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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tea Party = Closet Liberals?

Recently, at a gathering at my house celebrating all sorts of good things, I found myself manning the grill and standing between two friends: an avid Tea Party supporter and a liberal, proud of her involvement in  Madison protests of 1970s.  I was getting concerned that fireworks having nothing to do with the grill, were inevitable.  To my great surprise, my two friends not knowing each others' political backgrounds, quickly found common ground on, of all things, the ID bill (since signed into law).  Both couldn't stand the idea of government keeping such close track of their identity and creating guidelines and rules they needed to follow in order to exercise their constitutional right to vote. It made me think that perhaps the two ends of the political spectrum are closer than many want us may be prepared to believe. 

One of the worst things Governor Walker in Wisconsin and the right wing political machine nationwide are attempting to do, is to create an impression that there is a great big divide between the left and the right.  This view, once accepted, allows extremist politicians to place themselves at the top of their respective totem polls in order to continue to define what the view looks like from up above, and to attempt to prove to others that they belong there with the radicals as well.  But is it really so?  Are there just two points of view in America, one being THE left and another one being THE right?  

There is more than one issue that brings conservatives and liberals together.  A recent example of one such recent issue may be Arbitration.  In April, Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision affecting consumers' ability to argue with binding arbitration.  Hailed as "crushing blow to American consumers and employees" by attorney representing Public Citizen, this decision was also decried by conservative blog Varight as subjecting consumers to "unaccountable court system".  

Another issue where liberals and Tea Party supporters may find common ground is military spending, seen by both sides as wasteful and excessive.  Corporate welfare, Federal Reserve, trade agreements, Whistleblower bill and energy independence are more of the issues where liberals and conservatives have been able to find common ground.  Perhaps the time has come to finally realize that these are not anomalies but an indication of the populist paradigm re-emerging in American politics.  A paradigm that wants Government to adhere to common set of rules while protecting freedoms and opportunity for individuals.

What all of these have in common, is the concern shared by both Tea Party and Liberal activists that our government is really controlled by military and corporate interests.  Creating the false divide of "right" and "left" and using labels such as "socialism", only furthers the supposed divide and muddies the issue.  Yes, obviously there are disagreements between the Tea Party supporters and progressives, but the differences that separate the two extremes, do not negate and may not even be as important as the things that bring us together.

Visually speaking, perhaps the political spectrum is not a single line with one end being the far left and the other end being the far right, or a circle with far left meeting the far right but more of a net or a fabric, consisting of threads which sometimes come together and other times drift apart.  Through our common connections, we are all a part of a greater singular whole and we find common language through our common concerns and desires.  And when tragedy strikes, it is not attack on one, but on all because a hole in one part of the fabric damages the entire material. 

Could it be that the most determined Tea Party believers are closer to the radical liberals than both are willing to admit?  

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