News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Tea Party is really the Me Party

Once again, followers of the reactionary cult known as the Tea Party have turned a blind eye on their avowed principles when it conflicts with their self-interest. In this case, it seems their pious faith in the redemptive power of the marketplace does not extend beyond U.S. borders.

According to a recent poll, 61% of Tea Party members believe free trade has hurt the United States. Keep in mind, these are the same people who get apoplectic when discussing the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a measure that in their eyes trampled free market sacred ground by using government programs to stimulate the economy. Ah, but international trade is different, they argue. It's a free market, but not a fair one.

Of course, that's exactly the argument minorities in the U.S. have made about the free market system within our borders for centuries. Unless you live in the privileged, insulated and typically racially-segregated stratas of U.S. society, you know in your bones minorities do not compete on a level playing field in the domestic economy.

However, since most Me Party fanatics are on the privileged side of the free market system in the domestic economy, they like the rules of the game just fine. Affirmative action programs are "reverse racism" in the Me Party world view.

But when the scales are tipped in the other direction and international free trade threatens their interests, the Me Party faithful drop their principles as quickly as a Las Vegas hooker drops her panties for a big-tipping john.

The same kind of Me Party hypocrisy is evident on other issues as well. The Me Party is vehemently opposed to "big government." But God help you if you try to touch their Social Security, Medicare or home mortgage deduction.

In truth, the Me Party is little more than a confederation of selfish, aging Baby Boomers who see the nation changing and are desperately worried about losing their long-held primacy. Do not underestimate them. The Me Party is a powerful force fueled by fear and frustration. But ultimately, this movement will implode from its own irrational motives. Until then, the entire nation will suffer through this fit of political schizophrenia.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez