older.. because it's too costly…

  • CStanley

    Some good points have already been made in response, but I'll add that it takes time for a movement to reach critical mass.

    You wouldn't ask why Iraq War opponents weren't marching in the streets in early 2003, so why does a similar question with regard to the timing of govt spending protests not seem silly to you? After all, it's logical to assume that some conservatives did oppose spending under GWB while others were able to rationalize it…but then many more of them were outraged and alarmed over TARP. So if we assume this was the spark, there's still some time while the fuse burns, and time needed to organize and mobilize. It's a bit absurd to ask why the people who objected to TARP waited until Obama was in office- there was only a three month window between the initiation of TARP until Obama was sworn in, and it's completely unrealistic to think that a movement could take shape and mobilize large numbers of people in that time frame.

    Now, is it also reasonable to think that the movement might not have gained as much steam if the GOP hadn't lost the reins of power? I think probably so…since most of the fiscal conservatives are less likely to view GOP spending as problematic as Democratic party spending. That's partly due to partisanship but also ideology, since the type of spending that is currently being displayed by the Dem agenda involves long term structural changes to entitlements (the only part of the GWB legacy that is similar is Medicare Part D, which most all fiscal conservatives did denounce.)

  • Rambie

    Most I know are calling for ending the department of education, SS, Medicare/aid, and pretty much any other government programs and regulatory agencies but DoD. So FDA, FCC, etc would be cut or totally eliminated.

    If they establish themselves as a viable 3rd party that would do wonders to break the 2-party thinking that we're stuck in.

  • jchem

    Tea Party types were aghast at Congressional spending under both Reagan and GWB. In GWB's case, they made their voices heard via voting Repubs out of Congressional leadership in 2006.

    I'm sorry, but I'm calling BS on this. On one hand we hear so many telling us that this is the first time “tea party” people have ever become active politically; now however, you tell us these people have been paying attention for the past 30 years. Please, toss some links at me of those fire breathing fiscal conservatives who were willing to badmouth Reagan about, well, anything. Your argument is also circular – you complained already about the amount of spending you feel is currently going on. Aren't you responsible for this since you “made their voices heard via voting Repubs out of Congressional leadership in 2006″? If the answer is to replace heavy spenders with heavier spenders (your implication) I think you're very much misguided. And anyone who wants to harp about “small government”, I would suggest to start advocating for the elimination of any and all unemployment benefits. How many “tea party” people are receiving them? Would you be willing to demand that this new party actually practice what it preaches?

  • gcraw

    It is th Frog in the pot of hot water syndrome. While we have been asleep Liberals have changed into Progressives and Republicans into Go-alongs. The fedral government has incrementally increased its power. Now Congress and the Executive is going for broke. The (mistakenly) turhned the flame on high. It is too late to say, well Republicans have agreed to this or that, and you never said boo when the Bushes were fiscally unconservative. We know – Our bad.

  • GarandFan

    A lot of incumbents this November are going to wish that they never heard the term “Tea Party”.

  • VeratheGun

    Excellent, Hoss.

    Now name me five Congress-persons who would vote for these cuts (hint: Paul Ryan ain't one of them).

    Here, I'll get you started:

    1. Santa Claus
    2. The Easter Bunny
    3. The Great Pumpkin

    Okay, you come up with two more.

  • CStanley

    I'm sorry, but I'm calling BS on this. On one hand we hear so many telling us that this is the first time “tea party” people have ever become active politically; now however, you tell us these people have been paying attention for the past 30 years.

    Yeah, it couldn't possibly be that some of the millions of people taking part in this movement are political neophytes while others are people who've been politically engaged for years.

    Please, toss some links at me of those fire breathing fiscal conservatives who were willing to badmouth Reagan about, well, anything.

    It's a bit hard to link to commentary that would have had to have predated the blogosphere.

    Your argument is also circular – you complained already about the amount of spending you feel is currently going on. Aren't you responsible for this since you “made their voices heard via voting Repubs out of Congressional leadership in 2006″? If the answer is to replace heavy spenders with heavier spenders (your implication) I think you're very much misguided.

    Talk about circular logic! By your reckoning, it is impossible for fiscal conservatives to vote their consciences. Either they're hypocrites if they vote R and get big spending GOPers, or they refuse to vote for that type of GOPer and then they're responsible for enabling the big spending Dems.

