If you have a political persuasion and you’ve made this unfortunate fact known, you probably get e-mail forwards. These are usually cobbled together opinions, facts and pictures regarding a cultural or political issue, usually written in colorful Comic Sans font and ending with hyperbolic statements about the future of the country or what happens when good men do nothing.
Most of the time, my problem with email forwards is that they are not easily fact-checked (most don’t include links or data from reputable publications) and because of the hyperbole inherent in the medium, tend to fire at will without much of a target in sight.
The Tea Party especially is in danger of losing itself in email-forward-dom. I’ve supported the Tea Party since its inception, because they didn’t start out as complainers or life-long-protesters, but as professionals and patriots who couldn’t stand to see their kids bankrupted and their country so diminished by foolish policies. After decades of cozy slumber, the center-right heart of America awoke in a hard-left era and wasn’t happy about it.
However, since the early days of health care town halls and the 9/12 Project, the Tea Party has started to waver. Realizing after the 2010 mid-terms that this genuinely grassroots organization was a force to be reckoned with, politicians started pandering and everybody who was anybody claimed the Tea Party for themselves. The Tea Party, like the unseasoned activists they are, let some of this power go to their heads.
So, instead of remembering why they banded together in the first place, the Tea Party is now the Pet Peeve party, lambasting anything they don’t like. I got an email forward the other day about how “Big Charity” CEOs are making god-awfully huge salaries and how conservatives should be outraged. Really? Conservatives are against private non-profits paying their CEOs what they see fit? How do we know what those CEOs have earned? Unless you are a donor to that particular nonprofit, why do you care what their money goes toward? Certainly we have a responsibility to know what we’re donating to, but I should think that any political belief system would agree with that, not just conservatives. Also, I think this kind of thinking is dishonest: conservatives see Michelle Obama do a PSA for the Red Cross and are immediately certain that the Red Cross CEO must not have earned his salary – isn’t this the same kind of illogical groupthink that we scoff at leftists for – automatically assuming that executives for Big Oil, Wall Street, Energy Companies and Big Business stole (rather than earned) their salaries?
The Tea Party needs to quit squabbling about petty issues and get back to what the country really needs. Some conservative friends of mine on Facebook recently got into a fight about whether or not Fox News supports Romney, and I’m constantly hearing from the Ron Paul folks about their moral high ground, oh, and don’t count Gingrich and Santorum out, and we want prayer in schools and we’re upset about the cost of gas, and we want professorial types to quit shoving higher education down our kids’ throats and we think that animal rights activists are crazy and we want the Federal government to give BLM land back to the people and…. on and on and on.
Some of these concerns might well be legitimate, and picking a Republican nominee is no small matter. However, to bring this back to my headline – today, President Obama released a statement that the private golf club at Augusta should admit women. Let that sink in for a minute.
The President of the United States, who is currently embroiled in a battle with the Supreme Court over his signature legislation (the one that created the Tea Party in the first place, that now two-thirds of Americans oppose), who’s approval numbers are falling faster than the national debt is climbing, who’s foreign policy stance can only be described as disastrous, who has willfully presided over high gas and energy prices, who has engendered race and class warfare and who increasingly appears to be disgusted with his own supporters and bullying toward his political opponents – can only talk about a PRIVATE GOLF CLUB in efforts to win support.
I can hear the commentators now, in their hushed voices, “President Obama, steps up to the tee, takes a safe, if unorthodox swing…. luckily, it appears his opponents are so busy forwarding emails about some gun-owner in Georgia and the CEO of UNICEF to compete, so the tournament is his for the taking…”
Tea Partiers. Conservatives, libertarians, people who came together once upon a time with only one goal in mind and who now are so devoted to your own egos and private vendettas that you are willing to blow this whole thing:
You will undoubtedly be laughing about Obama today, about how weird it is that he would make a statement about women in golf when the economy is in the pooper and our Constitution is the toilet paper.
BUT YOU ARE DOING THE SAME THING.
Mitt Romney will not win this election, and neither will any other conservative. YOU CAN, though. You can make this presidential election count. You can vote for local officials who agree with you on big issues – on fiscal prudence and individual liberties – not necessarily on the small stuff. You can be a reasoned debater in the marketplace of ideas, stopping the train of unfounded email forwards and replacing it with reputable columnists, podcasts and bloggers who you trust. You can remember what it felt like at the birth of this new conservative movement, when you didn’t care about every dot and tittle, but only about the size and scope of government. If Mitt Romney wins the nomination and you are crestfallen – you wanted Ron Paul or Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich – resist the temptation to go back to building a bunker and let the country go to hell around you. Make the Republican nominee stand for conservative principles, because he certainly won’t without pressure from you.
Take a look at why President Obama caved on the Keystone Pipeline and understand something very critical about politicians – they care about what their base thinks. It’s up to you to make what you think very clear, by cutting through the fluff, the golf commentary and the email forward crap, and make sure that your convictions are heard once again.