Tag Archives: Tea Party

Election 2012: *points and snickers*

You get to make this face when you’ve trounced your opponent, and he never saw it coming.

Since President Obama’s reelection Tuesday night, Republicans’ reflections on their embarrassing loss, ironically, have been a reflection of the exact reasons why they lost. In the aftermath, the $400,000,000 question is this: Who lost the election? Conservamoderate Mitt Romney or the Party itself?

First, I feel compelled to disabuse the premise. Barack Obama won the Presidential election. His campaign reached out to the people it needed to reach, and The People (I use this term broadly because, literally, it was every group except white men) responded. And you have to appreciate that they didn’t have to. I learned Wednesday night that one of my good friends sat it out this election. “Just not feelin politics right now,” he said. So folks could have stayed home, could’ve checked out altogether, but they didn’t. In fact, in some states, voters showed up in even greater numbers than in 2008. Barack Obama won 50.5% of the popular vote, compared to Mitt Romney’s 48% (wouldn’t it have been poetic justice if that figure was 47%?). Make no mistake, President Obama wasn’t the winner by default. He got chose.

Toward the end of the campaign, amid sure signs of an improving economy and mounting evidence of the President’s consistently rational and well-intentioned leadership, GOP narratives about the President’s “failures” began to unravel. It took just under 4 years to expose the flaws in today’s Grand Old Party and about 3 weeks after the first debate to expose Mitt Romney as a fraud. In the end, I think it was clear that the Republican Party, embodied in the candidate it nominated for President, was out of touch and unfit to occupy the Oval Office.

So, who lost the election? Both Romney and Republicans did. On Wednesday, Bill O’Reilly sagely opined that the Tea Party backed Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, would have been the better candidate to defeat Barack Obama, proving that they don’t get it what had happened the night before. Republicans still think they can simply match minority for minority and no one will be the wiser. Run Rubio and Latinos won’t notice that DREAMers can pay in-state tuition for college but still won’t have access to affordable healthcare. Or, run Susana Martinez and women won’t notice that she represents a party who wishes to end their right to choose, but give equal protection rights to their unborn fetuses. Republicans have a policy problem, and trotting out token minorities to champion bad policies won’t make the policies themselves less bad.

Mitt Romney never convincingly stood up to his party’s nonsense. Instead he was opportunist about it, and reveled in misleading low information voters with base tactics. For Romney, if it meant he would win 50.1% of the electorate, the end would justify the means. Yet, social issues (which are also economic issues, for the record) alone didn’t spell Romney’s demise. President Obama also defeated conservative budgetary philosophy by winning the argument on taxes and “fairness*.” The writing on the wall read that “job creators” prospered in this environment, but they aint create no jobs. In terms of domestic economic policy, Mitt Romney’s economic plan offered more of the same. There was no bold new idea, and changing things back to the way they were before they caused calamity isn’t exactly “change” as I understand it.

Thing is, President Obama’s detractors have always underestimated him. They dismiss him as a novelty deliverer of pretty speeches with few real accomplishments. But in the end, it was they who were undone by the soft bigotry of low expectations. It was Republicans who were exposed as one-dimensional, race-baiting, and small-minded. And Americans soundly rejected that vision for our future. Republicans lost both on demographics and on policy. Their nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ that never were engendered them to a view of the world that just isn’t real. Americans are not all Christian, and we’re not all straight, we don’t all have disposable income or access to good schools, and we don’t all live and die by the same traditions. But we all want the same thing: to be validated by our government, and visible to the people who represent us. If Republicans intend to be a relevent party going forward, they have to do more than practice the aesthetics of diversity. The People need substance too.

Finally, I don’t usually like to gloat because everybody with the courage to play, loses at some point. But there are times when winning really is the sweetest revenge. Indeed, revenge for the foul and failed campaign that Republicans ran this election year warrants a little irreverence for their discomfort at this trying time. I promise not to wallow in their misery. But I will share this hilarious tumblr posting, and delight in it.

