In the media’s narrative of the changing political tide, the mention of the tea party has already been exhausted ad nauseum. This is a trend which has had its run for the past four years, stunning and confusing the pseudo-experts who pollute our televisions at night and our blogosphere during the day. It has been enough to occupy the false outrage of progressive blogs and TV stations, as well as the false advocacy by establishment conservative organizations and groups. Some have made their careers bashing them (Ed Schultz, Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann), while others have made theirs impersonating them (Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Romney, current House Republicans).
This ties in to a vastly important trend in American politics, that being populism centered in Constitutional thought. Instead of clamoring for extended programs or wider mandates, a populist movement of disenchanted citizens has emerged protesting the government for its over-exuberance and its excesses. It has been influential enough to re-shape an entire political party and to inspire a time of great Constitutional debate and discussion, always healthy in a thriving republic.
Those dedicated to a dissensus on limited-government principles, however, view the lasting influence of the Tea Party as deceiving and corrupt. The narrative constructed is that shady multinational corporations have secretly paid fake grassroot organizations to protest and petition the government in order to expand corporate power and enslave the citizenry to Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, and Exxon. So it goes.
For those more interested in political trends rather than fear-mongering, the presence of a populist limited-government movement is a very rare and precious occurrence. Rather than beating the drums for more foreign warfare or calling on politicians to extract more wealth for redistribution, the dominant Tea Party message has been about returning government back to its original modesty. Sound money, limited government, states’ rights, free markets, and individual liberty. As sincere as these concerns may have been, it was only a matter of time before the political strategists sitting in leather chairs and smoking banned Cuban cigars seized upon the collective anger for a little political and monetary gain. This is the same idea which keeps the ideas of Ron Paul, as well as the success of his Presidential run, from ever reaching the broader American populace.
I have written previously on the sudden rise of fiscal evangelicals on the right, those now suddenly solely dedicated and concerned about fiscal issues, but who have been complacent in perpetuating the endless wars and spending paradigm of the past 20 years. Seemingly enough, these individuals are attempting to capitalize on a movement which disdains everything they represent. These are the individuals who wish to use populist anger to support their long, undeclared wars, their suppression of civil liberties of political opponents, and their continued crusade against immigrants and minorities.
In order to revive the true origins of the Tea Party, a look must be afforded to the efforts of several groups which emerged during the 2008 Presidential campaign. These were not the Michele Bachmanns, the Rick Perrys, the Rush Limbaughs or Sean Hannitys, but rather individuals upset at the corporatist political system which had grown government for the benefit of the politically-connected. These were supporters of Ron Paul, the Republican Presidential hopeful deemed “unfit” to be a true contender for President by the political analysts on television. These were groups and affiliations brought together to oppose the deceitful nature of government, ready and willing to bailout trillions of dollars to administration-friendly companies while pensions burst and long-term obligations are erased on Main Street.
This was not a movement grounded in opposing immigration or gay rights, or attacking unions, or even advocating for more military adventurism. This was about restoring America to founding principles which made it, in the words of Alexis de Tocqueville, exceptional. And its origins were not mainstream Republicans, but supporters of current Presidential Candidate Ron Paul:
It can only be hoped that those in power of the narrative, the traditional gatekeepers of today, do not remain (consciously) ignorant of history. For that would prove to be a sad, sad occurrence for an awakened populace.
In a time of so much misinformation and disingenuous political banter, the need to look at historical statistics and facts becomes more urgent. The raising of the curtain in Washington depicts a seizing of power by fiscal evangelicals—those who have developed a zealous “born again” demeanor now aimed at reducing the size and scope of government. This is the same group of ardent supporters who have previously embraced endless preemptive wars and deficit-splitting military adventurism, all with absolutely no concern for the credit card which they gripped in their sweaty palms.
Now these individuals have attempted to put their rhetorical bents in the direction of “cutting government”, and have entangled themselves in their own rhetorical booby-trap. They decry, as they see it, big government; but not one that any respectable institutional analyst would call attention to, whatever his ideological sway. Instead, they focus solely on entitlements and social programs, attempting to make the case that this is where the majority of money goes, a claim pummeled by many in the debt-ceiling and deficit negotiations. Notorious fiscal evangelicals, such as Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Joe Lieberman, have been quite vocal in criticizing big government, but they consider any penny cut from the military as a detriment to national security.
Let us check those claims.
Here is a pie chart depicting spending by the Federal government:
As is easily made recognizable, the greatest single benefactor is the pseudo-category of “Defense”, where the Federal government allocated $985,000,000,000 just last year. While those numbers are digested, an ounce of truth should also be administered: “defense” is a complete misnomer, a point supported by the history of nomenclature alone.
Before 1947, this Federal Department was plainly called the Department of War, which more accurately describes its functions. As happenstance would have it, 1947 seemed to require a change of name for the federal department dedicated to murdering individuals who follow different color flags under different national anthems. This was the beginning of the era of endless wars, with the Cold War lurking in the background while Americans were sent to die in the battlefields of Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Iraq, and much more. Before the subtle name change, the executive cabinet member in charge of organizing the military was the Secretary of War, and all who served under him worked under this seal:
It is a fact long lost to the history books, but it provides today’s American citizens the perspective in recognizing that a full 25% of their national budget is dedicated to issues of War rather than Peace (Rep. Dennis Kucinich has introduced legislation multiple times to create a Department of Peace). One fourth of all money sent to the Federal government is dipped and dabbed in the blood of millions of nameless, faceless human beings across the world.
Therefore, while fiscal evangelicals rule the narrative in places like Washington D.C., despite their complete ignorance of debt and deficit matters in the years before, do not believe nor trust those who decry “big government” but cling to the trough of a Department of War. These are the people who have allowed the United States of America to become the face of tyrannical invasion across the globe, all while pillaging the pockets of peace-meaning, everyday Americans for the benefit of those in the military-industrial complex.
It must be stated that war and aggression are what is unilaterally funded by 25% of all Federal money. This continues to benefit the war contractors who hold cozy government ties at the detriment of millions of defenseless civilians who feel the brunt of the bullets and bombs engraved with the image of Uncle Sam. It is not the pitfalls of medicare, medicaid, or Social Security which have sucked dry the resources of the once-great United States of America, but rather the incessant and disillusioned need to create the biggest military empire world history has ever known. In the age of bringing government programs to the guillotine, state-subsidized killing must take precedence over distributive health programs.
Remember that in conversation with your fiscal evangelical friends.