Tea Party Again

Tea Party Again

Sharron Angle, running against Harry Reid in Nevada Senatorial race

My column last week about the Tea Party generated considerable comment.

I like to know what others think about my columns, even if some of the comments were knee-jerk reflexes to any disagreement with tea party ideology.

The angriest readers didn’t seem to believe that I was mainly quoting tea party spokespeople. If that makes me a “liberal” “progressive” “socialist” “idiot,” I accept the label.

I’m a persistent idiot, though. This time I just want to detail some of the political ideas that candidates for high office, who claim to be leaders of the tea party movement, have advocated for all Americans.

Sharron Angle, Republican nominee for Senate in Nevada, opposed fluoridation of water in 1999 and she recently advocated making alcohol consumption illegal. Angle thought in 2009 that it is “the right thing to do” if  “one parent stays home with the children and the other provides the financial support for the family.” Last month Angle said: “We need to phase out Medicare and Social Security in favor of something privatized.” She wants to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency and repeal regulations which restrict off-shore drilling.

Angle implied this year that Americans might have to take up arms against our own government. In January, she said, “If Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies.” In a May conversation about guns, she added, “If we don’t win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?”

Rand Paul, Republican candidate for Senate in Kentucky, made a big splash in an MSNBC interview with Rachel Maddow by attacking the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for not allowing private businesses to practice racial discrimination. Paul also opposed the Fair Housing Act and has criticized the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Paul, and many other conservatives, have complained that President Obama has been too harsh with BP for its oil catastrophe.

Few of these political ideas are now being advocated by their former proponents. They don’t appear on newly scrubbed campaign websites. Rand Paul discovered that most of his fellow Republicans disagreed with his idea that a significant part of the civil rights triumph of the 1960s was wrong. That led him and the Republican Party into a whole new strategy of pretending that past statements don’t exist and only allowing these very conservative candidates to appear in front of friendly media hosts, who will not ask about them.

Angle and Paul have changed their tune for good reason. Each of the above political positions is far out of line with what most Americans want.

Taken together, they indicate how radical these candidates are, even how dangerous.

How many parents want their children to get more cavities so that we can protect ourselves from imaginary plots to drug us with fluoride? Much more significant is the belief that businesses should be so free of government regulation, meaning regulation by our whole society, that they can pollute as they wish and return to their former discriminatory practices against African Americans, Jews, and women.

These ideas were not misstatements by nervous political neophytes. They reveal the extreme conservative belief that the free market is not just a high priority, it is the only priority.

Steve-HockstadtI want my government to stand behind laws that make discrimination illegal in every business in the U.S.

One of the biggest changes in Jacksonville and other American towns in the 20th century was the legal end of segregation in local businesses. If some candidate for national office thinks that should not have happened, I want to know why.

And then I’ll do everything I can to defeat them.

Steve Hockstadt

Mr. Hochstadt is professor of history at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, and author of Sources of the Holocaust (Palgrave, 2004) and Shanghai-Geschichten: Die jüdische Flucht nach China (Berlin: Hentrich und Hentrich, 2007).

Published in the Jacksonville Journal-Courier, June 15, 2010. Published with the author’s permission.


  1. Tom says

    One of the most offensive parts of the effort to sanitize the prior statements of people like Angle and Paul, and their party leashholders, is the fundamental failure of the “liberal” press to define what they actually stand for or to call them on their hypocricy.

    Rand Paul pretends that he wants business to be free to discriminate. But in reality, the history of business discrimination to which he wants to return is not one of a free contest of ideologies. The businesses that were “free” to discriminate did so only because they had the police power of the state enforcing their discrimination.

    When people who were discriminated against tried to speak out, the businesses didn’t merely exclude them. Rather, the called on the state to prosecute, to persecute, those who resisted discrimination.

    Similarly, Vulgarians like Paul’s father have long worked to protect corporate criminality by limiting damages which can be imposed as responses to corporate crimes. Angle and Paul might pretend that they want a “free market” solution to things like BP’s polluting of the Gulf of Texico. But they also back Republican demands for limits on how much any injured (or killed) oil worker or his family can recover for the injury.

    They want the death penalty for any school kid who steals a car. But no death penalty for corporations, ever, no matter what extreme crime is committed in pursuit of profit.

    Where’s the free enterprise in any of this? What part of the Constitutional “restoration” they babble about says squat about exhalting corporate profits above all other values?

  2. says

    Political Mischaracterization of Fluoridation Opposition Dismays Scientists

    CANTON, N.Y., June 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Scientists representing the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) strongly object to recent mischaracterizations of fluoridation opponents by political pundits Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann and others in conjunction with Senator Harry Reid’s Nevada re-election campaign.

    “Fluoridation opposition is science-based and growing,” says Paul Connett, PhD, FAN Executive Director, who has co-authored the upcoming book, “The Case Against Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up in Our Drinking Water and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics that Keep it There.” Co-authors are James Beck, MD, PhD, professor emeritus of medical physics at the University of Alberta in Calgary; and Spedding Micklem, DPhil, professor emeritus at Edinburgh University.

    “We have spent many years investigating water fluoridation and the toxicity of fluoride and we are dismayed that commentators are willing to repeat, without verification, pro-fluoridation statements that disparage scientists and citizens who oppose the practice,” says Connett.

    “FAN’s website http://www.FluorideAlert.org has a wealth of scientific information indicating that water fluoridation is neither safe nor effective,” says Connett. “In fact, mounting evidence shows that it is harmful to large segments of the population and has helped to create an epidemic of dental fluorosis in children.” On April 12, 2010, Time magazine listed fluoride as one of the “Top Ten Common Household Toxins” and described fluoride as both “neurotoxic and potentially tumorigenic if swallowed.”

    “The majority of countries do not fluoridate or have ended the practice, including 98% of Western Europe, and yet, according to WHO statistics, their tooth decay rates are no different than those in fluoridated countries,” Connett states.


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