Yet One More: A poem for Parkland et al

Yet One More

Yet one more shooting
Followed by more thoughts and prayers
To be followed by more rhetoric
With no action anywhere.

Blame guns
Blame the politicians
Blame the NRA
Blame the parents
Blame the system
Blame and blame away.

Refuse to speak of it
Refuse to see the cause
Refuse to take an action
Refuse to take a pause.

Say we need more God
Say we need more guns
Say we need more safety
Say we need more done.

Our words, they hold no meaning
Our words fall empty at our feet
Our words are simply worthless
Our words, they have no meat.

More lives lost through inaction
More lives lost whilst we debate
More lives lost through no reaction
How many more must meet that fate?

We must awaken once again
When tomorrow’s sun breaks the plane
We must rise up and do something now
Or be forced to mourn again.

Political Extremism

The dictionary defines extremism as “the condition or act of taking an extreme view” and “the taking of extreme action” (-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc.). It goes further to describe a person who acts in such a way as an extremist or “One who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norm, especially in politics”(The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition).

We see extremists at work in a wide variety of ways in our world. Most of the time, extremism is associated with groups of people who hide behind a facade of religion to commit acts of atrocity against other people. Yet, there are those who are extremists who use other facades, such as political views or parties, as their means of acting in a manner that is beyond the norm.

One of the problems with extremism is that as it is covered more frequently in the news, it loses its shock and starts to become seen as the norm. We become desensitized to extremism unless or until it rears its ugly head in a violent manner. Even then, to some extent, we are desensitized to it unless it happens to us directly. Then, we become incensed and enraged and demand action to rid ourselves of extremist elements around us. By then, many times, it is too late for the extremism has crept into our mainstream lives and, in doing so, has caused others to see the extremism as a means for their own salvation.

Rather than focus on the obvious example of extremism, that being religion based, let us look to that which is based on politics. They share commonalities with one another even though their mode of operation and existence is different.

What breeds extremism? What causes seemingly normal people to want to follow extremist views? I believe this is a very complex issue and cannot claim to be an expert, but I think some of it has to do with power or at least the perception of power to be gained through extremism.

Some people who have nothing to lose are drawn to extremism and extremist views. They feel that their problems are caused by some entity or group of people who are different from them and, since they themselves feel powerless or so downtrodden that they cannot bring themselves up, they turn to promises made by the peddlers of extremism.

Take a look at the current political situation in the U.S. One particular candidate knows how to peddle extremism very well. So well, that he has managed to become the primary candidate for his political party. If a person looked simply at his ability to govern or ideas, there is nothing there. He leads through intimidation and inflammatory rhetoric alone. One news report mentioned his lack of debate skills during the primaries by saying that he “is active, if not overwhelmingly aggressive, in the first 30-45 minutes. When answering a question during that time, [he] tends to avoid any policy details and has, on occasion, shown a remarkable lack of knowledge on the issues” (Blake). The article continues and says that the candidate then, “tends to fade into the background. He answers the questions asked of him and hits back when someone attacks him. Beyond that, however, he tends to look somewhere between disinterested and sleepy. He does very little to inject himself into the conversation. He is, rather transparently, just waiting for the whole thing to be over” (Blake).

However, when he speaks at his events, he is very much the center of attention and speaks quite long. However, there is not much content in his speech aside from rhetoric that is meant to inflame his most devoted followers. He talks of building walls to prevent immigrants from Mexico, hints at both imprisoning or assassinating his opponents, and makes negative commentaries on refugees. These comments are not policy meant to give people an informed choice as to issues that matter to the entire country, but inflammatory remarks made to people who he knows are most likely led to extremism. While he may not directly tell his followers to discriminate or even consider murder, he does so indirectly and with innuendos that he and his supporters are quick to dismiss and remark that he was simply misunderstood.

It’s a bit like Mark Antony’s soliloquy in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” where he says that “Brutus is an honourable man”(Shakespeare). Antony knows Brutus is part of the murder, but in order to turn the crowd against Brutus, he first uses the phrase to flatter, then to condemn him. The candidate in question says things such as “…nothing you can do, folks…Although the Second Amendment people—maybe there is, I don’t know”(Corasaniti and Haberman). The candidate did not call for murder, but his words, along with chants often heard from crowds at his events to “Lock her up” or “Kill the bitch”, certainly give the impression that he does not disagree entirely with the suggestion. Add to this his hints at the possibility that the general election will be rigged as being the only reason he feels he could lose, and you have a potentially dangerous situation.

This political extremism is dangerous regardless of which party someone supports. It is dangerous for our country as it lends those who feel they are no longer heard or who fear no longer being in the majority an excuse to act in extremist ways.

That is not how a democracy exists.

It is dangerous because it creates a sense of anger-fueled anarchy simmering below the surface of our society. It only takes people who feel they have nothing to lose who have reached either such a low state of self-control or who are worked into a frenzy by this type of rhetoric for things to become violent.

