While Americans struggle to pay their bills, stay in their homes, and support their children, Republican leaders tell crude jokes and stage mock revolts--a sign of a deep crisis in the opposition party.

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Jeffrey Feldman, Editor-in-Chief
Frameshop, 02/27/2009

Everywhere I look, these days, Republicans are revolting.   Here are a few snapshots of what prominent Republicans are doing:

- Ann Coulter:  In weekly column told a racist joke about Bobby Jindal, called the Speaker of the House "mentally retarded," call public schools a "union incinerator" that eat children

- Michele Bachmann (R-MN):  In remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference, used racist black-face slang to praise RNC Chair Michael Steele,"You be da man! You be da man!"

- Rush Limbaugh:  On national radio show, called President Obama a "castrati", in response to Secretary of Defense Policy shift to allow press to photograph flag-draped caskets returning from Iraq

- Michelle Malkin: Maligned American victims of subprime mortgage scams as "predatory borrowers" 

- Dean Grose (Republican Mayor, Los Alamitos, CA): Circulated racist email containing photo of watermelons growing on White House lawn with title "No Easter egg hunt this year"

Incredibly, in addition to all this revolting behavior from leading Republican pundits and elected officials, there is also a full scale revolt led by Republicans against the American government, today.

That's right:  a revolt.

The Republican revolt is called Tea Party U.S.A. and the idea is that Republicans will stage protests against government spending, today, to send the message to Washington that the American people are tired of taxation without representation--or something like that. 

Curiously, the Facebook page for one of the Washington, DC, Tea Party says that this is not actually a Republican event:

This isn't a conservative or liberal thing. This is about government forking over billions of dollars to businesses that should have failed. This is about taking money from responsible people and handing it over to CEOs who squandered their own. (link)

That seems reasonable, until we look at the list of organizations sponsoring the Washington, DC, Tea Party:

- Americans for Prosperity

- Americans for Tax Reform

- Young Conservatives Coalition

- The Heartland Institute

- National Taxpayers Union

- FreedomWorks

- Institute for Liberty

Not exactly a "Who's Who" of progressive or liberal non-profit groups.  And if we head on over to the Tea Party website, we see the following "talking points":

1. This is a non-partisan event — in fact, it’s critical of both parties — large-scale government interventions into the free market were kicked off under Bush, and Obama’s doing no better.

2. The American taxpayer is better at spending his money than the government. If you ask your average taxpayer if he wanted to spend millions of dollars on golf course renovations, you could be sure he’d say no.

3. Small business owners are the backbone of the economy, not large failing corporations. Amping up regulations only hurts these businesses.

4. It is our *optimism* that guides our frustration. We believe so strongly in the ingenuity and hard work of the American people, that we feel big government measures will only get in the way of their success.

Critical of both parties?  Those talking points read like they were clipped out of a Gov. Jindal's response speech with a pair of safety scissors. 

Yep.  It has been a week of revolting Republicans, alright.  And things are getting revoltinger and revoltinger with each passing day.

This leads me to wonder: Why would anyone support Republicans who revolt against government spending on tax relief for the middle class, but not against no-bid contracts for Iraq?

Why would anyone support Republicans who revolt against deficit spending the moment the country elects a Democratic President, but not during the last 8 years when a Republican was in the White House?

Why would anyone support Republicans who cannot break the habit of telling racist jokes whenever a black, brown or otherwise non-white person takes the national political stage?

Why would anyone support Republicans who use their huge media platforms to hurl 2nd-grade schoolyard insults at non-Republicans, instead of offering pragmatic solutions to America's economic problems?

As I watch the coverage of the CPAC conference, the dilemma facing revolting Republicans comes into focus.  The Republican Party does not seem to have anybody in a position of leadership who feels compelled to speak about solving the problems Americans face in their everyday lives, today.  Instead, the collective Republican leadership is stuck in revolt mode.  They revolt against gun laws, against taxes, against any domestic program proposed by Democrats--all in the name of a vague idea of 'freedom,' but never with an eye towards what actual people are going through in this country right now.

And the more the Republican leadership revolts, the more revolting they seem to the vast majority of the public.

There is a groundswell of ideas trying to be heard in the Republican Party, but the din of the tea party Republican being thrown by the current leadership is blocking their voices.  They are old ideas mixed with new:  Goldwater conservatism blended together with the participatory civics of on-line media.  It is a seed of a new Republican Party that has the potential to draw in new membership and garner national support.   But we will not see or hear those ideas so long as they are drowned out by the revolting.

Meanwhile, as the Republicans leadership reverts to the same childish antics that turned off so many voters in the 2006 and 2008 elections, Americans worry about finding the money to put tea on their own tables--about making their mortgage payments, paying for treatment when they sick, and covering the cost of their child's college tuition.  Symbolic tea parties, in other words, are not the collective action that an America in need actually needs right now.  We need pragmatic, steady, and relentless actions--solutions after solution after solution until we finally stop the free fall of our economy and our optimism, allowing us to begin the long, arduous climb back to the surface.    While revolting Republicans sit down for their tea parties, today, the White House, the Congress, and state governments across the country are working to give Americans those solutions. 

Something tells me, however, that the Republican leadership has a lot more tea parties to throw--and long way down the rabbit hole to fall--before they see what really concerns Americans nowadays.

Cream and sugar, anyone?

© Jeffrey Feldman 2009, Frameshop

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