15 Apr 2010

The Tea Party: A View from Aruba

Posted by Robert Gibson

We hear so much these days about the rise of the Tea Party on the political scene in the United States.   As a citizen who has walked away in disgust with the government and politics of America, I still try to keep abreast of what transpires in the “land of the free”.  Aruba has an opportunity to learn from the few successes and many failures and follies of the U.S. and it’s electorate, and the Tea Party movement is a great learning opportunity in evolution.  On the surface it appears to this observer that the Tea Party movement is a positive development, in that it is a grass roots movement that is taking action and calling attention to itself and it’s message.   At the very least, it is a learning opportunity, a teachable moment if you will.  And as a teacher I should always take advantage of teachable moments when they arise.

The Tea Party, a movement begun in 2006, has a basic underlying platform loosely based on the principles of: 1. Lower taxes, 2. Less Government, & 3. Fiscal Responsibility (lower government spending as well as better quality management on how, what, and where the government does spend tax payer dollars).  It also appears to hold the ideals of free market capitalism at its core. This platform, as close as anyone can tell, has been drafted directly from the pages of the Libertarian Party which was founded in 1971(please take a moment to visit their website).   It also has it’s basis in the principles of the American Revolution and the constant battle and issues of States Rights vs. Federal Power that began with the original government under the Articles of Confederation, Shay’s Rebellion, and the illegal and secret actions that took place during the meetings held in a sweltering Philadelphia summer of 1787 that produced the end product of our present form of government- The United States Constitution (a tremendous tale that takes on epic proportions when one examines how this document was ratified).  This battle has never truly been settled though, and American history and politics has seen a constant shifting and struggle for control of power over this issue.  Patriots & Rebels, Federalists vs. Anti-federalists, passage of The Bill of Rights, Federalists vs. Democratic-Republicans, through all the turmoil of the issues and adventures in democracy of the 1800′s, 1900′s, and right up to the present. The name of the Tea Party movement itself has been adopted (and bastardized) from the famous incident in 1773 forever known as the Boston Tea Party that took place on the wharfs of colonial Boston, Massachusetts.  A close study of this historic event and it’s causation will best inform you of the very few similarities and many differences between this and today’s movement.

Now that just about covers the positive aspects of the Tea Party.  It as of yet has no true leader to emerge as it’s spokesperson or face, which may or may not be a bad thing (the principles should always override a leader figure if it is to be a lasting force).  Unfortunately, the movement has begun to attract: the ignorant, the unprincipled, the homophobes, the bigots, the corporate power elite ( greed/ win at all costs /whats good for GM is good for America) groups, the right wing militants, and naive nativists ( modern day jingoists), etc., of society. Many believe they have found a perfect outlet to Obama bash, (Obama rightfully deserves to be criticized and held accountable for his actions and his inactions, but intelligently and with facts and policy decisions) and vent their limited minds and perspective.  Where were these people during the Reagan years, the Clinton administration, or one of the saddest excuses for a presidential era in the George W. Bush fiasco?  The Bush presidency may not be the sole root cause of much of what is going on today, but it certainly provided the most damaging actions and policy blunders (criminal intent and negligence are two terms that immediately come into mind)!  But both the Democrats and Republicans alike must take responsibility for the ills of U.S. society.  Both the House of Representatives and the Senate (Congress) should be held accountable, as well as all of the people who put them there and failed to blow the whistle.  Proof that a two party system is a failure (America really only has a one party system with two factions) as both parties are firmly entrenched and controlled by Corporate America and the newly emergent global economy and new world order.  Lobbyist groups, led by the industries of: Oil, Insurance/ Banking/ Finance, The Military-Industrial complex (which outgoing President Eisenhower so rightfully warned us about), the American Bar Association, Pharmaceuticals, Healthcare, Multi-national/ Transnational Corporations, etc., have all conspired to hijack the American Political System & Government (although it can be rightfully argued that no hijacking has taken place since 1787-1789, and all is as it was meant to be as put forth under The Constitution).

Why and how can be attributed to many factors. A failed system of education and a corrupt and biased media and information system lead the way. History as well plays a very important role in understanding the other key players in this game that started when James Madison succeeded in his vision of a U. S. government based on power in the hands of the wealthy.  An improperly educated and informed people of a democracy are their own worst enemy.  As I love to constantly point out, “A people cannot be both ignorant and free”- Thomas Jefferson.  And today, both America and Aruba are living proof of the truth that rings through those words.

How does this all fit into the Tea Party?  Well, start studying history – real history! Find the unvarnished truth ( is is out there for all to find).  Ask hard and deep questions.  Learn to read and see between the lines.  Learn to draw connections and parallels.  Do not be easily swayed by simple rhetoric.  Stop being a victim of manipulation by those with an agenda that is not really hidden!  Try visiting Noam Chomsky’s website as a first step towards education and understanding.  Search out alternative news and alternative perspectives.  Under this point of view, the Tea Party’s basic tenets appear to be nothing more than hollow facades, Trojan Horses presented as gifts to the people.

Where do I stand? When I witness the idiocy of a Sarah Palin on the podium spouting nonsense to the cheers of Tea Party crowd, or Newt Gingrich placing the Republican party in close alignment with the Tea party, I see not hope, but reinforcement of failure in both a political movement and a political system.  Major lessons are apparent and open, to be learned by all, especially here in Aruba on April 15, 2010.  My disgust and disappointment with the American system and Americans is reinforced.  As is my concern of the continuing downhill direction that Aruban society faces.  Outside influences (many of which are American), Multinationals (many of which are American), and franchises (many of which are American), all aided by unscrupulous locals and corrupt, incompetent, and or crimially negligent former government officials and administrators have created a daunting task for the new government under Prime Minister Mike Eman to combat. Internally, the legacy of past administrations is too heavy for continued support.  The cost to the island and islanders is too high and climbing higher. The failure of democracy looms large in a land that is still small enough for an electorate and government to successfully institute sweeping, positive, necessary changes to avoid and escape the tides of history.  It is time for a “Tea Party” in Aruba, only this tea party needs to start not by dumping tea into the harbor, but by locking the gates of the Valero controlled Oil Refinery and nationalizing the rundown, outdated facility in the name of national economic security, thereby taking the first step towards true independence and freedom.  This one action would serve to act as a gauntlet and let others know that Aruba is willing to do what it takes to ensure a positive future for for its people and island.  The second step would be to move immediately toward the enactment of sweeping changes in the government of Aruba itself and the public and private sector in general.   Aruba needs to re-define the role and purpose of it’s government, and the direction it will take for its future, and  it needs to begin now.  Aruba Libre!  Today, tomorrow, and forever!

Robert Gibson

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