Friday, February 12, 2010

Room For All? We'll See...

What's wrong with the Tea Party Movement? It's been my opinion that there's nothing wrong with it, if you like your politics monochromatic.

For my money, in a country as pluralistic as ours, there's something wrong with a movement that has appeal to only one particular group. The Tea Party has seemed to me the default place for disaffected attendees of the 2008 Republican National Convention. Remember how diverse that group was!

While I may not buy into the Tea Party's agenda, I may have to rethink my understanding of its appeal to almost exclusively white people. There are apparently a growing number of African-Americans with whom their message resonates...

"The ad-hoc conservative protests against an expanded government role that started shortly after President Obama was inaugurated last year is growing into a "Taxed Enough Already" movement that is backing candidates for political office and influencing public policies. Among these movement conservatives are a small but increasing number of black conservatives and libertarians who - attracted to the tea party movement's call for smaller government, lower taxes, and less government spending - are getting involved in the protest movement."

"Kevin Jackson, a former ACORN and union organizer who currently works as an advocate for the homeless in Charleston, S.C., began attending tea party events "because I saw the Left under Obama seeking to destroy the freedoms that we as Americans have fought so hard to have, and the Left's determination to take socialize, to over the state", he said."

"Although he has been active in Republican Party politics, Ron Miller, an information technology consultant in Huntingtown, Md. who is running for the Maryland State Senate, said that the tea party rallies were his first foray into protest movement activities. "The movement embodied my beliefs in limited government, low taxes, individual liberty and free enterprise", he said. Miller organized and emceed the first tea party in Maryland last year, and has been a featured speaker at four tea party rallies. He has attended many other tea party events, including the large 9/12 March On Washington event last autumn."

"As the tea party movement increasingly presses for changes in American politics, some observers have wondered if the movement is relevant to black America's aspirations, issues, and challenges. Jackson questions whether black America is organized around specific goals, contending that galvanizing around the interests of 40 million African-Americans is unrealistic."

"However, Lenny McAllister, a political commentator and author based in Charlotte, N.C., who has spoken at various tea party rallies, sees a linkage between the tea party movement and black America's goals. "The vast majority of tea party activists focus on smaller government and on politics. I feel that it's my responsibility as an African American activist to talk about things that are bigger than that," he said. "I think a lot of tea party activists and also black conservatives seemingly miss that point: political activism must be coupled with community activism if smaller government is going to work 50 years post-[Lyndon B.] Johnson Great Society.""

"McAllister added that he believes that the focus shouldn't be on whether there are more black people in the tea party movement, but on a "smaller government, bigger people" approach. He argues that the tea party movement has focused a lot on the first half of the equation and not enough on the latter part, in articulating how smaller government remedies issues like black student achievement, single-parent households, crime, and entrepreneurship. "The issue is taking the message and crafting it to people who grew up in urban conditions and who deal with government", McAllister said. "And if you don't have a way to take the tea party movement and make it tangible to Charlotte, to Chicago, and other places, then that's a problem. You have to be able to cross that bridge.""


In other words, at some point politics has to do more than give citizens an outlet for spewing angst and rage. There has to be an outreach to people who don't look like you - which means you can't simply create a space where the populism gives voice to your own frustration.

Personally, I'm not sure this movement can do that.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why should people be treated differently depending on how they look?

Anonymous said...

Don't you mean monochromatic except for a few Uncle Toms?

Gerald Britt said...

Now, now...

Honestly, I would LOVE to see some thoughtful public policy alternatives that were not so weighted toward such a small segment of our society. Right now the strategic thinking of the GOP seems to be, 'You all didn't hear us, in 2008, let us say it louder!'

And to be honest, there are a few suggestions (I hesitate to call them ideas), put forth by the GOP that should be investigated and explored. Unfortunately, what we are seeing more of is an obstructionist strategy on the part of Republican members of Congress and a hijacking of the party by an extreme element which has taken the place of the religious right. This has made them almost totally indifferent to how their message resonates with minorities in the U.S. And while there are some who might like to claim that we are beyond such considerations, we are not there yet.

Without a serious choice in our politics, we all lose...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for race tie. I was worried that you might be slipping.

Gerald Britt said...

Anon 400,

Hey, I didn't write the article. And.were you thinking that the lack of diversity in the Tea Party, etc. is going unnoticed?!