TEA Parties: Throwing Common Sense in the River

A Tax Day TEA Party sounds like an interesting idea, a clever take on the Boston Tea Party theme of Democracy (No Taxation without Representation) and revolution in the face of imperialism. I can think of a few things I’d like to metaphorically throw in the river, but common sense is not one of them.

This year’s TEA parties are not what they seem; they are a vehicle for the Radical Right to promote their repressive agenda as fiscal conservativism on Tax day 2009. And watch out Oregon friends — they are coming to your town!

On April 15th, in cities all around rural Oregon, FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, two DC insider groups of the Right, are coordinating TEA Parties to say that they are Taxed Enough Already. Whatever your opinion on taxes — TEA Parties are not really about tax rates or fair representation. These events are also not organic upsurging of everyday Rural Oregonians: this is a highly funded organizing scheme that is known as an Astro-Turf Movement (fake grassroots). This is about the vocal minority spreading their message of hate and conservativism.

The NYTimes editorializes that these events are a sad attempt to get some attention by an increasingly irrelevant sector of the population and to read the Huffington Post you would think that this "teabagging" fringe is nothing but a joke.  I agree on both accounts, but we know that all too often outlandish Radical Right wildfires take off in our rural communities. In hard times opposing taxes can be a compelling message for our community. Taxes are just the opening line though, the TEA party agenda includes (but is not limited to) anti-universal health care, anti-fair union elections, anti-choice, anti-immigrant rights & anti-worker rights all of which are historical wedge issues.

Unfortunately, rural Oregon is often susceptible to these wedges and distractions. That is why ROP, Human Dignity Groups and you are so incredibly important. We are present to counter these false claims of populism with the truth. The truth, of course, is that rural and small town Oregon believe in dignity of all people, believe in critical social services & a safety net, believe in democracy, believe in holding corporations & the government accountable and believe in justice over hate.

It’s time to respond!

It is quite probable that these events in your communities will get attention from the press. And if there is not an event in your town, then consider submitting a response about the TEA Parties in general. Send a letter to your paper promoting justice — economic, immigrant and worker. See a sample below.

We cannot underestimate the power of the Right in rural Oregon. We have to stand up to them each and every time they show their faces in our towns. Even when we think they are a bunch of clowns.

Let ROP know if you see the protest in your town. Document it if you can! Also let us know if you submit a response to the paper at cara@rop.org.

In solidarity,

PS. Many people perceive any talk of white supremacy as archaic or exaggerated. However, the white nationalists movement is very real and is a virulent, though clandestine, supporter of the TEA Parties. One writer on the outrageous website Stormfront declared, "“Ladies and gentlemen, I think every WN [white nationalist] needs to not only attend the April 15th Tea Party nearest you (I’m going to the Alamo in San Antonio) but then stay involved and help provide leadership to this movement. I believe that this is the white revolution we’ve been waiting for.”  Check out Imagine 2050 for more on this particular plot twist. Friends, please believe that this is not about taxes.

Sample LTE:

On Tax Day the TEA Party came to town. I will be the first person to advocate for smart government spending, low debt and tax fairness but this event was an embarrassment. The TEA Parties agenda included everything from cutting taxes for the wealthy, to anti-union/anti-worker policies and shaming owners of foreclosed homes. Time are difficult and people in (my community) are suffering; resorting back to the failed policies of the last few decades is not the solution. The TEA Party provided nothing but a futile attempt at entertainment. Personally, I want economic justice. I want the multinational companies to pay the price for destroying our economy and running away with their bonuses. I want workers to have power in the workplace — the power to earn a decent living, the power to collectively organize with their coworkers without fear & the power to access decent healthcare. We need new ideas, new solutions — not name calling and hate mongering of the Radical Right.

Your name, address and phone number

Locations (follow the link for details):
Astoria, Beaverton, Bend, Coos Bay, Corvallis, The Dalles, Enterprise, Eugene, Forest Grove, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, La Grande, McMinnville, Medford, Newport, Oregon City, Portland, Reedsport, Rogue River, Roseburg, Salem & Tillamook.