What Do Teabaggers Stand For?

tinfoil hatStates are having their primaries and the candidate line-ups for fall elections are taking shape. We may know who represents which party on the ballot. But for at least half of the ballot, we don’t have much information about what the candidates actually stand for.

Even as the extreme right wing of the Republican Party has gained control, it’s hard to know exactly what they want from the system. They call themselves fiscal conservatives and libertarians, who want less government spending and no government favoritism. But they were horrified by Bill Clinton’s balanced budget and budget surplus and they clamor to get back to the no-bid contracts of the Cheney/Bush era. They claim to favor anything military. But they applaud the Cheney/Bush efforts to cut veterans’ benefits and health care.

With Dick Armey’s organization of the Tea Party movement, encouraging a lot of freelance (well-funded but less well-controlled) activities, we’ve begun to get more people talking about what the real goals of the Republican/Teabag movement really are. By looking at recent statements by current Republican spokespeople, we can get a picture of what the Teabag platform really is. Amazingly, it turns out that they reject almost all previous Republican positions.

There are still a few sentient people in the Republican Party who may remember the brouhaha over National ID Cards. In those olden days of the Clinton era, “conservatives” claimed that the idea of a National ID Card was a liberal plot to take away our freedoms. But now that the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations can buy government officials, Teabag Republicans are saying that a National ID Card would be a perfect way to control illegal immigration and international terrorism. It’s just a total coincidence that the National ID Card might carry tons of consumer data, useful to the corporations who want to sell us stuff we don’t need or ask for.

How such a card full of consumer data would help stop people from jumping border fences, or using fake passports to fly here, remains a mystery. And anyone who raises that question is derided as a traitor.

One of the main themes of the Teabag movement is their claim that they want to “restore” the Constitution. But what do they actually mean by this phrase? A recent Republican press release said that the “original” Constitution was perfect, and that the Amendments damaged that perfect document. But less than five years ago, in November 2005, George Bush complained that the Constitution was “just a goddamned piece of paper!” When he said that, none of the people now claiming to want to “restore” it made any complaint at all about Cheney/Bush policies that tore the Constitution down.

The Republicans want to focus their ire at the 13th amendment, which outlawed slavery, and the 8th Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishments. After all, during the Dubya administration, we all learned about a huge variety of unusual punishments, which sounded kinda cool! Why should any stupid amendment mess up the perfect Constitution and also do away with kinky, exciting tortures?

But while focusing attention on the 13th amendment, the Republicans were actually going after all of the amendments. Like that pesky 1st amendment that lets even godless liberals and Socialist, Marxist, Nazi Commies express their views without punishment. That one’s gotta go! If the founding fathers had wanted it in there, they would have said so in the original document – you betcha!

Now think back to the National ID Card. Republicans used to pretend to oppose such a thing. But when it got to be advantageous for them, they flipped and now they back it. And think of slavery. Republicans, like Lincoln, used to oppose it, but now Michael Steele is calling the 13th Amendment a terrible mistake and a perversion of the “original goddamned piece of paper.”

Republicans used to believe in free market capitalism and competition for the best products. But now they favor no-bid contracts, awarded to political allies and contributors, with no concern for quality control. So what else should we wonder about? The 2nd Amendment, which Republicans claim to love as much as free markets and competition, may be the next thing to go. The 2nd Amendment is, after all, just an amendment – an alteration to a perfect document. It, like the 13th Amendment, may be in the gunsights of “restorationists.”

Over the weekend, Michael Steele said that Teabag hero Rand Paul was “in lockstep” with the Republican Party’s program. Rand Paul follows his father’s deep devotion to the superiority of the white race. He thinks that businesses should be able to exclude the inferior races, even if government can’t. This is “in lockstep” with Michael Steele’s claim that the 13th Amendment perverts the “original goddamned piece of paper.”

The Republican Teabag movement also claims to be deeply religious. They want to impose their piety on all the people who have not yet been born again. That’s one reason for wanting to eliminate that 1st Amendment perversion of the “original goddamned piece of paper.” But again, it’s not entirely clear what their religiosity means.

That Jesus guy said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” But Teabag Republicans say that Jesus was just flat wrong. They want a theocratic government, which forces everyone to accept their version of religious morality. This gets really confusing. Just a few years ago, Republican business leaders were raking in tens of millions of dollars around campaigns to force the Ten Commandments into every school and court room. But they are “in lockstep” in agreeing that those Ten Commandments contain some big mistakes.

One of the worst mistakes in the Ten Commandments, according to Teabag Republicans, is the one that says “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Republicans claim that lying is often necessary, particularly when it leads to higher profits. So it was OK to lie about the reasons for sending thousands of U.S. troops to die in Iraq. It was OK to lie about subverting environmental and health protection laws, when big contributors wanted to avoid restrictions. And Teabaggers now say that it is OK to lie about the Obama administration, if the lies get votes for Republican candidates. In the fall election campaigns, they’re going to claim that Obama caused the BP oil leak.

Another error in the Commandments is the one about “Thou shalt have no Gods before me.” Any Teabag Republican can tell you that it is more important to worship power and money than God. This points to another mistake Jesus made, according to Republicans. He said that heaven was for the poor and the meek, and that “it will be harder for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.” Republicans say that this is totally wrong – in fact, only the rich will get to heaven. Being rich is a sign of good religion.

The result of these contradictions is that we can see that Teabag Republicans are:

  • Against the evil of Democratic balanced budgets;
  • Against the evil of business competition;
  • Against the perversion of the Constitution found in the amendment to end slavery;
  • Against Jesus’ mistaken understanding of religion’s role in government;
  • In favor of exalting personal greed and profit above the Commandments and the teachings of Jesus.

tom_hall_2.jpgWith so many things that they claim to be for, but actually act against, what can we believe about the Teabag movement? One thing for sure – Michael Steele was right when he bragged that Rand Paul was a perfect Teabagger because he is “in lockstep” with the Republican Party’s plans.

This tells us what Teabag Republicans are against – they remain loyal to the “Party of No!” label. But it doesn’t tell us what they are for. That may be because they are too smart to admit details of what they want to do. Or maybe they are too scared of losing votes if they admit what their real plans are.

Tom Hall

Published by the LA Progressive on May 26, 2010
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About Tom Hall

Tom Hall is a family lawyer in West Los Angeles. He is from Boston, and was raised in Friends Meeting at Cambridge (Quakers) to think that religion was a progressive force. During the Vietnam War, he organized draft counseling centers and worked with groups training people in techniques for disciplined nonviolent demonstrating. After the war, he became just another yuppie working to make a comfortable life. The Bush administration shocked him back into social concerns. Now he’s working to see that the Obama administration lives up to its progressive promises. Tom can be reached at ProgBlog@aol.com