The Tea Party's Taxing Logic
Back in September, "10 Lessons for Tea Baggers" documented a set of inescapable truths which the frothing-at-the-mouth followers of the Tea Party movement nevertheless manage to deny. Number one on that list then and now is "President Obama cut your taxes." As Steve Benen related today, the Tea Baggers themselves and their ideological water carriers at the National Review by ignorance or choice refuse to acknowledge that 95% of American households received tax relief courtesy of Barack Obama.
A new poll from CBS News reflected the mass delusion of the American people in general and Tea Baggers in particular when it comes to the Obama tax cuts. A quarter of respondents said the Obama administration increased taxes while 53% said they were inchanged. Only 12% rightly answered that federal income taxes had come down under President Obama.
But among the confused Tea Party crowd, the belief is akin to asserting the sun orbits the earth:
Of people who support the grassroots, "Tea Party" movement, only 2 percent think taxes have been decreased, 46 percent say taxes are the same, and a whopping 44 percent say they believe taxes have gone up.
Over at the National Review, Denis Boyles defended the "truthiness" of the Tea Baggers midguided beliefs:
"If the taxes of 95 percent of Americans actually had been cut, surely somebody other than Obama would have noticed."
That "somebody" would happen to be sentient, honest Americans.
As "10 Lessons" noted:
As in April, the Tea Baggers continued to display their fundamental misunderstanding of U.S. history and the American Revolution. Apparently, the right-wing zealots are outraged by no taxation with representation.
As promised, Barack Obama in the stimulus package delivered on his pledge of tax relief for 95% of American households. Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) didn't only jump start gross domestic product and refill empty state coffers in the second quarter of 2009. As Nate Silver thoroughly documented, "Obama has cut taxes for 98.6% of working households."
Nevertheless, raging Tea Baggers spouting Republican Tax Day lies took to the streets not to thank the President, but to blame him for the tax cuts they received.
As viewers of President Obama's State of the Union address will recall, that ersatz outrage extends to the Republican members of Congress. After Obama reeled off a long list of tax cuts he put in place for American citizens and businesses alike, Republican contingent sat silent. To the party whose members believe tax cuts are the cure for everything from budget deficits to erectile dysfunction, President Obama could only laugh:
Now, let me repeat: We cut taxes. We cut taxes for 95 percent of working families. (Applause.) We cut taxes for small businesses. We cut taxes for first-time homebuyers. We cut taxes for parents trying to care for their children. We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college. (Applause.)
I thought I'd get some applause on that one. (Laughter and applause.)
But for the raging right and its media accomplices hoping to manufacture conflict (and ratings) at every turn, the truth apparently will not set you free. As the Daily Show's Jon Stewart advised tempestuous Tea Baggers back in April:
"I think you might be confusing tyranny with losing."
Just as a wise parent does not argue with a contumacious two-year old, an astute politician cannot effectively communicate solely with well-reasoned logic grounded in sound theory. Lincoln insightfully noted that you can indeed fool some of the people all of the time. Elmer Gantry, Sarah Palin, the GOP, and astroturf-sowing lobbyists like Dick Armey are well aware of this human foible, and they exploit it quite well to their ends. The truth is totally immaterial in this arena. Some activists need a new "drug" to numb their fears, anxieties, and frustrations in today's environment of unsettling change. Obama has become a lightening rod symbol for a frightful, unknown future. Their behavior exemplifies a longing for regression: a romanticized sense of security back in the "good old days".
A wise parent does not communicate with only his most gifted children while ignoring the slower learners. He must communicate on child-appropriate levels. As a young child, I was once frightened by things that go bump in the night. My father's assurances that there were in fact no boogeymen sounded good, but I felt no less insecure. When he flexed his biceps, bragged what he would do to any foolish intruder, and gave me a claw-hammer "weapon" to put under my pillow (just in case), I fell asleep peacefully.
These people have very real fears and frustrations, and their angst should not be ignored, ridiculed, or scorned. I hold the right-wing demagogues in contempt for their manipulating mendacity used to politically corral these folks into voting against their self-interests. I wish the President and the Democratic Party would stop marginalizing this nascent voting bloc and communicate better on a gut level. These voters need somebody to wrestle with their boogeymen and to provide a more glamorous illusion for tomorrow. Communications addressing these concerns must appeal viscerally, not merely cerebrally.
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