NOTE: I will begin this piece with a medical anecdote, since I doubt many of you will find much to laugh about in the rest of this it.
A sick man received a phone call from his doctor. “I have good news and I have bad news,” the doctor said.
“Tell me the good news first,” the man said.
“Well, the good news is that you have one more day to live,” the doctor replied.
“One day to live?!?” the man exclaimed. “Dear God, what’s the bad news?!?”
“I tried calling you all day yesterday,” the doctor answered.
First, the bad news: Despite her popularity among its ranks and her willingness to address its committed a few weeks ago in Nashville, Sarah Palin is unfit to lead the Tea Party Movement. Rather than make such a claim based on the usual nastiness about Sarah Palin, I am making this assertion based upon three years of association with people who had been a part of the Ron Paul Patriot Movement, the very type of people I believe formed much of the roots of the fledgling Tea Party Movement. Ron Paul was rejected in the Republican primary in 2008, so they re-established themselves in a new way — the Tea Party way.
Sarah Palin does not represent any of the people I knew. I do not know who attended the National Tea Party convention, but I suspect it was the usual suspects, awash in their inherent distrust of government. Dick Cheney was the one who scribbled notes on Sarah Palin’s left hand. George W. Bush prepared barbecue in the parking lot for the tailgate parties. Karl Rove was parking cars.
And, of course, Ronald Reagan was there in spirit. Sarah Palin, after all, refers to his legacy more than she does anyone else’s because he is considered the Abraham Lincoln of the Twentieth Century. He led the march to free the world from communism and re-establish the goodness in American empire-building.
All of this is meaningless to the intellectual spirit of the American Patriot Movement that I experienced. The intellectual spirit I experienced was not kind; it was not happy and full of girlish charm. The intellectual spirit I witnessed was based on a harsh perspective, namely that all government is a monopoly of crime. Governments murder and steal and try to prohibit anyone else from doing the same. There is no such thing as a good government, there is only the struggle of good citizens trying to hold back the onslaught of government continually out of control.
In practical terms, America is run by two secret societies: The Federal Reserve runs the economic policy and the CIA runs foreign policy. If we do not outright get rid of these two entities (along with the Internal Revenue Service), I was told over and over again, America is doomed. These were folks who claim that the CIA is the greatest criminal organization ever created under the guise of helping democracy, since it has unlimited resources, legal and illegal, and carte blanche to commit murder and mayhem on those bad foreigners.
In that sense, they believe America has very much become like the Roman Empire. For those of you who read your Bibles and study Biblical history, you know that Christ was allowed to be crucified because he was not a Roman citizen. Crucifixion was so horrible that it was generally reserved for slaves and for people who had fallen out of favor with Rome. Saint Paul, on the other hand, was permitted to have a hearing in Rome because he was a Roman citizen. Americans, the Ron Paul Patriot Movement people explained to me, feel the same way about their citizenship that the Romans did, in that natural rights do not really apply to anyone who is not American. The CIA can torture, kill, steal, and lie about it as much as they like, since God forgot to include anyone who is not a U.S. citizen in His mercy. America is God’s, and the rest of the earth is the Devil’s, you see.
Ronald Reagan has always been portrayed as the representative of God, so naturally Sarah Palin would like to mention him. I have spent a lot of time living in working-class neighborhoods, and they do not feel the same way about Ronald Reagan. I will never forget having a neighbor of mine come over to see me in the 1990’s. He told me in very unpleasant terms that his entire valve plant had been packed up and shipped to Poland because, in Poland, they worked for one dollar an hour.
“They knocked the Berlin Wall down,” he said, “to make us unemployed.”
Many Ron Paul Patriots I spoke to told me the same thing. Yes, it is a lovely idea that America wants to spread freedom, but in practice it is an excuse to undermine the working class and shove all the money to the top. American corporations, the one who love America so much, moved offshore to avoid paying tax and in doing so abandoned the American worker.
From the Tea Party point of view, Sarah Palin has no intention of addressing any of these issues in a meaningful way. As far as they’re concerned, she will never take on the Federal Reserve as they woul like her to, since she wants to maintain an aggressive foreign policy marked by perpetual war. She will not take on the CIA since the agency is synonymous with continuous. And she will not take on the IRS since the government desperately needs money. Instead, they believe, she will embrace Wall Street with a bear hug. But be certain of it, they will argue, what she will do is pose with a machine gun in her right hand and a Bible in her left and tell us that she loves, loves, loves America and understands who needs to be killed both at home and abroad.
As cynical as this may sound to many middle-of-the-road Republicans and honest, common sense conservatives who refuse to go out on Ron Paul’s libertarian limb, so long as the Ron Paul Patriot base is active and in a position of influence within the Tea Party movement, appeasing that movement will be more difficult than it might otherwise appear. Restructuring a government is a lot different than reforming it. Case in point — George W. Bush, who unlike Reagan never wanted to abolish the Department of Education, but rather sought to make it “better.”
The American patriots in colonial America threw the tea overboard. They did not save it and try to make it taste better. And that distinction might be what ultimately makes a Ron Paul Patriot-led Tea Party movement not quite the lasting movement for a majority of Americans as many would hope. Approximately 50 percent of all Americans receive a government check — they will lean toward reform, not abolition.
And now, the good news: The November elections are growing closer every day. The 2012 presidential election season will start soon thereafter. And, any way you look at it, Sarah Palin is still a whole lot better than Barack Obama.