Thursday, September 30, 2010
Throwing off Tyranny
This is not a political blog, and I am not a highly political person, unless you count an aversion to insanity as a form of political engagement. But lately I can't help noticing the striking overlap between the mood in the country and what I am experiencing here in our house. When I was an American History professor, in fact, I used to explain the American Revolution to my students in terms of the parent-child relationship. The big mistake Britain, the mother country, made in terms of enforcing her authority was not cracking down on her children, the colonists; after all, no one in the world at that point governed themselves, and almost everyone believed the monarchy did so by divine ordinance. No, Mother Britain's big mistake was letting the colonists run wild for 150 years and then cracking down. Anyone who has perused even one parenting book, knows that your window for establishing your dictatorship is between the years of 0 and 6. If you wait until they are 13, well, you are going to have a revolution. Too bad for England that her monarchs never had a subscription to Parenting magazine (they could have also discovered the 29 Foods Picky Kids Will Eat!).
I don't think what is going on in American politics today is quite the equivalent of the American Revolution (unless you are Sharon Angle)--in all seriousness, I think the economy is bad and people are struggling--but I do see some parenting analogies. In short, I believe that Charlotte is a member of the Tea Party movement, as best as I can make out what the Tea Party movement is anyway, and I'm only slightly less afraid than Barack Obama.
First of all, she believes in less government. While the Tea Party folk resent Obamacare as a form of government interference in their lives, Charlotte also wants to live more independently. Her version of a Don't Tread on Me banner is rolling around the floor screaming because I did not let her pick out her own clothes (I don't want her ending up on What Not to Wear). Of course, a big difference is that Charlotte doesn't make any money and doesn't buy her clothes, so I think my position holds more water, ideologically speaking, than the Democratic Party's.
Second, while she believes in less government theoretically and selectively, she is not very consistent across the board. In theory, Charlotte wants to do things "BY SELF!!!!!" yet she is unable to explain to me why she has no interest in peeing in the potty (indeed, why she would rather sit around in feces than become potty trained), why she is incapable of watching an entire Wonder Pets with me in another room, why she occasionally loses the use of her legs without in fact suffering a paralyzing injury. While some of their leaders want to abolish Social Security and Medicare, which accounts for over half the budget, if you polled the rank and file members of the Tea Party, I guarantee you they would not support this position in reality. I know this because they are average Americans, and the average American has not saved enough to buy themselves postage stamps in retirement, much less private insurance policies for senior citizens, which cost more than the GDP of some African countries. In addition, when people started discussing rationing some high cost/low efficacy treatments as a way of cutting Medicare spending, it was the Queen Tea Partyer herself who cried Death Panel. And of course no one is talking about cutting defense spending, which accounts for pretty much the rest of the budget.
Thirdly, I keep hearing various Tea Partyers invoke the 2nd amendment. Charlotte doesn't quite do that, I don't think she has much knowledge of weaponry, but she does believe in using physical force to throw off her oppressor, which mainly entails going rigid when I pick her up to drag her off somewhere she doesn't want to go, unleashing a chain reaction of painful events that rupture a disc in my back. It's very effective.
Also, the Tea Party loves them some Founding Fathers. If they knew a bit more about their ideological views--for instance, did you know they were actually pretty elitist and passed the Constitution to strengthen the federal government because the hicks and nabobs were going crazy out there? Or that GW violently put down the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794, when some farmers rose up against an excise tax on whiskey?--they might not be quite as fond of them, but they are really really awesome nonetheless. Well, thanks to some US President flash cards I got at Mt. Vernon (where you can not only find out more about the Whiskey Rebellion, you can view GW's false teeth), Charlotte is loving the Founding Fathers too, although her favorite president is Andrew Jackson, who was definitely NOT a Founding Father. GW would never have invited the public into the White House and let them get drunk and run wild.
Fortunately for me, Charlotte can't vote, and I already mentioned her lack of income, so my position is (relatively) safe come November, unless her rigidity trick leaves me a paraplegic, highly possible given my weakened state. The Democrats, though, yeah, they're in big trouble. Sorry guys.