Friday, February 26, 2010

A Pointless Debate with a Teabagger

On Wednesday, I put an innocent status update on my Facebook wall regarding my favourable impression of Republican Senator Scott Brown. I had no idea it would inspire such a back and forth debate with a church member, whose daughter led the Young Adult group I was a part of from 2007 through 2009. I've said in a previous post that its a good thing that this young lady and I were never attracted to one another, because her mother would be the "mother-in-law of my nightmares"! It should be noted that neither this lady nor I really know each other, but based on several debates we've had on various people's Facebook wall, I know enough about her views to say that she and I are not compatable at all. In fact, she's probably the most opposite from me as one could possibly get. It does not surprise me, as it fits what I had written in an earlier post this month where I listed the eight criteria that a person possesses which guarantees that the other person and I will not get along.

After I left work, after staying late to read my emails and Facebook, I discovered this morning that this lady had posted two comments...which I was going to respond to. When I went to respond, I noticed that she had deleted nearly all of her comments from my Facebook wall. No worries...as I have the email notification that Facebook sends me when someone posts something on my Facebook wall. So, this lady's comments will get the honourable distinction of being posted on my blog...where she cannot delete them!

I decided to post this debate on my blog mostly as an example of how frustrating it is to engage in any kind of meaningful and intelligent conversation with a person who calls herself a "teabagger." If she knew the *real* meaning of that word, I don't think she would be calling herself that. Anyhow, the point of this post is not to criticize this lady or make fun of her. She is the mother of a friend, after all. I'm posting this debate because I want people to see how a person in this teabag movement thinks and how they reason, and why I do not support this movement at all. For me, the issue boils down to dishonesty. Or self-deception. Teabaggers refuse to admit to their underlying motives or to acknowledge the source of their anger. And yes, they are ANGRY...but understandably so! They have every right to be angry...but in their blindness, they direct their anger on the person who was not responsible for the root cause of why they are angry. And that really pisses me off. I've thought about why it pisses me off and came to this analogy. Some might think its a bit too strong, but to understand the depth of their anger, its the only situation I can think of that compares.

Imagine, if you will, a person who got raped by someone whom she trusted, loved, respected, or even admired. The outrage of the act and the betrayal would induce a deep kind of anger in that person. Everyone would understand the victim's anger. However, also imagine that in this person's anger, instead of holding the one who raped her as the responsible party, she instead unleashed her righteous anger on a medical examiner or psychologist who is trying to help the person in the aftermath. This is misdirected anger. Its like blaming the dog because your wife left you for another man. To me, that's what a teabagger is. They are angry because their beloved George W. Bush betrayed them. He wasn't the Ronald Reagan he was promised to be. But they can't admit it, because of a deep-rooted ideological blindness to the conservative cause. So in their anger, they blame the guy who was elected to clean up the aftermath of the disaster. There's my analogy. Not a perfect one, but the only one I can think of that gets to the heart of their deep-rooted anger and their refusal to focus that anger on the person most responsible. I feel sorry for these people...because they are being misdirected by shrewd politicos who see an advantage in making the Democrat who had nothing to do with the economic collapse as the scapegoat. Meanwhile, the guilty party (the rapist) is still out there, getting away with his crime.

Here's the lengthy Facebook debate. The name of the lady in question has been edited out, because I don't want the issue to be her, as a person, but her views as representative of the larger movement.

My Facebook status update on Wednesday:

Today, Senator Scott Brown officially becomes my favourite Republican politician. So long, John McCain. It has been a long, interesting run (he was my favourite since 1996)...but Brown is the future of the Republican Party...and the future of America, too.

Comments:

Teabagger
"no he isnt, they are calling him benedict brown and say he has lost his chance of running in the next election, he is a goner and not because he voted with the democrats, it because he lied to the people who put him in office. He told them he was against what he voted for. Im surprised that you support him nick when he blantantly lied to the voters. That shows his integrity and I wouldnt want him if I were you on the democrat side either. He obviously is a man that will lie to do anything to get what he wants. I would like to see our leaders have integrity and that is in any party."

Phil Smith
I agree with [teabagger]. Brown is a shrewd and not entirely articulate politician. The Republican hope is out there, but his/her name is unknown. And McCain is a joke - he has been since 2000. I supported him until the day he grovelled before religious windbags. The Palin thing was an outrageous example of his political cowardice and lack of ideological strength.