This is for the John Sununus and the New Gingriches and the Donald Trumps of the campaign. Click here and enjoy, if you can: White People Mourning Romney**

*I guess Occupy Wall Street wasn’t just a gathering of pissed off hippies after all, eh?

**Seriously, there were, like, NO non-white people at that victory rally in Boston. It is what it is.

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Power to The People

Last week, I asked my students to engage with me in a critical analysis exercise. Their mission was to research this Occupy Wall Street (OWS) phenomenon, and to compare it to the Tea Party Movement. I hadn’t been following OWS much, but it certainly seemed to be picking up steam as Occupying spread across the country, and across the globe. The last “movement ” I remember was championed by the High and Mighty Moral Majority after the Clinton Presidency. I’m resisting the urge to be snarky as I recall the tagline to George W. Bush’s 2000 Presidential campaign. G Dubs had branded himself a “compassionate conservative” seeking to “restore honor and dignity in the White House”. I know hindsight is 20/20 and all, but…

I did say I was resisting the urge, didn’t I? I’ll leave it alone. I don’t need to spell it out for y’all. Prayerfully, your hindsight is 20/20 too. (Ha! “Prayerfully” — did you read my last post??)

At any rate, what emerged in class was a raucous debate about how social/political movements must look and behave to be considered successful. One of my students was flat out anti-Occupy anything. He called all of it “a buncha people in tents making a buncha noise!”

The larger premise of his argument was that Occupy Wherever, in general, is too general. They are unfocused and unorganized. He perceived the protesters as raging against the machine, but with little specific to say, except “fuck the system!” And, to him, you just cant get nowhere with that. To him, that position is like sitting at the negotiating table with a pen and pad, while the cat across from you shows up with his goons and some baseball bats. You can see how compromise would fail to launch in this kind of environment.

I’ve been fascinated by OWS in the last few weeks, and fascinated by public characterizations of it. Many of the criticisms of the demonstrations echo my student’s sentiments. The movement is unfocused, and “the 99 percent,” as they are calling themselves, appear to be #AllAntiEverything. And only hippies and children hate everything. Thus, to many mainstream news organizations, these cats aint said nothin yet, worth dignifying with a substantive response.

But here’s the thing: The nature of these protests is non-specific by design. The 99 percent is raging against an amorphous “machine” because there isn’t a specific person or company or organization that’s the lone culprit. It’s the entire system –the entire social, political, and economic order that is out of whack. Year after year, the gap between haves and have-nots grows wider, and our social order looks more oligarchic than democratic. Indeed, more oligarchic than even representative republican. In other words, it looks and functions like a government by the people, but for a small few…numbering about, say, 1%.

I ran across some statistics in the last week that have helped shape my opinion of OWS. The Huffington Post reports that between October 2010 and September 2011, U.S. newspapers published about 400 stories per month which included the word “inequality.” In October 2011, that number jumped to more than 1,250. Additionally, the number of “greed” stories rose from between 450-720 during the same period, to nearly 2,300 in October 2011 alone. Contextually, one could argue that the ramp up in media attention simply coincides with reporting on what’s happening now. Occupy Wall Street is a current event, and the 24 hour news cycle that defines contemporary social and political discourse lives and dies by the current event, or the next big thing.

However, Occupy Wall Street has succeeded so far in growing bigger and more important than merely being “the next thing.” And claims to the contrary seem determined to portray protesters as a gang of tree-hugging libs who ultimately seek to live in communes, smoking weed and line-drying cutoff denim shorts, sharing scrambled tofu breakfasts, and growing dred locs and shit — indicating to The Man in no uncertain terms that they don’t give a fuck about His Establishment.

Since the 1960s, it seems progressive populist movements always have a tenor of silliness, and nonseriousness attached to them. Don’t fall for it. It’s a classic straw man, a distraction — a way to make you look over there while your pocket is being picked and your common sense and common decency are eroded in the rat race to get rich.

