The Daily Switch

From the Field

Posted by maker on April 15, 2009

Can you feel it?

Can you feel it?

Today I was driving through western Tennessee for work.  One of the real benefits of my job is the privilege to get to know this country a little better, first hand. I was struck by the beauty of the land even on a cool and overcast day. The rolling hills and quaint little towns seem so far away and insulated from the rest of the country which is reportedly rife with turmoil and despair. I also noticed that more than any other area I’ve travelled, northwest Tennessee and southwest Kentucky seemed packed with birds of prey. Nearly every mile I travelled brought with it the sight of an owl, hawk or bald eagle. At the risk of  inordinate sappiness, I’ll tell you that every time I see a bald eagle I find myself overcome with a sense of nostalgia and patriotism. I try to imagine what the founders must have intended with the choice of this majestic bird as a national symbol and I am proud. 

As I passed by small town after small town I listened to a long line of callers reporting in to conservative talk radio shows about their experiences of the Tax Day Tea Parties they attended. I was struck by the unique nature of today’s events. When do we as conservatives ever do something as a group? When do we clearly articulate a feeling, belief or sentiment in a way so attractive to so many?  These thoughts caused me to regret being away from home and unable to participate.  I even looked up locations in Tennessee just in case I might have time to stop on the way to the airport. Unfortunately, the event in Nashville was scheduled to end before I would arrive. I resigned myself to live vicariously through the callers speaking of their ‘electrifying’, ’empowering’ and ‘encouraging’ experiences.

Original Tea Party Tea

Original Tea Party Tea

As I navigated my way through the town square of Springfield, TN (pop. approximately 16,000) on my way to Franklin, KY, I noticed a large crowd forming in front of the courthouse.  I checked the clock and was thrilled that I had an hour and a half  to spare before my next appointment about 30 minutes down the road. I turned around, parked and walked towards the courthouse to find that the crowd I had seen just moments before had already grown and was continuing to do so.  I approached the outskirts of the crowd and was struck by the diversity of the assembled throng. Business men and women in various levels of formal work attire mixed with obvious farmers who rubbed shoulders with young mothers pressed up against men in full revolutionary war garb. It seemed as though everyone in the crowd, regardless of dress, held something in their hands, whether it be a sign, child, camera, placard or breifcase (no pitchforks or torches. Sorry, acorn).

As I pressed in a little closer I noted the countenance of the people around me. Despite the reported rage that was fueling these ‘radical’ protests, I was met with bright eyes and ready smiles, doubly surprising if you knew what I look like. This was not an angry mob. This was a peaceful gathering of good-willed citizens exercising their constitutional right to assembly, many for the first time.

I caught the attention of a nearby participant to ask what time things were scheduled to start. He informed me that they were running behind because of a court proceeding that was running long that they didn’t want to interrupt. Twenty minutes, two renditions of This Land is Your Land, God Bless America, countless chants of U.S.A! and one Pledge of Allegiance later, a local pastor named Bob Carroll stepped up to a podium to deliver his speech. The speech was well written, well delivered and well received. It was met with loud applause at times, shouts of encouragement and agreement at others. It was stirring and surprisingly non-partisan. The greatest strength of the speech, however, was its seamless inclusion of direct quotes from the constitution.

Sadly, at this point I had to hit the road again. Nonetheless satisfied, I proudly returned to my work comforted by the knowledge that even in what some would label a “backward’ southern area these tea parties were being conducted in a respectful, peaceful and effective manner.

My sincere hope for this country is that these Tea Parties might stir something up within the citizenry. I pray that we would consult history to learn from what our leaders are so eager to repeat. I pray we would each set aside our prejudice and party affiliation and embrace common sense and respect for the constitution upon which this great country is founded.

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12 Responses to “From the Field”

  1. Randy said

    Maker,

    The last paragraph of this post was probably the best thing I ever read from you. It would be great to see that happen although I am not too optmistic of that happening anytime soon. My intent is not to tarnish what you said. The problem lies in the fact that both sides have different ideas as to what is common sense and respect for the constitution.

    I have said on here time and time again that I beleive both sides want what is best for the country and I was shot down on that aspect. The path to acheiving your goal stated above is understanding where the other is coming from. Too much of anything is never good. Compromise between the two parties is what makes the country great. We have seen times when the country goes too far to the left and times when it went too far to the right. We always keep coming back toward the middle and that is when this country is at it’s best in my opinion.

