Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Straight Talk to These Tea Party Folks

I took a watch at the first ever Tea Party Convention just to see what to fuss is about after their rally last year. The rally to me felt reactionary and it almost felt like it lacked a purpose outside of people being mad at the government. But watching the convention it's clear this movement is defined by hatred and disgust with the Obama Administration and it's attracting all kinds of people.

Sarah Palin's speech to me showed exactly why she is not capable to lead on a big stage. All she did was take potshots at President Obama, shoot down the idea of bipartisanship, criticize the slow progress of Congress and express some of the frustrations of the members (not to mention suggesting starting a war with Iran). Notice I didn't say any counter proposals which says two things.

I didn't remember them because of what I just said and she didn't really offer any. She was right in saying she didn't want to lead the movement because frankly she can't. When asked afterwards if she had any plans to counter Obama's, she said her plan to is support those who are in the movement.

That's not leadership folks. That's cheerleading. That's rallying the troops but not telling them what to fight for outside of core conservative Republican values.

Here's some advice to members of this Tea Party Convention.

1) Dial down the extreme rhetoric. Nobody will take you serious if you keep having posters comparing Obama to Hitler, calling for voter literacy tests and talk about whether he's a natural citizen. It's extreme language that appeals to fanatics and no movement appeals to well-minded people without reason.

Understand that the media is going to highlight this. They want to show the crazies, they want the ignorant. And if you keep promoting this, you'll blow up in flames.

2) Stop saying Take My Country Back. You have to understand what this means to some people. Do you mean take it back to the 1950's and 1960's - a time when minorities/women were second class citizens? Do you mean the Reagan era - a President who was a polarizing figure but known as a Great Communicator? Do you mean a time before a Black man was elected President?

It has serious implications and again, it won't invite people into a meaningful dialogue. Again, you have to understand the connotations.

3) Are you an independent party or a branch of the Republican party? Most of the frustration is at both parties but it feels like they are leaning towards merging with the Republicans (Palin hinted at this). Either way, have a clear identity besides being upset with taxation.

4) Study some economic theory. The Great Depression started in 1929 and didn't magically end when FDR took over in 1932. Any plans that were initiated by President Obama in 2009 will not be seen until late this year or early 2011. So to criticize the unemployment rate falling in spite of their efforts is fair but premature.

(That said, Mr. Obama needs to actively describe how jobs will be created. His plan needs to be clear and great stump speeches are not enough. People want results and despite what I said, this is something you must do in 2010).

I respect the "power" of this movement - and by that I mean they are a movement - but I cannot take them seriously when they'd cause rabble instead of promote dialogue. They won't appeal to independents or youth voters unless they appeal to reason. Meghan McCain rightly said that no successful movement started with 60-year-olds, but the youth.

And when you're supported by the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs of the world - men who directly appeal to emotion and outlandish ideas - it's hard to be embraced. It feels too extreme for my liking and I fear that their anger will cause some nutjob to do something horrible.

Straight talk from one man to another. This movement may have some legitimate issues but its being overshadowed by extremism and miseducation. They want to be populist and don't want to have a leader but they need some more solid direction or else this high-powered SUV will crash.

1 comment:

  1. Amen and Amen!!
    I'm so tired of the extremism that is the Right currently... Granted, both sides are equally responsible for the bashing and such... When Bush was president, it was acceptable to compare him to a terrorist or even Satan...
    I hate seeing this country SO divided.
    And I absolutely LOVE Michelle Obama's approach to things. Tasteful, tactful and classy. :-)
    That's my rant... Ha ha!