    And anyone who wants to harp about “small government”, I would suggest to start advocating for the elimination of any and all unemployment benefits. How many “tea party” people are receiving them? Would you be willing to demand that this new party actually practice what it preaches?

    I have no idea how many of the tea party participants are receiving unemployment benefits..do you? And I see no reason to expect each person to evaluate a movement on the basis of this kind of purity test anyway. I would assume that a certain part of any group of similarly minded people would contain some people that I disagree with, or dislike, or lack respect for. That doesn't discredit the entire group IMO.

  • RCClark

    Yes, you're absolutely right that it would be tough (politically) to cut entitlements. And that is why so many Tea Party attenders are dead set against adding more entitlements…like health care! They see this train coming down the tracks and aiming right at them. Not only will the “government” have less and less discretionary funds, but every tax payer will have less and less as well.

  • paladinwasahero

    Just a thought on some of the first things I would cut:

    1:Salaries of government employees who make more then the national average for their positions. Why, they get a great government pension so they are being more then adequately compensated for doing their work for the government that they chose to go into. If you look at the recent polls Government employees make more then the average people in the same jobs, plus they get the golden pension.
    2.Have Congress receive social security for when they retire instead of their salaries. Maybe then they would fix it.
    3. Get rid of the Board of Education, I still don't know what they do. Every state has a Board of Education with local communities having a Board of Education. What does the Federal Government do to improve education?
    4. Have Government employees take nonpaid days and also be eligible for paycuts like those in the Private industry during the tough economic times.
    5. Stop the foreign aid to the countries in Africa who are run by the local warlords, the information is there that the majority of the money never gets to the people in need. Instead invest in the development of jobs here.
    6. Have the congress pay from their own pockets for all these fact finding missions. The recent one to Coppenhagen cost Americans a ton of money yet what came from it. If I go to a conference for my company I have to present on what was found out and how it is going to help us. I haven't hear from any congressperson on what good came from the meeting.
    7. Have congress pay for their own coffee,drinks etc and quit putting it on the taxpayers dime.
    8. Sell the government land in Utah to private investors for development: gets the land on the tax rolls and starts the development of some of the natural resources that are not being used.

    Just a few quick thought without any research

  • http://lmarso.myopenid.com/ Larry Marso

    Photos from the Marin County (San Francisco Bay Area) Tea Party “Groupa-Palooza” on 3/7.
    slideshow: http://bit.ly/br2RZ7
    gallery: http://bit.ly/9Tmdxv

  • gcotharn

    Tea Party types have been paying attention all along – though, in the Reagan days, they could only pay attention via what the major media were telling them. Also, and I've never understood how this supposedly worked, but there were media complaints that Reagan was going “over the heads” of media and speaking directly to the people.

    Re spending and deficits during the Reagan era

    Factors to consider:

    1. The economy was bad during Reagan's first term, thus depressing tax revenues and increasing the deficit during that period.

    2. Congress was Democratic – Tip O'Neill was in charge – and Democrats like to spend. Reagan was a veteran chief executive and an old man, which is to say he had seen a lot about how government works, thus he was not stiff and unbending. Reagan believed in making your case to the people, getting the best deal you could with Democrats, then doing the deal. And that's what Reagan did: he led Repubs in getting the best deals possible (i.e. the lowest spending possible), then Reagan and Repubs did those deals with Tip O'Neill.

    3. Reagan's strategy was to expand defense spending in order to:
    A) rebuild a military whose capability had deteriorated during the previous 5 or 6 years, and
    B) to force the USSR into an arms race which the USSR economy could not support. Reagan's strategy was to economically weaken the USSR and to thus prevail in the Cold War. Reagan's strategy succeeded. The U.S. capitalist economy prevailed and helped win the Cold War.

    All these reasons were fully understood by “fire breathing conservatives” who also understood that perfect is the enemy of good, and that Reagan was the best thing to ever happen to conservatives. And one last thing: the only “fire breathing conservatives” who could be read were the very few fire breathing conservatives who could be heard in the major media, or the fire breathing conservatives whom William Buckley published in the National Review (and Buckley did publish a substantial bit of criticism of Reagan). The internet had not been invented. Fire breathing conservatives could not easily be heard.