That is not how a democracy exists.

It is dangerous because, if unchecked by people who are not beguiled by such extremist rhetoric, it undermines the very Constitution upon which our country is founded.

That is not how a democracy exists, but how a democracy perishes.

We cannot allow political extremism to hold sway over our country. We must peacefully and legally stop the extremism. We must get out the vote to stop that particular candidate and those who support him and his extremist agenda in order to save our country.

Extremism is not an American value. It is the value of dictators, tyrants, and those who do not value human rights and decency.

Works Cited

Blake, Aaron. “Why Donald Trump might not debate Hillary Clinton.” The Washington Post. N.p., 9 Aug. 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016. .
Corasaniti, Nick, and Maggie Haberman. “Donald Trump Suggests ‘Second Amendment People’ Could Act Against Hillary Clinton.” The New York Times. N.p., 9 Aug. 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016. .
Shakespeare, William. The Life and Death of Julius Caesar.

America: Becoming an Under-developed Country

When there is talk of undeveloped countries, the focus usually centers on those countries that make up Southeast Asia, Central America, and even South America. Yet, I would argue that there is a new form of underdevelopment that is sweeping the West, and in particular, the United States. It makes it so that the U.S. is not undeveloped, but rather under-developing. America, one of the most richest countries in the world, is becoming an Under-developing Country. While I am certain that making that comment is certain to anger some people, I hope that even they continue to read to see why I make such a harsh observation about the country of my birth.

First, let me define what it is to be an under-developing country. I did not coin the phrase, but read it on a comment about an article about the rise of anti-intellectualism in the U.S. Being an under-developing country means that we are no longer encouraging ourselves or our children to aspire to gaining an education that is broad in scope nor one that encourages critical thinking. We relegate our teachers to teaching to a test rather than encouraging each individual students to attain their personal best. People who question the status quo are seen as deviant and potentially dangerous. The U.S., through certain facets of our population, is careening toward becoming an underdeveloped country. The members of this facet point to those who are educated as being elitists and being bent on turning the U.S. away from core values and beliefs. They define what they consider to be core values and beliefs rather narrowly into their particular values and beliefs and even extremely narrow interpretations of founding documents such as the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

Those who advocate this anti-intellectualism use labels such as elitist and liberal as if they are profanity. They accuse those who think critically of wanting to undermine and tear the fabric of our society. In short, being intelligent is seen as dangerous and being uneducated is seen as being desirable. It is desirable, especially for those who want to stay in power. After all, an undereducated populace is easier to control. When people think, they make decisions. When they simply allow others to think for them, then their decisions are made for them as well.

Take public education for example. Many of us, at least those of us above the age of 35 or so, can recall a time when our teachers taught and tested us on material learned in class from a fairly decent textbook. Our job was to think about what we were learning and apply it in some way to life outside the classroom, either directly or indirectly. I recall a teacher I had for both math and science in junior high school whose mantra was ‘Try. Try Again. Suffer. And when you feel as if blood is pouring from your pores from your suffering, then, and only then, will I help you.’ He allowed us to work at our own pace within certain parameters. He circulated the room as we worked on whatever chapter we happened to be in. Most of the class may have easily been on five to ten different chapters at any given time. However, we each learned the material. If we happened to finish a considerable number of chapters and were far ahead of our classmates, he encouraged us to help our classmates who were struggling with the material. We learned not only math and science, but also how to help one another. Talk about learning to a higher standard, that was it. We did projects in most of our classes. Took field trips. Engaged in discussions about current events and our subjects. We were even free to disagree with our teachers provided that we listened to them and they to us and never said they were wrong. We backed our arguments with facts and logic.

Move into today’s public education and you have a vastly different story. Many teachers are given a curriculum map with set deadlines for teaching material. These deadlines must be met so that students can take a standardized test that likely had no input from the local teacher. Many times if students attempt to assist one another, then it is considered cheating and they suffer the consequences. Should students not be able to achieve a passing score on the standardized test, then the teacher is considered at fault rather than the unrealistic deadlines imposed by the curriculum map or the test written from the sterile viewpoint of someone hundreds of miles away from the school. There is no longer time for field trips. The textbooks are vetted through a process that has a limited number of publishers whose books are often pre-vetted by larger and more conservative states education panels that wash from them anything that does not fit into a more conservative agenda. Prime example being Texas where Moses is considered as a major contributor to the ideas of the founding fathers of the U.S. We can add to this the numerous arguments for the teaching of Creationism and the lessening of scientifically based Evolution. When teachers deviate from the curriculum or encourage students to do something about an injustice they see, then they risk their jobs.