    I will not make this an attempt to try to change your mind on your idealogy. I will say the history of the last 8 years are why I believe what I believe, and a majority of the country believe that things had to change.

  2. Shooter McGavin said

    Randy,

    Good thoughts, but one question: Do we keep coming back to the middle in the absolute sense, or is the middle constantly changing that we come back to?

    Its hard to say we come back to the middle in the absolute sense, considering Bush is considered by many as a right wing extremist, although in comparing him to the past 200 years of American history he would be considered wayyyy left. But I’m curious what your thoughts are

  3. mattbenchener said

    Absolutely awesome post–it was powerful to read your experience with American democracy at such a close level. These tea parties are extremely encouraging, and it’s exciting to know that the American spirit still persists despite attempts to fundamentally alter the country. We’ve never been a country that’s backed down–and we’re not about to start. Great stuff Maker.

  4. Sue said

    I went to a Tea Party. There were lots of people there I knew. I think it was a step in the right direction. I do not think we can sit idle. At the same time I can’t help but ask myself what I’m really looking at. When I see the speed at which we are moving into “global equality” by those drunk with power I shudder. If this is end time prophecy being played out we will not stop it.

  5. Randy said

    Shooter,

    I know W strayed from the conservative plan with his spending, but I think his tax structure was in line with conservatives. (correct me if I am wrong on that) The main knock on Liberals are tax and spend, Bush was worse in my mind because he was spend and spend and spend. I knew whoever took office after W would have to raise taxes. In my mind it was unavoidable. For me Obamas tax plans made more sense while McCain was basically following the W budget model probably minus the spending. (but you can never tell with McCain)

    I don’t know if we ever really hit middle and if we do how long we stay there. I am in my late 30’s and really only following politics closely the last 4-5 years. I followed before with a passing interest before that.

    Here is what I have seen in my lifetime that I can recollect. Carter went too far to the left, Reagan came in and was succesful by taking the country to the right. After 12 years of Reagan Bush Sr, we needed to come back to the left again under Clinton. Despite his critics I think Clinton was a good president, not great but good. Clinton was better after 94 when he and the Republican congress worked togethter to balance the budget. After 8 years of Clinton many thought that we needed to go back to the right.

    Now right or wrong the Republicans are paying for the sins of W and also from when the Republicans controlled congress. I wasn’t wowed by the congress the last 2 years when the Dems took control either. To me the most sucessfull years of a president are within the first two years of that party winning the white house as they undo the damage done by the predecessor. That goes for both parties.

    My observation tends to come from seeing what happens when one of the two parties has too much control or control for too long. I had a highschool teacher preach to me the danger of having one party in the White House for more than 8 years. He said that we would never have three terms of a Republican controlled White House again after the Great Depression. That turned out to be wrong with Reagan and Bush Sr.

    There is a time when I think conservatism would make sense. Right now I don’t think the conservative ideas make sense for the country. We don’t need to give more tax breaks for the rich and derregulate the market. I read that the Republican budget plan would triple the Bush Tax cuts for the top 5% of Americans.

    I think too much was made of Obama saying spread the wealth. I think that was an unfourtanate term he used. What we need to do is to get more money into the pockets of the lower and middle class. The best way to do that is to lower the taxes. My wife and I are already seeing the benefits of that. We need to get people feelling good about themselves again so they go out and spend money. We need for people to get jobs and know they will be able to keep them. What we have now is a vicious cycle. People aren’t buying so companies have to lay off which leads to even less people buying which leads to even more layoffs. Taxcuts for the rich haven’t got the job done. How would more tax cuts for the rich help?

    Now 4-8 years from now maybe a different story. I am not totally against the conservative idealogy, I just don’t think it makes sense for the situation we are in.

    Wow I ramble sometimes. I hope you can make some sense of that. It made sense in my mind when typing it.

  6. Ender said

    Randy,

    Are you saying that you approve of spend, spend, spend? I’m confused because you talk about Bush in this regard negatively, however, you praise Obama even though his deficits are going to be more than all presidents before him combined. I guess I don’t get it.

    Your opinions on how the right and left go back and forth leads me to believer that you don’t believe there is a right way of doing things. You believe in change for the sake of change.

    Your views on taxes are just…off. You act as if the poor are taxed more than the rich. Have you ever seen the pie charts of % of taxes paid by income bracket?

