E.J. Dionne whom I respect wrote this morning that he thinks we are making too much of the Tea Party movement. In fact his caption in The Birmingham News was “Tea Party: A media tempest in a teapot” He said this is the first “populist” movement ever driven by a television network. He’s talking, of course, about Fox News. I would say let’s just don’t pick on Fox—I’d say all our media is spending to much time on this group. We already know they are in the minority. We have discovered they mostly are Republican, white, male, married and older than 45.
I don’t know what they mean when they talk about “taking our country back” unless they mean getting rid of a black President, putting Republicans back in the White House and running all the immigrants out of town. Did I miss something? I thought President, yes he is President, Obama won the election by a decisive majority. The American people wanted to go in a different direction and he has tried to change the course.
As I look at the Tea Partiers it reminds me of my forty years (not in the wilderness) but as Pastor of a local church. In every church I ever had there was a little cadre that tried to stir something up. Usually, of course it was mostly directed at the Pastor. But they were at all the meetings when anything was discussed. They screamed, wrote letters, sometimes petitions—held secret meeting and usually got nowhere. Meanwhile the church got really scared that this tiny minority was the majority. The minority, of course, talked to nobody but themselves and so they were sure they represented everyone. Most of the time some old wise sage would stand and put out the fire. He or she would put things in perspective. They’d talk about the traditions of the church. They’d even sometimes quote the Bible about how people were to behave. They would point out reality and the troubled waters would settle down. What usually happened was that this group of dissenters would leave when they didn’t get their way and go somewhere else where they would start their campaign all over again.
The point? I think it is that the Tea Parties only talk to themselves. They listen to those commentators who agree with them. They think they are the majority. They’re not. Most folk know that we have to have a government. Somebody asked the little boy if the rules in his family weren’t kinda strict. He said, “There are ten kids in our family and one bathroom—you gotta have rules.” There are a whole lot of diverse people in this country—if we don’t have some standards and rules this place will disintegrate into utter chaos.
Let’s put things in perspective. The Tea Party folk are mostly decent folk that are scared about change and their kids and their pocketbooks and where we’re going. There are some toting guns and waving Hitler-Obama signs and a lot of other ugly things. But they are not the majority. But I know this—if we keep giving them too much exposure—we are giving them power they do not deserve.
Remember the story of the old farmer that went down to the Court House to hear the local politicos try to get the crowd to vote for them. The old man stayed for a while and he punched the man next to him and said, “What do you think?” The man said: “Think? I didn’t come here to think. I come here to holler.” It is time for us to once again remember the difference.