An article in The Guardian from May 18, 2012, points to a high school teacher who lost her job after having “asked her students in an upper-level language arts class to look at the American Library Association’s list of ‘100 most frequently challenged books’ and write an essay about censorship” (The Guardian, “Anti-intellectualism is taking over the US”). In a more recent article from The Guardian dated September 24, 2014, they listed seven books banned by Highland Park High School in Dallas, TX, “after parents complained about their children having access to ‘obscene literature’” (The Guardian, “Texas school bans seven ‘obscene’ books in banned books week”), among them were Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, and Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. This is not an isolated incident, nor is it only just Texas being Texas. There are hundreds of cases where books are banned in our country. There are also hundreds of cases where teachers are told to remain silent and just teach what they are told to teach and that their opinions are never to be heard in the classroom.

I know this from experience as having taught middle and high school for over 12 years in Florida. While I, for the most part, was never directly censored by my administration, I did receive comments and even felt some animosity toward me in the form of my yearly reviews as I encouraged my students to think and reason. I stood up for students, including those with whom I disagreed, as they discussed literature and life in my classroom. I never hid my politics from them, but never told them they were wrong when we did not agree. Rather, I advised them to step out of their belief and see how someone else could believe different from them. The majority of my students realized that their opinions were sometimes just that. Opinions based on emotions or their parents rather than facts. Many of them agreed to disagree with their peers, some even with their parents. Yet, I recall being told that I was to remove my political bumper sticker from my vehicle since it was in a school parking lot. I refused stating that those with opposing political views who also parked in the lot displaying their politics would have to do the same. I didn’t have to remove mine at that point. I recall being told by one administrator, and a colleague by another one the following year, that we should not encourage students to form a Gay-Lesbian-Straight organization as that would disrupt the learning process and the school climate. Students want to be able to learn, discuss, and think, not take tests that only require the rote memorization of facts or a version of the facts in order to pass them. They see more gray in the world than simply black and white. The banning of books and critical thinking only serves to continue the downward spiral of underdeveloping our nation.

Moving from the educational realm and into the political, we see this even more as politicians claim not to be scientists, yet refuse to listen to the vast majority of scientists when they say climate change is real and will have devastating effects on the world. Even the U.S. Department of Defense sees it as a major problem. However, there remain a group of politicians in Congress who deny the facts. They seem to relish in their denial of the facts. Why? Because their wealthy corporate donors want them to do so. These are the same people who advocate for looser gun laws saying that it will prevent crime if more people have guns. One of their standard mantras is that a ‘good guy with a gun’ can prevent mass killings like the ones at Sandy Hook or Columbine, or the theater in Colorado from ever occurring. What they fail to see is that even a supposed good guy with a gun could have a really bad day or a bad temper and easily become a bad guy with a gun. They claim that the liberals and elitists want to take away guns from law abiding citizens through laws requiring background checks and gun registration. What they fail to admit is that would take a change to the current interpretation of the Second Amendment of the Constitution to truly do so.

Those who fear intelligence also claim that the liberals and elitists want to take God out of schools because public entities, including schools, are barred by the First Amendment of the Constitution from placing one religion over another. These ultraconservatives claim that by not having the Christian Bible taught in our schools that this is the reason for all the problems in our country. Yet, they fail to see the real causes for the problems of poverty, crime, homelessness, drugs, and the like. They fail to enact laws or create programs that would help put an end to these social ills by claiming it’s not the government’s job or that there is no money to fund these programs. However, they refuse to raise taxes on the wealthy who can afford to pay more. How do they get away with this? Through the dumbing down of the populace. They bombard the legitimate news stations, as well as using their own media, to claim that raising taxes would result in fewer jobs. They further make claims that those who are homeless, jobless, and on government assistance are simply lazy. By only letting out what they want people to hear, then they can get away with harming the majority of the people in our country. How does this tie into religion? Consider the number of religious figures in the United States that are most often heard that hail from the ultraconservative, anti-intellectual front. People like Pat Robertson and Mike Huckabee who claim to be Christians, yet talk about how lazy people are who are on welfare, unless they donate, in the case of Robertson, to his ‘ministry’. He recently told an elderly woman whose husband is ill that she needed to keep tithing rather than use that money to help with medical expenses because that is the way God wants it to be. Huckabee recently said he is in favor of what’s termed the Fair Tax which serves to actually be rather unfair to the poor and what’s left of the middle class. These people, and those like them, rely on their being seen as Christians in order to be seen as being somehow more truthful than if they were not. They are, to paraphrase the Bible, simply wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Instead of using intelligence, they play to irrational fears, much like the above arguments they make about gun control. In the last few years, they have used their media outlets and pundits to push that the evil is in the form of Islam and those who follow that religion. What they fail to mention is that Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all stem from the same God and the same human progenitor by the name of Abraham. They have gone so far as to try to paint our President as being a Muslim. Why? Because he is of mixed race, dark-skinned, and his biological father was a Muslim. They use this false argument as a way to try to equate our President with the faces of those who espouse a radical form of Islam who commit terrorist attacks. And through the continued dumbing down of American society, there are actually people who believe this misinformation. These are the same people that claim Obama was not born in the U.S. and other such lies that play into the uninformed psyche of those who lack a decent education or wherewithal to research something about which they are uncertain.

