It’s Not About Race, It’s About Government Spending…YEAH, THAT’S THE TICKET!!
“Hi, my name is Andy Breitbart of BigGovernment.com and proud member of Pathological Liars Anonymous. Now a lot of people, especially the NAACP, have been questioning the motives behind the Tea Party Movement, and…well…it’s…umm…it’s ALL ABOUT GOVERNMENT SPENDING!!! Yeah, that’s it! And the NAACP, well they’re…let’s see…hold on a minute…I know…THEY’RE THE RACISTS…JUST LOOK AT THIS TOTALLY UNDOCTORED VIDEO! YEAH, THAT’S THE TICKET!!”
Recently, there has been a lot written and said about the NAACP passing a resolution that denounces the racist elements of the Tea Party, citing the incendiary and racist signs that appear at Tea Party rallies and the ugly racial rhetoric espoused by many of the movements’ members, including those like Mark Williams and Bill Roper, who hold positions of leadership in Tea Party related organizations.
Of course, in response many in the Tea Party movement claim the NAACP is playing the ‘race card’ as part of a larger effort by liberal forces to discredit the movement, and they reject the notion that they are racist, claiming instead to be faithful Americans railing against government spending and taxes. That it is happening under the first black president in history is, well, just an inconvenient coincidence.
The debate around the NAACP charges has become so heated that Andrew Breitbart, the serial liar and reprobate who exploited intellectually challenged rich kids Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe in the childish ACORN escapade, weighed in with yet another sad attempt to deceive the public and destroy lives with his doctored video of a government official, Shirley Sherrod, talking about a race related interaction that turned out to be a shining example of how our society should deal with race (poor Andy, the more he tries the more he shows just how sadly stupid he really is, sort of like a sleazier and decidedly dumber version of William Kristol).
To get at the truth in this debate it helps to understand who the Tea Party is. And as we’ve seen in some recent surveys, there are very clear and consistent traits that unite the movement, specifically…
- They are predominantly white – 89% are white and only 1% are black, which compares with national averages of 77% and 12% respectively.
- They are overwhelmingly Republican – 55% of those in the Tea Party identify with the GOP versus 14% with Democrats. This compares with a recent Gallup Poll that showed only 21% of Americans called themselves Republican, with 35% saying they were a Democrat and 38% claiming to be an independent (that leaves 6% with some other affilitation).
- They are politically conservative – 78% say they are conservative.
Now the fact that the Tea Party is mostly white, conservative and Republican does not make it a racist movement by any means. Nor does the self-stated motivation for the movement as articulated in the Tea Party Patriots’ mission statement…
“the impetuses for the Tea Party movement are excessive government spending and taxation. Our mission is to attract, educate, organize, and mobilize our fellow citizens to secure public policy consistent with our three core values of Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government and Free Markets”
And that they are also worried that…
“the runaway deficit spending as we now see in Washington D.C. compels us to take action because we know that a heavy burden of national debt is a grave threat to our national sovereignty and the personal and economic liberty of future generations.”
But when the lack of political and ethnic diversity of the movement, along with the so-called reason for its existence are pressed against over three decades of federal spending and budget management, the ugly and uncomfortable questions about the true forces behind the movement start to bubble up, and it becomes difficult to drink what the Tea Party is brewing.
The first problem, and as has been argued elsewhere on this site, is that when the Bush Administration bailed out Wall St. in September 2008, there was no concern expressed by anyone now associated with the Tea Party over the use of billions of taxpayer dollars, and the impact on the Federal budget, to save banks and financial firms. So in effect, a huge government spending program under a white President didn’t cause a stir, but a huge spending program like the Stimulus Act of 2009 by a black President did?
And there is more than just the contrast between the Bush and Obama spending programs. There is a much longer, and a more damning history to be considered.
Since the election of Richard Nixon in 1972 there have been SIX Republican Administrations and THREE Democratic Administrations in power (not including the nascent Obama Administration). In all of the Republican administrations, including eight years of Reagan, the Federal Budget as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) INCREASED, meaning that government spending was growing faster than the economy, which creates a budget deficit. In total, these Republican Administrations INCREASED the federal debt by 63%!
In each of the three Democratic administrations, the Federal Budget as a percentage of GDP DECREASED, meaning that government spending was slower than the economic growth in the country, which creates a budget surplus. In aggregate, these three Democratic Administrations DECREASED the federal debt by around 13%.
So where were the Tea Party Patriots under these six irresponsible, fiscally disasterous white Republican Presidents? What was so different about these Administrations running up deficits that made it so acceptable that the current core of the Tea Party Movement sat idly by while the Federal Budget exploded? How come they didn’t pitch a fit when David Stockman was ‘taken to the woodshed by President Reagan’ over his candor regarding the increasing federal deficit and the rapidly expanding national debt, which he blamed on the Reagan tax cut (and that ended up doubling the deficit in only four and half years of the Reagan Administration)? How come Ronald Reagan is now hailed as a legendary figure despite eight years of exploding debt and out of control Federal spending while Obama is reviled as a socialist after only eighteen months of budget deficits? Why wasn’t there a chorus of condemnation in response to VP Dick Cheny’s dismissive claim that ‘deficits don’t matter,’ a statement that spits in the eye of the Tea Party and their mission statement? What is so different about the current, year and a half old Obama Administration that would cause the mobilization of a national movement of angry Americans to protest the exact same behaviors that were tolerated under six Republican Administrations covering over 20 years of this country’s economic history?
If nothing else, the lack of outrage or concern over the out of control spending under white, Republican Presidents makes the central premise of the Tea Party’s mission statement somewhat disingenuous, and makes it very difficult not to assign racism to much of the anger and outrage now expressed towards the Obama Administration. Sadly, if the members of what is now the Tea Party had only spoken up earlier to protest exploding budget deficits and out of control spending under Nixon, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II, saying the Tea Party Movement is mostly about race would not be such an easy conclusion to reach.