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MY SENIOR MOMENT

A couple of weeks ago I joined millions of other Americans in the last minute ritual of rushing to the post office on April 15th and filing… my tax extension.  Brimming with pride over not procrastinating this year, a reward was in order.  Now this is normally the realm of chocolate frozen yogurt, but I wanted something more appropriate, maybe even a little dangerous; so I went down to the local Tea Party Rally.

Though a newbie to the whole “Astroturf” experience, I felt I had some idea what to expect thanks to the fine, unbiased reporting of our main stream media.  I braced myself for loud, selfish people who didn’t give a damn about the less fortunate.  I girded myself for cynical young radicals.  I steeled myself for the subtle racism reportedly running just beneath the surface. In short, I entered the raucous Public Square of the Tea Party by embracing the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared.

Ha!  Somebody – I’m not sure if it’s the Boy Scouts or the Fourth Estate – owes me an apology.  I didn’t hear any loud, selfish rhetoric.  In fact, the speeches mainly concerned the social justice of liberty and even saving public employee pensions!  I did not see young radicals (though this was Oceanside, CA so distinguishing between subversive radicals and skateboarders is tricky).  And any “subtle racism” must have been drowned out by Ted Hayes’ standing ovation.

I spent hours looking out over the nearly two thousand people who attended, and it’s what I did see that surprised me: the predominate, if not prototypical, Tea Party activist is a woman in her early fifties who is, or soon will be, a grandmother.

Surprising, right?   I wasn’t prepared either.  (You see why I’m looking for an apology from the main stream media… or is it the Boy Scouts?)  The more I thought about it though, the more sense it made; who else would it be?  The Tea Party, at its heart, stands opposed to the generational transfer of financial devastation.  Now granted, parents are generally more protective of children than anyone else.  But most moms and dads are focused on immediate threats: food, shelter, education… and maybe little league baseball.  When it comes to our children’s posterity, however, no one holds a candle to Grandma.   The “Mama Grizzly” concept is popular right now, but who do you think taught them to become Grizzlies?  Heck, I remember being disrespectful to my grandmother once… once.  How about you?

I guess you could say a “funny” thing happened to me on Tax Day.  I went to a Tea Party Rally, and had a Senior Moment.  I left with more optimism, less worry, and a very different understanding of the Tea Party.  You might want to sit-up and pay attention.  I have a hunch the political elite, with their pandering and their self-serving spin, are not prepared for the powerful force coming their way.  They are messing with her grandchildren, and grandma’s not happy.

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  • 11 comments

    11 Comments so far

    1. Teri Lussier May 4th, 2011 4:28 pm

      That’s interesting. I wouldn’t have guessed that would be a Tea Party demographic either. I don’t hear the granny contigent interviewed on TV, perhaps they are camera shy.

      When I first heard of ObamaCare, I had an idea for a political cartoon. A buck wagon, with a Health Care sign on the side, driven by teamster Pelosi, bullwhip in hand, with Reid riding shotgun. Schumer and Hoyer bouncing along in the back (sometimes my mind had them wearing precious prairie bonnets). Pulling the careening wagon was a team of crawling diaper-clad babies, giant yokes around their little bodies.

      But personally, I don’t see the Tea Party being opposed to spending other people’s money at whim. They talk the talk, but I’m not so sure they can walk the walk.

    2. Greg Swann May 4th, 2011 5:01 pm

      > But personally, I don’t see the Tea Party being opposed to spending other people’s money at whim. They talk the talk, but I’m not so sure they can walk the walk.

      So far, they’ve mostly wasted their legislative advanatges — at all levels of government. They’ve focused on abortion, gay marriage and gun laws. They probably can’t do anything about spending or taxes, but they could eradicate business regulations at the municipal, county and state levels. Nada. From they outside, they give the impression of being libertarians if not all-the-way individualists. But if you listen carefully, their actual underlying (mostly unexamined) philosophy comes through: Populist and collectivist. The net result of this detour will be to convince the typically thoughtless American voter that no one can change anything.

    3. Artur May 4th, 2011 5:03 pm

      I’m not a senior, but it seems to me that many seniors are brighter, smarter and able to hold their own better then the ‘whipper snapper’ young ones. Maybe senior moment should be called something else now.