Until we, as a society, are willing to confront anti-intellectualism for what it is, that being a way to keep those who hold the power in power, we are destined to continue down this path that leads to failure. At one time, the U.S. was on the cutting edge of discovery and intellectual progress. We had the strongest colleges and universities. The brightest minds who were allowed to think, wonder, experiment, and create. We made it into space with minds like that. We funded education for all from the daycare to the university. We rewarded intelligence of all kinds from the skilled factory worker to the professor to the mechanic to the inventor. It takes intelligence to progress. We cannot allow our country to become one that is underachieving and underdeveloped. We must take back our schools from being corporate run entities and allowing corporate money to influence free thought. I could go on, but this is already longer than I planned. Thank you for reading.

The Tea Party Platform and What’s Wrong with it

Tea Party Platform (And what’s wrong with it)

This is the Tea Party Platform per their website of

  1. Illegal aliens are here illegally
  2. Pro-domestic employment is indispensible
  3. A strong military is essential
  4. Special interests must be eliminated
  5. Gun ownership is sacred
  6. Government must be downsized
  7. The national budget must be balanced
  8. Deficit spending must end
  9. Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal
  10. Reducing personal income taxes is a must
  11. Reducing business income taxes is mandatory
  12. Political offices must be available to average citizens
  13. Intrusive government must be stopped
  14. English as our core language is required
  15. Traditional family values are encouraged (



The above list of the essential and non-negotiable beliefs of the Tea Party was taken from their website, It is an interesting list of what, on the surface, are the ideals of this movement that has taken America hostage at times in order to force them upon us. In some cases, they read like the platform of the Libertarian Party. At others, they read like the ranting of people who misunderstand the history of our country or even of how the US government works. I will attempt to point out how these ideals are either not being implemented or even truly wanted, cannot be implemented, or are just plain silly in the first place.

First, “Illegal aliens are here illegally.” A redundant sentence begins the list. That in itself should lead a person to see that this movement wishes to prey on the uneducated. My first thought was simply, no shit. If someone comes into a country illegally, obviously, he or she is an illegal alien. There is no debate in the verity of that sentence. However, another comment should be, so what? Our nation was founded by immigrants, from the Native Americans/First Nations who immigrated over the Bering land bridge to the waves of immigration from Europe and other parts of the world to the New World in hope of wealth and prosperity. I seriously doubt that the Native Americans/First Nations wanted the first White settlers to come here, especially after those settlers started to drive them out of their native lands and certainly, after they drove them onto reservations in the hope of slowly eradicating their entire race.

It also does not establish what they want to do about it. If people are coming here illegally, then why not establish a way for those who are otherwise law abiding people to become citizens legally? Many illegal immigrants come here to work because they cannot find jobs in their own country. Many illegal immigrants take jobs that most Americans do not want or are too lazy to perform, such as in the agricultural industry. Rather than simply exercise prejudice against them, why not give them an opportunity to become citizens or at least obtain legal status in the US? If they become citizens or legalized aliens, then they can contribute to our taxes. They can also have rights as workers and citizens. They can vote. They may be able to actually live their life without worrying about deportation and causing misery to their families, including those children they have who were born in the US and are, therefore, citizens of the US. We are a nation of immigrants, so why not welcome others as well?

Next, “Pro-domestic employment is indispensible.” No one can deny this is a great idea. We as a country should create jobs for those within the United States. However, wait, corporations are moving jobs from the United States in search of cheap labour in order to keep prices down or, more sinisterly, allow the corporate executives to pocket more income than most of their employees will see in a lifetime. If the Tea Party is serious about this one, then why have not they advocated taxing companies who move their work outside of the United States more in order to force them to move the jobs back to the United States? Oh, wait. That would be in violation of their 11th principle of “Reducing business income taxes is mandatory.” It cannot be both ways. If US corporations are moving their jobs to foreign countries without penalty as they search for cheaper labour, then what incentive do they have in keeping jobs here? The Tea Party says nothing about how to do this. In fact, most of the wealthy supporters of the Tea Party have no problem with US corporations moving jobs overseas because there are less stringent labour laws, pretty much no unions, and they can pay the workers there subsistent wages all the while as their corporate executives make scads of money that they can then hide in foreign bank accounts so they can avoid paying taxes that run our economy.