    As to: Tea Party types voted Repubs out of Congress in 2006

    Upon further consideration, I ought not have said Tea Party types voted Repubs out of Congress. That was a bit sloppy. What I believe is: in 2006, many Tea Party types stayed home in disgust, i.e. refused to vote for Repubs who simply did not get the message about the importance of small government; refused to vote for Repubs who were cynically angling for re-election via piling on the pork spending in their home districts. And, of course, I don't know how to prove that, I only know what I know. Since I can't prove it: if you believe it is false, I can only note your opinion and politely disagree. Which I do. Politely.

    Are tea party types who stayed home in 2006 now responsible for the current big spending? Yes. They are partially responsible for current spending. They faced lose/lose choices which they detested. Still, they made the worst choice, and are now partially responsible.

    Re Unemployment benefits:
    The vast majority of tea party people advocate, at minimum, the reduction of current levels of unemployment benefits. As do I.

  • jchem

    It's a bit hard to link to commentary that would have had to have predated the blogosphere.

    All snark aside, they're called newspapers – remember them? News didn't just start with the advent of the blogosphere.

    Talk about circular logic! By your reckoning, it is impossible for fiscal conservatives to vote their consciences. Either they're hypocrites if they vote R and get big spending GOPers, or they refuse to vote for that type of GOPer and then they're responsible for enabling the big spending Dems.

    Either you totally missed my point or you're misrepresenting what I said CS. The commenter I am replying to claims that the “R's lost their way” so conservatives “made their voices heard via voting Repubs out of Congressional leadership in 2006″. How did they do this? By staying home? By voting for the Dems? And for what reason – to teach the party a lesson? Great, that really seems to be working out rather well doesn't it?

    I have no idea how many of the tea party participants are receiving unemployment benefits..do you?

    No, I don't. But people complaining about high taxes are usually OK with raising them on someone else. As an example, most non-smokers are OK with raising the price of a pack of cigarettes by $1, because it doesn't affect them. But if we start talking about taxing soda, junk-food, or anything else that they use, well then it becomes a problem for them. By the same token, small government folks are always in favor of smaller government, but just as it affects others. But you want to start talking about cutting their government benefits or services, well then it becomes a problem for them. Here I'm talking about the “get your government hands off my healthcare” people who actually receive government-run healthcare.

  • CStanley

    How did they do this? By staying home? By voting for the Dems? And for what reason – to teach the party a lesson? Great, that really seems to be working out rather well doesn't it?

    The point is, what choice did they have that would have been better? When the party that you agree with more ideologically isn't conducting itself according to your satisfaction, I don't think it's wrong to try to send a message so that in future election cycles your vote might effect the change that you wish for, even when you know that in the short term you might be enabling the party that you disagree with even more.

    And as someone pointed out above, a lot of the emphasis now is in primary contests, where the dissatisfaction with the incumbent GOP can be expressed with the hope that a new batch will better serve the will of the conservative voting block.

  • CStanley

    All snark aside, they're called newspapers – remember them? News didn't just start with the advent of the blogosphere.

    OK, I was being snarky but still, a lot of what appeared in newspapers or older media sources from the 80s isn't going to be found online. I did give this a few moments thought though and realized that George Will's columns would be a good source of the kind of criticism you are asking about, and he even has some more recent stuff where he chastises conservatives for worshipping Reagan.

    Here's one example.

  • http://www.nonpartisanpundit.com/ Andy

    It continually surprises me that so many continue to place deficits at the feet of Presidents. All a President can do is choose to sign a budget or choose not too. It's Congress that controls the meat-and-potatoes of spending in this country.

  • http://www.nonpartisanpundit.com/ Andy

    Yes, there are very few people who are willing to make the hard decisions to keep these program sustainable. That is hardly a deficit unique to Republicans and conservatives.

  • http://www.BigGuv.com/ Hoss at BigGuv

    And your solution, as you see it then, is to add MORE government monopolies? Do you believe that there exist politicians that are dedicated to expanding government and that they differ from those who are actually dedicated to reducing expansion of government and burdens such as taxes?

    Actually, unless I'm mistaken, Paul Ryan wasn't talking specific cut numbers. He was talking: change the structure and the incentives: instead of Big Gov managing everything, why not give people the freedom to take that money they've paid in (or subsidized taxpayer $ if you are truly in need) and spend it where you want.

