Friday, August 5, 2011

The new Vietnam

If you're old enough to remember those times, or if you've read your history, you probably know that Vietnam was a mess.  Regardless of how it began, and unrelated to any greater Cold War issues, the fact remains that we sent our military off to war with a mission that couldn't help but fail.  As it was later defined, we were trying to win hearts and minds, and you can't do that with guns and bombs.

Today, we're seeing the same gameplan played out yet again, and yet again, those advocating that process haven't figured it out.

You might think I'm referring to Afghanistan or Iraq or even Libya, but I'm not.  Those might be good examples, but I'm thinking of a war much closer to home.  In this case, I'm thinking of the Tea Party movement, which is actually more akin to Al Qaeda than a political party.  Here's why.

If you think back to 9-11, or even to the earlier attacks such as the first shot they took at the World Trade Center, you'll discover that their tactics are bound to fail.  They sought to change American policies, specifically with regard to Palestine (at least according to Osama).  They felt that America was blindly supporting Israel and ignoring the plight of the Palestinians.  That point of view is not without some validity, but if we examine their actions, they make no sense.

By attacking the World Trade Center, or for that matter attacking any target in the US, they assured that no American would be likely to support their viewpoint.  It's no different than the Japanese at Pearl Harbor.  In fact, they assured that whatever good will they might have had was lost.  Yes, the attack got our attention, but it did nothing to further their cause.  In fact, it did exactly the opposite.

In simple terms, all it did was really piss us off.  People who didn't care before suddenly cared, but not in any positive way regarding their viewpoint.  In short order, they found their base of operations destroyed, and, ultimately, their ability to influence events evaporated.  When the Arab Spring revolutions began, they were sitting on the sidelines, and remain there even today.

Now, last election season many Americans watched as the Tea Party did their thing.  They rallied, yelled, screamed, and located some candidates who would represent their views.  Because they were motivated, they managed to win some primary races, often in districts where Republicans were virtually impossible to defeat in the general election.  They sent a bunch of new people to the House.

Initially, they were largely a curiosity.  They were typically not experienced politicians, and, being at the bottom of the seniority ladder, had little direct impact.  I think that frustrated them, first because they didn't have much sway and second because they discovered that government didn't work like they thought it did.  They came in wanting to make big changes and discovered they didn't know how to play the game.

So, they made up a new set of rules.

In the last few months we've watched as they sought to change the outcome by changing those rules, but, just like Al Qaeda , they've only succeeded in making a whole lot of people mad at them.  They've not gained any new converts, and lost whatever good will they might have had before.  A few days ago they held a rally...and almost no one came.  Reporters outnumbered supporters!  In short, they're acting just like terrorists.

We all know, like it or not, that a democracy relies upon compromise.  Nobody gets everything they want.  It's like a marriage.  If you demand 100% your own way, you'll find yourself getting a divorce, and it will cost you!

By refusing to compromise, the Tea Party has now made itself an outcast.  Yes, they can still affect the outcome of things in the House.  But...with their extreme positions, they will alienate enough moderate Republicans to kill a working majority and that means nothing gets passed.  That, in turn, shows the population as a whole that they simply shouldn't be a part of the government.

A good spin doctor can claim the final debt ceiling bill was a win for either side, and dream up some way to "prove that."  However, the fact is that there was one big loser in the deal, and that was the American People.  All of us.  In November of next year, the Tea Party can claim they forced the President to yield.  The Democrats can claim that the whole problem was created by the Tea Party.  It won't matter.

In November, the American People will remember who the terrorists were...and they didn't win any hearts and minds.

No comments: