Government, in the view of the vast majority of Americans, is a necessary evil.
We believe that a nation of 304 million people needs an apparatus for national defense, law and order and a social safety net. And we're kind of fond of the more than 233 tyranny-free years we've enjoyed in this wonderful country of ours.
So why we've decided to grant outsized importance lately to a small band of anti-government (and often grammatically challenged, if their signs are any indication) activists is beyond me.
Actually, I do know why. It sets up an epic struggle between Big Government Obama and the Angry Anti-Tax crowd. As usual, we ignore the majority in the middle.
The Tea Partiers and their ilk have been screeching about high taxes and out-of-control spending since a Democrat moved back in the White House. No matter that 95 percent of Americans have had their taxes chopped. Who needs facts when everyone knows that Dems always hike taxes. (It's written in Leviticus; look it up).
It would have been nice to have seen more of the teabaggers huffing and puffing about George W. Bush's penchant to spend like there's no tomorrow, but it's perhaps unfair to expect consistency from a group of folks who believe the Boston Tea Party was the ultimate anti-tax protest.
In reality, some colonists were steamed over the British taxing them without giving them representation in Parliament and merchants were riled that new, lower taxes favored importers. Tea Partiers have representation and they know it. Their problem is that their representation is largely by Democrats (and in some cases, Republicans who don't swig the Kool-Aid).
Well, tough, sweethearts. They won the election and no crocodile tears and conspiracy theories about ACORN can change that fact (though your efforts abetted by Fox News are frighteningly impressive). You get another crack at it in a few months.
By the way, I hope none of the TP folks will be teaching my daughter history. Of course, being some fat-cat teacher with Cadillac benefits generously provided by the labor of taxpayers would be rather hypocritical, no?
What I really resent is that this no-new-taxes-ever mantra means that anyone who might consider a little more revenue (like to prevent our roads from crumbling to gravel) is pilloried as the heir to Chairman Mao. That's sophistry of the worst kind.
I'd love to see how former Michigan Gov. John Engler and Ronald Reagan would have handled these clowns after they signed their tax increases.
I don't doubt that many people truly feel that the black boot of Big Government is stomping on their necks. They may well believe that if it weren't for Washington or Lansing, they would be living in Tiger Woods' mansion, dating his hot girlfriends and basking in the glow of their freedom and liberty.
Paranoia can be a powerful thing.
For all the tea partiers' talk of taxes, the real issue seems to be their unshakable belief that nothing good can come of government.
That same idea is echoed by some Republicans who automatically assume that any government program is mismanaged and worthless. They spend precious little time talking about the thousands or millions of people helped by said program - those who would lose dearly if it were to be cut or eliminated.
Railing against faceless government bureaucracy is so much easier when no one has to picture any real faces.
Of course, they'll wax eloquent about business owners (oh, I'm sorry, "job providers," as if to imply that an enterprise whose sole purpose is to generate profit is some beacon of altruism for the huddled masses yearning to breathe free). Somehow the private sector can always be trusted to do the right thing.
Yeah, just like the banks did as they pushed the world to the brink of a total financial meltdown. They're always looking to help the little guy.
Certainly government is guilty of myriad inefficiencies and needs watchdogs. But let's not pretend that such problems don't exist in the business world. All you have to do is look at GM and Chrysler, for goodness sake.
Right now, Republicans are desperate to harness the Tea Party fury by catering to the patriots' every whim, no matter how certifiable (Believe the president is a Kenyan Muslim socialist? No problem, we'll sign on to a bill demanding his birth certificate).
But I have bad news for you, my teabagging brothers and sisters. Once elected, they are going to sell you down the river.
How do I know? Well, Republicans aren't going to let the state wither away (Actually, look it up, Ayn Rand fans. That's what communists want, too. And if you're thinking of violent revolution, well, that's called treason).
The GOP will not repeal all taxes. The IRS and an alphabet soup of agencies will not be exterminated, much to the chagrin of a certain nutbag Iowa congressman.
The truth is, most Republicans want government to exist. How else would people like Michigan Teabagger-in-Chief Leon Drolet find a job?
But go ahead and let Dick Armey, Sarah Palin and a host of GOP stars exploit your cause and take your money so their party can get back into power. The real question for tea partiers will be what they do after the election.
Will they try to change the GOP from within, start a new party or just stare blankly into space like Dustin Hoffman and Katherine Ross at the end of The Graduate?
Time will tell.