OWS’s greatest accomplishment so far is that it is changing the national conversation about the salience of the American dream. I think, by in large, most people want to work for their riches. Contrary to hoodrat opinion, it’s difficult to claim authenticity when you’re ballin on somebody else’s budget, eating steaks and shrimps at Ruth’s Chris and paying the bill with your government-funded EBT card. The problem, however, is that the riches we seek are that much more elusive today. If you’re in the lower 99% — the LOWER ninety-nine percent— you stand to work longer and harder, and benefit less. And, in the twilight years of your life when, like my parents, all you wanna do is chill and eat and see the world, you may be forced to work just a few years longer. The French tore the roof off the mother when they heard the retirement age was being raised to 62. We’re toying with raising it 70!

Occupy Wall Street has the potential to wake the proverbial sleeping dog — the real majority. It may stop us from engaging in intra-class warfare to see that we are all puppeted by corporations and corporate interests. OWS may succeed in helping us realize that our bosses are cruising the Mediterranean for two weeks, and gallivanting off to New York on Wednesday for a weekend shopping trip, while we struggle to make ends meet. And it may challenge us do more than merely bemoan our reality. It dares us to actually do something about it.

Of course, there exists a social hierarchy to which opportunities for upward mobility naturally correspond. But when movin’ on up is no longer within reach for common folks, and when affluence is flaunted as it has been of late, then resentment and rebellion take root, and hopefully revolution blossoms. Remember in 2008 when the CEOs of Detroit’s “Big Three” (GM, Ford, and Chrysler) flew to Washington, DC in corporate jets to ask for bailout money? It was the ultimate form of disrespect, and showed a cavalier disregard for common people. It showed just how out of touch with America that corporate America had become. The People lived through the recession too, only without the luxury of government-sponsored “capital injections” to keep them afloat. There was no such thing as “too big to fail” for individuals and families. If your mortgage didn’t get paid, eventually you didn’t have no crib. Smell that, ladies and gentlemen. It is capitalism at its finest.

I support Occupy Wall Street because the mission is to empower common people to take back their autonomy and their identity, to be more than consumers of mass marketing and mass distraction. I hope OWS ushers in, as Cornell West recently noted, “…A revolution in our priorities, a re-evaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living that promotes a transfer of power from oligarchs and plutocrats to everyday people and ordinary citizens.” And I hope it happens before my conscience starts tugging at me to Occupy DC, because I’m really not that girl. I like protests, but I don’t really do tents like that.

However, I will if I must.

I won’t plug in, turn on, and cop out. I won’t sit on the sidelines of my own destiny.

Check this out for more info: It’s the Inequality Stupid


Why I’ll Vote Democrat in 2012

Because in the last 15 years or so, Republicans have lost their souls.  They’ve lost their way.  They’ve gone completely fucking nuts.  And the people who support this current cabal of selfish, insensitive assholes campaigning for the Republican nomination seem to have tucked away their good sense, too.  Watch this: 

To be fair, Ron Paul’s a libertarian so his response didn’t surprise me much.  Paul would prefer that the government stays out of nearly every facet of American life.  When asked during the CNN Tea Party debate what should happen to a person who failed to get health insurance, and found himself in a coma, having been dealt a major medical situation, Paul effectively offered a *kanyeshrug*.  What was his advice to the hypothetical young man?  Essentially, go find a church to help you…and um…good luck, sick nigga.  

On some level, I respect Paul’s position.  At the very least, he is genuinely libertarian.  He’s not “playing politics,” as the saying goes.  Paul sincerely believes that government should be hands off in the private sector.   It’s a principled position — one with which I disagree, but can accept.  At least the guy’s intentions are honest.

What’s disgusting though is the crowd’s reaction — their delight in a young man’s potentially fatal misfortune.  And this isn’t the first time tea party types have applauded death.  See Exhibit B:  

These people are typically pro-life, aren’t they?  Or is that only in instances where a woman’s uterus is concerned?

Conservatives tote around funny logic; they respect and revere life in the abstract, and in the womb.  However, once one breaches the threshold of life outside the womb, all bets are off.  You’re just as expendable an entity as anyone else.  You’re on your own.  And if you can’t hack it, well…

They don't really give a fuck.