Teabagger
I agree with you Phil. We need polictians who are statesman and have a backbone, not people who have no desire to serve unselfishly their country. We have a few in congress both parties who are there for the sake of america, but most are with an agenda and have been bought or have an ideological mindset to destroy the constitution. Brown is done, Im telling you, he is long gone. Thank God, some people still care about integrity.

Nicholas
I don't think its any surprise that I disagree with you on this. Just because teabaggers are upset about Scott Brown's vote does not mean his career is over. That's childish thinking...as politics is a strategic game played by professionals. Its like Chess, and make no mistake...Scott Brown is being GROOMED to become the next Republican president (in 2016). There is simply no other Republican out there at the moment who has the right mix of experience, personal narrative / biography, charisma, timing, telegenic family, and likability. Scott Brown is the IT Man of the moment.

Teabagger
"It is not "childish" thinking to expect the person yu vote for, no matter who they are, to do what they said they would do for the people who put them in office. And, that is how little you obviously know about the tea party people, I can tell by what you say in that statment that you only know what you have seen on liberal sites and what you have gleaned which most is untrue about tea baggers. Trust me, his career is over as far as republicans are concerned. Oh yeah, he might run, he might get a small following, but he will never get far. And BTW there is an upcoming republican hope for 2012, you have not heard of them yet, but you will within the next year. I still stick to the idea that if the person you voted for lied to his voters to get in office, there is no integrity in that person."

Nicholas
I find it amusing that people hold politicians to a higher standard than they often hold themselves or people around them (in their families or in the workplace). I've caught quite a few superiors in my various places of employment in lies that they said to my face. There have only been a small number of people I've met whose honesty and integrity have impressed me a great deal. Politics is a game of strategy and jockeying for positions of power...like in a corporation or anywhere else.

That Scott Brown hoodwinked a bunch of ignorant teabaggers and now they are fuming mad only makes me laugh. Good for him! I find him to be a likable guy with a healthy sense of humour. Its about time the Republicans found a good guy like Brown to pin their hopes of another Presidential Administration on, because I was beginning to think the Democrats were going to have another 20 year run. Its not healthy to have a one party state. Both parties need to push each other to be the best...like athletes in the Olympics do. Healthy competition is good. Having to choose between the party of incompetence and the party with no backbone is not good for the country.

Nicholas
Interesting that Teabaggers had no problem with Bush's lies in office. I guess his lies were okay because at least he didn't lie about sex, right? The Teabaggers are dishonest, themselves, so I have little respect for them. If they can't be honest about their true motives, they don't deserve any respect. The only thing to like about them is that they are a problem for the Republican Party, not the Democratic one...so they will only hurt the party I dislike. 2012 is a lost cause. There is no Republican politician out there who can make every conservative Republican happy. I predict 2012 will be more like 1996, when the Republicans ran a sacrificial lamb so that their favoured candidate (that'd be GWB) could have enough tenure and gain enough support to win in 2000. Brown is following the same formula. His main goal is to get reelected in 2012, then run for president in 2016.

Teabagger
"In your superior liberal attitude of arrogancy nick you have bascially said you find honesty and intergrity not worth fighting for in politics. Interesting when you and the people who think like you were constantly yelling bush lied to us. If you think it is all jockeying for positions which it probably is, why are you only willing to speak out against the lies and hypocrisy when it is not your candidate in office? But when your candidate is in office, suddenly it is something else, just part of the game that we "ignorant " tea baggers dont understand. Im a tea bagger and I fully understand and maybe you need to stop listening to the lies about tea baggers that some goofy movie star says and get out and meet these people and have a conversation with them. "

Nicholas
You don't get it...when Clinton was caught in the Lewinsky scandal, I wanted him to resign. I thought John Edwards was a phony during his 2007 run for the presidency. I don't excuse lies, but there is a difference between campaign promises and an outright lie. Running for office, you can make all kinds of promises...because you don't know the reality of how Washington works. Then, when you get there, you find out that its a very clubby atmosphere with turfs you have to navigate. Its a GAME of strategy and ignorant people think its this simple process.Teabaggers crying that they were conned and lied to only make me laugh. Didn't they realize they were being snookered by the likes of Orly Taintz and her Kenyan birth certificate? Or that the movement is funded by the likes of Dick Armey and Tom DeLay? When liars are lied to, its crocodile tears. Good for them. They deserve what they get.

