Teabaggers are not the enemy. Common ground does exist

Crooks and Liars says teabaggers are a construct of right-wing operatives, dangerous loonies, and any talk of engaging them or joining together on common issues is idiotic.

They want jobs for sure, but they think that any government which is led by a Democratic politician wants to destroy their freedoms and as we see, take away their guns. The tea party crowds are a FOX News/corporatist-led movement. What comes out of their mouths is mostly gibberish promoted by right wing talkies and not based in reality.

I disagree with this. Here’s why.

1) The media always focuses on the most nutcase of protesters. This happened constantly when I was helping organize Iraq antiwar protests. You could have a crowd of thousands and the photos were of the craziest protesters with the most deranged signs. DJ, who posts here, lives in rural Utah and says most the teabaggers he knows are Democrats and not racists. That hardly fits the media stereotype – and that’s exactly my point.

2) The teabaggers are a real phenomenon. Sure, they are egged along by right-wing operatives. But they don’t like big government, don’t like the bailouts, and most especially really get really pissed when urban liberals piously lecture to them about their lifestyles and react in horror when they carry guns.

3) Guns are an part of rural southern / western culture and have been for generations. This is an issue they will go to the barricades on. For C&L to be aghast because protesters legally carried guns to a protest in New Mexico means they really don’t get it about a large part of US culture. (And let’s not forget the Black Panthers legally carried guns to the California capital in 1968, freaking out a bunch of people too.)

4) There is a populist upsurge happening in this country now. It will continue to grow. Populism has a long history here, it’s red, white and blue American, and ignores traditional political party boundaries focusing instead on the theft by a few from the rest of us.

5) The left must become involved in this resurgence of populism or the right will have it for their own. C&L does an extraordinary job of exposing the most rabid and deranged of the right. But they err in thinking that fringe represents all the right.

There is common ground. We need to find it, then work together on changing our current system of theftocracy with its plunder by a few.


  1. I agree and disagree. There is common ground, and I think it’s nice to find it, and assert that we agree with them on those common things. But I don’t think we can work together, because while we both see the same problem, the solutions are going to be very different.

    The problem with your logic is that though we may see the same thing as a problem, we don’t see the same causes or solutions. We see a common problem of the government over taxing and over spending on the wrong things. Our solution is to prompt for more transparency in hopes that we can shame them into less spending on stupid things. Their solution is to slash taxes and social programs to nothing. We see the same problem, but have very different solutions, because we see the cause of the problem to be different things.

    The enemy of my enemy is not always my friend. Sometimes they’re almost as dangerous as the common enemy, or become more so once that common enemy is rendered less dangerous.

    • All true, however the rising tide of populist anger at the banksters does cut across political boundaries. Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders are co-sponsoring the Audit The Fed bill. And the revelations today about Geithner and AIG happened because Darryl Isa (R-CA) pulled the emails. And HuffPo agrees the rest of the emails should be made public.

      • I agree. But I don’t see the tea bag movement pushing to support the Audit the Fed bill. If they were doing a call-in campaign about that, then I’d be all about it. Instead they’re protesting about a health care provision to an as yet unconsolidated bill that they think may see “their money” paying for a few poor peoples abortions.

        Mind you, they’re fine with funding the slaughtering millions of Afghans and Iraqis by carpet bombing areas that might have “insurgent fighters” who are protecting their towns from the invading army of a forign country. But to kill a fetus… well, that’s MURDER, and just going too far! (Unless it’s an Afghan or an Irqai fetus I suppose…)

        Again, same problem, different perceived causes and very different solutions.

        • The teabaggers are the fringe. Just like hardcore Marxists were in the Iraq antiwar protests. In both cases they may be in positions of power and influence in their movements (I know for a fact that’s true of the antiwar movement.) But the more moderate attendees at antiwar protests thought the endless speeches advocating socialism were absurd but went to protest the war. I’m sure the same is true of what’s loosely called the teabaggers.