    Kind of like the school voucher approach for our entitlement programs.

    Consumer choice and competition improves things in all industries. Government is best known for bungling things, inefficiency, crony capitalism, making things worse and going bankrupt.

    1) Across the board gov. spending freeze, save war-time DOD. Cut, eliminate or bring market solutions to bear on under-performing or needless programs and agencies. Example: Stop subsidizing Amtrak failure. Kill high-speed train boondoggle. Stop protecting Fannie and Freddie and their gov-sanctioned monopoly status.

    Stop playing favorites by subsidizing various industries, farmers, steel industry, oil etc: left's and right's favorites: stop. Make the tax code simpler and less burdensome for everyone and you wouldn't have to carve out loop holes for your campaign contributors.

    2) Reign in government bloat, # and pay of gov employees. Contract more to the private sector. Make gov employee salaries come back down from the stratosphere to closer where similar positions in the private sector are. Fix many gov. workers' post-work benefits / retirement imbalance.

    3) Use the unspent “stimulus” to pay down debt. It has proven to be a failure. Let's pay it back.

    4) Want real, solid growth? Simplify and reduce taxes for Americans across the board and for businesses. Make American businesses more competitive by reducing tax burdens that (combined with state taxes) make them among the most expensive in the world. And cut back investment (tax) burdens in these businesses as well.

    5) Allow “all the above” energy creation, allow more drilling, more nuke plants — to allow creation of American energy sources, more investment in America, more American job growth and a wild increase to the economy and the taxman's coffers… which could be directed at paying down our debt.

    6) Liberal union-constricted, government monopoly education is broken and destroying children, especially poor children. Kill the monopoly with voucher systems.

    7) Do similar with other entitlement programs like ss, medicare, medicaid. Break the mismanaged government monopoly and give people choice.

    There are few ideas… And don't tell me the only ones fighting for some of these things are the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. Because you would be mistaken.

  • CStanley

    Stuff like that is so depressing because it's completely self fulfilling. You won't entertain the only solutions that wold actually work because you know that politicians won't have the courage to run on these planks. All you are doing is showing the politicians that they don't have to have the courage to make the hard decisions because you (a member of the electorate for whom they serve) won't expect or demand this of them (nor will you give them the support they'd need to do it if they were so inclined.)

  • timbo52

    VeratheGun: This is my first time on this site but I have to say that when I see a post like yours it throws up a RED flag for me. You ask someone for specific detail about a post they made and then qualify how they are allowed to answer. That said I would like to address the “nonsense” as you call it.

    Just a simple example, Credit Card companies have a fraud rate of I believe somewhere just south of 3%. On Medicare alone I think it is 20% to 30% ? I admit I don't have the exact numbers handy but I know they are up there. So I say hire them to deal with the fraud and even after paying them it would be a serious reduction in lost federal dollars. Then have the same program applied to all Federal Programs that are subject to Fraud. The saving would be astronomical. Then you can start talking about several govt. agencies that add no value other than to provide un-necessary jobs and do nothing to help the average citizen, or produce or save revenue.

    Sorry for jumping in but I hate it when someone tries to qualify a response, in their question. Hey, is that thing loaded?

    Hoss: Sorry for jumping in on your post.

  • Neo

    In large part, the “Tea Party” folks have asked themselves the fundamental question “will I be better off if I work harder ?” and they realize that with the current Washington leadership, the answer is “probably not” and that answer means the death of the “American Dream.”

  • timbo52

    First of all you may not have heard it but there were a lot of people who were not happy about what George W. did in his second term. Clinton only did what he did because he was held in check by a Republican controlled congress. We can throw up comparisons about what past president did what but I think there is one issue that's a little different here that you fail to mention. The current administration, and congress are spending more money than “any” other in the past. And, here it comes, WE WERE BROKE WHEN THEY STARTED. It doesn't matter whose fault it is. I'm a Republican and I'll say right now, every problem this country has or has ever had is solely been caused by Republicans. Now if that makes you feel better what the crap do you think we should do to get the economy moving? Anybody got any ideas? My vote is jobs, jobs, jobs.

  • jeff_pickens

    “Liberal union-constricted, government monopoly education is broken and destroying children…”

    Oh my gosh. Okay this will be my only post on this article, but really?

