Many if not most of my conservative friends seem to base their political posture on fear. They are anti- anything that changes their version of the country. Their fear is so pervasive in their actions. But what do they fear the most??? That is probably a question that has a myriad of answers but let me give you my beliefs about it.
The Tea Party is anti almost everything. But the thing that they most loathe is our current president. They see him as one of “those people” who are not like them. They see the future of the country in his heritage. Here are some words from a recent email from Jim Wallis about that.
In only about 30 years, most Americans will come from Africa, Asia, or Latin America. Most Americans will no longer be white, and many white Americans are clearly not ready for that profound demographic change in their country. That white fear of who “we” Americans will be is at the heart of resistance to immigration reform. Many older conservative Republican and Tea Party voters are acutely aware of being “white” in a country that is becoming increasingly a “minority.” Congressional voting districts have been oddly gerrymandered along racial lines to protect dominant racial majorities. Shutting down a government that they believe to be too generous to minorities becomes an urgent matter. “Obamacare” becomes the great threat of government providing medical insurance disproportionately to poor people of color. Giving food stamps to poor families becomes another racial flashpoint for conservative white voters.
Finally, a black president becomes the most hated symbol of the demographic changes they most fear for their country.
Questioning Barack Obama’s birthplace and parentage, calling him a non-Christian Muslim, naming him as a “foreigner” and not a “real American” are all ways to define this president as “the other” and not one of “us.” The hatred goes far beyond Obama’s policies and extends to his personage as the wrong kind of American. Obama shows them they are losing elections, and they fear that means losing “their” country.
I know this is a very sensitive topic and I am trying to speak with that sensitivity in mind. When Lyndon Johnson dared to push through the Civil Rights laws of the 1960s the South was for the most part in the Democratic Party. The Republican party which was the party of Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation up until that time had little appeal to many in the previous Confederate States. But the Civil Rights laws pushed all the “Dixiecrats” over into the GOP and that is where they are still firmly entrenched. They became the new base for the party. If you don’t understand that then just look at the red/blue maps of our country.
I believe that much of the Tea Party “principles” are based on things we just don’t want to be visible. It is kept firmly under the surface in today’s politics. No, am not painting with too broad a brush here. I understand that there are other factions who have also chosen to hitch their wagons to this Tea Party movement. Some have a nobler agenda and some probably not. But to ignore that racism plays a strong part of the Tea Party agenda and their vitriol hatred of an African-American president is in my mind just not facing reality.
So many Republican politicians go to the extremes to placate their base. Maybe it is time to jettison those angry folks and look for a new and certainly more noble foundation. I would certainly support them in that effort.