          Lots of them don’t like big government, are suspicious of the health care bill, and oppose the stimulus. That seems common ground to me. But right now the left is doing diddly in all this and the right has momentum. That needs to change.

  2. Woody: It’s the talking heads that demand slashing taxes and social programs. The teabaggers follow these talking heads because they’re the only ones leading who don’t want to take away their guns. Sit down and talk with the average teabagger here and you’ll find someone who doesn’t believe our government works (can you disagree?) and wants his/her money spent more effectively. There’s plenty of common ground, once you get past both sides’ party rhetoric. Teabaggers are on the right only because the left was a no-show.

    Sure, they jump on the “lower taxes” bandwagon. Does anyone really want to pay MORE taxes? Especially when the money went to corporate greedheads! And there’s a legitimate argument to be made, as California crashes and burns, that the high tax, high service model doesn’t work. Liberals don’t seem to want to discuss that. Both parties have their sacred cows.

    Bob: They’re not mostly Dems, but they include plenty of Dems. I played cards last night with a Republican woman, a former school teacher turned rancher, who really wants what is best for the country. The one thing we completely agree on is that neither party represents that. She’s terrified that O will take away her guns, and that causes a knee-jerk reaction toward a right wing she doesn’t even like.

    O really screwed up when he flip-flopped on the gun issue, and the right and the pro-gun extremists took full advantage. He can never again (truthfully) say he never made a move as President to restrict gun rights, and many rural people will never trust him. He (and many liberals) underestimate the power of this issue.

    Compare the gun issue in rural places, to proposing a restriction on voting rights in South Central Los Angeles– the mere suggestion gets people fired up. If you missed the emails forwarded around the black community where it was [plausibly but erroneously] claimed that W wanted to repeal the Civil Rights Act, hopefully you can imagine how angry they were. That’s the kind of emotion you’ll find here when it comes to guns, and anyone who wants to unite the country would do well to recognize that.

    • Sorry, but I’m getting really tired of this stupid scare tactic and it’s apologists.

      Nobody, ever, is going to “take away your guns”, any more then they plan on taking away the Bible, or your right to say “Christmas” or anything else. The only thing I recall Obama doing to “restrict gun rights” was to sign a renewal bill that continued a ban against semi-automatic riffles. The problem is the weak minded will believe someone that says “X is going to take away your guns and/or Bibles!” Those same weak minded people seem to have no problems trampling the rights of others though when it comes to things like abortion or homosexuals. And the bulk of the teabagger movement is made up of these sheeple.

      Sorry, but I don’t think anyone needs semi-automatic (or fully automatic) weapons to defend themselves. I was raised in a rural area and know all about guns. I got my first hunting rifle when I was 7 and know pretty much everything I need to know to survive in the wild and in the city where I live today. I can kill a crazy person easier with a hand gun than I can with an AK-47. If you think you need an AK-47 to “defend yourself” then you have some major issues and probably shouldn’t have a gun.

      As for the base of your argument, I have tried to sit down with the “average” teabagger on multiple occasions. With few exceptions when I ask a question that makes them think they object sternly to my “trying to trick them” and become offensive and hostile. And before you think “well you’re just being confrontational”, know that I’m generally not so.

      The problem is that it’s often not that they’re willing to jump on a band wagon, but that they’re too mentally inept or lazy to think for themselves. My own rural parents are examples of both types. My father gets headaches trying to balance a check book, and on the rare occasion politics come up he usually winds up storming out of the room within minutes looking for an aspirin. My mother is more capable (she balances the check book) but is also quite content to let someone think for her unless it directly conflicts with something she cares about, which from what I can tell includes her garden, her needle point, and her TV shows.

      Yes, I know, not all teabaggers are like that, just like not all lefties are free thinkers. But I can count on one hand the number of free thinking intellectuals I know that are in the tea bag camp. When I have discussed things with that select group they do have valid points, which we often agree upon. In the end though it always boils down to a difference of opinion/belief on whats causing a particular problem, and how it should be fixed.