    This kind of statement categorically becomes the conversation stopper in my estimation. Tea-party hogwash. Fantasy rage.

    Received my entire education through those demon-worshipping liberal-brainwashing public schools (where, here in Texas, a picture of Jesus, the US flag, the Texas flag, and a favorite-college-pendant hung in equal height and in that order,) grade-school through medical school. Several of my life-long heroes remain my school teachers and college professors. I have a bunch of hard-working relatives who give their blood sweat and tears through the public school system–and believe me it's a labor of love. Maybe even taught a few of your kids.

    Sorry Glenn Beck, this boy won't be supporting tea partiers while the sport of conversation is to belittle and demonize other Americans.

  • CStanley

    Kind of like the way a lot of honest hard working family physicians and pediatricians must have felt when Obama demonized members of their profession for yanking out kids' tonsils to make more money.

  • jchem

    Thanks for the link CS. I think its undeniable that Reagan certainly left an imprint on the system – of course, political bias will color the view, nonetheless. Critics will argue one way and supporters the other, but they do that with anyone. I would agree with Will that sainting Reagan isn't something that conservatives in general should rally behind. They need a new leader, and so far I don't think they have found one.

    As far as the whole teaching the party a lesson thing; that has always bothered me, primarily because I think it just helps perpetuate the never ending cycle (the pendulum). This constant back-and-forth allows the current party in power to complain about how much of a mess was left to them. As a consequence, the measure of success becomes nothing more than “at least we weren't as bad as them”. The new party comes in, and it seems all of the arguments between them continue – they just switch sides.

    I'm a realist…I would love for this nonsense to end, but I think it is too much a part of the system. I will give the tea party, the coffee party, or any other party out there credit for making a lot of noise. Getting knowledgeable people involved in the system will always be a good thing. But I'd rather see these new parties earn votes rather than just get them by being anti-incumbent. The latter IMO serves only to perpetuate the cycle.

  • jeff_pickens

    CStanley you do have a point. ( I promised I wouldn't post another but I'll respond at least here. )

    Obama's not probably up on indications for tonsillectomy, and it was a bit weird for him to use that situation as an example. That WSJ opinion article probably mistakenly identified the “victims” of that barb as pediatricians, but we pediatricians don't take out tonsils, we just refer to ENTs.

    I do spend a significant amount of my time with consultations discussing whether or not a recommended ENT procedure is “really necessary” or “would it really help,” as I'm sure any primary care doc reading these posts could relate to.

    But ask any of my very conservative partners and ENT colleagues who they have more trouble with in the present system: criticisms by Obama about unnecessary procedures, or the procedural paperwork necessary to clear the hoops provided by certain insurance companies when a procedure is really necessary? Like it or not, someone is going to be screening for unnecessary procedures.

    All I can say in regard to the medical conversation is, “it's complicated…” My granddaddy was an ENT back in WWII and beyond, and I remember he and my grandmother sitting at a card-table, doing the “books” where he would mail out the monthly billings to his patients–some without any other resource would deliver sack-fulls of corn, sometimes we'd peal green-beans by the barrel-full brought to him by farmers who he had treated. For better or worse those days are gone forever.

    To all: have a great spring break

  • CStanley

    Heh…of course I had no idea you were a pediatrician…that example just leapt to my mind as a similar type of demonization. In both cases (the one you were criticizing from one of the commenters and the example I mentioned of Obama's rhetoric) there is a real problem that's being pointed out (some schools systems, particularly inner city ones, really are broken, and some doctors really are unscrupulous and may use shady criteria to increase the number of procedures they perform)…but using that type of demonization just shuts down the conversation for anyone who didn't already agree with the speaker/writer about where the problems lie.

    And by the way…I'm a veterinarian and shortly after graduation (in the late 80s) I did a stint at a rural clinic where it was still common to be paid in fresh eggs or produce, with occasional offers of venison or wild turkey (the fowl, not the liquor.) We also had a room that was like a pawn shop, where the clinic owner held TVs and other items as collateral for payments over time on more costly procedures.

  • http://www.e3gazette.com/ The Monster

    I have several relatives and friends who are teachers. The good teachers are hamstrung by insane rules (they simply aren't allowed to give a failing grade to a student, no matter how badly they do). The indoctrination into leftist thinking (Heather Has Two Mommies and An Inconvenient Truth are but two examples) is undeniable.

