LeBuhn: Tea parties are weak answer

Mac LeBuhn

On a campus as blue as the lake that borders it, Northwestern’s anti-Obama ‘tea parties,’ occurring across the United States on Wednesday, were few and far between. While the brew consumed at Bobb-McCulloch on a given Wednesday is more likely of the Anheuser-Busch than Lipton variety, students should ignore the choice of drink and focus on the significance of the protests.

To those who missed the tea parties, Republicans across the United States tried to emulate the Boston Tea Party by protesting the manner in which the administation was spending its tax money (in this case Obama, not the British). As Republicans “tea bagged” – their phrase, not mine – they spoke out broadly against three things: an admittedly large budget, a growing national debt and the sense that the United States is losing its capitalist roots.

Approaching these arguments is a delicate process, but is made easier through a creative analogy:

We have John, a prolific drunk driver who has been at fault for several accidents, yet for reasons unknown and frustrating, insists on drinking and driving again and again. John, not surprisingly, drives his Mercedes straight into a tree, having ignored the lessons of history – drinking and driving causes accidents! – and racks up a huge bill at the garage.

Standing in the garage – his once-gleaming Mercedes before him, fender on the floor, engine sticking through the hood – once he sees the bill John turns to the mechanic in outrage.

“$7,800?! You’re charging me $7,800? Look at my situation – I’m injured, my Mercedes is in tatters and you want me to increase my spending right now?”

How does the mechanic respond? Does he point out the obvious: John’s driving habits often lead to situations like these? That he, the mechanic, isn’t responsible for the cost of John’s errors? Perhaps John should reconsider such a dangerous and short-sighted mindset?

The analogy here is straightforward enough; unfortunately, taxpayers are stuck with John’s bill in the real world. Maybe this is why Republicans are so insistent on a dogmatic approach to the economy. Whether it’s Savings & Loans, energy deregulation or the present debacle, Republicans are free to pursue a policy of intoxication while passing the damage off to taxpayers.

And the image of a crash is an ideal analogy: bankruptcy filings by businesses are up 50 percent in the past year. Talk about a quick stop.

Today’s graduating seniors, holding the keys to a Mercedes that Republicans have crashed, should pay particular attention to Wednesday’s tea parties, given the present fiasco. Republicans are again playing the role of John, already taking their next drink.

If Republicans are going to be a major party again, voters will need to see that the policies of yesterday are not going to be their promises of tomorrow. When they’re hosting tea parties protesting the Obama Administration for refusing to continue what their Republican predecessors put in place, it’s no different than helping John open up another drink, oblivious to the wreckage in front of him.

Weinberg junior Mac LeBuhn can be reached at [email protected]