While the nation seems to be reveling in a tea-induced fever, my humble little city has spawned the Republican nominee for governor of New York state: a pissed-off little man who uses the word "hell" in his political slogan and yet the social conservatives are fine with this, even though I distinctly remember it being a swear word when I was a kid. Rest of the country, meet Carl Paladino, an avid Tea Bagger.. I mean Partier. Tea Partier, sorry.
Most are well aware that the "Tea Party" movement touts liberty above all else. These Tea Baggers say that they want to shrink the government so that it leaves "we the people" alone. Okay, fine, in that sense you sound a bit like Libertarians. And Libertarians, I can see where you're coming from. I honestly do. I can even get behind a lot of what you believe. Government can be a dangerous tool when used oppressively. But oh, wait, these Tea Party People (whose parties always seem really lame) don't qualify as true Libertarians. True Libertarians decry any and all government intervention. These Tea Partiers are simply traditional Republicans wearing silly outdated tricorner hats while now donning their racism and hate proudly instead of behind closed doors. Keep in mind, I'm not saying that all Republicans are racist, but it definitely seems like a decent amount of these Tea Partiers are. I don't care how they try to paint their movement, how many black or hispanic people do you see at their gatherings? That's right, next to none. It's usually cranky old white people wearing awesome wolf t-shirts. And one has to admit that their vitriol for President Obama is nasty and, most of the time, blatantly racist.
Anyway, limiting government intervention is one thing but saying that it's a terrible idea for government to regulate the economy but it's perfectly okay for it to regulate my marriage to another guy is pure hypocrisy. There is no other word for it. Many of these people are simply the old-style of Republicans: socially and economically conservative. The Tea Party is just a re-branding of traditionally hypocritical Republican values because they took such a beating after the 2008 election of Barack Obama. No one wanted to call themselves a Republican anymore because the brand was so damaged. If you believe in that shit, that's fine. Just don't try to pretend that this is some sort of sweeping "new" movement because this all has been tried before and it failed.
Let's have a quick history lesson, shall we? People who think that the government is "too big" or is "too dangerous" to deal with the beloved free market were once called --confusingly to Americans-- liberals. The name comes from the whole liberty thing and belief in free markets. After the original complete free market experiment failed miserably (yanno.. widespread child labor, terrible working conditions, low pay and a massive economic depression), they retreated to the academic gutter while regulation and government assistance became the norm with the New Deal. America and the world prospered until things did get a bit out of hand and bloated until Reaganomics and Thatcherism came along and introduced some necessary competition and privatization to the public sector. What comes after is the subject of another post, however. In other words, government regulation is necessary. It protects us from the follies of what we experienced before the Great Depression: businesses doing what they pleased while people sat back until everyone suffered from the risky and dangerous practices of the greedy private sector. These Tea Baggers are threatening to take the ax to many important government programs to prove their faith in "free markets." Let's not forget that not only is untempered faith in free markets one of the larger causes of The Great Depression, deregulation and lack of oversight of the financial sector is a direct cause of the current economic mess in which we find ourselves! Hooray, history repeats itself once again. That's not to say I'm not for capitalism. I'm for sensible and regulated capitalism which allows for proper oversight.
Now, keeping all that in mind, here we have this nice little resurrection of dangerous beliefs because people can't bother to take a proper lesson in history. The funniest thing is that many of these "Tea Partiers" who claim to love free markets, competition, fiscal responsibility and limited government rarely hold true to their ideals in their personal lives. Carl Paladino, Western New York's angry little man who considers big government dangerous, is just one of those people. Everyone in Buffalo seems to be enamored with this guy because A, he's from the area and B, he's bitching about the dysfunction in Albany and our symbiotic relationship with downstate, a strategy that is sure to win you fans all across upstate NY. He wants to "slash business regulations and cut business taxes and end bureaucratic harassment of the private sector." Surprise, surprise. It all just sounds so noble and angry, doesn't it? Too bad that once one learns a little bit about this guy's business practices, all this angry anti-government rhetoric reveals itself to be pure self-interest. If you're reading this and you're from Buffalo, and if you take only one thing away from reading this post, let it be this: while Carl Paladino promotes himself as an "outsider" and is screaming that government should be spending less, as a businessman, he encourages the exact opposite. He's the government's largest landlord here in WNY, he buys buildings from the government for almost nothing and he receives at least $12 million in government-promoted tax breaks. Sounds to me like he's benefiting a whole fucking lot from government programs and intervention. Slashing regulations, cutting taxes for businesses and ending bureaucracies of his choosing would simply allow him to continue to earn more from our state. He also likes to consider himself a man of the people, but the guy brings in millions of dollars a year. While most New Yorkers are hurting (nearly one in ten are unemployed), he wants to cut government programs and spending when people are relying on things like unemployment and Medicaid now more than ever. Seems a bit out of touch, but hey, people love an angry populist. Of course, there may be perfectly reasonable explanations for what he was trying to do through all of his government assistance, but when the reporter who wrote the article I cited tried to reach him for a comment, Paladino refused. Let's hear it for transparency and accountability at its finest!
Let's also not forget the fact that Republicans rarely live up to their promises. Sure, they'll decimate effective regulation and oversight so that large businesses and corporations can run amok, but they often run on the promise to cut government spending and shrink the overall size. However, when one takes a look at some handy-dandy charts, government spending and debt rose dramatically under recent Republican presidents while it decreased under only Democratic hands (President Obama's situation is different enough to warrant further explanation, and if you want me to explain this to you sometime, that's fine. I'm just not gonna waste the space here). This obviously simplifies things and takes a lot out of the picture, but the basic fact remains that Republicans have run on these themes for decades and yet never really seem to follow through on their promises. What makes us think this time will be different? Because of those fun hats and signs with terrible grammar?
Sorry guys, but it seems that Republicans are really fucking good at one thing and one thing only: marketing. Feel free to buy into it all again, everyone. Just stop bitching about the size of government spending when the Republicans are just as much to blame for it, if not more so. Paladino, this crazy O'Donnell woman from Delaware, Sarah Palin and any other "Tea Partier" aren't offering us anything new and in fact, cutting government programs at a time when Americans need them the most is closer to suicide than it is to helping us. Through the Tea Party, Republicans are hoping to ride this wave of populist anger to regain power in order to impose strict measures at a time when what they want is nothing short of disastrous. They will hurt the vast majority of the population while benefiting only those at the very top. This is dastardly and utterly deceptive (I like my d-flavored adjectives tonight!). Here's hoping that the majority of Americans are smart enough to see through the smoke and mirrors in November.