By Aaron M. Rodriguez
On April 18th, Eugene Kane published an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the recent uprising of tea parties. He entitled his piece, “Tea Parties Proved Little Except Right to Protest.” In his article, Eugene Kane develops an argument more apt to show that tea parties were heavily promoted by ideologues on Fox News and composed largely by people who misunderstood why they attended the protest rather than establishing that a nationwide demonstration “proved little except right to protest". His editorial is best described as a general unawareness of his own thesis because the argument Kane provides attempts to prove a different conclusion. In order to demonstrate this point, I have listed a step by step synopsis of his piece. I’ll let you decide.
1. Fox News amped up the tea party protests as a “turning point” in history
2. There was one protester who held a sign “We Came Unarmed This Time,” which proved that not all tea party protesters came in good cheer.
3. Many in the crowd were convinced they participated to protest higher taxes, but most of them qualified for Obama’s tax cut.
4. Others were there because of increased government spending, but Bush also contributed to the debt with the war in Iraq.
5. Unlike the Boston Tea Party, we do have representation in Congress with regard to taxes.
6. People just needed to get something off their chest, but now it’s time to get back to business. The tea parties have come and gone.
There are a few points that need to be addressed, but before I do, take note that none of his objections bolstered his point that nationwide tea party revolt “proved little.” On the contrary, Kane's objections were specifically designed to discredit the movement, not to demonstrate that the movement proved to be insignificant. There is a difference.
There is little doubt that Fox News recognized the tea party uprising as a good story. They promoted it and gave it plenty of press (as they should have). It’s not every day that a nationwide protest occurs over a historically unprecedented spending bill. What is surprising is not that Fox promoted the event, but that the liberal media either swept it under the rug as irrelevant or dismissed it entirely.
Kane’s first point that many in the crowd that protested higher taxes qualified for Obama’s tax cut is absurdly myopic. Nearsightedly, Obama’s tax cut will provide each individual $400 and each working family $800 per year. Looking at the big picture, Congress passed Obama’s budget blueprint that required $3.5 trillion in spending. Obama’s bailout spending is estimated to cost each American family $10,000 per year for the next 10 years. By making this objection, Eugene Kane has missed the forest for the trees. What good is $800 of tax relief this year when Obama’s incalculable spending will contribute to $10,000 a year per family for the next 10 years?
"if you want to extrapolate future debt for generations, it seems to me you also have to include the incredible future debt already incurred by the Bush administration for the war in Iraq."
Yes, Eugene Kane is right. The price tag for the war in Iraq certainly was steep, however it’s misleading to leave out the relevant fact that a democrat controlled Congress stood shoulder to shoulder with Bush granting him each spending increase. What many people seem to forget is that each member in Congress was presented with a 100 page report called an “Intelligence Estimate” that laid out the evidence that Saddam was developing a nuclear program among other things. Congress was unanimous in her support for neutralizing Saddam and subduing his army. And quite naturally, they supported the spending that ensued. Furthermore, we shouldn’t neglect the pertinent point that many of these protesters also opposed Bush’s liberal spending policies. It’s a little difficult to rely on Bush’s inordinate spending practices as a counterpoint when conservatives already condemn it as irresponsible.
Eugene Kane also points out a contrast between the recently organized tea parties and the Boston Tea Party of 1773. He said,
"unlike their pre-Revolutionary War counterparts, Americans do have representation in Congress in regard to taxes."
Again, Eugene Kane is right. Officials in Congress are elected by the American citizenry through a democratic process in an effort to represent our values and viewpoints in the most effective way possible. The problem, however, is that democrats have a near-supermajority in Congress, and they are not listening to the outcry of taxpayers. They may have been elected to represent us, but they are dropping the ball. The purpose of the tea parties is not “taxation without representation” like it was in 1773, but rather “spending without affirmation” at unprecedented amounts. Obama’s 3.5 trillion dollar spending bill passed strictly along party lines, and it’s the fear of tea party protesters that the debt will be passed along to the next generation.
And finally, the conclusion Eugene Kane made that these tea party protests proved little except a right to protest is false. The nationwide protest proved to be significant on quite a few fronts.
First, it proved that people across the nation were willing to protest the current political philosophy that fiscal recklessness is the solution for our economic woes.
Second, it proved that when conservatives protest, they do so in an orderly fashion without threatening the local police or destroying public property. In some areas, they even cleaned up after themselves. And by doing this, conservatives provide a template for proper protestation.
Third, these protests revealed that the liberal media was unwilling to do their job by covering a real and legitimate news story. The tea party protests materialized in over 800 localities that involved over 600,000 active participants. The New York Times furnished a story about the tea party protests on page 16 of their Thursday’s edition, which relegated the event as something nugatory. The New York Times described the nature of the protests to be more about “group therapy” than an anti-tax demonstration. The tone was dismissive and arrogant.
And fourth, it proved that when the liberal media was willing to cover the event, they stepped outside their veneer of professional neutrality and judged the tea party protests before investigating them. In fact, talking heads Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann “dismissed the protesters as crackpots or stooges doing the bidding of GOP Svengalis. ” And CNN’s reporter Susan Roesgen did a hit piece on protesters in Chicago, which involved targeting people with the most provocative anti-Obama signs while entirely avoiding those with anti-republican signs.
It’s disturbing when media types like Eugene Kane publicly display their arrogance and elitism toward Americans who have deserved the right to express malcontent. It’s more disturbing when the media gleefully promotes other protests (immigration reform) because they are in alignment with their liberal ideology. Part of the reason newspapers are closing in record numbers is because they don’t report the news with a moderate approach. Commentators like Eugene Kane are so blinded by ideology that they willfully dismiss a nationwide uprising with nothing more than a handful of liberal talking points.
In an earlier piece, Eugene Kane reported that the tea party protest had its roots in an on-air rant by a financial news anchor. The bias is stunning. To suppose that people are showing up to protest their government in the hundreds of thousands because of a financial anchor’s rant is disrespectful and ignorant. The root cause of the tea party protest isn’t an on-air rant. The root is uncontrolled government spending, irresponsible bailouts, and unnecessary earmarks. Sure there is some resentment that Obama won in the 2008 election, but let’s not confuse that resentment for a righteous indignation caused by undisciplined and reckless spending. We’re not dealing with monopoly money folks – with every action, expect an opposite and equal reaction.