Their third point is “A strong military is essential.” To a point, this is true. Having a strong military works as a deterrent to keep those wanting to harm our country at bay. Yet, it did not stop the attacks of September 11, 2001. It does not stop domestic terrorism such as the incident involving Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. A strong military cannot work without cooperation between nations. In some cases, it acts as an enticement to encourage those who wish to harm us to see if they can accomplish their evil plans in spite of our massive military complex. We need a strong and nimble military as our enemies are not the armies of countries, but smaller guerilla units who do not fight using conventional warfare tactics. Good intelligence between nations working together to keep an eye on the threats that destabilize countries is what is needed in conjunction with having a strong military. This point is not so much false as it is only part of what is needed.

Point number four, “Special interests must be eliminated.” This actually is the first thing mentioned that makes sense. Yet, it only makes sense if it is implemented across the board and not just for those who agree with other points of the Tea Party message. However, in reality, those wealthy Tea Party sponsors, especially the Koch Brothers, are a special interest. Have not seen Tea Party loyalists wanting their influence eliminated. Another problem with this is a little ruling from the United States Supreme Court that is supported by many in the Tea Party called Citizens United. This ruling allowed that corporations can be considered individuals and are therefore treated as individuals when it comes to financing campaigns of politicians. If the Tea Party is serious about this non-negotiable tenet of their platform, then they need to come out against Citizens United and jump on the bandwagon to repeal the ruling. They should also be heavily in favor of limiting campaign contributions to politicians by anyone as the more donated by any one person could be considered trying to establish a special interest group to influence that politician unduly against the needs of the community as a whole for which he or she is elected to represent.

The fifth point, “Gun ownership is sacred,” is troubling for a number of reasons. The use of the word sacred makes it seem as if guns are to be worshipped as a deity. After all, the word sacred as defined by Merriam-Webster means the following:

1 a: dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity <a tree sacred to the gods>

b: devoted exclusively to one service or use (as of a person or purpose) <a fund sacred to charity>

2 a: worthy of religious veneration: Holy

b: entitled to reverence and respect

3: of or relating to religion: not secular or profane <sacred music>

4: archaic: accursed

5 a: unassailable, inviolable

b: highly valued and important <a sacred responsibility>

Origin of SACRED

Middle English, from past participle of sacren to consecrate, from Anglo-French sacrer, from Latin sacrere, from sacr-, sacer sacred; akin to Latin sancire to make sacred, Hittite šaklāi– rite

By definition, then, the Tea Party believes that guns are to be worshipped. Somehow, I do not think our Founders wished for firearms to be considered a deity when they created the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Viewing firearms as a deity is akin to prehistoric people seeing fire as a deity. Look, I have the power to kill you without touching you with metal projectiles from my fire stick. It is G-d. Seriously?!?

Guns are not sacred; they are a right given loosely to private owners in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. As such, they should be regulated in order to keep the citizenry as whole protected from those individuals in society who would use them to terrorize or harm others. As this is not writing about the gun control, I will not delve further into the subject. However, guns are not sacred objects and this point is, to use a phrase from my students, messed up.

Sixth point of the Tea Party is that “Government must be downsized.” Okay. This is not such a bad idea overall. After all, most people are frustrated by the amount of paperwork needed for many things having to do with our government. Yet, when looking at how our government is set up as a representational government, trying to decrease the size of the government, yet still be able to function as a representational government is daunting. They fail to mention in what way, aside from Libertarian austerity, that they wish to downsize the government. This point needs more specifics. If it means deregulation and allowing industry to police themselves, then that is not such a good idea as it would be like investing in weasels to protect a henhouse. Regulations are needed to protect the interests of the citizenry of our country from pollution and other things that can harm us if left unfettered and to the corporation’s financial goals. See the issues with our food industry for one set of examples. See the factory pollution issues in West Virginia and other places as another.

The seventh point of the Tea Party platform is “The national budget must be balanced.” This is a great idea in theory. After all, it works in the household when balancing our checkbooks. Never spend more than you have and save a little for when it is needed. However, you cannot run a country like that. There are issues that arise, natural disasters, man-made disasters and the like that happen and money is needed to fix them. Add to this that we have neglected our infrastructure to the point where our roads and bridges are unsafe and in need of repair. In addition, this cannot occur if their additional ideals of “Reducing personal income taxes are a must” and “Reducing business income taxes is mandatory” and “A strong military is essential” are to be realistically met. Unless, of course, they are willing to tell the military, for instance, that they can only have a certain dollar amount of ammunition to use in a year and once it’s gone, then no more shooting. Or maybe simply telling the victims of natural disasters to simply deal with it and hope for the best in order to survive and rebuild. Our economy is much larger than a personal bank account. There are too many things to pay for even without a large government. Besides, are they also willing to force a reduction in pay on their elected officials who are getting a salary to do a job, plus funds from speaking engagements? Perhaps this is possible in the unlikely event that a law can be passed that requires elected officials to refund the government any income they receive that is over their legal salary for the office they hold. In addition, they can no longer receive free mail, office space, and they have to buy their insurance like everyone else rather than have a set plan paid for my taxpayers.

