Apr 152010
 
Authors: Ian Bezek

“Please stop this Obamanation!” screamed one sign. “Beat the bastards at the ballot box,” another blared.

Tea Party activists put on quite a show Thursday night, drawing hundreds of participants to City Hall for a rally against big government in general and liberalism in particular.

My trip to Fort Collins’ own Tea Party was both heartening and more than a bit frustrating.

Let’s start with dispelling the popular rhetoric from the media that the tea parties are racist. Of course they may be racist elsewhere, but the Tea Party crowd here was actually more diverse than our city’s population as a whole.

Also, it was encouraging to see that several speakers continued to emphasize that the Tea Parties are an independent movement that are not controlled by either party.

One speaker said, “We are not represented by parties. We must unite as Americans.” A bit cliché, perhaps, but true.

Parts of the message were definitely on target. You’ll get no arguments from this libertarian that the government has gotten too big and intrusive.

One speaker made a particularly good point. Talking to the older folks in the crowd, he said that people younger than 30, “will be cussing us out” if the current generation of leaders don’t get the budget under control. And he’s absolutely right.

But there were many troubling aspects to Thursday’s Tea Party. Most alarming were the crazy conspiracy theorists.

One prominent sign at the protest read, “Son of Kenya, Barrack Hussein Obama: Show us your birth certificate.” You might think I merely pointed out one kook from the crowd, but no, a recent CBS/New York Times poll found that only 41 percent of self-described Tea Party members believe President Obama was born in the U.S.

Numerous people, both at the podium and in the crowd talked of the oppressive levels of taxation under Obama. The opening speaker of the rally said that while the Tea Party acronym stood for “taxed enough already,” it was getting near time to change it to “taxed too much already.”

What’s the problem with that? Well, a recent report from the Brookings Institution found that taxes are the lowest they’ve been in America in the last 60 years. Oops.

A recurring theme of the rally was that the speakers were using rhetoric, often canned, that just plain doesn’t match up with what Obama has done.

Numerous members of the crowd decried the socialist or communist state that our nation has fallen into, despite the fact that Obama has been more a centrist than even a leftist.

Communist sickles and signs comparing Obama with Stalin, Mao and Castro proliferated. The Tea Party crafted an illusory paradigm with the “Marxist” Obama at one end and their savior, Ronald Reagan, at the other. The number of times Reagan got namedropped, in particular by former Congressman Bob Beauprez, was breathtaking.

Along with the worship of Reagan, there was also an unnaturally high amount of attention paid to Jesus. The rally started off with a moment of silence and numerous speakers invoked God and Christianity as important elements of why we must oppose Obama and bring conservatives back to power.

Yes, bring conservatives (read Republicans) back. While numerous speakers talked of independence from parties, you got the feeling that this was one big Republican rally. Numerous Republicans, particularly 2010 candidates, spoke.

I’m always torn when thinking about the Tea Parties. I agree with the central message the Parties were created for. Americans are, in fact, taxed enough already.

If the Tea Partiers stuck to the central theme of keeping the federal government in check, I’d wholeheartedly support them.
But instead, the rallies have turned into a forum that supports Republicans, Sarah Palin, religious policies and distortions of the truth.

Argue about the intricacies of economic policies you want, it was simply inaccurate when Beauprez said, “Obama has started a war against prosperity.” Obama’s fiscal policies are bad, but I’m sure his failures are accidental and not by design.

But liberals better be wary, Beauprez continued, “Mr. President, you can keep your change, we want our country back.” And there are at least a few hundred people who agreed last evening. One sign read, “You can’t fix stupid, but you can vote it out of office.” They’re starting by trying to defeat Congresswoman Betsy Markey.

One sign simply read, “Bye, Bye, Betsy.” It will be interesting to see if the Tea Partiers manage to turn their anger into electoral victories this November.

Editorials Editor Ian Bezek is a senior economics major. His column regularly appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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