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Don't Drink the Tea! Vote and Be Active in the 2010 Elections

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2010-09-03-John_Tenniel_Alices_mad_tea_party_colour.jpgEveryone knows that a good cup of tea relies on two things: the quality of the tea leaves and the quality of the water. The Tea Party Movement seems not to care about either.

The blend of tea leaves with which this political movement is brewing are tainted by elements that contribute misinformation, ignorance and divisive, violent rhetoric. Sprinkled with a note (well not actually a note, more like a plangent wail) of racism, a pinch of flim-flam and an unsavory dose of Fox News, this tea is downright toxic.

And what about the water we're using for this brew? Do tea party candidates support safe, clean water? It seems not. In general, the candidates and leadership range from indifferent to outright hostile to the environment. To see what's at stake for the environment in this election, it's helpful to look at a few candidates supported by the Tea Party.

Let's start with Tea Party favorite Michelle Bachmann (R-Minnesota); during last year's climate bill debate she had this to say:

Carbon dioxide is natural. It occurs in Earth. It is a part of the regular lifecycle of Earth. In fact, life on planet Earth can't even exist without carbon dioxide. So necessary is it to human life, to animal life, to plant life, to the oceans, to the vegetation that's on the Earth, to the, to the fowl that -- that flies in the air, we need to have carbon dioxide as part of the fundamental lifecycle of Earth.

Representative Bachman has also called for an "armed and dangerous" opposition to climate change initiatives which she considers "voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax."

Pat Toomey, running for the Senate in Pennsylvania has a 0% rating by the League of Conservation Voters as a Representative from from Pennsylvania's 15th District. He's received almost $300,000 so far from the oil and gas industry and supports drilling for oil in Lake Erie, as well as continued deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. He supported oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, voted no on raising fuel efficiency standards, no on tax incentives for alternative fuels and supported the Bush-Cheney national energy policy. The Tea Party loves him!

Like many Tea Party Candidates, Marco Rubio running for Senate in Florida supports dirty and dangerous energy sources as a priority. From his web site:

I support a comprehensive energy plan that encourages nuclear energy, exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and environmentally safe leasing of oil and natural gas fields in the outer continental shelf and on federally owned lands with oil shale in the West.

Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul believes "We have a president who is forcing the EPA down our throats." He says, "we're not going to get jobs with a busybody EPA that's in our way." Not surprising for a guy who wants coal substantially deregulated and prefers "more local over federal" oversight (i.e. stop bothering us with those damned environmental safeguards and worker protection laws).

Polling shows that tea party voters are driven by their passion and willat a much higher rate than your average middle of the road, liberal or progressive voter. The left, disappointed that the president has done things that they don't like, or has failed to deliver on some expectations, are feeling apathetic about the election. Snap out of it! Don't you remember the previous eight years?

The Tea Party Movement is dangerous to core American and human values. They are dangerous to health and safety, to the environment, to the poor, to the stability of our economy and the safety of our communities. Fueled by anger, fear and a feeling of powerlessness, they are being managed by Fox News and its pundits and funded by a handful of self-interested billionaires.

If they get a foothold in our government it will be because we didn't vote in November and we didn't work between now and then. We didn't campaign for their opponents, we didn't fund advocacy groups and join campaigns to rise up against the noise and challenge the fundamentally dishonest messages that they are trying to force down America's throats like so many EPA officials in Rand Paul's Alternate Universe Kentucky.

There are two tea party models in popular culture, the Boston Tea Party, after which this current crew aspires unsuccessfully to model themselves, and The Mad Tea Party from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. In the latter, the Mad Hatter was based on hat makers of the era who had given themselves brain damage by ingesting mercury. That might be a better model for the new tea party since, if environmental regulation was degraded consistent with their values, we'd have an even greater number of cases of mercury poisoning to contend with.

In the words of the late Bob Marley: "Get up, stand up. Stand up for your rights." In the words of Walt Kelly: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Note: Click here to see Clean Water Action's political endorsements. If you want to join our professional canvass and be part of the opposition to anti-environment candidates, click here.

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