      So again, I say: Just because two groups agree on the symptom does not make them a friend or ally. I’m not saying we should shun them or call them petty names. I’m saying we need to be cautious about associating with and/or joining camps.

      Personally I equate teabaggers to a heard of cows. And no, that’s not an insult… Most rural folks know cows are actually quite intelligent. They’re generally friendly and benign with good intentions and little in the way of actual malice. But I won’t call a cow a friend or an ally, no matter how peaceful they seem. I know that such people, like cows, participate in kind of group think. They can take aversions to things for little reason, be it a sheep dog or a single talking head on a radio program. And if something spooks them they can easily end up in a stampede.

      Personally, I’d much rather see the stampede coming and find a way steer or dodge it than be among them getting trampled while trying to calm them down. I’ve been in both situations, and can tell you, the getting trampled part is painful and usually doesn’t stop the stampede from happening anyway. So, mingle among the herd if you like. I’ll be standing over here with the sheep dog, just in case a radio show host shows up with a shotgun.

      • I think you missed the point. O is no more likely to take away guns than W was to repeal the Voting Rights Act. But they’re both hot buttons. Kind of like telling a typical liberal that the government shouldn’t fund an elective surgery such as an abortion– they won’t hear anything after that.

        And you’ve hit that button. Because under the 2nd amendment, it doesn’t matter whether a person NEEDS an AK-47– they have the right to have one. And, as you say, a handgun is more effective, so why the liberal fascination with AKs? As to why a person would want one, they’re fun to shoot, they’re symbolic, they’re relatively cheap, they use standard and relatively cheap ammo, they’re reasonably accurate to 300 yard with open sights, and they never jam. For the low-budget recreational shooter, they make a lot of sense.

        And herein lies the problem: everyone who handles guns has an opinion which is better, more effective, more necessary, etc. When you start saying “that one can be banned, this one can’t,” you’ve embarked on that slippery slope, and you’re not going to make any friends out here. Let’s face it: there’s no functional difference between a Ruger Mini-14 (legally not an “assault rifle”) and an AK (legally an “assault rifle”)– the distinction was created by anti-gun legislators. The only real difference is the AK’s scary-looking pistol grip– and that Hollywood constantly (and fictionally) portrays thugs wielding full-auto AKs on the streets of America. For the record, a legally-purchased AK is semi-auto; a full-auto AK costs about $15K and is difficult to get a permit for.

        As for the herd, there are only a few people who aren’t in it– left or right. Perhaps you’re one. But you won’t cut anyone out of the herd (in either camp) by hitting their hot buttons.

        • DJ, I understand the point you’re making, but doesn’t help your case. Obama never did anything drastic involving gun laws. People are believing talking heads that say he did something drastic, when in fact all he’s done (to my knowledge) is extend the life of an existing law that’s over a decade old now, requiring waiting periods and very minimal background checks on gun purchases. He wasn’t stumping on banning rifles or taking away hand guns, which is how you (and some radio show hosts) are making it sound.

          Again, the topic at hand is not gun control policy, but weather or not the teabag group is one we should consider associating with. My point was that the group is easily swayed by half-truths or repeated lies, and as such isn’t a viable group to consider for association. If nothing else, dialogs like this are a prime example of just how easily they are influenced. If they’re so easily convinced that the President wants to take their guns and Bibles, has no birth certificate, or is a secret Muslim, then frankly I feel they’re not a group we should be trying to associate with in any way shape or form. And be honest, a large majority of people in that group believe all three things with a very strong conviction and no factual evidence to back up those “beliefs”.

          Yes, this is a fringe group we’re talking about, and there are several other people that sympathize with some of the tea bag movement that don’t believe all the rest. But they generally don’t associate themselves with the group either, because the vast majority of them believe these radical conspiracy theories. The same logic holds for groups like Code Pink, people may believe some of the base premise, but most are scared off by the extreme left stance held by the most radical members on unrelated topics.

