Monday, April 20, 2009

Tea Bag Party: Tax Revolt, Revolution or Hot Air Rhetoric?

By: Harold Michael Harvey

I’ve never been one to reach a snap judgment. I think I got this trait from my grandfather Charlie. He would ponder a thing in silence for several days, and then he would speak with such clarity and strength of purpose you just knew he was taking the family on the right course.

On tax day last week I ventured out to downtown Atlanta as a citizen journalist covering Atlanta’s version of Fox News’ reality Television - Tax Day Tea Bag Party. What struck me the most about being at this rally was the anger expressed by the speakers and applauds given by the crowd. I filed an eyewitness account that centered on the anger coming from this crowd. Many of my friends wrote to express their relief that I was not injured.

Let me hasten to add, I was never in any danger of physical harm. The anger I wrote about was not out of any threats directed at me or the one other African American I saw among these gatherers of essentially tax and Obama protesters. This anger was directed towards the government of the United States of America.

Speaker after speaker made it clear, in no uncertain terms, they were feed up with the American system of governance and recommended toppling the government and its president. I used the term angry white people because save for the other brother and myself there were no other ethnic groups represented. And it is a dangerous thing when a small band of white people come together over an emotional issue or dislike for the behavior of someone else. Similar to the scenario I related about the mob set on vengeance that descended upon Grandfather Charlie’s farm in the mid 1950's.

I’ve mulled over and over what I witness on the steps of the State Capitol the past five days. I have read and seen news accounts of the Tax Day Tea Bag Party from both liberal and conservative news sources. Many of them have missed the boat and miscalculated the source of leadership that drives this continuous protest and the impact it can have on our system.

While the crowd roared their approval of the populist rhetoric of Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner, John Oxendine, using "Twitter", I tweeted: “This is a dangerous crowd.” He urged the crowd to take the government back in a similar fashion I’d heard George Wallace do in Ozark, Alabama 38 years ago. This statement was dangerous.

Just five months ago the government held national elections for Congress, Senators, and a President. The will of the people was clear. It wanted a new direction. It wanted Barrack Obama to get the economy moving again, it wanted him to solve the banking crises, it wanted him to tackle the housing and automotive crises. In short the will of the people said it wanted a sharp departure from the policies of the Bush White House.

Say what? Less than 100 days in office and this angry mob of upper class Yankee carpetbaggers gathered at the State Capitol were urging either an overthrow of the government or succeeding from it as was done in 1860. Speaker after speaker harped upon the legendary Boston Tea Party theme of “Taxation without representation.” Obviously, oblivious to the fact they had a vote and when all votes were counted their side lost.

You can’t reason with a mob, which makes one like this one so dangerous. None of the traditional political analysis works with this group. Government is not responsive to their interest period and thus it must of necessity be abolished. This is the anarchist rationale. The Left, last year, used traditional constitutional means to get the government they wanted. The conservative right posit the constitution is not working and therefore government actions should be ignored, therefore, don’t accept any stimulus money for the unemployed, because “we don’t help the unemployed in our State.” This mob objected to the government cramming stimulus money down their throats, similar to my junior high school classmates objecting to me being crammed down their throats four decades ago.

Let’s make no mistake about it; this mob is not controlled by the Republican Party. It is essentially leaderless at the grass roots level. It is waiting for a George Wallace to captivate its attention, energy and sooth its wounded feeling over losing the election last Fall. Yet the puppeteer’s hands that pulls the strings, perhaps is none other than Rupbert Murdroch, a media mogul from down under who does not have an equitable stake in American democracy as operators of other media outlets do. Mr. Murdroch is on Fortune’s 25 Most Powerful People In Business list. At age 76 he is the Chairman and CEO of News Corporation. His empire spans film, television, print and online (he owns MySpace). He bought the Dow Jones for $5 billion and last year acquired the Wall Street Journal. His goal is to create a globe-spanning financial news powerhouse.

This ambition in and of itself is not troubling, save for the fact when you consider that everything is political from the news we view, to the taxes we pay and the profits we make, you realize the enormous “skin” Mr. Murdroch has invested in the American market.

His business and political moves are worth watching; as well as, this group of Americans, who feels their government does not look like them and suddenly wants to tax their profits.

There is trouble in the land my friends and it has less to do with the state of the economy, than it has to do with an end run around the constitutional safeguards put in place in 1789.

© April 20, 2009


Anonymous said...

Michael, I think you've expressed my concerns totally. Anger and anarchy will not achieve anything good for our country. And it's so unnecessary when the entities in the government are so tuned to the voice of the people right now.

The structure of our government, which has served us at varying levels since it's institution in the 1770s, is perfect for an administration of smart, caring people like Pres. Obama and for the majority, which elected him.

I don't think he's perfect, or super-human, nor do I agree with every advisor he's selected, but he is the man for this season and I appreciate his sacrifice and his family's sacrifice. I think the people to whom he appeals are in the majority in this country.

