Jim Camden writing in the Spokesman-Review 19 April 2009 concerning the Tax Day Protests was being fair and balanced enough to warn Democrats against being too dismissive of the protesters and the Republicans if they thought they could make too much of it. I’ll have to disagree with Camden to an extent. There are in fact reasons to be highly dismissive of the Tea Party goers. Nor do you have to be a Democrat to do so. Consider two letters found in the same paper same day: Kathy Swehla of Spokane, Washington extolls the virtues of paying taxes. Taxes, she loves them. In fact she knows what she is getting for paying her taxes instead of protesting them. She gets a variety of services that must surely include the city parks she walks in, the police in the event she became a victim, a fire dept if her house caught on fire, a National Guard to help during a time of emergencies and natural disasters, the roads and bridges she uses. The list of things she loves paying taxes for can be considered long indeed. Which brings to mind the “anti-taxers” among the Tea Party goers, they want all the same services. Indeed, they wouldn’t mind the gvt handing them something in special interest money. But, they don’t want to ultimately pay for what they get. Anti-taxers, the other welfare recipients. I don’t like to have to pay taxes, nor do I care to have my customers pay sales taxes on the merchandize they buy. However, like Swehla, I know what I get for the money I send to the Governor and Uncle Sam.
Allan deLaubenfels of Spokane Valley had a decent account of the silliness of the tax protesters. He saw it in these terms: “What is mine is mine, what is yours is negotiable.” Good point. But to call the innate greed at the base of such protests as being “conservative,” is to render an immorality an aura of legitimacy. Which lends itself to another argument: at one time, the GOP called the Dems the party of immorality on the basis of abortion, being “soft on crime,” and other wedge issues. But tolerance of and for immorality would seem to be a highly bipartisan problem. The GOP—inclusive of Fox News Channel who wants to cheerlead what amounts to pure greed have a problem confusing a rational fear of what long term debt can do to this nation with the non desire to actually do something about it. In short, what’s mine is mine, regardless of the consequences to everyone else. He also goes on to describe the biblical golden rule as a moral code of a people who actually care about one another. Greed demonstrates that you don’t care about your fellow human beings and greed was very much on display on 15 April 2009.
Rola Krause of Wilbur was certainly legitimately angry at what the Washington state gvt hqed in Olympia demanded yet more and more of from long suffering taxpayers in the state. I hope that Krause had the occasion for reading Gary Crooks (a member of the Spokesman-Review’s editorial staff) “Smart Bombs.” Seems Mr. Crooks made note of 68.4 million in taxpayers’ money was spread through what I’ll assume were farming communities. A Republican member of the legislature by the name of Holmquist had no problem taking money out of Krause’s pockets to pay out special interest money to the counties of Whitman, Lincoln, Adams, Walla Walla and Grant. Yes, Krause, that’s where a lot of your money went. And further flies in the face of Senator Crapo who argued on tax protest day that we can’t just spend our way to prosperity. Apparently, the Washington state farmers believe you can. Crooks also delivered a deeply cynical coup de grace on Holmquist’s championing the deep dissatisfaction behind the tea party protests, he decries socialism. But as Crooks pointed out, one man’s socialism becomes another man’s investment. And Holmquist didn’t mind ignoring questions about socialism when he was investing in the collectivist interests of the state’s farmers. Apparently, you have to be a Dem before “socialism” can have its intended effect. It also reminds me of big gvt, of people being totally opposed to it before they want it to personally do something for them.
So what defines a “conservative?” In the Coeur d’Alene Press is this political cartoon. Tea party protesters are waving the following signs: Let the banks fail, Lay off my kid’s teacher, Breadlines not bailouts, Crash baby crash, Where’s my pink slip?, No Medicare for Mom. The fellow holding the latter sign tells the guy watching utter stupidity in action: “Our tea party protest demands an alternative to all this government spending!” No, the signs of actual tea party protests did not say that, but to put it bluntly, the cartoon was spelling out what frothing radicals would actually get if they were successful.
Agreed, in a free market world, the bank, the mortgage lending company and etc. that engaged in practices that were certainly immoral up the anus and ultimately staggered onto the brink of collapse should not be rewarded for fraudulent practices and actually should be allowed to fail. But as Mr. Crooks pointed out with the Washington state farmers as an example; there is no such thing as a free market world. The gvt that invests in these various special interests, whether by direct payola to legislation, has intervened one way or another into this “market economy.” And let’s put it bluntly, once the gvt has invested, why would it necessarily care to see its investment fail?
So, what defines a “conservative?” I think the answer here is a very simple one: a conservative doesn’t replace reality with ideology. Just because there can be a utopianism behind an unfettered market, a limited gvt, taxes that head toward the non-existent, constitutional constraints according to how [I] define them; doesn’t mean that such a fantasy world has any basis in the facts. Even Holmquist can easily prove that he doesn’t believe in the unfettered marketplace when he called on state gvt to create mandates for farmers when biofuels were all the rage. Nor did he believe in a limited gvt if he could use it to assist the farmers. A conservative then does not subscribe to substanceless ideology but rather on the basis of a rational political world view: If he wants constitutional constraints and a limited gvt, simply don’t ask of gvt to move outside its self-imposed parameters. If he truly desires self-government, demand nothing of gvt that he can’t do for himself. If he truly believes in a free market, then he should not send lobbyists to any state gvt or even the federal gvt demanding special favors and legislation paid for in tons of cash. A conservative should act on principle. To date, I have seen more frothing radicals operating on emotion and impulse than acting on reason. And certainly, there is nothing of principle behind their protests.