    Those good teachers are fleeing the government schools and going into private/charter schools if they can, and many of them are giving up teaching entirely out of frustration. Some of us want the government out of education to LIBERATE these good teachers. We are not belittling nor demonizing them.

  • GeorgeSorwell

    But if we start talking about taxing soda, junk-food, or anything else that they use, well then it becomes a problem for them. By the same token, small government folks are always in favor of smaller government, but just as it affects others. But you want to start talking about cutting their government benefits or services, well then it becomes a problem for them. Here I'm talking about the “get your government hands off my healthcare” people who actually receive government-run healthcare.

    Hear, hear!!

  • jeff_pickens

    CStanley, agreed.

    Thanks for your post, I have so much admiration for veterinarians, and recall many times explaining to parents that much of pediatrics is a little like veterinary medicine! If those darn sick infants could verbalize their problems! I worked with a nurse who was the hospital nurse for Alf Wight during the last few weeks of his life, (“James Herriot”) whose books I devoured and who will continue to have my undying admiration. I think one of the reasons I ended up in human medicine instead of veterinarian medicine was because it was harder for me to find a summer job working with a vet (although I tried!) so I worked instead for our local hospital ER–and way leads onto way, etc.

    Here's an eye-catcher I was reading tonight that I thought was relevant to the heath-care debacle, it was titled: “What Veterinarians Can Teach Us About Health Care” Enjoy–

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/234710

  • jeff_pickens

    Monster: you are correct of course–the expectations of a school teacher in a public school are staggering–combination of educator, fund-raiser, psychologist, nurse, surrogate-parent and punching bag for administration and irate parents.

    Like it or not what you describe is happening, and here's a taste of a bit of the future I'm suspecting:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35819848/ns/us_news

    I appreciate your concern for teachers, and believe you understand their dilemmas accurately. What I can't agree with are people who make the claim that public schools are “destroying children.” That's just hyperbole that is meaningless, as well as insulting. And I try to remember that public schools, or government schools, whatever we call them, consist of very real human beings who are trying to do the best they can for the mission they've chosen.

  • CStanley

    Good article, jeff_p…thanks for the link. I've made similar points in some of the HC threads here because veterinary medicine really is a good real world model for the practice of medicine without the middleman of health insurance- and you can see how the decisionmaking is affected by the varied dynamics.

    I fully agree with the analogy between pediatrics and vet medicine..and of course with your admiration of Dr. Wight. His books were inspiration for most of us in the veterinary field.

  • elrod

    Whenever a tea partier talks about fiscal conservatism and doesn't include a tax INCREASE to balance the budget then I knew s/he is BSing. Trying to grow the economy out of a huge deficit – not to mention long term debt – by tax-cut based economic growth is every bit as pie-in-the-sky fantasyland stuff as anything proposed by the far left in the 1960s. Tax cuts can only go so far in stimulating economic activity. Eventually there is a point of diminishing returns where tax rates become little more than a rounding error in the larger investment calculation. Except in cases of severe and confiscatory tax regimes, businesses make decisions based on considerations having nothing to do with taxes.

    If you want to cut the deficit you need to cut spending AND raise taxes. Everything else is voodoo – or a very short term peak of the business cycle (like Bush in 2006, or Hoover in mid-1929) just before the crash.

    BTW, I have to laugh at conservative New Yorkers who think the 10th Amendment would actually help them. You mean you want David Paterson and the other jokers in Albany to have even more power? LOL.

    As for Article I, Section 8, as a poster says upthread, it includes so many elements as to be meaningless.

    Sorry, Jazz, but you haven't dispelled any of the “media-generated” notions about the tea partiers. They still sound like disgruntled reactionaries.

  • ProfElwood

    veterinary medicine really is a good real world model for the practice of medicine without the middleman of health insurance

    My wife and one of my guinea pigs had a hysterectomy a couple of months apart. The pig's operation cost about $300, my wife's was, well, a bit more. Since then, I've been wondering if there was some way to get the next medical procedure from my vet.

  • elrod

    How did a discussion about the Tea Party movement devolve into an exchange on guinea pig hysterectomies?

    THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH AMERICAN POLITICS!!!!! :)

  • StockBoySF

    Jazz, great post and I love your observations and experiences! I knew there was a reason why I like you.

    By the way…. one “subtopic” among the commenters in the thread is how long the Tea Partiers have been involved in politics. The way you describe them they are very knowledgeable on events. This leads me to believe that the majority of them have been involved for a while. People don't just suddenly “get smart” over night. Well…. individuals do, but not whole crowds of people at the same time. Whether they voted D or R shouldn't matter…. they probably voted for the person they thought would do the best job. Anyway, I don't really know, but that is what it seems like to me.

    Thanks again for the post!

  • DLS

    “As for Article I, Section 8, as a poster says upthread, it includes so many elements as to be meaningless.

    … if you cannot or will not read and understand what it says and means, that is. Not of all us choose that.

  • DLS

    “how long the Tea Partiers have been involved in politics”

    Don't be surprised if many of them were Perot voters, and even if some were Anderson voters.

  • CStanley

    Well, you might have tried slipping in an application for your wife's procedure if your local Humane Society has a low cost spay/neuter program. It would help if her name were 'Goldie' or 'Big Red' or something. ;-)

    In all seriousness though, I hear that all the time (as the vet in the article also said), not only strictly because of costs but also the way we practice. We give more face time to clients and take the time to explain ailments and procedures and to listen to the clients' concerns. We also call back just about every client to make sure that the patient is doing well and find out if they have any ongoing concerns (this is when we most often hear the incredulous feedback and requests for us to become their family physician!) It does all relate to the economic side of things because we have to truly justify everything we do and make sure the client feels the value that they are getting…and that's why human medicine too would be more patient responsive if patients were more aware of the costs of everything involved (and the healthcare providers would have to be more cost conscious, which would have the effect of putting downward price pressure on services or reducing the number of unnecessary procedures, medications, etc.)

    I also see it from the other perspective, when I see how much our family's medical treatments cost…and often note that the human equivalent procedures are usually priced at least ten fold higher than the identical procedures on the veterinary side. Some of that is necessarily going to be higher (to take just one element, labor costs will be higher in human medicine due to more advanced formal training- although I'd put my best vet techs up against any RN any day.)

  • shannonlee

    “Well it makes sense doesn't it if D's core principle is to fight for expanded government control and R's supposed (though not recently followed) principle call for reduced government?”

    Exactly! For some reason my opinion comes off as an attack on the Tea Party.

  • ProfElwood

    to take just one element, labor costs will be higher in human medicine due to more advanced formal training

    We'll there's also liability, in that even killing a good horse is cheaper than injuring a person. But even figuring in malpractice insurance would probably add only a few hundred per person. I bet that there's no vets earning over $50,000/month, no matter how good they are. I also know that medical was much cheaper (and doctor earnings were much lower) before public and private insurance became common.

  • StockBoySF

    “Don't be surprised if many of them were Perot voters, and even if some were Anderson voters.”

    Exactly! From across the political spectrum.

  • gcotharn

    I thought your original comment missed what, imo, was the point of the post, i.e. to share Jazz Shaw's opinion that Tea Partiers are regular Americans, and all that implies – including the presence, inside a large group, of some extremist hateful wack jobs, but not an inordinate number.

    I did not think your original post was an attack on Tea Partiers … until you defended it! And now I change my opinion and believe your original post was an attack! LOL, but I'm also serious. Look again at what you are saying:

    I'm not attacking Tea Partiers! I'm just saying they are angry people who cast knee jerk votes which are not based on sound reasoning. But I'm not attacking them! Tea Partiers are so sensitive! They are like children, and I must treat them as children. They are angry, unreasonable children. But I'm NOT attacking them!

    With non-attacks like that … who needs attacks? :)

  • dduck12

    do not grossly swell government as is happening now.”

    Good going.

  • dduck12

    Obama demonized members “

    Whether good or bad politically, he is a master at “demonizing”. Thanks, CS, I have been trying to remember that word for a while as I hear bankers, insurance companies, doctors, Reps, (and I hope his non-alergic dog never gets sick, maybe vets, getting blasted). I realize this is the #4 strategy for politicians (1-3, get reelected) and I know when he meets with these people privately he can turn on the charm and pass the basket.