The media-enabled tea party has run amok and it’s time for the media to quit enabling them

Don’t feed the seagulls.

Last Thursday, Democratic candidate for governor Mark Schauer ventured into the lion’s den and made a campaign appearance in conservative Howell, Michigan in Livingston County. From the reports that I’ve seen, over 100 people showed up which is remarkable because (a) we’re still 13 months out from the election and (b) there are people who would tell you there aren’t 100 Democrats living in Livingston County. So, it was a pretty big deal. The local newspaper, the Livingston County Press & Argus made a brief mention that the event was happening 12 days before in its “News Briefs” section but that was it. The first gubernatorial campaign stop of the 2014 election season draws 100+ people out but it’s not “news”.

The next day, Republican Congressman Mike Rogers held a fundraiser in Hartland Township and seven tea partiers showed up holding signs that read “Rogers = Obama”, “No War, Impeach Obama and Rogers” and “Mike Rogers is Arming Jihadists in Syria”. This, apparently, was news because the Livingston County Press ran a full article about it complete with a picture. Seven tea partiers, at least two of whom were teenagers, and this got over a dozen paragraphs with statements from people as far away as Oakland County.

This morning we are watching our government shut down with the incipient pain that inflicts. Millions of government workers on furlough, some of them working but not being paid. A kick in the teeth to our struggling economy. All of this caused by a handful of members of the Senate and Congress who think they are being “mavericks” and “going rogue” by imposing this savage, self-inflicted wound on our country.

Ted Cruz actually got the House to vote for a bill he knew would never pass the Senate and then mock-filibustered what was essentially his own bill when it got to the Senate.

Yesterday afternoon, I got a breathless email from the Tea Party of Western Michigan (“Influence policy, effect [sic] elections, defend the Constitution”) titled “Defunding Obamacare!” that exhorted the readers to call members of Congress. “I’m hearing your calls are working so here is a link to call the US House,” it said.

Calling these people political novices is charitable. They are actually, more simply put, political idiots. They have no clue how our government works despite their nearly religious worship of the U.S. Constitution and, now that they have some power, their idiocy is playing out in dramatic form before our very eyes. This happened before, you’ll recall, in what’s become known as the “Tea Party Downgrade” after the U.S. government’s credit rating was downgraded by Standard and Poor’s when tea partiers held the country hostage over raising the debt limit so that we could pay bills that had already been incurred. We’ll be dealing with this same issue all over again in a few short weeks.

Meanwhile, our media continues to give the tea party column inches. If it were derisive commentary (like this post), I would have no problem with it. But pieces like the Livingston County Press article give them a legitimacy that is unearned and, more importantly, that seems to encourage them to continue their harmful attacks on our government. They are feeding the seagulls.

Glib platitudes like “government is best that governs least” are quaint and easy to paint on a sign or wear on a t-shirt. But they betray a profound lack of understanding about the reality of keeping a democratic republic like the United States of America going down the road, not veering off to the right or left too far and making sure that all of its citizens are truly free to sieze “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for themselves. Not just white folks. Not just rich folks. Not just conservatives. Every single American.

So, media types, I implore you to pleasepleasepleaseplease look at what you are doing by giving the tea party so much attention. When five adults and two kids show up carrying “Don’t tread on me” flags, that isn’t an “event”. That’s lark. It doesn’t deserve a horn honk much less an article.

Please, stop it. They’re hurting America and you’re helping. Don’t feed the seagulls.

[Facepalm CC image credit: Alex Proimos | Flickr]

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  • judyms9

    The media love a freakshow, don’t they? While the government is shut down, the tea partiers might want to read the Supreme Court’s interpretations of the US Constitution over the years so they can get past the Dick and Jane level. The TP understands the Constitution about as well as they understand the New Testament, another writing so many of them claim to revere but fail to comprehend. They’ve missed the boat on both, but they don’t care as long as they can read about themselves, which is their real civics lie.

  • Moribund Cadaver

    The media, to a large degree, is a representation of what the American people want. The American people wanted a freak show. They wanted the crazy stories and extreme personalities to gawk at and rally around, rather than pay serious attention to serious issues and try to understand them.

    The media was more than happy to serve that up for the ratings.

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