Teabagger
"again Im a tea bagger, and Im not dishonest and there are thousands like me. Again, you have gone back to bush, trying to turn this around, so Im going to use your own words, Nick (How ignorant and childish thinking of you nick to hold polititians to a higher standard of thinking!) How ignorant can you be?"

Nicholas
Its no surprise that we disagree on politics. We've debated many times on various peoples FB walls and its all the same. Our core philosophies about the role of government are diametrically opposed. We won't ever agree on this point...because you view government as an unnecessary evil thing that restricts our freedoms...while I have been blessed because of our government. I was born in a government hospital, I grew up as an Air Force dependent and got to live in many different parts of the country and other countries because of the government. I served in the Navy and got to live in Italy and on an aircraft carrier because of the government. I owe my college degree to the fact that I had the GI Bill and government loans. My dream career is to work for the Federal Government. The two best experiences of my life are because of the government: Navy Basic Training and White House internship.

So...forgive me if I have a low threshold of tolerance for people who make up the teabagger movement and their blindly ideological grievance campaign that refuses to take responsibility for their part in supporting an incompetent president who was the main person responsible for wrecking our economy through his disasterous economic and war policies. And their solution to this problem? Why...they want someone even more ignorant and with less experience than Bush to be our next president! No thanks. Just give us eight years of Obama, then we can have President Scott Brown for eight years. That, I can deal with.

Teabagger
"whatever nick, I dont agree with you. Again doesm't matter if they are running for office or in office, its time we held our elected officials to what they said they would do. IT should not be a game and for some out there it is not, that is why we have to really do our homework to make sure we put honest men with integrity in office. There are a few in Congress, but not enough. I say how childish thinking of yu no to expect higher standards for those you vote for whether they are running or in office already. Its time we elevated the status of morals and integrity in this country at every level while running for office or in office. AND I do understand what you are saying, it is YOU that do not get it. "

Nicholas
Nope...you don't get it because the biggest change we can do to fix our political system is banning money by making all campaigns publically financed. Until that changes, its unfair to condemn politicians for having to play the game as its currently operated. Teabaggers are against campaign finance reform. Go figure! To me, its an obviously rightwing campaign to make Obama's Administration a failure like George W. Bush's so that they can keep arguing the conservative standbys that tax cuts and less government is the solution, even though the proof is already out there. Forty years of a mostly majority conservative economic policy has not made our country the best in the world.

I also believe honesty begins within, and so many of the teabaggers are dishonest about their political views and who they voted for and when this movement began. If they can't be honest, they have no leg to stand on expecting a politician to be honest. At least a politician is playing a strategic game to jockey for position. I support candidates I like and I'm not quick to put the liar label on someone who doesn't live up to a campaign promise. Lying is more along the lines of: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" or "We know where the WMD are" or "Saddam was involved with 9/11".

Teabagger
"Well its funny nick,because you hate glenn beck so much and that is exactly what his show was about night before last, telling tea parties people who put brown in office its their fault and why. What do you know, yu might agree with him more than you think. As far as gov help, I too have received it and I dont want it to grow, cause the tax payers have to pay for it. And if you are against growth of the military and also for their benefitis, that makes no sense. So we do have many differnet understandings of gov. roll, but again goes back to your original statement which you are avoiding cause you know I hit a nerve in repeating what you said, and that is if you believe it is all a game before they get in office and that is okay, then you have no reason to gripe about any politician, because they should be held to standards high ones by us before and after, not just let them play a game and then in office its a different subject. Yeah they do that, but it should not be that way and we have a right to fight against that. "

Nicholas
We disagree...because I don't believe Scott Brown lied. He did the right thing in voting for the Jobs Bill and proved he's not a blind ideologue to the Republican Party. The reason why I mention Bush is because I have not forgotten that conservatives called me a traitor, a communist, and a terrorist because I did not accept his presidency and protested against his immoral war in Iraq. These teabaggers refuse to admit that they voted and supported his presidency to the very end...so that dishonesty ruins any credibility they may have about any other issue. Until they demand that Bush pay for his incompetence and war crimes, the teabagger movement is nothing more than a grievance campaign about the 2008 election.

