The increasing polarization in the United States on issues of importance to working families places a challenge to progressives to increase our efforts to organize in our communities and workplaces, educate on history and struggles, and fight unremittingly and on a consciously class basis around issues.
Class is important because it provides the key to clarity in the struggles today and those to come. Supposedly class-neutral efforts like those around health care today, which attempt to bring in all players and find a common ground on how to address the systemic challenges, cannot succeed when co-opted by corporate forces or challenged by astro-turf movements pulled from people in intermediate strata or just confused or scared. The Tea Bag movement can best be understood as class warfare in action, with capitalists mobilizing Tea Baggers in their interest. The fact that capitalists’s interests not only don’t coincide with but are actively hostile to those of working families and the vast majority of people in the United States is clear from the health care and EFCA struggles, among many.
The Tea Baggers and their capitalist handlers exhibit a hostility to democratic traditions and a lack of respect for democratic processes that is deeply disturbing.
The fact that the President was elected by the majority of the people of this country is ignored. Calling the President a Nazi implies that the concerns of those who voted for him and who yearned for change after years of horrific leadership by President Bush and the Republicans don’t matter. The hostility to democratic dialog and the process of decision making, and the extreme polarization of the Tea Bagger’s positions, is geared toward derailing any health care reform and solidifying the base for the most right-wing components of the Republican Party and corporate interests rather than finding a solution to a social problem that will, if not addressed, destroy this country.
A very intersting article by Eddie Gehman Kohan entitled Totalitarian Tea and Acrimony: Obama Foodorama Attends the 9/12 Tea Party Express documents some of the ugly aspects of recent Tea Bagger events.
As Eddie Kohan points out,
Your intrepid blogger questioned many people in the crowd–who were all very very nice, it should be added, even when holding posters of President Obama as Hitler–and most didn’t know who Freedomworks is, or Grassfire, or where the funding for these organizations originates. Many don’t know who Dick Armey is, for that matter. So while the Tea Party might not have been the biggest crowd to ever protest on the Mall, it sure was the biggest puppet show ever held there.
The sense of the Tea Baggers as naive puppets is one that needs to be avoided. These people are comfortable agitating for racist and anti-immigrant policies, express a highly individualistic viewpoint that does not account for the needs of the masses of people in this country, and objectively represent corporate interests to the detriment of the interests of working families and the majority of people in the USA.
The lumping by the Tea Baggers of Nazism, Socialism, and Communism into a single blob is further indicative of the objectively anti-working class and ahistorical nature of their outlook and actions.
And that’s where I start to get confused about why these events are occurring. Obama already passed the largest middle-class tax cut in history.
There is no relationship between objective reality and the Tea Bagger’s demands; zero, none. They are responding to a fiction created by corporate media to manipulate the Tea Baggers emotionally, most often against the Tea Bagger’s own objective self interest.
The bottom line is that the Tea Baggers and their corporate sponsors are not interested in addressing the policy issue at hand; only in derailing the discussion. The individual Tea Baggers may think of themselves as individuals in motion, uninterested in organizational forces shaping their actions and their ideas. They are certainly avoiding addressing the contraditions of their own behavior, such as leaving their garbage to be picked up by government workers while attacking government intervention. Further, they don’t address in any way the problems that are clear in the way the health care industry is structured, in the intervention of insurance companies into the lives of working families to our detriment, or any of the other issues documented in Sicko, the movie by Michael Moore.
There is a tendency to dismiss the Tea Baggers. For example, one author wrote
“These are not tea-parties. They are tea-tantrums. And the adolescent, unserious hysteria is a function not of a movement regrouping and refinding itself. It’s a function of a movement’s intellectual collapse and a party’s fast-accelerating nervous breakdown.”
Unfortunately, the Tea Baggers can’t be dismissed as nut cases. While their outlook may be the result of years of miseducation by Fox News and similar corporate fake-news sources, by a misunderstanding of democracy, by a lack of historical knowledge, they are being mobilized by corporate forces and influencing the dialog among the elected politicians. Is it possible to reach out to them and create a real dialog on the issue? I don’t see that happening in the short term as the polarization is pretty complete between those looking for a solution and the Tea Bagger puppets of the health care industry. There is no basis for a dialog as they are not addressing the issue at all, other than to attack those trying to deal with it.
The challenge becomes placing the Tea Bagger actions in a class struggle context, raising the education level and the organizational level, as well as the consciousness, of working families in the United States today to limit this type of puppet movement in the future, and to counter it today by mobilization in support of principled health care reform, meaning health care reform that meets the needs of working families. I remain committed to supporting the Medicare for All plan, HR676, which would do away with the insurance companies all-together, and thus provide a terminal blow to a sector of the forces behind the Tea Bagger movement.
A number of progressive writers are also raising the issue of facism in the context of the Tea Bagger movement, along with the question of more violent action by that movement. I don’t personally worry about the issue of increasing violence because that would effectively end the movement as it would break the law and the President is very able to address that question effectively at this time. However, the concerns about the Tea Baggers being a precursor to fascist organization by corporations against democratic and working class power is one worth paying attention to over time, and certainly reinforces that otherwise needed increase in on-the-ground organization and education for working families in the struggle to meet our concrete need for health care, jobs, housing, education, and culture.
The objective racism of the Tea Baggers is evident by looking at the pictures. Whether the President chooses to describe the Tea Baggers as racist, they are certainly racist in their goal, which would deny health care both to the disproportionate number of African-Americans who lack health care and to undocumented immigrants who, as human beings, should have access to health care.
There is nothing that an undocumented immigrant needs that is in contradiction to what any other US working family needs, and this needs to be hammered home over and over again. What is good for undocumented immigrants is good for everyone. We have the responsibility as a society to provide for all human beings that live among us, regardless of legal status. Using the fake issue of not wanting to pay for services for undocumented immigrants to split working people on the question of meeting our fundamental needs is a ploy of the corporations, just as anything that splits workers at a plant plays to the corporations benefit. All working women and men must stand together regardless of ethnic background, race, language, or legal status.
The issue of providing health care to immigrants cannot be allowed to undermine the overall struggle for positive health care reform and a restructuring of our health care industry to better meet the needs of working families. Any move away from providing health care for all people in the US regardless of status undermines the effectiveness of the health care solution being presented and is not, to my mind, acceptable. The fundamental principle upon which health care reform must be based is that all human beings in this country must have available to us quality health care regardless of ability to pay or legal status.
As Dan Riehl, a Virginia conservative, points out: “There’s a war going on, a pretty big one.”
This is not a war that working people, long term, can afford to lose.
United we stand, and divided we get sick and go bankrupt or die.