I also think you are correct that there is a dangerous faction that makes up a small part of the minority. What I see has a mirror in my own past. They are like my controlling and dangerous ex-husband. If he could not control me then he was willing to destroy me, all in the name of the same love he professed when he romanced me into the relationship. I equate their "patriotism" with that controlling and abusive "love."

These are two excellent, thought-provoking essays you have posted on the "tea party" movement which has reared its ugly, dangerous head.

Harold Michael Harvey said...

Sandy Fackler, thanks for your thought provoking thoughts on these articles. I hope the powers that be in the country realize what's at stake and meet this threat head on. I am not so sure that the people participating in the sundry tea parties are aware of the danger they can wrought as a result of their angry and anarchist platform.

Dan said...

Yep there is trouble in the Land, Comrad Obama, the Marxist President, and fools who talk about what they do not know.

Kim Holder said...

Mr. Harvey you speak a truth that many dare not speak of. Thank you for your forthright account of this Tax Revolt. It saddens me....but as I keep saying the more outrageous they get is a accurate measure that Obama and his administration is on the correct path to change.

Harold Michael Harvey said...

Dan, come back and explain yourself. What is a Marxist President and who are the fools of whom you speak? You sound like many of the speakers at last weeks tea bag party in Atlanta. Their fundamental premise, as it appears to be yours as well, is that the nation is on a path to destruction and it must be taken over by any means necessary, including armed revolt. When the capitalist president ran the economy into the grounds, the smart Americans voted his party and ideas out of office with much less of the acrimony that the tea bag party has been known to do in such a short time. Come back and defend your position with clarity and thought.

Harold Michael Harvey said...

Ms. Holder, I am amazed at the acrimony coming from a defeated foe. Their position would have more validity if this was April 2010 and not much had changed since Bush left office. But we are less than 5 months into this administration's attempts at fixing the capitalist system. I for one have had more money in my pockets since mid February than I had all of the last quarter of 2008. Money is flowing again. Albeit at a slower clip, but it is flowing in spite of the tea bags that were sent to the White House. Perhaps the expenditure of funds for tea bags by those with discretionary cash to mail a tea bag to Washington has had a positive effect of stimulating the economy. Maybe what the country really need is to get the tea bag party goers spending some of their money. Does anyone know when the next event is planned?

Anonymous said...

Dr. Harvey,

Look out now young man! Talk to you soon!

Nickalus T. Holt

keikomushi said...

Each country is fighting its way out of the recession, and my own, Australia, is no different. We also had to deal with the likes of Rupert Murdoch trying to manipulate the masses, but I believe that those that were not open to such attempts were able to remain unharmed by such dangerous, and no doubt ignorant, sentiments. Corporate greed is one thing that will hopefully be lessened as the governments of the western world move to reduce the possibility of such disasters as the global recession from happening again. The love of money is no doubt the beginning of most evils in this world, for with it comes power to change the world.

Harold Michael Harvey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Harold Michael Harvey said...

keikomushi, you raise several valid points. Money can indeed change the world. Mr. Murdock and others like him have always sought to extend the sphere of influence beyond their personal fortunes. Others will try again. The American Tea Bag Party goer does not realize,or simply overlooks the fact our recession is global in nature and must be handled with an eye creating healthy economies through the world.

Thanks for your world view on this topic.

harry said...


You write well, but I disagree with much of what you said, although I admit fully that I wasn't at any of the tea parties.

What galls us, who sympathized with those at the tea parties is far to long to put as a comment here. But let me give you just a few.

The President said that he would not pass a law without it being open to review for 5 days so that the public could comment. Stimulus and the budget bills passed in a way that was akin to a steamroller. No one had time to read the monster bill of the a budget. And certainly, the public didn't have time to weigh in with comments.

The President fired the head of GM and now wants to fire the head of Citigroup. Geithner wants the ability to control the inner workings of any publicly held corporation. These are antithetical to anything I've seen in America in my some 54 years.

The President releases a memo that tells law enforcement to be cautious about returning veterans, about people who don't like current abortion laws, about people who want to own their own guns, and so on. In other words, if someone is a conservative, then that person is now considered a possible threat to the country.

Well - I don't own a gun (not yet), but I don't like the current abortion laws, don't like the liberal turn of affairs in this country etc. I am now to be "watched" by law enforcement as a possible terrorist? Please.

Let me ask you who was dangerous? the people in Atlanta at the tea party, or the rioters in LA after the police were found not guilty in the Rodney King trial. Who was dangerous? The people in Sacramento who can't stand the transfer of wealth from those who are responsible in their affairs to those who are not or protesters who go to the WTO events and break windows, burn cars, and beat up people?

You seem to be a decent sort Michael. I'm thinking you may have much more in common with your white brothers and sisters in Atlanta than with the jerks who can't behave civilly.