Teabagger
"show me your proof of what the teabaggers believe in nick, is this from liberal website or your own opinion, cause I have different statements than yours. Everything you have said I have not seen or heard on anything I read or listen to, so show me your facts. I know for a fact that the real teabagger movement is not a grievance campaign. Now if you are talking about some minor splinter nuts that are radical and gone off on their own like a lot of org. have people who do that, yeah I can agree, but we are talkign about the TRUE tea party one stemmed from the 914 project. That is what I am referring to and if that is what you are referring to, your statemetns are 100% wrong. That is all I have to say cause throwing out accusations without facts prove nothing. "

Nicholas
I'm talking about the people who showed up for the Tax Day protests last year, the 9/14 march on Washington, the disruptions of the health care town hall meetings all over the country last summer, and the Tea Party Convention in Nashville where Sarah Palin was the keynote speaker and used her handprompter to make her points. This group of people did not organize anything during the Bush administration. It was birthed right out of the Palin campaign rallies, organized and funded by Dick Armey, Tom DeLay, the Fox News Corporation and cheerled by Glenn Beck. You see what you want to see...but I see a lot of mispelled signs, a lot of white poor people who look like NASCAR types and Walmart shoppers and Bush voters. Not my social sphere at all.

Teabagger
"You see and hear what you want Nick. I know doctors, lawyers and good honset people in tea party movement and that is the majority of them. Most of the NASCAR types like you say are democrats. Remember the democratic party is the "party for poor people" Check the statistics. Now, again, I dont want your opinion or "observations" show me the facts you are talking about. where are the facts and proof? "

Nicholas
Its based on articles I've read and news reports. Portland is a liberal city, so there aren't any teabaggers in the city. The suburbs, perhaps, but I rarely venture outside of the downtown area.The Democratic party is the party that works for the working class and poor...but many of the NASCAR types were staunch Bush supporters and voters. I can tell you that there was no Teabaggers protesting when Bush ran up the deficits with his tax cuts and two wars that he financed on borrowed money from Chinese banks. The protests only happened in 2008, egged on by Sarah Palin and her claim to be an outside maverick who would change the system (when her record reveals that she's helped Alaska get more pork money than any other state).

You see what you want to see, because that's your movement, not mine. I have nothing in common with the teabaggers. I just see an angry group of poor white folks who can't get over the fact that we have a black president. I'm all about multiculturalism and internationalism, so that's why we will probably never see eye to eye on anything. Our life experiences are about as opposite as you can get between two people. You're part of this movement, and I'll be on the opposing side, supporting the politicians I like and admire, with a realistic expectation rather than the childish all or nothing approach and feigned indignation that "he lied!" Politics is complicated nuance best left for the professionals. Amateurs can play the home game.

Teabagger
"You know nothing about my life experiences, NOTHING, you might be surpised to know that I grew up dirt poor with an outhouse and lived in a shack for the first 7 years of my life and then graduated to a better shack with indoor plumbing. I had parents that never graduated junior high school but had a ton of wisdom in life experiences. I have 6 brothers and sisters and we all have excelled in life because of my parents faith in God and their ambition to have a better life for their kids. Im a republican because I have found that democratic big gov. traps you. Have you ever been on welfare and get child support nick and they take it from you to pay back the gov. Just one of the lovely gov. programs we have out there. I think big gov is awful and throughout my life it has hurt my situation more than help it. I believe in states rights and small fed gov involvement in our lives. IT sounds good when you have never been truly poor to say they help the poor, but you need to look into more of what their help does to people in the long run. There are life experiences i have had that would blow you out of the water, and yes they are way different from yours, let me tell you. Lets just agree to disagree, get back with me in about 20 years. "

Teabagger
"Nick, Im sorry that I got into it with you. Im a very easy to forgive person who has very strong opinions as do you and others. I want to say that although we are totally different like you said, I do value your opinion even when I disagree with it as you are a fellow American and thank God we still live in a country where we can give our opinions and not be thrown in jail for them. We come from differnet backgrounds and are differnet ages and that forms some of our opinions. I still hope you are coming to [daughter's] ordination as I would welcome you as my brother in christ and we better leave our opinions at the door if you do, or [daughter] will lock us in the closet and forget about us!

Friends still?




It was quite the heated exchange...but because of our shared church heritage and my respect for her daughter, its nothing for her to apologize for or to reaffirm that we're still friends. I won't delete her from my Facebook friends list, because nothing she said in that debate crossed the line. Some of you may read that and see that it did get personal, but for me, I can tolerate some heated exchanges so long as it doesn't resort to a level of dirty that violates my core values of friendship, which happened a year ago with another church member friend when she used personal information I had shared with her a decade ago in her attempt to win an argument about our political differences. That, I won't tolerate. Someone calling me ignorant, naive, clueless, a dick, an asshole, a jerk, or whatever really doesn't bother me as much because I know I am not some of those things while I am self-aware than I can be some of those other things.