Thing is, you can totally hold that position in America.  In my opinion, however, you don’t get to hold that position and be President of America.  Obviously, there is much work left to do  because democracy in this country remains an idea, an experiment whose kinks haven’t yet been worked all the way out.  That being said, in its 235 year history, the United States has righted significant wrongs and stood in defense of some pretty stellar principles — the most important of which had to do with the dignity of humanity.  The path to Social Security, for example, was neither quick nor easy, but it was driven by the notion that Americans shouldn’t be left to wither away and die once they pass the age of maximum productivity.  It was driven by the principle that we actually do give a fuck about what happens to you — and by “we” I mean government, and by “you,” I mean you.  

The decades between 1930 and 1980 seemed to lend much credibility to the Federalists’ assertions that the United States must be controlled by a strong  central government.  States play their role, but were “right” and “wrong” left for them alone to determine, I might never have been free.  Again, this isn’t hyperbole to oversell a point.  I’m from Alabama; in 1861, my state seceded from the Union to keep business as usual.  And by “business” I mean slavery.  And by “usual” I mean legal, enforced.  Ongoing.

The equality-centered activism of the 60s and 70s would have meant nothing if the Federal government hadn’t played its hand, and sought to render the following words practical as opposed to toothless and merely rhetorical:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

In other words, power and opportunity should no longer be concentrated in the hands of the already powerful.  Anyone so inclined gets to have a shot at a slice of the prosperity pie.

In the 80s, it seemed Ronald Reagan would make it his life’s work to discredit the role of government, famously noting that “the nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the Government and I’m here to help.'”  Terrifying, Gipper?  To whom?  Surely, not to the Black students of Little Rock, Arkansas or Tuscaloosa, Alabama who were protected by the U.S. National Guard from some folks uttering truly terrifying words laced with venom and disdain for their particular hue of humankind.  I suspect it also wasn’t terrifying for New Orleanians caught in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to learn that government was “here” to help.  In fact, I imagine it got terrifying when government failed to.

Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma recently told some constituents that Barack Obama would be reluctant to cut certain social programs because he, “as an African-American male” received “tremendous advantages from a lot of these programs.”  While I could argue the douchebag presumptuousness of such a statement (because after all, Barack Obama is Ivy League educated and pretty fucking smart on his own merits), there’s some value there.  Yes, minorities tend to be more sensitive to the erosion of government programs.  Because without them, tyranny of a misguided majority is a definite possibility.  Who got the power to let power go?  Few.  Very few.

I’m not a pie in the sky liberal operating out of idealism and ignoring reality.  I understand that in addition to being an institution that helps, government also is a business that must profit to stay functional. To that end, there are bottom lines that must be met, and difficult decisions that must be made.  However, those decisions should never come at the expense of our principles.  It should never be ok to cheer and delight in the death of a human being to justify an ideological perspective.

To criticize, disagree, and offer an alternative solution is par for the course, as the business of politics is compromise — “sausage-making”.  However, the second option must provide more guidance than:  “pray about it, and also, good luck with that.”  Government isn’t your mom in the sense that it is responsible for patching up your fuck-ups and kissing your boo-boos.  But government should lend itself to creating an environment that both grows and nurtures opportunity, and pumps the breaks when greed seduces us into getting ahead of ourselves.

The only candidate in this 2012 Republican field worth a dalliance with the red side is John Huntsman.  He speaks thoughtfully, with  slightest hint of pragmatism and moderation.  But harboring those qualities as a Republican in 2011-2012 doesn’t get you nominated.  Mitt “Corporations are people, my friend” Romney will likely take home the trophy.  If he does, please never forget this perspective when he and Obama go head to head.

Romney knows this is misleading.  Corporations are comprised of people — people who, like himself, have made millions, billions of dollars while the majority of Americans who happen not to be corporations saw their incomes dwindle and their prosperity wane.

I don’t trust Republicans and Conservatives in this election cycle.  The U.S. Census report on poverty was released just a couple days ago, and the details are sobering.  By way of address, I need a President who gives a fuck.  We all do.

Like it or not, “We sink, we swim, we rise, we fall.  We meet our fate together!”