In the last twelve months we’ve seen two new political organizations hit the nationwide scene with an intensity and a geographic presence unheard of since the sixties. Unlike the Libertarian Party, which grew through more traditional methods during the seventies and eighties, the memberships in the Tea Party and the Coffee Party have virtually exploded practically overnight. Are these new unions of Americans who are frustrated and upset at the actions of their government actually committed to the arduous task of making fundamental changes in the way Washington works, or are they simply interested in giving what we already have a new paint job?
Underneath the outrage that the typical Tea Party follower prominently displays against big government, high taxes, high deficits and free market regulation, you are likely to find a Republican, or a person who usually votes for GOP candidates, who feels that GOP party leaders have abandoned the tenets of true conservatism. Behind the disappointment that the typical Coffee Party follower says he has with the government’s current inability to deliver the services and administer the programs that every citizen should be entitled to, you are likely to find a Democrat, or a person who usually votes for Democratic candidates, who feels that Democratic party leaders have completely sold their souls to Corporate America.
What I haven’t heard from either of these camps is a dire need for intellectual honesty, not just in their organizations, but in the people they will support for office going forward. Because if they aren’t pushing for representation that can maintain fidelity to their ideals not only in word but in deed, or for an administration in the White House that will do the hard, unpopular things often necessary in order to deliver the results desired efficiently and effectively, then it is very likely that they will all end up being absorbed back into the two major political parties.
We’ve already got a spate of independent watchdog entities who print veritable laundry lists every week showing the immense gap between the rhetoric and the results in the Capitol. We have seen time and time again that shame does not work, that even the threat of recall elections do not deter our current Senate or Congressional representatives from spouting the dreaded “D.C. Doubletalk”, an Orwellian type of “doublespeak” that allows our politicians to say one thing while doing another without fear of reprisal.
The truth is, our politicians can tell us “2 + 2 = 5” with impunity, either on camera or on the record, because we won’t back them when “2 + 2 = 4” is the right answer, but not the answer we want. The truth is, the only way we will ever pay down the deficit is to raise taxes on all entities and corporations while simultaneously cutting services and benefits to all entities and corporations, not for a few years, but for a few decades. The truth is, until the spigot to the $3.5 billion dollars spent annually by corporate lobbyists in Washington is turned all the way off, the needs of individual American citizens will continue to be addressed after the corporations get what they want, when citizens needs are addressed at all.
Maybe, if these two ostensibly grassroots movements really want to make a difference, they could begin by renouncing an over-reliance on candidates “values”, a nebulous criterion of measurement pervading the political arena these days, and turn to some new method that allows them, in this age of high technology and instant access to information, to categorize candidates by the way they actually perform in real-time.
For right now, I think I’ll stick with the Me Party.