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Coastal Voices: Tea Party co-opted, corrupted

I have tried to be patient and understanding with the Tea Party, I really have. I respect anyone who makes time in their life to participate in their government and voice their concerns about how that governance occurs.

I share the Tea Party’s disgust with the fact that our government no longer represents the majority of American people. I, too, feel the erosion of my civil liberties and crave life, liberty and happiness.

The Tea Party perspective, however, is so fundamentally flawed that it’s hard to know where to begin. If the government’s intrusion on our civil liberties is such a motivator, where were the angry Partiers when our government’s warrantless wiretapping program came to light?

If adherence to the Constitution is so important, where are the Tea Party voices rising in protest against inanimate corporations being granted the rights of free speech?

Our nation’s crippling debt is a concern? Then where were the teabag-brandishing patriots when our president started two wars of occupation with no plan to pay for them and no plan to end them?

One might argue that the debt crisis was the final straw, the event that finally pushed average liberty-loving Americans over the edge and forced them to respond. And the Tea Party solution is  less regulation? Lack of regulation is what allowed rapacious investment brokerages to gamble with the money and homes of millions of citizens and nearly bring this country to its knees in the first place.

Using the Boston Tea Party as a namesake is also misguided if you think that free markets are our salvation. That revolt was not simply a response to overbearing taxes on tea imported into the colony, but to the fact that the British East India Company (the largest corporation of the day) was exempted from those duties. The patriots didn’t toss their own tea into the harbor, but raided the corporate ships —“so much for respecting private property and leaving no mess behind.

If you are unhappy with the way our government operates, look no further than the vast fortunes spent in the name of political influence on both sides of the aisle. Billions of corporate dollars are spent by lobbyists to influence Congress, by consultants to influence voters and by advertisers to influence media producers and viewers.

Big money knows no political ideology — this bipartisan cancer on our democracy insures that the Golden Rule applies: He who has the gold makes the rules. As for the rest of us, the 99 percent of Americans who don’t have enough money to buy a congressman or fight a massive lawsuit against a behemoth company? Well, let them eat ... sorry, all the cake’s been recalled due to salmonella poisoning.

As I said before, I also feel deep discontentment and I believe the individuals who align themselves with the Tea Party are earnest and sincere in their activism. From where I stand, however, their energy has been co-opted and corrupted by some of the very forces that caused our predicament.

We won’t succeed in reclaiming our government until we understand who we’re taking it back from.

Carla Critz is a Crescent City resident.

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