Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sarah Attends a Tea Party

Well, Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska, current employee of Fox News, was the keynote speaker at the "Tea Party" Convention. For me, this is not surprising, as many attribute Fox with starting the "astroturf" tea party movement.

But there was Sarah working up the crowd, with her sweet nothings ("It's what makes America great" or "Don't you just love freedom!" Hey, Sarah, we all love freedom, but that doesn't mean we agree with you!) and throwing the kitchen sink of issues at Pres. Obama. All with typical great vagueness.

She jumped on the ever-popular Scott Brown band wagon (as reported by the Christian Science Monitor): “Scott Brown in many ways represents what this beautiful movement is all about,” Palin said. “It’s about a guy with a truck and a passion to serve our country, who looked around and saw that things weren’t quite right in Washington … and decided he was going to do his part to our government back on the side of the people.” Wow, that's all we want in the people we elected is some passion and a pickup truck! Yikes, there's a lot of passionate guys with pickup trucks that I wouldn't want writing the laws of the land!!

By the end of the speech, many started a chant: "Run, Sarah, run!" So my question is, will she resign from Fox before running, or will she run as an employee of Fox News?

Tea Party: What I Object To
There may be many issues and concerns of the so called "tea party movement" that may align with libertarian views, but there are two aspects of the movement that bother me.

Means vs. Message
This movement started out by disrupting "town hall" meetings being held by elected officials. While I fully support their right to speak their minds, I really object to this bullying tactic of not letting others be heard.

I don't want bullies and control freaks elected to office to shove their agenda down the throats of all, without any consideration for the rights and opinions of others. If the movement demonstrates that its leaders of tolerant of the free speech rights of all, then I may drop this objection.

Connection of Fox News
This movement is often labeled as "astroturf" and not "grass roots" due to the not-so-subtle connection between Fox News and the early "tea party" rallies. I fully support the freedom of the press, but that doesn't mean they can orchestrate events and try to dress them up as part of a spontaneous grass roots movement. The fact that Sarah Palin is an employee of Fox News or that Scott Brown's daughter Ayly was featured in season 5 of Fox's American Idol doesn't do anything to dispute those who would see a conspiracy here.

Saving Grace
Fortunately, not all "tea party" movement people agree with either the convention or having Sarah Palin speak, based on my scanning of the blogosphere. And some Republican Party officials are not warm to the idea of embracing these "tea party" people, and nor are the "tea party" people all warm about either party. So, maybe chaos will ensue for a bit.

The best result would be to add the views of the "tea party" folks to the national debate of the issues.

Mr. Brown, New Senator in Town

The political world woke from its post-holiday slumber to find an unexpected upset of monumental proportions. Just 6 months earlier, Ted Kennedy, the liberal lion of the senate, the last of the trio of Kennedy brothers, was put to his final rest. In the most liberal state, the only one not to vote for Nixon in 1972 ("don't blame me, I'm from Massachusetts" became a popular slogan), a liberal democrat looses to a little known Republican. How did that happen? The nation gasped!

If You Were From Massachusetts, It Wouldn't Be a Surprise!
Massachusetts may look like a liberal state from west of the Appalachians or south of DC, but like most "blue" states, the folks who live here span the political spectrum. And there is a good bit of New England libertarian spirit even in the most liberal. We see our selves as independents, first.
And, despite the view from those on the right who don't live here, we enjoy political balance. We frequently would often pull the lever for a Republican governor (we had 4 in a row before the current Gov. Patrick) while re-electing the "ultraliberal" Ted Kennedy.

Many vote for practical or pragmatic reasons. Ted was a big man in the Senate and could ensure the interests of our fair state were addressed. And, while Ted had seniority, any new senator from Massachusetts would be the most junior in entire senate with little power for years to come. But, have you noticed that our Scott Brown has become quite the "rock star" in Washington, DC. Looks like he'll have more influence and sway that a rank-and-file liberal like Martha Coakley would ever had.

Folks in Massachusetts also find that a Republican governor with a mostly Democratic legislature ensure that one party couldn't run free and either tax the people to death, or cut out every popular programs. Here is this, one of the original 13 colonies, is the quaint concept of using the two-party system to create balance in government. Hmmm, isn't that the way democracy is supposed to work: freedom of speech and consideration of a spectrum of perspectives? I get the feeling (especially from some conservatives) that many are in politics so they can impose their ideas and ways on everyone. But here in Massachusetts, we seem to like some balance.

All in all, electing a moderately conservative Republican to replace the liberal lion of the senate may be shocking to pundits who don't live here, but is not great surprise to me!

What Else Did He Bring?
Fundamentally, Scott Brown connected with people. His opponent, Martha Coakley, didn't. And Coakley and the Democrats assumed the election was over after the primary. Scott Brown ran as an "everyman" with a pickup truck. (What man can resist liking a manly and personable guy with a pickup?) Self-made businessman. Hard working. Everything the average middle class person can admire.

And he tapped into concerns over taxes and the huge federal deficit (after the wars and the stimulus). He also connected with many who have concerns over health care and whether reform (as in the current House and Senate bills) will help or harm them. Many, especially those like me with "pre-existing conditions," fear loosing our good employer-based health care due to reform. In these areas, he sounded good to the so-called "tea party" voters.

For American Idol fans, there was his daughter, Ayla, who made it into the top 16 in Season 5. Her voice was featured in robo-calls trying to get my son to vote for her dad. (That didn't work!)

And for the ladies, there were those photos in the "all-in-all" in Cosmo. Ooo la la!

So, here's a friendly, handsome, manly, personable guy with a pick-up truck, and American Idol contestant daughter, and speaking to what's on people's minds. I may not agree with all his positions, but I have to admit that's a winning combination!

And if health care reform and the whole Obama agenda fails in Congress, well, don't blame me, I may be from Massachusetts, but I didn't vote for Scott Brown!!