Friday, March 20, 2015

The Poisonous Influence of the Tea Party in American Politics

I used to be counted among the camp of lefties who believed that there was fundamentally very little difference between Democrats and Republicans. Members of both parties pander to lobbyists, allow the rich and connected more influence than the average citizen and are desperately afraid of upsetting the status quo in Washington. While I still believe that’s true in many cases, the growth and influence of the Tea Party among Republicans has pulled its members farther to the right than ever before into a dangerous fantasy land that bears little resemblance to the democracy in which we claim to live.

An incredibly disturbing example of this appears in today’s news. Ever searching for ways to enhance his Tea Party creds, Florida Governor Rick Scott recently issued an unwritten ban on state employees from using the phrases “climate change” or “global warming.” As pernicious as this is, he followed up his warning with action when an employee of Florida’s environmental protection department used the terms in official notes from a forum he attended.

Okay, you might think, the guy probably got a warning or a nasty email, but no, it went far beyond that into the realm of 1984 totalitarian thought control. The employee was forced to take a leave of absence and told he could return to work only after a mental health evaluation from his doctor that verified his “fitness for duty.”

A mental health evaluation?

This, friends, is the kind of pre-enlightenment, fact-denying, authoritarian direction the Republican Party has taken of late. It almost seems as if there is a below-the-radar weekly contest among conservatives to see who can spew the most ignorant, hate filled comment. Rick Scott, you are without question this week’s winner. But let this be a serious warning to voters, in 2015 there is a stark difference between where Democrats and Republicans want to take this country. If you prefer a democracy to a theocracy, freedom of speech to thought control, reality to fantasy, you cannot in good conscience vote Republican.

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