Talk of “Freedom” was in the air at Tea Party Express rally for Steve Lonegan’s Senate campaign at the New Egypt Speedway on Saturday. Add Richie Havens and some Jefferson Airplane and you are close to a veritable Woodstock, minus the idealism, marijuana and thankfully, public nudity.
Many of the people at Saturday’s rally in Plumsted Township were part of The Age of Aquarius, but they’ve traded weed for Lipitor, worry about fiber intake and sometimes need a good place to sit. Their folk singer at the rally is lamenting government spending, high taxes and Obamacare.
The Tea Party likes to think it challenges the establishment and conveys much of the rhetoric of getting government off our backs and challenging the system. They’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore, to borrow the phrase from Howard Beale in “Network.”
The Tea Party is the product of the politics of disillusionment. They make an easy target for their opponents who write them off as “kooks” and “crackpots.”
Tea Party members have some legitimately overlooked grievances about President Obama and the federal government.
· Is the government’s ability to gather my text messages a good use of resources in the name of fighting terror? Why should they be entitled to breach our privacy?
· Is the mandate to buy health insurance fair?
· Why should the government bail out big businesses?
· Do we have any business bombing Syria? (Diplomacy may carry the day here.)
· Why should our country continue to compound additional debt beyond the $17 trillion outstanding?
Politicians have capitalized on this disillusionment with great effect. Saturday’s rally had its share of political double talk.
Sarah Palin, Alaska’s former governor and Sen. John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 Presidential election, lamented the disservice to our veterans by closing national landmarks and a few breaths later urging the House to hold the line on the government shutdown.
Steve Lonegan, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senator, speaking about maintaining our nation’s strong defense and the importance of the navy to protect shipping lanes and warned about the mounting debt. Nothing was said about how defense spending – as well as entitlement spending – fuel the deficit.
To be fair, liberals have their own share of opportunists and double talkers that fail to account for the cost of expanded programs or new taxes to pay for them, when on the stump. Also, political rallies are the last place where you’d expect candor about solving the nation’s problems, since the tone of political discourse has as much coherence as a pro-wrestling rant.
If conservatives -- or any politician in the political spectrum -- wanted to be honest and steer us away from a “socialist path” and tame the biggest risks to our government’s solvency, our seniors would lose their Social Security and Medicare.
That would make the Woodstock generation, who spent a lifetime paying into these programs, much crankier and even more disillusioned.