My biggest frustration with the teabaggers, and those who get their news exclusively from the Fox propaganda network, and who are admitted fans of Glenn Beck is that they don't realize that they are being manipulated by hidden strings. They don't see the big picture. They react to whatever outrage the right-wing personalities bring up on their shows. An example of this is when I heard a bunch of teabaggers rage about "cap and trade." When has "cap and trade" ever come up in anyone's conversation, naturally? Its a complex issue that politicos are aware about and debate, but to hear someone who couldn't tell you who the Prime Minister of Canada is but can go on and on about why "cap and trade" is bad for our country is just a big sign that they are simply parroting what they heard on Fox, Rush, Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly and the rest of the rightwing echo chamber.

This teabagger thinks I don't know what the movement is about, because she's part of this movement and has met like-minded individuals who share her views about government, economics, and policies. I know from personal experience that most people take things at face value. They don't look under the carpet to see what slimy creatures are lurking below. These are facts (not opinions) about the Teabagger movement: It began around Tax Day 2009, which was heavily promoted by the Fox corporation and Glenn Beck. The people who showed up at these staged events around the country did in fact have a lot of signs with mispelled words and anti-Obama pictures, statements, etc. This movement is mostly made up of lower middle class white people, most likely remnants of the Sarah Palin campaign rallies in the fall of 2008. Also a fact, the movement is organized and funded by corporations, with leaders like Dick Armey and Tom DeLay operating behind the scenes, like some kind of Wizard of Oz. These are undeniable facts...and when you know the track record of Armey and DeLay, there's no question what their motives are. It has nothing to do with changing our economic system and everything to do with making convenient scapegoats in order to salvage a movement that badly mismanaged our country for the first eight years of this century.

Its funny that a teabagger will insist upon honesty in a politician while being in complete denial of the biggest elephant in the room. The teabagger movement is the most dishonest thing I've seen in our domestic politics since Bush's push for war against Iraq in 2002 and 2003. If the teabaggers are serious about wanting to change our economic and political system, they need to stop their lovefest of the queen of ignorance, and support campaign finance reform to ban corporate and lobbyist money from politics forever. They also need to stop shopping at chainstores and support locally owned businesses. The concentration of wealth into the hands of the few execs of multinational corporations is something that we common people can fight to change together. But, they aren't interested in all that. They just want Obama out of office by any means necessary (thus why I love that cartoon above, which perfectly illustrates the true motive behind this movement).

The teabagger said to talk to her in 20 years, as though she thinks I don't have enough life experience to judge what is best for myself. I majored in political science at a conservative university. Most of my friends are moderate to liberal, open minded, and community focused. I don't think I have a friend who loves corporate capitalism as the ideal form for society. As I said above...my entire life has been better than most people BECAUSE of the United States Government. Interesting enough, since 2000, I have not had much interaction with the federal government and my life has not been as good. I've worked in a few corporations and non-profits that act like corporations, and I can tell you from personal experience, I much prefer working for the government. Its still my career objective.

That this lady thinks I'm still too young to know what's best for me is absurd. She's about the same age as my parents, but my parents lean Democratic. Our political preferences are probably "hard-wired" into our system, so I don't see my view changing all that much. It would take decades of Bush-like corruption in our government to turn me off from our government. And final point...when most of the politicians I admire are Democrats, it makes sense to be part of this great political party. My only wish is for her to understand that there are some evil people with nefarious designs on our country who are using the justified grievances and anger of these teabaggers for their own purposes. Its a shame that so many sheep are being fooled by the wolves in sheep's clothing. Don't they ever listen to Jesus' most important warning: "By their fruits ye shall know them"?

It doesn't take a genius to see that the teabagger movement is bad for our country. The Chinese and Russians are probably loving the ongoing political divide our country has been in since 1992. As Lincoln said, "a house divided against itself cannot stand." Wanting President Obama to fail because his success would make the Republicans and the Bush years look bad is unpatriotic and petty. They had their chance to make our country the envy of the world, but failed. Hold the proper people accountable and let the person we elected clean up the mess. We'll see where our country is in 2012 and have a meaningful debate about success or failure. Until then, these teabaggers should get therapy to analyze their misplaced anger. Our country is not going to get better if they want to scapegoat the person who is actually trying to get our country back on track.

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