    4. Sean Purcell May 4th, 2011 5:19 pm

      Instead of Senior Moment, how ’bout: Senior “Movement”…

    5. Teri Lussier May 4th, 2011 6:11 pm

      >But if you listen carefully, their actual underlying (mostly unexamined) philosophy comes through: Populist and collectivist.

      That’s what I hear, too. It’s an odd group, though. Is Rand Paul considered Tea Party? Michelle Bachmann? They are very different.

    6. Sean Purcell May 4th, 2011 10:14 pm

      Teri, love your idea for a political cartoon. You should definitely draw that up, I think it would be very popular.

      As for the comments about the Tea Party and the politicians thus far elected, I generally agree with you and Greg and wrote as much here back in early March. I don’t see the politicians being elected acting any differently than they always have; the incentive isn’t strong enough yet (ever?). But that doesn’t necessarily mean the people on the streets and at the rallys will change. Or maybe it does, we’ll have to see.

      My point in this article is to suggest they won’t because the Tea Party (while it doesn’t exactly understand this yet) is tapping into a third rail demographic. Their predominate group is grandmas and that group is just about untouchable. “Untouchable” is a lot of power in the face of a recognizably biased press.

    7. Jeff Brown May 5th, 2011 10:11 am

      I think characterizing the Tea Party as collectivist in nature is a stretch.

      The pols they’ve elected, at least so far, have disappointed to say the least.

    8. Michael Cook May 6th, 2011 10:44 am

      Sean,

      I think you may be making the mistake of taking one experience and assuming it is the norm? Not to say that I have had too many experiences with them myself, but mine have been nothing like yours.

      And please dont get me started on groups putting up a “black face” and still being quite racist. Thats another topic and another post.

      Good luck with the Tea Party though, they dont seemed to be focused enough to effect important change. As long as they keep worrying about who is marrying who and babies that may or may not exist, there movement will only serve to distract from the real fiscal changes they also desire. And rather than people like me, who might be interested in real fiscal change joining them, I will simply continue to think they are mostly racist nutbags (gross generalization of course).

    9. Jim Klein May 6th, 2011 9:20 pm

      I think your take is right on, Sean. I’ve always associated the Tea Party with mothers and grandmothers. People may yap their altruistic crud, but most parents don’t want their children and grandchildren to be sacrificed.

    10. Sean Purcell May 7th, 2011 12:53 am

      Michael, are you sure you’re attending Tea Parties? I may be generalizing, but once I put 2+2 together on grandmas, I started looking at every news video and picture that came along and I keep seeing the same thing.

      I’m not sure where you’re getting this stuff about social conservative talking points. The Tea Party rallys are about fiscal change (and current administration change… for fiscal reasons); I’ve seen very little about marriage and babies. I think maybe you’re confusing the so-called Tea Party politicians that Greg referred to with the regular folks at these rallys. Politicians talk that nonsense all the time. I’d like to be able to say that the people at the Tea Party rallys are against all the big government / big brother social engineering, but I don’t think so. I think most hold up signs and wave banners about “taking the country back” and “liberty” but haven’t really thought it through. In other words, they know they’re sick and tired of fiscal irresponsibility, but they’re not (yet) conceptualizing actual free marketeerism (or voluntaryism or anarchy or minarchy, etc).

      As for your racism comments… please. I’ve yet to see or hear anything racist at one of these things. According to Fox News, neither have they. The only people reporting an undercurrent of racism here is main stream media, but they never put up any proof. If you’ve seen otherwise with your own eyes, I would like to hear more.

    11. Brian Brady May 11th, 2011 7:16 am

      “And please dont get me started on groups putting up a “black face” and still being quite racist. Thats another topic and another post.”

      I hope you do post on this, Michael. Racism is deplorable in any practice but even more insidious when levied at those who might reject the concept of “group-think” for individual thought.

      “And rather than people like me, who might be interested in real fiscal change joining them, I will simply continue to think they are mostly racist nutbags (gross generalization of course).”

      Indeed it is a gross generalization. It’s almost as ignorant as those who would discredit a man because of his skin tone. I look forward to the clarification of this statement in your future comments and/or post