Democracy Soup

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Teabagging parties will end today, but people will still be looking for answers on April 16

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Originally published on BuzzFlash.com on Wed, 04/15/2009 – 9:56am

It’s almost a shame that the teabagging revolution is coming to an end today — tax day, April 15. Besides the considerable immature, yet hilariously funny, teabagging jokes and references, watching the misguided rhetoric has brought laughter in these really tough times.

Behind the mockery and the jokes and those who are still obsessed about President Obama’s country of birth, there are some people attending these functions who are legitimately upset that our country is in a lot of debt.

If you’re progressive, read BuzzFlash, and generally pay attention to the news, you know our budget surplus at the end of the Clinton Administration turned into a massive budget deficit under George W. Bush. You even know that despite Clinton’s efforts, we were still in debt, though Bush took us much, much deeper into debt. And you know the difference between deficit and debt.

Imagine, though, that you suddenly found this out because the conservative, corporate, and mainstream media decided that under Barack Obama, you might want to know this. Imagine the shock that you would have. You would made enough to do something you don’t normally do — get out and protest.

And then a lot of the media that you consume — not just Fox News, but also right-wing talk radio — sponsor and encourage these rallies to give you a chance to be fed up. There are a lot of things all wrapped up in these emotions: the unstable economy, even if you have a job; the rising costs of gas, food, and even vacations; wondering whether your kids will have enough money for college.

The right-wing media, especially Fox News, but also the right-wing talk radio screamers, see a way to reach out to the people. “Someone understands your frustration.” “We know why you’re angry.” When you’re not used to protesting or even being upset at how your country is being run, it’s extremely easy to be swayed.

Let’s be absolutely clear: these are not stupid people. They lead extremely busy lives, and don’t have the mindset to wade through the media to know what is really going on. The MSM has, under the George W. Bush reign, buried the lead that we are heavily in debt. If these people had known 7-8 years ago that we were falling heavily into debt, they might have stepped up then. Maybe not. But they wouldn’t be as surprised.

The more sensible media outlets have mocked the protests as responding to tax rates that haven’t gone into effect, and having salaries that will take a tax CUT, not an increase. But the sincere people in the crowd — not the ones trying to take advantage of frustration to further a cause or make money — aren’t out there for well thought out reasons. They are angry. They are angry that good or okay jobs are disappearing, health care costs are skyrocketing if they can afford insurance. They are angry because even though they have struggled for the last eight years, they aren’t quitters and they can deal with tough times, but the current situation is growing beyond what they can handle, and that is truly saying a lot.

So when the last of the teabagging parties is cleaned up — maybe even hosed down — these people are still going to be angry, but they will be abandoned by the media that have built up these events. Sure Fox News will still mention how huge the deficit is, and right-wing talk radio will still be there to light the fire under their listeners, rather than discussing events. But these people want to know on April 16 what they can do about their lost economic opportunities, higher education chances, rising health care costs, and falling standard of living. The cameras will be turned off and the microphones put away, and once again, their voices will be silent in the media wilderness.

This is why President Barack Obama needs to institute bold initiatives in changing the way we do things in this country. This would be the part of the essay where the Democrats would be encouraged to pick up the pieces left behind, and use this as a way to gain stronger majorities.

But this time is different. Regardless of party, these people need to see that government can do some good. And Obama and the Democrats can’t do it for political gain. Cruelly, they might not even get the gain for awhile, even if they try for it.

These people don’t want a handout, they want a hand up. “Welfare” is a bad word, even if they don’t get that large corporations get way more than some African-American single mother. They want a life where if they work hard enough, they can have a good life. Even if they did vote for Reagan, H.W. Bush, Dole, W. Bush, and McCain — and these people failed them on just that point — they need to see that government can be just enough to help, but not so much as to be overbearing.

They understand that we are heavily in debt, but may not get that we have little to show for it. But what they don’t articulate is that they want bridges that work, roads that are smooth, and jobs that won’t go away. If you don’t have visual proof that government can work — and we know how much Republicans hate infrastructure — it’s easy to be angry with government and not know why. And that anger doesn’t disappear just because it’s April 16.

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Written by democracysoup

April 15, 2009 at 9:56 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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