Next Tea Party platform point is that “Deficit spending must end.” Great idea, but see the previous point. This would work great if we were still on the gold standard. In theory, it makes sense, but in reality, it does not work. Our government throughout history often runs through deficit spending. The last time there was not a huge deficit was under the Clinton Administration. However, along came two wars that had no financial backing to them and what surplus there was is long gone. You cannot erase a deficit without tax dollars as that is where the government gets its income. Again, this point goes against the other two points of the Tea Party platform of “Reducing personal income taxes is a must” and “Reducing business income taxes is mandatory.” Tax revenues are needed to reduce the deficit and pay for even the most minor government spending.

While we are there, might as well touch on these two tenets of the Tea Party. Their 10th and 11th ideals are “Reducing personal income taxes is a must” and “Reducing business income taxes is mandatory.” None of us like to pay taxes. We would all like to keep as much of our income as possible. After all, we work hard for our money. However, in order for us to live with good roads, schools, fire and police protection, a strong military, and even the basics that our government provides, then we have to pay taxes.

Unless, of course, the Tea Party wishes to have these things paid for by each person paying a toll or a bill sent to them for their share of these things as they use them. Yet, if for instance, in order to maintain the roads, people using those roads needed to pay tolls as they drive those roads, then government would need to expand in order to hire people to collect those tolls as well as collect the tolls from those who try to get away with not paying those tolls. There goes the shrinking of government they so much want. In addition, what if people cannot afford to pay the tolls? Are they then banned from using the roads? If so, how will they work? Oh, they can walk. However, in order to maintain the sidewalks, there is a toll because otherwise there is no revenue to pay for the maintenance of the sidewalks. The list can continue ad nauseum. While my examples seem absurd, this is the ultimate in the Randian/Libertarian/Tea Party world. Pay as you go and if you cannot pay, then tough shit on you.

Another fault in this is if you notice the wording of these two tenets. The words ‘must’ and ‘mandatory’ are what I’m focusing on here. Personal income taxation being reduced is only a must for the Tea Party, but when it comes to business income taxes, it’s mandatory. This is a tenet of the failed trickle down politics from the Reagan era. Businesses do not create jobs when they pay less in taxes. Instead, many of them simply keep the money and they keep it at the top of their hierarchy rather than the worker. Better than this would be to keep a more strict accounting of how tax dollars are spent and make taxation such that those who make more pay more as they are able to pay more and usually have more tax breaks than those who earn less. This would lead, in turn, to personal income taxes decreasing since the wealthy and corporations would pay more and the worker could keep more to use to invest as well as spend which would boost the economy.

The next Tea Party tenet is that “Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal.” First, the irony of this is huge. After all, I doubt the Tea Party backers would agree that the plans their poster child president Bush laid to bailout the banks and his attempt to stimulate the economy through giving everyone money in hopes they would go out and spend it was wrong. If so, why were they not yelling a screaming for him not to do this? Why didn’t the Koch Brothers tell their paid for politicians to block these efforts? Heck, why didn’t the economists and even the average person on the street demand where our government would get the money to do these things? The reasons are probably more numerous than can be imagined, but it all comes down to a human desire to get something for nothing. There is no way in heck that anyone with an ounce of sense could not realize that simply giving money away, especially money that was not there, is a good idea. Rather than bailing out the banks for their schemes and risky investing practices, then those responsible should have been held accountable and gone to jail for their actions. As far as the bailout of the Big 3 automobile manufacturers goes, it was needed in order to protect our nation’s economy. Yes, there were things done by the UAW and the management of the Big 3 that are reprehensible, such as UAW member’s children getting free college and such as benefits for their working. However, if the Big 3 were allowed to go bankrupt, then not only would the automakers and those working for them have suffered, but also that little subcontractor who makes widgets for the automakers, and so on. It would have had potentially damaging effects on people throughout the country.

What should have occurred is that, in order to receive a bailout, then those receiving it should have been held to stricter rules to not only repay the bailout, but also to make certain the situation causing it does not occur again.

I love the next one, that “Political offices must be available to average citizens.” I agree with this, yet realistically this is already the case. Anyone can run for political office if he or she wants as long as he or she meet the requirements for the office for which they seek. However, the cost to file a petition to run for office is sometimes beyond the financial means for them to do so. Add to this the cost of running a campaign. Yes, a recent person won against a more heavily funded candidate for office. However, how much did he spend? Estimates are that he spent about $200,000 to defeat the incumbent against the $5 million spent by the incumbent. However, this amount of money is not something the average citizen can afford to raise. Many claim rightfully that the reason for the defeat came from the money spent by special interests to make certain their candidate would win. (There’s that pesky special interest thing that the Tea Party claims should not occur, but yet uses to campaign with again).

If the average citizen wants to have a chance at being elected, then there needs to be real campaign reform. There should be a set amount that every candidate can spend on a campaign that comes from a non-partisan fund used for finance campaigns. In addition, no outside special interest should be allowed to run advertisements that support or attack any candidate for office. Free time should be made for all candidates by the media regardless of medium used. That would even the playing field to the candidate and their stance on issues rather than how much they can afford to spend or how much those who want them elected can spend to get them elected. Any Tea Party backers for this idea? I doubt it.

Their next tenet is not clearly defined. They say “Intrusive government must be stopped.” Yet, that tenet goes against their final two of “English as our core language is required” and “Traditional family values are encouraged” as well as that many Tea Party members are also anti-LGBTQ and other issues that are rather personal in nature. For instance, a recent Pew survey found “that 64 percent of Tea Parties want abortion to be illegal” and “69 percent of Republicans who identified with the Tea Party opposed same-sex marriage” ( If they want the government to be less intrusive, then why would they want to back issues that are very intrusive into the lives of people? Less intrusive would be to allow people to live their lives, especially their personal lives, without government interference unless the things being done are detrimental to society as a whole. Would it not?

The next to last tenet is that “English as our core language is required.” While it is convenient that everyone in America should know English, why should it be required? And, if it is going to be required, then how should it be implemented that people be encouraged and even instructed in the English language so that they can comply? As far as that goes, requiring a language would necessitate that those already here be able to use it properly as well.  As a former English teacher, I can attest that even native speakers of English fail to do this and, thus would be in violation of this tenet should it become law. Additionally, what form of English should be required? Colloquial American English? Academic American English? Slang American English? Who determines the form of American English to be used? Will it be a set standard where certain regional uses of language be nullified in favor of a set standard of American English?

Do they not realize that even the use of English as the language of America was by chance? It was not the first choice of the Founders as many wanted to sever ties with England entirely. Among the languages first considered for America were the following: Hebrew, French, and Greek. We have become a nation where people came here speaking many languages and survived with this occurring. We are also one of the few nations of the world where the learning of other languages is not an academic requirement. American English is a language that has borrowed from many of these languages. In fact, it can be argued that American English would not exist without contributions made to our distinct form of English by other languages. I think that rather than require English, we need to encourage people to learn it and even find ways to help non-native speakers (and native speakers) learn it well.

The final tenet of the Tea Party is that “Traditional family values are encouraged.” The problem with this is that every family has differing values. Some value community service. Others value wealth. Some value athleticism, while others value academics. Who gets to define what “traditional family values” are? This phrase is vague at best and can even be sinister at its worse if a set of values is forced upon people. They should just be more honest about it as they wish to promote White, Anglo-Saxon, and Conservative Christian values. However, those are not the “traditional family values” of everyone who lives in the United States and they should not be since our country is a melting pot of many beliefs, values, and cultures that serve to enrich our nation.

The tenets of the Tea Party movement are a set of ideals put forth by those who are afraid of change and/or are simply undereducated. They are reminiscent of some of the ideals of the Confederates leading up to and during the Civil War. They are impossible to realistically implement and some are even just plain scary to think of being implemented in a rational and civilized society. Yes, my essay had only but touched the overall reasons why these ideas are either not being implemented or even truly wanted, cannot be implemented, or are just plain silly in the first place.


Open Carry or Open Bully

A group of people walks into a restaurant and everyone in the restaurant freezes as they see the group carrying rifles. Is it a robbery? Is it a hostage-taking situation? No, it’s a demonstration by people who believe that the Second Amendment means they can go anywhere they wish while carrying the love of their life—their guns.

This is not a scene from some futuristic dystopian society, but one that occurs with greater frequency in the United States. For some reason, there are now groups of gun owners who believe that the Constitution grants them to the right to intimidate others by openly carrying their rifles in public. Most recently, in the state of Texas, a group calling themselves Open Carry Tarrant County-which is part of a larger national organization called simply Open Carry, chose to rally at restaurants and other public places to show they can carry their weapons in the open wherever they please. So far two places, Chili’s and Chipotle restaurants, have taken the responsibility to tell these gun-toting individuals not to enter their establishments. Yet, a Home Depot in Fort Worth, Texas, has chosen, at the moment, to welcome these alleged freedom loving individuals on May 31 for what is being billed as “’the largest open carry to date’ in an area that has lately been a focal point for gun rights campaigners” with “Raffle prizes on offer include a black powder revolver and an AR 15 rifle” (Forbes).

