Eugene T. Paslov: Tea Parties: A call to arms or a sham?

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Fox News and a group of right-wing conservatives staged what they called "Tea (Taxed Enough Already) Parties" in protest against high taxes and stimulus spending.

The protest was based on the Boston Tea Party, originally set in 1773 and in protest, not against high taxes but in opposition to taxation without representation. It did indeed ignite our Revolution, but its raison d'etre was very different from a protest against taxes and stimulus spending.

As a nation, in the 18th century we were concerned about a king who had imposed taxes on tea. The colonists considered tea a necessary staple in their daily diets and were outraged that a far-away English king would impose a tax about which they had no say. I'm afraid the current day "tea protesters" didn't get their initial protest symbol correct, nor much else either.

As I listened to the news reports of the 500 or so Tea Party gatherings around the country, the crowds ranged from a few dozen to a few thousand. Fox News continually hyped the number in the crowds; but it became clear as other, more objective, news commentators scanned the participants with their cameras that there were far fewer than Fox reported.

It was certainly not the groundswell of opposition or a new theme for right-wing conservatives to embrace as they contemplated strategies for the 2010 elections.

It seemed to me that the protesters were mostly anti-President Obama malcontents whose brains are hard-wired to the limbic system where the emotions of anger and hate reside. They still can't believe an intellectual black man, who is bold and decisive in his decision making, who treats world leaders with civility and respect and who is unafraid to meet the world's most difficult challenges, is now the president of the United States.

The protests also unearthed ugly aspects of right-wing politics. Texas' Republican Gov. Rick Perry hinted at secession " presumably suggesting Texas leave the Union and become its own country. Under some circumstances such a suggestion would be considered treasonous. But one assumes Gov. Perry was just trying to make a point and didn't mean it.

Newt Gingrich was in attendance at one "Tea Party." He tried to make a pitch to be the new Republican leader in 2010. Gingrich, unfortunately, falls into the category of a "wanna be," with outdated ideas, whose time has come and gone.

If the Republicans want to be successful in the future they need to take their party back from the right-wing conservatives, be the party of opposition, and generate workable, thoughtful solutions to our current problems. Anything less will not work.

- Dr. Eugene T. Paslov, former Nevada Superintendent of Schools, is a board member for Silver State Charter School.


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