Archive for February 17th, 2010


The Birthers, Tea-Partiers, and American Revolutionaries

For some in the media, and some in Washington, the recent flurry of activity from the Tea Party movement, the Birther movement, and the Independant movement can be neatly lumped into a dissatisfying right-wing stew; dissidents, muck-rakers, and all-around wacko’s people say of them. In some cases this may be true. I can not defend people who honestly spend their day and nights worrying about Barack Obama’s birth certificate. My 88 year old grandfather reminds me that Obama has never shown his birth certificate every time I see him. I try to tell him that such things don’t matter, but some people love a conspiracy, on either side. And beyond the “birther” movement there are those Tea Partiers who go beyond simple government reforms and take an anarchist approach to solving America’s problems. Some would have us tear down the whole system.

So of course, I realize there are nuts out there. There always have been some in American politics. And while we are on the subject those American revolutionaries in 1776 were seen as pretty nutty at the time, and how about those southernors who bled the ground red at Gettysburg? Only at the end did some Union soldiers realize how committed the Confederates were, how right they thought they were, even if history doesn’t see them that way. America has always been a little nutty. We wanted to build a rail-road that went across the entire country. How crazy was that? And put a man on the moon? Surely, you jest.

It took an American named Franklin, flying a kite with a key on it, to truly discover electricity, and what it might mean. Thomas Edison was mocked by everyone when he kept trying out his lightbulb invention only to have it fail time and time again. One day Edison rubbed some coal on his wiring, thinking it might create a better conductor. he accidentally stumbled upon the idea of a filament, and the rest as they say, is history.

America has always been a place of radicalism and revolution. From the days of Washington, Adams, and Jefferson, through Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt, all the way down to Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X, Americans have always fought for what they believe in, whether it was popular or not, whether it made sense at the time or not. We are not a nation of cowards. This is evident not only by the number of wars we have won, many when long odds were against us, but by the power of our ideas, and the ability to use passionate, radical thinking, to improve life for the better.

I can not say that all the Independant’s making the news right now are on the cusp of something big. Perhpaps the Tea Partiers and their ilk are nothing more than a foot-note, a small┬ápolitical movement not unlike the 92 Reform Party, a platform and a candidate (Ross Perot) that quickly fizzled. But I can say that the recent political dissidents are more than a bunch of crazed lunies. These are American Patriots, you may like them or hate them but they passionately disagree with the direction this country is heading, and they are a reminder that Washington is still here to do the will of the people, not the other way around.

We live in an age of cynism, and fragility. The people of this country feel ineffective, without power. Often we are taken for granted, and feel their is no hope to fight back. But every now and then we glimpse some sense of the raw American spirit that has made this nation shine brighter than any other. We saw this in the days after 9/11 when this nation came together in true unity, and we all had a common goal. Mostly though, we fight our fights on an individaul level, and leave Washington to its own devices. But once and a while the people must be heard. Most Americans love this country, and I believe the dissidents love it still. We are not Americans because we all agree on everything, or because we should just shut up and take it when our government does us wrong. We protest, and we fight for what we believe in, and only history can record who was on the right side of things.

Bill O’Reilly, the New York Times, and all of the others who try to organize or label the current populists movements in this country have got it wrong. It doesn’t matter if you think the Tea Partiers, and the like are nuts. It doesn’t matter that they have a specific platform. It matters that they are Americans, and that their voice is heard. Radical ideas bring about radical change. That is what this country is all about. This is one independant who hopes it always will be.


Jack B.