          On the gun topic:

          You ask “what’s the liberal fascination with AKs?” I honestly don’t see a fascination with AKs in the liberal camp. Most liberal people I know use logic as a base, and logically derive that semi-automatic weapons have little use other than hitting a lot of targets quickly without much in the way of control or accuracy. For that reason they feel such guns are not needed by your every day citizen for defense. I can cite several examples where semi-automatic weapons have been used to attack and kill large groups of people, but am stumped to come up with one where they were used for defense.

          I turn the question around on you: What is the conservative fascination with AKs, that they feel they must have this weapon, without any checks, waiting periods, licensing, or a record of who owns it? What is the end desire? That any random person may walk into the local Walmart and buy an AK off the shelf, with cash, totally anonymously, and wander off with it? That seems to be the desire. What logical purpose does that support, knowing the guns limited use case, which is primarily offensive in nature?

          Personally, I feel perfectly at ease with people getting a hand gun and using that for defensive purposes. I can’t say the same for semi-automatic guns. I dislike laws against standard gun ownership, like hand guns and hunting rifles. But what reasonable person needs an AK to hunt deer or protect their family? And what harm is there in having to wait a few days to get a hand gun, and having it registered to you so that most common people will get the hint that their reputation is tied to the responsible keeping of said gun?

          In many cases the laws are not setup to say “you can’t have it”, but rather that you have to register it, and pass a very minimal background or proficiency check, usually with a built in delay or waiting period. I see no issue with this at all.

          The theory of “if the government has a list they can come for us” is bull, especially in this day and age where word would spread instantly if such a thing were attempted. Background checks should catch people that have stability issues, or violent criminal backgrounds. And I’m sorty, but I can’t advocate such people having a weapon which has the solitary purpose and function of being able to killing dozens of people in a few seconds. Is that something you would advocate for, mental ill people with automatic guns? If so, why, and if not, then who would advocate for such a thing?

  3. Obama didn’t bring any legislation to the table, but he did announce in a speech his intention to bring back the (expired) Assault Weapons Ban– a ban that even DOJ says did nothing to reduce crime. But when even some members of his own party failed to back the idea, he dropped it. Unfortunately for him, he alienated half the country by doing exactly what he promised in his campaign that he would not do.

    DOJ statistics suggest that very few crimes are committed with AKs. Rather, the most common firearm used in crimes is the .38 Special revolver, followed by the 9mm semiautomatic pistol. Which begs the question: what’s the rationale to outlaw a gun that’s rarely used in crimes?

    To be fair, most conservatives I know don’t own an AK. They prefer the AR-15 or some other .223 rifle. I happen to be a low-budget shooter, and I bought an AK after firing one owned by a friend of mine because it was fun to shoot. I do find it more fun that the .223. And that’s the reason I shoot: because I enjoy it. I don’t hunt, and I don’t rob liquor stores. As for “hitting a lot of targets quickly without much in the way of control or accuracy,” I repeat: the AK is pretty accurate using open sights out to 300 yards.

    If self defense was the criteria for whether a firearm ought to be legal, I might agree with you– might, because out where I live a handgun is woefully inadequate. The day a pack of wild dogs came in after our goats, I was glad that we were not so limited in our options. Only one man I know can reliably hit anything with a pistol at 100 yards– I sure can’t. Can you?

    But self defense is not the criteria. We have the right to bear arms responsibly, and that means whether the firearm is useful for self defense or not is irrelevant. (My grandfather’s flintlock would be outlawed in that basis.) In Heller (2008) the Supreme Court affirmed our right to keep and bear arms for “any lawful purpose,” and held that Americans have the right to own any weapon “commonly in current use.” though they failed to define that phrase.

    Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who fear background checks as a potential tool the government could use to keep legitimate gun owners from buying guns. And there are some legitimate grievances– I once failed a background check because someone with the same name as me had a felony in a state I’ve never been to. And certainly regimes in other countries (and even Culver City, CA) have abused background checks to limit who can and who cannot carry guns. Still, I happen to be in favor of background checks for exactly the reason you (and the Supreme Court) indicated: to keep guns out of the hands of felons and the mentally ill. I don’t see much point in waiting periods, though, and my state doesn’t require them– it also has one of the lowest per capita gun violence rates in the country.

    What is the end desire of permitting all sorts of firearms? It’s simple: those who mistrust our government believe that they must remain armed to prevent tyranny. This is the reason the second amendment was put into the Constitution: because many feared that government in the absence of an armed populace would become a dictatorship. There is ample historical evidence that an unarmed populace cannot prevent this from happening, though it is equally clear that in not every case does an unarmed society become a dictatorship. But the bottom line is, many of our founding fathers (including Thomas Jefferson) saw an armed populace as essential to the preservation of liberty.

    These days, it should be no surprise that people mistrust government– the surprise should be that after two abusive administrations, one from each party, anyone has any remaining trust in our government.

    Now back to the teabaggers: it appears we have two dueling definitions of what a teabagger is. You describe them as a “fringe group.” Where I live, more people sympathize with them than not. That makes them a majority, which by definition is not a fringe group. Are they swayed by half-truths? Yes. Most Americans are. I regularly debunk wild email claims from both left and right, from people who ought to know better.

  4. First, just for clarification, it is “tea partier” (a reference to the Boston Tea Party revolt against taxation without representation), not “tea bagger”. The latter is a person who engages in a type of sex act, and was first used disparagingly by the Left at those in the tea party movement, but somehow keeps coming back.

    Second, I’m not so sure this is a fringe movement. 51% of Americans now identify with the major issues of the movement. Speaking for myself, I am BOILING at these politicians ramming garbage down our throats (a la health-care, growing multi-trillion dollar deficits) and demanding that we like it since it has a pretty name, promising openness and transparency and then doing back-room deals, attempting to co-opt the civil rights movement (which was about morality) and use similar tactics for the gay/perverse (IMmoral) movement. And did I mention overspending our unborn grandchildrens’ money. We saw Lehman and much of the banking system go down due to reckless spending/investing games, but somehow our politicians never learned the lesson and have taken the Democrat majority to do what? SPEND EVEN MORE!

    There’s more evidence that this movement is about people (Rep, Dem and Ind) opening their eyes, not just a small group. Massachusetts, one of the most liberal states in the US has a Republican very close in the Senate race. Even if he doesn’t win, it’s clear that even liberals are threatened by Washington’s growing nonsense!

    I will never vote for another Democrat — not even a so-called moderate — because most of the moderates keep voting for this nonsense.

    • “Tea partier” it is, then. I like to refer to people as they like to be referred as.

      I most emphatically do not think it’s a fringe movement and have been saying so for quite some time. Don’t agree with you on gay issues, do agree on the banksters, the deficit, and the health care reform that isn’t.

      The problem isn’t left vs right. It’s most of the population against the few who are siphoning money from us to them. The DC establishment of both parties are complicit in this.

    • Never heard of teabagging as a sex act… Teabagging, as I understood it, came from the first act of sending a teabag to the White House– a reference to the Boston Tea Party, but that’s the name that stuck. Even in Utah, where there aren’t many liberal disparagers (and probably very little teabagging, whatever it is).

      As for Dems, I do like our local Blue Dog, Jim Matheson, but rarely vote for either a Dem or a GOP otherwise. Mass dumping the Dems for a GOP does not appear to me to be a step forward– just another step to the side.

      One of my team members once radically rediagrammed the Sri Lankan conflict: instead of GOSL and the Sinhalese people against LTTE and the Tamil people, he aligned GOSL and LTTE against the Sinhala and Tamil people. It was a jaw-dropping revelation.

      I think the same applies here, if we could only see it: it’s the Dems & GOP against America.

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