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Tea Bagging

Marigny Musings



     No, not the sexual practice (go view John Waters’ opus “Pecker” in case you need to be educated), or the fine makers of Luzianne but the political party that has placed itself somewhere to the extreme right of Joe McCarthy (Come on now, am I that damn old?)  With all due respect to the Fab Four, folks there’s a revolution occurring, and too many of us are willing to watch the kettle boil instead of dousing the flame.

 

     So, who and what are the teabaggers? Well, according to the official tea party web site, they are ready to stand shoulder to shoulder to defend the country and uphold the Constitution of the United States. Sounds not only harmless, but the type of anthem that all should endorse. But, just like the opposite sex at the end of the bar during a late night booze binge odyssey, looks (and sometimes gender) are often deceiving.

 

     Despite the all American pathos which they espouse, Tea Party zealots extol a sense of Americana that is narrow minded, xenophobic, and frankly, dangerous to the very principles that they claim to cherish. Tea Partiers (Now to me, that is the ultimate oxymoron. Are these the folks that really want to party?) much like most members of the political party in opposition, are defined not by a philosophy of how to cure problems; instead, they engage in heated demagoguery that solely extols their perception of what is wrong with this country. Their list of ills is longer than that which is contained in the cardiology file of Dick Cheney, but presently centers around the anti’s: anti-immigration, anti-healthcare, and anti – financial reform.  Though not expressly stated in their amorphous platform, one gets the sense that the party’s goal is a return to the good old days; when white males ran everything, women were relegated to the kitchen, and anyone with a Hispanic surname was relegated to the role of an extra in a Zorro episode (Sadly, yes, I am that old.)  Amazingly, I thought my demographic profile is what got us into the present economic and ecological morass.

 

     As a nascent third party in the American political landscape, many question whether an extremist group like the Tea party movement can really have an impact. However, such complacent overtones fail to recall local political history.  In 1991, Louisianaians were confronted with the ultimate Hobson’s choice in the gubernatorial race. In the general election, moderate voters split amongst several candidates, while two erstwhile fringe candidates attracted their core constituency to the polls. Result: the two fringe candidates competed in the run-off election from hell: the noted Klansmen, David Duke, versus the ethically (and now incarcerated) challenged, Edwin W. Edwards. If nothing else, this election proved to be a bounty for bumper sticker manufacturers, with such beauts as “Vote for the Crook, its Important”, and “Hold your nose and Vote for EWE” masking many a rusty back bumper. History will reveal that “the crook” prevailed in the run-off, much to the immediate relief of this state. Unfortunately, much like our all night booze bender friend, the morning after was when Satan came to claim his tribute, and Edwards’ final term as governor was highlighted by such feats as “gaming” does not mean the same thing as the state constitutionally prohibited “gambling” which led to the advent of casino and riverboat gambling (er, I mean “gaming”), and ironically Edwards trip to the Big House for money laundering and extortion.

 

     So, what’s the connection between tea partiers and the Louisiana gubernatorial race from hell? It all boils down to the importance of the right to vote. Fringe parties, and their candidates, rarely are successful in capturing moderate voters. For teabaggers and their ilk to succeed, their strategy is to appeal to the extreme part of our populace in order to carry them to a runoff election, and then momentarily shed their former skin, and espouse a more moderate platform in hopes of securing the ultimate prize. No better example of this strategy is exhibited than the current U.S. Senate runoff election in Nevada. The president of the Senate, Harry Reid (why would any voter want to rid their state of a politician who has risen to such a height?!?), is combating the Tea Party backed candidacy of Sharron Angle. Amazingly, in a state that consists of “Sin City” and a high concentration of pensioners, Ms. Angle’s initial platform consisted of such ditties as a return to prohibition and the repeal of Social Security. Now that she has secured her run-off spot, Ms. Angle has proven adept at the twist of the tongue, and her former quest to repeal Social Security is now phrased as the ambiguous transformation to the “personalization” of our country’s safety net.  More amazingly, current independent polls reflect that Teabagger Angles is ahead in the race. 

 

     Bottom line folks, we can complain from the mountain tops (okay, in Louisiana, the top of the I-10 highrise) to the oily shores of the gulf, but we possess the means to stop such nonsense – register and vote.  And while some may think that, as the tag line goes, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, teabaggers are closer than you think.

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