The Right Persuasion

The Right Persuasion

It’s Tea time in America. And, no, I’m not referring to the British afternoon socialization activity, but instead to the ever growing conservative movement making the headlines of every major media outlet and dominating the conservative conversation. What strikes me as unusual about the Tea Party is the idea of outspoken conservative activism. For the most part, Republicans and conservatives aren’t the rallying kind. Throughout most of modern political history, there haven’t been a lot of “pro-war” rallies on college campuses, groups marching on Washington or activists gathering together to discuss the events of the day. Until now. What the Tea Party has done is make being outspoken about conservative values not just OK, but revolutionary.

In Ventura County, the leader of the local Tea Party chapter, Carla Bonney, sees this movement as a response to the ever-growing government and as a sleeping giant awakened from its nap. “Big government is a cancerous growth,” she told me in a sit-down interview. When I asked her about the conservative resurgence, she said she believes multiple factors contributed to the Tea Party’s expansion. “It hit our pocketbooks and grandchildren’s future. Joe the Plumber really struck a big nerve, and the aggressive spending, taking over General Motors, the banks and Wall Street, all showed us how dangerous [this direction] is.”

These numerous factors have prompted Tea Party members, ranging from disillusioned GOP members to libertarians to upset Blue Dog Democrats to fight back despite the typical response from the left. Conservatives, in general, take a beating quite often in the press. They’re called homophobic, sexist, racist or Islamophobic on a daily basis, and due to the name-calling from the left, many have been afraid in the past to proudly proclaim their values.

Bonney has been dealing with the racist claims thrust upon the Tea Party for some time. “[The Tea Party] is not old, white — but old and white can still be effective, just as old Latinos or old blacks. We’ll take whoever wants to be involved. We’re not racist, and we’re done defending it.” Unfortunately, many on the left are still bothered by the Tea Party and its ideas.

Jim Wallis, a rising star in the religious left and the founder of Sojourners, wrote last May, “I am just going to say it. There is something wrong with a political movement like the Tea Party, which is almost all white. Does that mean every member of the Tea Party is racist? Likely not. But is an undercurrent of white resentment part of the Tea Party ethos, and would there even be a Tea Party if the president of the United States weren’t the first black man to occupy that office? It’s time we had some honest answers to that question.” Ironically, many on the left have adopted George W. Bush’s old adage, “Either you’re with us or against us,” but in this case, it’s “Either you’re with us or your racist.”

This is the reason the Tea Party is growing. Because people see the opposition name-calling and mud-slinging against anyone who wants less taxation, illegal immigration stopped and capitalism protected. What liberals don’t always understand is that most people aren’t really political, but they don’t like higher taxes and welfare passed out like candy, and the Tea Party is willing to step up where the GOP has failed the American people.

With Tea Party members like Rand Paul, Christine O’Donnell and Joe Miller making noise on the national level, and O’Donnell quickly becoming Saturday Night Live’s latest sketch character, the media at least acknowledges the growing concerns of everyday conservatives, even if it mocks them.

The Tea Party isn’t going away soon, either. Besides helping locals start businesses to get themselves out of financial woes, Bonney is looking forward to after the election when she can focus on the local levels. “Local levels affect you more,” she assured me, and already she plans to lead the fight against plastic bag wipeouts, parking meters and getting Ventura County’s city councils filled with Tea Party-approved conservatives. A few years ago, conservatives might have just licked their wounds and pouted, but because of leaders like Bonney, the times, they are a-changing.    

paulmoomjean@yahoo.com

The Right Persuasion

The Right Persuasion

Bias in the news is a very popular topic. Talking-head pundits complain about the lack of fairness and balance on Fox News while talk radio hosts and conservative politicians point out the liberal leanings in the “mainstream,” “lame-stream” and “drive-by” media. Most common-sense people notice a more liberal agenda within MSNBC’s news stories and analysis, and notice the right-wing philosophy presented by Rupert Murdoch’s clan, but the truest bias in the media does not come simply in the form of political ideology, but instead in story selection.

Why is it that story after story about the fall of Lindsay Lohan graces the front of most newspapers and the top of TV-show hours, but we hear very little about the success of child stars like Kirk Cameron? How come there are numerous stories about the Middle East, but then we hear very little concerning what’s happening with the brutality in the Congo? At this point in the national conversation, let’s just admit that the purest bias isn’t coming from the editorialized news stories but in the selection altogether.

Take for, instance, the frightening news coming out of North Korea. On Sept. 28, Kim Jong-il, the country’s leader, promoted his son to four-star general, creating near-certain speculation that Kim Jong-un will be the future dictator in Marxist North Korea. As the torch is being passed from the unstable ruler to his 27-year-old offspring, America sits back passively; China does very little; and all the while, South Korea continues to deal with a rising conflict.

In fact, on Sept. 24, Russian deputy foreign minister Alexei Borodavkin said the two countries were at their highest level of hostility in nearly a decade.

“Tensions on the Korean Peninsula could not be any higher. The only next step is a conflict,” he told foreign policy experts in Moscow. He went on to add that these two countries are still battling demons of the Cold War, and war is looking more and more imminent.

Most Americans don’t know much about North Korea. They are unaware and ignorant of its evil. A world within our world, North Korea’s leadership has deprived its people of the most basic of human rights. There is no freedom, no mercy, no justice. Citizens are randomly thrown into prison for reasons not explained, and children starve in the streets. The “Great Leader,” Kim Jong-il, brainwashes the people to believe he is a god among men, all while spending the currency of the state on liquor and women.

Christopher Hitchens, one of the few journalists in the world allowed access there, wrote about North Korea as “a society where individual life is absolutely pointless, and where everything that is not absolutely compulsory is absolutely forbidden.” Sadly, many Americans I have talked to seem to have no idea that any Korean person today they met has to have come from South Korea, as the North keeps its people trapped within its walls. Ignorance continues to fuel the tragedy.

With a war on the horizon and a new leader rising as Kim Jong-il’s sun sets, the Far East is about to have a potential shake-up unlike any we’ve seen in more than 50 years. China appears useless in containing the madmen running one-third of the notorious axis of evil, as they continue to make nuclear weapons part of their future. America’s current leaders appear to be either bored or apathetic to what may come as John Bolton, a beacon of truth within the Republican Party, recently told the Obama administration that getting their hand in the Korean situation would not only benefit China, but help America as well. If Saddam Hussein was the nuisance of the Middle East, then Kim Jong-il is his eastern counterpart.

Truth is, very little will be done. Hostility will grow between the two societies, and the American people will not be told of the goings-on by any media outlet. Not because of a liberal bias or a conservative slant, but because, when the standards were dropped so that Lindsay Lohan could be a lead story, the world’s priorities changed as well. And that is the real bias we should all be on the watch for.    

paulmoomjean@yahoo.com

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