Friday, November 26, 2010

Organizing, Dangerous and the Same?

Tea Party activists will be targeting Virginia state and local elections in 2011. Virginia is one of four states holding general elections next year so they can use it as a practice run in 2011. They are being pretty smart about it, organizing their base at the local level. It's classic organizing and, given the strong conservatism in some parts of the state, I'm sure they will succeed to some degree. Virginia may be a purple state but that violet hue includes some very strong reds.

The Virginia Tea Party wants to eliminate the corporate income tax. That makes absolutely no sense. Why should an economic entity that accumulates substantial resources and enjoys the same rights and privileges as a flesh and blood person be exempt from paying taxes? Corporations participate and benefit, often substantially, from the Social Contract that is the basis of American government. I see no good reason corporations should have less obligation to the community than I do.

Another Tea Party proposal is a bill expressing Virginia's support for a federal constitutional amendment to invalidate acts of Congress if two-thirds of state legislatures agree. They are asking for a fundamental rethinking of the federal-state relationship. Last time the nation had that discussion, it turned into the Civil War. That doesn't mean we should not have that discussion, only that consequences may be neither fully understood or even predictable.

As I've watched the Tea Party phenomenon evolve (I probably should not use that word), I've come to think that my fundamental grievances against my government are little different from a Tea Partier. I think American government is dysfunctional, unresponsive and wasteful. I doubt many Tea Partiers would disagree with that, at least not until I got into details. Where I see a dysfunctional government as one that fails to act as a countervailing force to concentrated wealth and economic self-interest a Tea Partier would see a government that interferes with private decisions and personal liberty. I am no doubt more inclined to recognize that American government is not absolutely and universally dysfunctional, unresponsive and wasteful but then I recall that even Tea Partiers like their Medicare.

In a parallel universe maybe we could bridge our differences. Here in America, I'm not at all certain that can or will happen.

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