I think that it would be a good thing for calmer minds to prevail in this country, but with people like Napolitano and Perez Hilton, I have my doubts about it ever happening.

The one thing that I am very grateful for, even though I give Obama a "D," is that he won decisively. Our country - yours and mine - has lost the ability to give and take, to have civil discourse as the norm. This is never more evident than when we have close elections. So I'm glad your guy won by a big amount. I'm sorry that it was your guy. :) But I'm glad it wasn't close.

One last thing: I am thrilled most Republicans are not "helping" the President. When things go well or don't go well, there will be clear choices to make; making close elections less likely still.

Harold Michael Harvey said...

Harry, thanks for visiting the best political journal on the web and for the comments you left.

First, I am a bit puzzled by your statement that "your (my)guy won." That is presumption of you. You have no idea who my guy in last Fall's election was. I covered an event as a citizen journalist that took exception to the government and to the president of the United States. Had this group taken exception to the governor of Georgia, I would have reported it as well.

Secondly, the Stimulus bill was on the table before the General Election. In fact Mr. McCain suspended his campaign for a period of time so he could return to the Senate and work on it. Once the initial stimulus package was passed it became apparent Mr. Bush had given money to the bankers without any strings attached and it would be necessary to place more money in the economic stream to get the economy moving again. This issue was on center stage and the public through their elected representatives had amble opportunity to have input into the final legislation.

Third, I am troubled by the firing of the head of GM. However, when GM asked for corporate welfare,it gave the government the right to look over their shoulders to make sure the company was taking the necessary steps to get off the public dole. This is similar to a welfare mother receiving public money, the government has a right to demand a change in certain behavior. I believe the administration set a healthy precedent: Whenever you receive public money, it comes with strings attached.

Fourth,I have not heard of any such memo that targets veterans, abortionist, etc. You did not cite to any record of this memo and I can not speak to it. I would like to know where I can view this memo.

Fifth, you pose a question seeking a comparison between other public demonstrations and the tea bag party in Atlanta. The focus of this article posit whether the Tea Bag Party is a mere tax revolt, revolution or simply hot air rhetoric. The breathe and scope of this piece was not to give a comparative analysis of past public demonstrations. Of the three examples you cite, I am not familiar with the Sacramento situation, but with respect to the other two they both differs in that neither of them seeks the overthrow of the United States government, nor succession from it. I believe I heard a strong overtone of this sentiment at the event in Atlanta, which is why I believe this is a very dangerous group. This group is not dangerous because they are angry white people. It is dangerous because it poses, I believe, a threat to our government.

Lastly, Republicans have a stake in what happens at these tea bag parties. There is a small ground swell out in the hinterlands that supports some of your traditional conservative beliefs. Yet those beliefs goes beyond anything you and good Americans like you hold dear. I am afraid we are seeing the demise of the Republican Party and it would be in your party's best interest not to oppose the president just for the sake of providing a contrary view. There were groups attending the tea party in Atlanta who are waiting for a void so they can give the people something to really believe in. The Republican Party may be ripe to go the way of the Whig Party.

Mitch Haase said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Harold Michael Harvey said...

Mitch, I thought your comments were thought provoking, but your icon was inappropriate to this thread. I invite you to post your comments again. Thank you for your insight. Is there anything else you want to tell me?

Harold Michael Harvey said...

Mitch, on second thought, I read your blog and I do not welcome any of your comments. Since, I am not into name calling, I just leave it at that.

tqwcs said...

"When the capitalist president ran the economy into the grounds,"

What capitalist president are speaking of? Bush? I don't know of any sane minded Free marketeer or libertarian that ever claimed Bush was a capitalist. I think you need to check your definition of capitalism.

Bush supported corporate socialism but not capitalism. In fact, it would be pretty hard for a president to support capitalism unless he just stayed the hell out of the way. The funny thing is that most of america are so lazy or ignorant that they turn to the government to solve their problems when it was government that actually caused the problems we are seeing today. Government will never be able to properly allocate the resources in an efficient manner. The reason being is the problem of calculation. It has plagued socialist efforts since the beginning.

Go ahead and say how scared you are of people that scream for freedom. Keep blaming every problem from here on out on what vestige of capitalism that is left and then scream for your precious government to come in and fix it.

Harold Michael Harvey said...

TQWCS, We are a capitalist nation. All of our presidents have been capitalist including the one currently occupying the White House. You are correct in following my logic, Mr. Bush is the capitalist of whom I wrote had run the country into the ground.

I disagree with your terminology with respect to the Bush presidency. I rather think that he engaged in corporate welfare and not socialism.

Moreover, I never stated that I was scared of any group of people. Let's be very clear of this one thing. I publish under my name with a picture clearly identifying who I am and not a collection of alphabets.

In your scheme of governance, what role should government? You seem to suggest that the people should live without an organized structure. If this is your premise, what is the role and scope of government in your ideal world?

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