Divided We Fall

I never gave the Tea Party Movement much thought. I stored it in a part of my brain reserved for things I cannot fathom, such as the ingredients in a bag of Cheetos, Snuggies, the quarter machine in GW and Sandra Bullock. However, during the debate over health care reform the Tea Party became hard to ignore. When the House of Representatives passed the health care reform bill into law two Sundays ago, it was without a single Republican vote. Things got very heated. As the ballsy redheaded stepson of the Republican Party, the Tea Party took it upon themselves to make their displeasure known. I had my first run-in with the movement when they interrupted my daily stroll to hand me flyers and invite me to their protest. I took the neon-colored piece of paper that had “Fight Obamacare” plastered on it, nodded my head absently and scurried along, lest they spot my true colors and realize that I was not one of them. Upon my return home, I quickly flicked the channel to Fox News to learn more about the Tea Party’s current activities. There were interviews, opinion shows and entire segments dedicated to the movement. I soon realized that I had come to the right place. I was staring the leaders of the Tea Party right in the face. While they had some logical concerns such as taxation and the role of government in our lives, the Tea Party message was lost in a sea of angry shouts and posters of President Obama with a Hitler mustache. This mentality was also reflected in the name of the movement. The historical reference to the Boston Tea Party, the aim of which was to protest taxation by the British, could have been a clever one. But many took it to the point of ridicule by showing up in powdered wigs, the exact image of an 18th century Halloween costume gone wrong. While President Obama had promised bipartisanship as a way to achieve his goals, the fact that such an important piece of legislation passed with absolutely no approval from the Republican Party characterizes the divisions within our nation, politically as well as socially. However, the Tea Party leaders have promised a bigger, angrier upturn as a result of health care reform. This illustrates nothing more than an unwillingness to put aside political differences for the sake of the American people. As I watched health care-related Facebook statuses pop up on my Newsfeed, celebrating the reform and the how it would benefit the American people, I could not help but see it as a little bit of a loss as well as a victory. On the one hand, the act was much needed and promises to cover 32 million people, even those who were previously rejected by insurance companies based on pre-existing statements. It shows that the President can actually deliver on his promises. On the other hand, in the aftermath of the bill our political parties have turned into two estranged cousins with no hope of reconciliation. This political divide continues to hurt America and limits what the American government can actually do. I continue to wonder how much of that divide is caused by angry rhetoric and the Tea Party leaders’ insistence at a backlash. Some of the Tea Party concerns are valid but I am afraid that most of the people present at the rally were not quite aware of what reform would actually mean. In fact, I remember hearing cries of “terrorist,” “fascist” and “Marxist” as I scuttled away from the crowd. I had landed myself in some sort of wonderland where fascism was the same thing as Marxism. As Alice would say, “Of all the silly nonsense, this was the stupidest tea party I’ve ever been to.” Tia Baheri is a new Lower from Plano, TX.