While going over some old emails recently, I came across a particularly heated one I received in response to a column I had written. (What are the odds of that happening, right?) I got quite a kick out of reading it again.
Back in 2009, after an incredibly brief honeymoon period for the newly elected president, there arose a backlash of uncommon fury. I guess, in hindsight, it was to be expected, but I remember being surprised at how nasty it was.
A gathering of these folks took place at Kino Stadium, which, despite widespread belief to the contrary, does actually exist. (And, yes, Raul Grijalva is at least partly responsible for its really crappy location.) It was held on a Saturday and it drew a pretty substantial crowd. There were the gun folks and the We Hate Taxes people and the Stars-and-Bars crowd who want a do-over on the Civil War.
In a fit of irony or chutzpah, they hired some black guy to be the emcee of the whole shebang. I couldn't help but think about Hollywood Shuffle and how that would play on his résumé.
Anyway, I wrote a column about it and got a few interesting responses. The aforementioned one is, with the passage of time, a real hoot. It reads in part, "I hate the fact that you and others in the liberal media keep trying to paint the Tea Party movement as being some right-wing conspiracy. The Tea Party consists of almost equal parts Democrats, Republicans and independents who are simply fed up with the way the government operates."
Can we now, once and for all, put that notion to rest? In fact, it should be wrapped in layers of lead and buried deep in the bowels of Yucca Flat, along with the rest of the toxic waste. I defy you to find me a self-respecting Democrat who identifies with the Tea Party. I would like to say that it is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party (or perhaps, more correctly, the other way around), but even the majority of Republicans don't want that stench on their persons.
By the way, the Nevada atomic test site is indeed named Yucca Flat, singular. A lot of people refer to it in the plural, perhaps owing to the success of the 1961 film, The Beast of Yucca Flats, which starred Tor Johnson. The poster for that movie shows a mushroom cloud in the background and the words, "The Commies made him an atomic mutant." Tea Party people look at that poster and say, "That stuff could really happen!"
There are, of course, legitimate reasons to protest against President Obama and his policies. I, for one, am one of those who believe that Obama has been too timid by half. I especially believe that his initial stimulus package was far too small. If he had stood up to the whiners and doomsayers who couldn't math their way out of wet toilet paper, perhaps what has happened in the past four years might have been much different.
The study of economics being what it is (not really a science), it can still offer some insights and perspective. In physics, if you do something 100 times and you get the same result all 100 times, then you can say with a strong sense of certainty that it will also work the 101st time. It's not exactly the same with economics, but every single time the United States economy had slipped into recession, government stimulus spending pulled it out and the economy came roaring back, stronger than ever. And it did so in a relatively short period of time.
If the president had followed the lessons of history, we probably wouldn't be in our fifth year of recession/weak recovery. With a little bit of luck, the recovery would have already been underway in 2010 and we wouldn't have such a large Tea Party presence in Congress. (If a group of crows is called a murder, then the collection of Tea Party nutbirds in the House and Senate should be called a murder/suicide.) Instead, Obama allowed himself to be drowned out by the right-wing talk-radio chorus of "National debt! Budget deficit!" to the detriment of us all.
I've been waiting patiently for the Tea Party movement to run its course. Next year will probably be crucial. If they keep nominating people who can't win general elections, that will probably be it. Somewhat counterintuitively, even as their numbers have dwindled, their concentrated power in limited areas has grown. It's like a star collapsing on itself and, for a time, having a much stronger gravitational field. Tea Party people would probably appreciate that analogy were they not anti-science. However, they would hate the use of the term "black hole."
Perhaps, at the time, the email writer believed that the Tea Party movement could someday transcend all party lines. It certainly did not start out that way, and when it began to move, it did so under the principle of a firing squad made up of zealots assembling in a circle, its trajectory that of a reverse logarithmic spiral, careening toward an oblivion predetermined by a foolish pursuit of ideological purity.
Its demise cannot come soon enough for me. Or for America.