The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in America

Who would think that Colin Goh, a Singaporean columnist, writer and film-maker based in New York, would write something about politics in The Sunday Times? Best (or worst, depending on what you think about politics) of all, his column usually features in the generally light-hearted Lifestyle segment. I normally skip his columns because he keeps writing about his baby and his otherwise banal life in New York, but I was intrigued by his column title for today’s article: “Mad Hatters and US politics”. I read on, to much curiosity and realisation.

He describes how US politics is now quite farcical thanks to the tea party movement that is taking root across much of America. This tea party movement is against big government, and wishes to claim back ground it thinks the government is infriging upon. And of course, this tea party movement is aligned with the Repbulican party and most (if not all) of its values: free markets and no government intervention “whether in the economy, healthcare or the environment”. I felt quite vindicated by his views, as someone who’d profess to be a Democrat if living in America. But let’s not argue about the views of the Democrat. The whole farce about politics in America today is that Republican opposition to policies and initiatives that the Democrats are proposing, can range from sensibly valid to stubbornly nonsensical.

Colin says that “The US government is ‘broken’ because of the political impasse between the two dominant parties, and the revival of the conservative movement.” And he uses Newton’s Third Law of Motion, that “every action is met by an equal and opposite reaction”, to describe the resistance of the Republicans to Democratic measures. He then writes that the conservatives seem unable to see the light about the whole crisis: that “lack of regulation just caused the biggest economic meltdown in years”, and that “the loudest opponents of regulation just happen to be… those evil bankers and corporations”. And I totally agree with him when he finds it “baffling… that conservatives are blaming the sorry state of the nation on the Democrats, who merely inherited the mess” from George W Bush.

And the Republicans are becoming a party of No just as Obama is saying that they should not be doing, for the sake of the nation. While I find it quite wrong for Obama to continue pushing through, by force, legislation on health care reform, the fact that no Republican agrees at all on anything despite already having some of their suggestions integrated into the policy does not make sense. I shall not go into details about health care reform, but suffice to say that as a Singaporean and someone who’s more liberal, I believe that health care reform is necessary and many people sadly are just unwilling to feel the pain in the short term for potential benefits in the long term (as much as this piece of legislation is flawed… which piece of legislation isnt?).

Donna Brazile, in The Mercury, also alludes to the tea party movement (the Republicans and the tea party movement are almost one and the same now) and their vehement resistance to President Obama’s health-care reforms. It gives more detailed examples of how Republican senators who campaigned for certain ideas in the bill to be included in the legislation but yet did an about-turn and dropped support for it in this final stretch of the race towards implementing the bill. It is not like President Obama did not offer them an open hand to reconcile differences, but the chasm between the two sides is probably too huge to surmount.

So has the Mad Hatter (what a coincidence, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is coming to screens near you now!) taken over the Tea Party in America, and made all these Tea Party-goers bonkers?

The source might be slightly biased given that Donna Brazile was a former campaign manager for Al Gore, former vice-president of America and a Democrat. Nevertheless, the problem remains: two polarised parties unable to agree on anything, unwilling to compromise, and hence unable to govern. For the good of all America, please come together to do something. It might be true that President Obama’s views might not reflect the views of the WHOLE population, but to sit there and just say “No” without concrete action (they provided the suggestions to change, but they tend dropped the support for those changes… those are concrete suggestions, but is that concrete action?) will not move the nation forward.

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