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The Tea Party Rhetoric, A Case against Inclusivity

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Message Melvin Beavers

Bob Cesca's article, The Tea Party is all about Race, from my perspective, is an accurate assessment. Likewise, the angst ridden movement is also about creating a spectacle of an insularproportions that seeks to divide rather than unite. I think we would all agree. Protest and demonstrations are not anything new or revolutionary in American history. In fact, the right to petition the government is a part of what makes our nation the great democracy that it is. However, the Tea partier's rants and raves about communism and socialism is rhetoric that emboldens other like minded reactionaries to drink the kool-aid the party fosters.

The Tea party movement doesn't serve a universal purpose because their claims are not based in logic and lack any real ethos. They are passionate, as news coverage shows, but isn't this movement simply a bit of political theater? Like a petulant child, the Tea party movement is deeply entrenched in a scapegoat mentality. It's a fallacious way of thinking that usually involves setting up a narrative dependent upona false dichotomy. America's problems can only be solved one way, "getting rid of federal government programs". Thus, to be a true Tea Partier, one must subscribe to the two Articles of Faith; one must believe that the Tea party movement is about infair taxation and big government takeovers. Tea partiers are engaging in rhetoric that maintains a self. When theyclaim,for example that "paying taxes to support every non contributing individual that has the ability to pro create. It is not my/our fault that the majority of NON contributors are minority." This statement sustains the group's identity as the "oppressed". Unfair taxation is the big government's way of exploiting its citizens.

What's problematic about this statement? The interlocutor assumes most recipients of government "support" are a part of a minority group. And, even if that is true, what difference should it make? Where was this movement during the Reagan trickle down economic era, or the 1st Bush "No New Taxes" claim, or more recently the 2nd Bush tax cuts and the Prescription drug benefit to Medicare; all enlarged the federal government's role in its citizen's lives. Moreover, the Tea party claims about taxation "fairness" are simply unrealistic, given the vast number of public services many Americans rely on just to make it. The mistake Tea partiers make is assuming government programs disproportionately help lazy individuals. Cultural metaphors such as the Welfare Queen have resonated well within the group's world view. Describing all recipients of government aid as lazy turns the Tea party movement into a pathology. And, in part it is cultural metaphors like the latter, which fuel the Tea party movement.

The next Article of Faith that Tea partiers believe is big government is bad. Of course, this begs the question, is small or less government intervention good? Framing the government's role in its citizen's lives as either big or small is a nebulous way to discuss the problems America faces. Still, Tea partiers are convinced that government regulation and reform are pure evils, leading the way toward a socialist welfare state.

They claim "The main reason the Tea Party exists is Obama's Marxist/Socialistic COMMUNISTIC leanings." Republicans continue to push the "big government" metaphor because it reinforces fears about Washington spending and individual personal freedoms. This phrase invites Tea partiers to engage in rhetoric that destroys a self. In the statement above, the protester feels he has to expose the bad guys in Washington, especially Obama who is trying to destroy democracy with his progressive agenda. The Democrats and President Obama are the root of all America's problems. They fail to realize is that any national democratic government has the imperative to protect and empower. And as a nation grows (population), that responsibility or net extends. This is why the founders created a system with three branches of government, all with specific duties, and granted elected officials power to enact policy. The fantasy land that Tea partiers think exists does not.

The Tea party movement is not aboutinquiry or creating conversation that will ultimately improvethe lives of everyday Americans. It is not even aboutholding government officials accountable. It is about satisfying a pathological desire to distract attention from the "real" problems people face.It is about reinforcing a destructive social narrative that overshadows the public deliberative process. Americans need open and honest debate about health care, education reform, energy, jobs creation etc... . For example, the fact that the current health care bill does not eliminate antitrust exemption for insurance companies nor have a Medicare option for all should concern most Americans.As a nation, weshould strive to overcome the kneejerk responses that topical issues often inspire and focus on multiple solutions. Is the Tea party movement is all about Race? Absolutely, along with a host of other narrow-minded illusions, and it is most definitely the antithesis of the original Boston Tea Party.

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Melvin Beavers is an Adjunct Writing Instructor for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He holds a BA in English and a MA in Liberal Studies w/emphasis in Rhetoric and Writing. He plans to begin his doctoral work in the near future. His (more...)
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