Yes, you read that right, the event is to have gun-wielding individuals descend upon a Home Depot to show how strong they are and how freedom living they are to the world. Yet, it certainly will not stop there. A visit to the Open Carry website ( takes you into the world of these “patriots”. The website and the movement started after an incident in 2004 when restaurant patrons at a Reston, Virginia restaurant called police about an individual dining there while openly carrying a firearm. At the time, Virginia law allowed this; however, due in part to concerned citizens, the law was repealed. The website blames “a series of very critical articles and scathing editorials attacking the practice of open carry” for its creation as well as the movement’s creation ( It goes on to quote an anthropologist who defends the openly carrying of firearms who states the idea is to “’naturalize the presence of guns, which means that guns become ordinary, omnipresent, and expected. Over time, the gun becomes a symbol of ordinary personhood’” (

That last sentence is chilling. Imagine that, in order to be considered an ordinary person, an individual would need to carry a firearm openly. Does this mean that those who choose not to carry a firearm are no longer considered as a person? The ramifications of this are downright frightening. A firearm is a weapon. A weapon is used to kill. It is not stretching too much to say then that the group’s ultimate goal may be to arm citizens to be able to kill. Holy shit! It’s the Wild West come back to haunt the United States.

Now, before I am accused like the former Marine who was harassed by Open Carry Tarrant County recently, I will admit that I am—at least according to their definition—a more liberally minded person. I also know how to fire a rifle as I learned as a child to do so. However, unlike so many of these gun-toting individuals, I also have the common sense not to go brandishing a weapon in public. I do not own a firearm, nor do I intend to do so. I own a primitive bow, but not a gun. There is much less of a risk for my bow to go off accidentally or for someone to pick it up and run off to rob or murder someone with it.

I have nothing against other people owning a firearm so long as it is registered, the person has been through an extensive background check (criminal and psychological), and the owner is trained in gun safety. The idea of going into a store or a restaurant or another public place and having people walking around openly carrying firearms without their being law enforcement, scares me.

The proponents of open carry claim it will reduce the chances of robbery or other criminal mischief if everyone carries a firearm openly. They like to bring up recent incidents of gun violence as examples of where innocent lives could have been saved if only a ‘good guy’ was around with a firearm. They fail to mention that more innocent lives also could have been lost due to a mass exchange of gunfire between the ‘bad guys’ and the ‘good guys’. That’s why we have police and military who are trained to know when to fire and when not to fire their weapon. They are trained to know how to do this in situations that are intense, unlike the average citizen who rarely faces such a situation.

The proponents for open carry also claim that our Founding Fathers wanted Americans to have unbridled access to firearms. Somehow I doubt that they could foresee when this amounted to people owning military style weapons and ammunition. They lived in a time of single shot, muzzleloaders, not high magazine weapons that were capable of the rapid-firing of multiple rounds without reloading. That is a huge difference. They also lived in a time when the country they were legally under was forcing the quartering of troops in civilian homes.

Unfortunately, while this is all true, the proponents of open carry and gun rights always want to bring up that our government could change and decide to outlaw and confiscate all firearms, even from law-abiding gun owners. In a sense, they are right. Our government could attempt to make that decision. Has it ever happened? Nope. Is it likely that it will happen? Nope. There is no reason why the United States government should be concerned about law-abiding individuals responsibly owning firearms to hunt or for sports like trap shooting and target shooting. Aside from this, why should a government like ours that has a standing military that has enough firepower to decimate countries be concerned with individuals owning legal firearms? Seriously, what chance does a person with a firearm have against a missile or tank? None.

The federal government does not want to take away firearms from law-abiding citizens. I’m certain it does want to maintain the peace and not have people cavorting around with firearms in public places intimidating and scaring people who choose to live their lives without exercising any rights to the Second Amendment.

What the idea of open carry amounts to is open bullying. Those who are walking around with their assault rifles and other openly carried firearms are basically telling others that they have the power to shoot them and are not afraid to use it. Perhaps, they are calling attention to themselves to make up for other inadequacies they may have. A person openly carrying a firearm does not make a situation safer as it could also incite those with criminal intent to carry out their plan just to see if they can get away with it. It also brings up the problem of that ‘law-abiding’ gun-toting individual to possibly lose his or her temper and have easy access to the means to vent their frustration by more than flipping someone the bird or uttering random profanities. Crimes of passion are more likely if a person has the means at their disposal when their head is not thinking straight.

It would be in the best interest of our nation to consider more strict gun controls, including mandatory background checks (criminal and psychological), mandatory registration of all firearms, mandatory safety training for all potential gun owners, reducing the number of rounds that can be purchased by anyone as well as reducing the amount of rounds that magazines can carry, and rescinding the right to openly carry or concealed carry of firearms except for those in law enforcement and those whose lives are deemed to be in danger due to their profession. Our country does not need to return to the problems of the past. We do not need to return to the days of the Wild West. We do not need to be seen as a violent nation. We are better than that, I hope.

References used:
O’Connor, Claire. Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 29 May 2014. Web. 30 May 2014. . Ed. John Pierce and Mike Stollenwerk., n.d. Web. 30 May 2014. .