Mad Wombat

A moderately liberal Democraticly-themed blog

Category Archives: Tea Party

Fiscal Cliff End Games

Oh, here we are again: an economic end game between President Obama and the Republican House of Representatives going down to the wire. Where have we seen this movie before?

Of course a week ago, it looked like we may get a deal to end the fiscal cliff and then…something happened. We aren’t sure what, though I have a few guesses. In any case, negotiations broke down on Monday, Boehner proposed his doomed Plan B that sank without a vote, and then Obama sent everyone home to drink egg nog and eat cookies over the holidays.

So what are the possible end games to this?

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First they came for…the United Methodists?

There is a very good reason why moderate branches of Christianity and even Jewish groups should be lining up to defend the Muslim community from attacks from the radical religious right in the country: because if the radical religious right is successful in demonizing Muslims to the point of allowing legal persecution, then Jews and moderate Christians are going to be the next ones in line.  No one has made this clearer than Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips:

Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips has a dream: “No more Methodist Church.”

A blog post on his Tea Party Nation page says that on Friday he walked by the United Methodist Building in Washington D.C., which had a sign that said, “Pass the DREAM Act.” Phillips wrote: ” I have a DREAM. That is, no more United Methodist Church.”

This isn’t some oft-demonized non-Christian religion, or even a tiny sect within Christianity.  This is the third largest Christian denomination behind Catholicism and Baptists.  This isn’t just “Christians are right and everyone else is wrong,”  This is “my brand of Christianity is right, and everyone else, even if you call yourself Christian, is wrong.”  And if these people are successful in allowing the government to legally discriminate against one religious group, what’s to stop them from doing it against another, even other Christian denominations?  This is exactly the reason why the religion clauses exist in the First Amendment.

And why does Phillips want to get rid of the United Methodists? Well, because they actually believe in helping people, that’s why:

“The Methodist church is pro-illegal immigration,” he continues. “They have been in the bag for socialist health care, going as far as sending out emails to their membership “debunking” the myths of Obamacare. Say, where are the liberal complaints on the separation of church and state?”

Did you know that Christianity opposes allowing giving children who were brought to the United States by their parents a chance to do something with their lives? Or opposes the idea that people should actually be given affordable health care.  Well, according to Phillips’ version, it does.  And there is nothing against the First Amendment with a church advocating for certain causes.  The problem comes in when churches start actually advocating for the election of specific candidates and start making the claim that, hey, the government can tell people of religions we don’t like to fuck off.

Of course, this could have the opposite effect.  As I noted, Methodists (and Wesleyans, as the Census groups them together in that PDF) is the 3rd largest denomination in the United States, and they’re hardly alone in being more liberal than the Baptists.  The Presbyterian Church supported the DREAM Act as well, as does the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Episcopal Church, and those were the ones I could actually find a position made by a central government body.  I couldn’t even find a position by the Southern Baptist Convention, pro or con on the DREAM Act, either.  Saying that you want denominations who supported the DREAM Act and Health Care Reform to go away isn’t going to get you much support from most of the Christian community, at least based on the organizations that lead those denominations.

How are they Different?

I’ve been having a hard time distinguishing between the behavior of Tea Baggers and Progressives (notably, netroots progressives) lately.  Let’s look at how many ways these people appear to be similar:

  • Belief that Obama’s policies are destroying America
  • Instinct that, when something happens to their disliking, to blame Democrats, and specifically Obama, first, regardless of the circumstances
  • Demand that the other side compromise while their side holds their ground
  • Expectation that, despite the actual political reality, that their party get things done the way that they want them done
  • Celebrating the decimation of the moderate wing of their party

In a sense, Progressives are even worse, because you can add this to the list, which isn’t really true for the Tea Baggers, at least right at this moment:

  • Expectation that Obama do things that he never even campaigned on doing (getting out of Afghanistan, single payer, a multitude of other things)

Having said this, could Obama have done things better? Yes. Could Obama and the Democrats done a much better job in messaging. Certainly.  I’m not saying Obama is perfect.  I’m not saying Obama is always right.

However, what I am saying is that the circumstances of the situation have to be considered before making judgments, and it is always, always easier to sit down and write about what should be done than it is to actually govern.  The Tea Party will face that reality soon enough themselves.  One can only hope that they treat the Republicans as harshly as Progressives have treated their own party.

* Just as with most comparisons, not everyone in the particular group fits, and if you are one of those who don’t, then I apologizeJ