Some are not even listening when they respond to your views
It is perhaps common practice amongst elected officials to always proclaim that they share the views of the American people, yet it is not always clear which American people they refer to. And though it is bad form on their part to publicly point out that some views of their constituents are unrealistic, most voters would give their congress person wiggle room to make decisions that afford the best overall outcome for those they represent as opposed to standing on rigid principle and wound up gaining nothing.
But that all seems to have changed with the evolution of the so-called grass-roots movement referred to as the Tea Party. Unless their representative acts unequivocally on their guiding principles they will not be spared any and all virulent condemnation. Thus out of fear and the strong urge to retain their seat, broad based representation once expected from your legislator, has been supplanted by a minority view presented as “the will of the American people.”
A BRFIEF ACCOUNTING OF WHAT BROUGHT US HERE
The Tea party is an amalgamation of genuinely frustrated Libertarians and others from the further extremes of conservatism who have watched their candidates lose while the government of the two dominating Parties appear to be extending the role of government in areas these people are uncomfortable with. All factions within the Tea Party appear to be pretty much guided by the philosophical views of Libertarians that has very little need for government in our lives outside national defense and some essential infrastructure programs vital to economic growth.
But as is pretty much the norm for broad based views of constituent groups, the devil is in the details. Outcast neoconservatives have wormed their way into the small army of Ron Paul loyalists who were an inspired core constituency of conservatives and moderates from both major Parties. Their voices could often be heard from the edges of the political campaigning but not loud enough to garner any pluralities to win seats.
But once the 2008 elections gave Republicans their biggest loss in decades, this small band of “Constitutionalists” found the attention of people like former GOP House Majority leader Dick Armey and Industrialist tycoons David and Charles Koch.
With the political savvy of Armey and his insider Washington connections along with the vast wealth of petroleum magnates like the Kochs and Exxon/Mobil, the small unsophisticated Tea Party organization grew exponentially as all elements on the right found a base to promote their anti-government, anti-liberal and anti Democrat views.
Libertarians are not really reflective of many of the views that these factions bring with them. In some respects Libertarians represent the values of progressives by insisting that no wars should be waged without the consent of the Congress and are opposed to policies that seek to eliminate the separation of the church and state doctrine; a doctrine that is soundly embedded in the Constitution’s “establishment” clause of the 1st amendment and Article VI that says “”no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
ENTER THE GOP OPERATIVES AS TEA PARTY LOOK-ALIKES
The GOP has associated themselves with original Tea Partiers to form an allegiance to advantage them, having lost much of the political capital they gained in the early days of the Bush/Cheney administration. The angry voices often displayed at Tea Party rallies came to be defined by the forces of Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks as the so-called “voices of the American people”. It was an idea that cleverly portrayed the anger of common mainstream Americans who saw their wages and benefits being lowered and their jobs disappearing shortly after the Bush administration first and then the Obama administration acquiesced to large bailouts for defaulting financial institutions and some auto manufacturers.
The notion by the Tea Party that government was too far reaching fell easily into a public mindset that has felt betrayed by government. But what was being hidden from them was that those very forces that created the economic havoc that impacted their lives were pulling the puppet strings of GOP candidates to make it look like they were just one of them. This behind-the-scenes control of the message has enabled powerful corporate interests to attack legislation that actually benefits mainstream Americans; all along really benefitting the profit margins of large corporate interests.
Health Care reform is a classic example. For decades now the cost of health care has risen to a level that many can no longer afford it. Unless you are gainfully employed with a company that provides insurance benefits the out-of-pocket expense for families is close to 25% of their take home pay. This growth has been achieved by corporate-friendly Republicans who have successfully fought off attempts by progressive groups to remedy the disparity between health insurers and their powerless consumers; attempts that were finally overcome when the the 111th Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in March, 2010.
Republican operatives, especially those neoconservatives like Dick Armey from the spend and borrow days of the Bush era, successfully associated this legislation as one more piece of government intervention into the hapless lives of citizens already being crushed by the weight of the recession. Many bogus interpretations developed through right-wing, corporate funded bloggers and conservative talking heads that went after people’s emotions rather than their common sense. Absurdities like “death panels”, free medical services to illegal aliens and government control of who you use as a doctor were all put out there to detract from the factual components of the bill that were the total opposite of what Tea Party representatives and conservative radio talking heads were conveying.
THE POINT OF DISCONNECT COMES INTO FOCUS
However this may be starting to turn on the perpetrators of deceit as polls are reflecting views of people who have had time to take a closer look at the ACA. In fact recent polls taken just before the new GOP House majority ran a bill through to repeal the health care reform legislation, showed that 55% either wanted the bill to remain intact or were unsure of the need to repeal it. That figure grew to 60% a week later.
And yet many in the GOP still want us to think that “the American people reject” the ACA. There still trying to convey that the voices of a minority reflect the true will of the people. My own Congressman, Texas District 26’s Michael Burgess, the seat vacated by Dick Armey in 2000, just responded to a protest of mine asking him NOT to vote to repeal the ACA. It is clear he either ignored my pleas or simply rejected them out right.
I made one phone call to his D.C. office they day before the vote and sent two early morning e-mails to his website the day of the vote. In it I told Dr. Burgess that “If you’re really serious about serving your constituents, all the people in your district that is, you will not vote to repeal the health care reform bill, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). There is too much the bill has of value for you to outright reject it without offering something of substance to supplant it. Your belief that free-market practices will lower health care costs has been proven to be naive.”
The next day I receive an official letter from his office via e-mail that starts with “Thank you for contacting me regarding you support for repealing the Democrat’s health care law. I appreciate hearing from you on this subject”. What part of “don’t vote to repeal the health care reform bill” would an attentive individual define as “support” for it? Clearly the delusion that corporate talking points assimilated into right-wing outlets is being touted as the view of “all Americans” in the mind of Dr. Burgess as well as others in the GOP; an imaginary “mandate” from the electorate. Everything else has been programmed out.
I was assured by congressman Burgess that he and other members of his Party would “be more focused, targeted, and deliberate in our efforts, specifically addressing each of the different health care issues individually, in order of priority.” This is congress-speak for “we will drag our feet on this important issue until they are nothing more than nubs below our ankles.” Why would anyone with half a brain believe that Republicans who have and continue to cater to the interests of the health care industry and who have a history of blocking most efforts to lower overall health care cost, will automatically change to someone who is more focused, targeted, and deliberate in their efforts to do the opposite?
Next time you have an opportunity to talk to your representative at a town hall meeting, look closely into their eyes. If you see that the pupils are dilated and glazed over – run. They’ve been converted to zombies and will ignore you with extreme prejudice if you have arguments counter to ways they have been programmed to by monied interests posing as “friends of the people”.
FreedomWorks – http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=FreedomWorks
recent polls – http://www.pollingreport.com/health.htm