Sunday, August 29, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

When I decided to revive this blog after a few months of dormancy the first post I began to write was about the Tea Party. Specifically, I was going to explain why the Tea Party, as a group, can be considered racist. I never finished that post and a few others finally made the same argument I had in mind, rendering my purpose moot. Of course, since I abandoned that post I won't make that the subject of this one.

Instead, I'd like to propose a new tact with these idiots. It's the initial thought I had on the "movement:" ignore them. They aren't worth your time. They aren't worth my time.

When I thought about this a video came to mind. It's a CollegeHumor animated parody of Disney's Alice in Wonderland mad tea party. The more I think about this the more apt it becomes. Indeed, everyone else is playing the role of Alice while the Tea Partiers play the buffoons.

If you watch original scene you will notice some key elements of the Tea Party. It's fraught with false logic, their message is all over the place, and from the outside looking in they appear to just be crazy. Alice tries to talk sense to them, but when she does she's talked over, the subject is changed, or she's met with an even more nonsensical answer.

However, the Tea Party is not run by complete idiots, even if the public front is made up of imbeciles like Sarah Palin, the GOP political strategists behind the scenes are much savvier than we give them credit for. Like in the original there is more going on than we initially see. In the Mad Tea Party we are reminded that saying what you mean and meaning what you say are different concepts. This is also true of the political Tea Party. They've taken a couple pages from the activist's handbook and realized that by yelling louder you can over-represent yourself and that a loud extremist group can help the more mainstream groups redefine the centrist position.

At some point during the scene their ideas begin to make sense. Sure, it makes sense to maximize your partying by celebrating every day that isn't your birthday, if you really like to celebrate yourself. Just like it makes sense to cut taxes or to worry about the deficit. Of course, all of these ideas are short sighted.

Perhaps the most pertinent allegory of all is that of the original Mad Tea Party, in which the reason for tea time was due to the Mad Hatter being perpetually stuck at six o'clock. The Tea Party is rife with people who are stuck in a particular time period. Most of them are in an imaginary time when pop culture teaches us that some particular set of values ruled American life. Still, others are stuck in a time period where Reaganomics is still considered a good idea, and they've drank the Kool-Aid enough to conveniently forget that Reagan had a double dip recession, tripled the deficit, and his economic policies led to another recession in 1991. By knowing nothing of history the Tea Party has conveniently stuck themselves in a place where their goals are unattainable, because they're striving for a time in American life that either didn't exist or cannot exist without abandoning almost all American values. It would require government to dictate culture in a way that would make China seem like a Free society.

All of that is beside the point, though. It's the last salvo. The point here is that Alice eventually moved on. In the Disney version she didn't learn much, and I think that's how most Americans will be when this political scene eventually fades. Sure, she had a slightly better concept of how things work in Wonderland, and likewise I can see these political arguments causing some people to be at least slightly more aware of the governmental workings here. Mostly, in that it was just a time killer.

In the book Alice learns a bit more about the world. She learns that time is a person rather than a concept. She sees that there is a method to madness. Those who are more politically savvy may pick up on the subtler aspects of this brutish political group. Further, in the meta debate over their ideas both sides throw around political and economic concepts that are actually worthy of debate. It's very confusing, but perhaps that aspect is worthwhile and maybe when this farce comes to an end we will be ever so slightly better for its occurrence.

In both renditions, Alice walks off rather disgusted. That's what I think we should do here. It is what I will do. The first step in this process for me was realizing after my vacation that I don't want to catch up on the backlog of STFU, Teabaggers. Then I unsubscribed. I also unsubscribed from Media Matters because they rarely do more than pwn Fox News, another organization I think is a waste of time. I like both of these sites, especially STFU Teabaggers where I was a somewhat frequent, though anonymous, contributor. It's not that I will completely erase news about these groups from my life, but I will no longer partake in concentrated vitriol against them.

The Tea Party is essentially a group of political trolls. They don't exist to further the conversation, they exist to influence it in the most negative and nonproductive ways possible. Trolls use misdirection to derail a debate. The best way to handle trolls is not to feed them, starve them of attention. They simply aren't worth the time.

p.s. The reason why the Tea Party is racist is because they've actively embraced or ignored their racist elements. The same is true of any group, tacit ignorance and acceptance is the best way to cosign a message. It is something that is only solved by internally policing what is and isn't socially acceptable within your group. For instance, left leaning media offered up some very sexist views of Hillary Clinton during her Presidential campaign, but the greater population of socially progressive people shamed them for it, including then candidate Barack Obama.

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