Of all the indignities the "Tea Party" has heaped upon the rest of us, nothing rankles me more than their attempted hijacking of the magnificent phrase that begins our Constitution, "We, The People." My outrage reached critical mass this past week, admittedly helped along by anxiety over the completely manufactured "Tea Party Debt Ceiling Crisis" and its lame sibling, the completely manufactured "Tea Party Government Shutdown Crisis." The last straw was when Larry Klayman of the entirely misnamed "Freedom Watch" spouted this rhetoric at the poorly attended, "Tea Party"-inspired "Veterans Rally" in D.C.:
The country "is ruled by a president who bows down to Allah" and "is not a president of 'WE, THE PEOPLE.'"
Pardon me, but who died and made you "We, The People?" Last I looked in the mirror, I thought I recognized a Person. Not only that, I'm a Person who voted with a significant majority of other People to elect this other Person you're lying about to be President of The United States. Twice.
You, Mr. Klayman, on the other hand are part of a pretty skimpy and ever-shrinking Fraction of The People. On September 26, just before this latest gambit, Gallup issued an article called "Tea Party Support at Near-Record Low." Gallup, which has become so right-leaning in its methodology that it was literally at the bottom of polling accuracy in the 2012 election, reported "supporters of the Tea Party" to be about 22 percent of the population, down from 32 percent at its height in 2010. So the number could be even lower than Gallup reports. Plus, my guess is that the just-ended "Tea Party" antics that wasted billions, made innocent workers and their families suffer, and seriously damaged American prestige worldwide will have now shrunk "Tea Party" support to somewhere in the teens. "We, The People," my homo sapien buttocks.
Klayman proceeded to egg on his meager crowd, representing, oh let's say "We, 17 percemt of The People, to "demand this president leave town, to put down the Quran, get up off his knees, and figuratively come up with his hands out" (I believe he was trying to say "come out with his hands up," but when you're lying through your teeth it can be hard to keep your sentences straight. Besides, Klayman's hand is always out to fundraise for "Freedom Watch," so it's confusing for him.) And of course, when Klayman spoke these words, Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin grinned, and "We, 17 percent of The People" roared, before proceeding to the White House to, in a massive show of American patriotism, unveil a Confederate flag.
Which brings me to perhaps the most salient and simple point: I think in their hearts these people know they're not a majority, they just think they are somehow more American, better Americans than the rest of us. I would, as is my Constitutional right, beg to differ.
As one of The People who works to get rational people elected to office, I couldn't possibly have less to do with the outlook of this fraction of The People we're talking about. In 2009-10, when the "Tea Party" first reared its head, I spent a couple of months in western Penn. to help elect Mark Critz to fill the great Jack Murtha's House seat in a special election. We beat an Astroturf-ish "Tea Party" candidate, Tim Burns, who was such a man of "We, The People" that he sold his business for $120 million after shipping hundreds of his jobs to China. That election was in May of '10, and every morning and afternoon towards the end Mark was harassed wherever he went by a bunch of screaming high school aged kids shouting "Tea Party" slogans. I finally asked them why they weren't in school, and one was actually pleased to offer, "Oh, we're home schooled, and they bussed us in from about 100 miles away." Apparently there weren't yet enough of "We, The People" to get the right result in Pennsylvania's Twelfth District. Still, the economy didn't turn around fast enough, we continued to bleed jobs, Mark barely retained his seat in November '10, and we lost control of the House of Representatives. The new political force with the name "Tea Party" had temporarily convinced America that it was some kind of new independent movement, as distinguished from another name for same extreme right wing kooks who've always been around.
But like every other ruse that's perpetrated through catchy slogans and little substance, the "Tea Party" is running its course. The sheer incivility of its adherents is unprecedented, and the completely irresponsible tactics of these past two weeks bring to mind the phrase I sang during "Born To Hand Jive" in the movie "Grease": "How Low Can You Go, How Low Can You Go..." Don't get me wrong, I love Ted Cruz. I'm such a big supporter of his that I hope with all my heart he makes an independent presidential run in 2016 and takes what by then will probably be his whole 12 percent of "We, The People" with him, so that President Hillary Clinton can be elected in a historic landslide.
But these frauds have got to stop hijacking "We, The People." That, in the greatest democracy the world has ever known, belongs to the majority, and no small, loud fraction of the population can have it.