    Bottom 50% pay 2.99% of fed income tax
    Top 1% pay 39.93% of fed income tax
    Top 5% pay 60.14% of fed income tax
    Top 10% pay 70.79% of fed income tax

    Is your position that the top 10% should pay 80 or maybe even 90%? I realize that it is an outrage that 50% of America foots 2.99% of the bill. I mean that just makes my blood boil, they shouldn’t be asked to give more than 1%. How dare anyone make them pay over 1%, screw that, maybe it should be 0.5%! The rich clearly get away with grand theft in this scheme.

    Give me a break.

  7. Randy said

    Ender,

    I will admit right off the bat, this will make me sound like a hypocrit. In a perfect world I would agree that spending and taxes should both be kept to minimum. However, W increased spending while decreasing taxes. That is a recipe for disaster. I do believe that in order to get out of recession, spending needs to take place. In the situation we are in now, consumers have been unwilling so it required more government spending. Ultimately that will lead to more taxes down the road. As I said, taxes would have needed to be increased anyway as a result of the Bush’s spending. I know this sounds like I am saying Obamas spending ok, Bush’s spending bad. I can’t deny that and I won’t back down from that argument. With Obamas budget though you see the results of the country fighting 2 wars. W buried that and never had it reflected in his budget. So people need to take the wars into account when they see Obamams budget.

    Do I believe in change for change sake. Yes you make a good argument that I do. I see something wasn’t working, I want to change. One of my favorite quotes is Einstein’s definition of insanity, doing the same actions and expecting a different result. I saw the last 8 years, saw McCain as more of the same, voted for Obama as he offered an alternative. I don’t agree in principal with Conservatives veiw of economics. It worked in the early 80’s under Reagan, I don’t think it would work now.

    You can not possibly argue that the Bush tax cuts helped the poor more than it helped the rich. I don’t believe in a recession that giving tax breaks to the rich is the answer. You know the saying the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. One of the reasons is that the poor are more likely to spend than the rich are. I believe in putting more money into the people that are more likely to spend money and get the economy going again. Call me crazy. Bottom line is in the last 8 years tax cuts for the rich and for big corparations has not resulted in more jobs, it has lead to an increase in unemployment and a recession.

    We have a local tv station with a very conservative man who does a nightly commentary. He recently quoted economist who said we are currently on the road to hell. I say we are on the road out of financial hell. I’ve been to financial hell was fourtanate enough to be able to afford the t-shirt.

  8. Ender said

    Randy,

    I am addressing some of your more egregious errors in a separate post, however, I wanted to make a few points in this thread.

    1. Did you look at the % of burden in my last comment? How much more should the “rich” pay?

    2. You constantly reference the last 8 years as bastion of free market, conservative economic policy, this is wrong.

    3. You admit that conservative economic policy worked in the 80s under Reagan. Why won’t it work now? You see, economic theory is either sound or unsound. It does not change based on who is President or what the global situation is. Reagan operated under sound economic theory and we prospered. Obama’s economic theory is faulty and has never, ever worked. Why go that direction?

    4. Tax cuts help everyone.

    5. Change for change’s sake is wrong. If you truly believe that then you need to do some deep, deep thinking. To have that opinion you are admitting that you don’t believe there is right and wrong. You need to delve into what actually caused some of the economic problems that occurred over the last 3 years. You can start with my article on the Housing Crisis, then try the series on the Federal Reserve.

    6. Do you find it troubling to admit you are a hypocrite?

  9. Randy said

    Ender,

    1. For the tax rates, I have not investigated that on my own so that is why I didn’t comment on it. Not calling you a liar, but I need to see the numbers for myself. Again am I wrong in saying the Bush taxcuts were not more beneficial to the rich than the poor. And if Republicans passed their budget, they would increase triple the tax cuts for the richest Amercians.

    2. Other than Bush’s spending where did he stray from the Conservative economic model?

    3. Times change. The problems we face now are much different than they were in the 80’s We are now in much more global economy. Oversimplified example of what I mean. If you have a headache you take a couple aspirin, headace goes away. Next day you have an upset stomach, do you still just take two aspirin hoping that will cure your stomach as well?

    4) Tax cuts do help everyone. You put more money in peoples pockets, they will spend that money. I don’t think I argued that. The fact is right now that we have an out of control deficit even before Obama took office. In a recession you need spending. Government has had to take the lead. Again I think once we can get ourselves out of Iraq and Afghanistan we can start to curb some of the spending.

    5) I wish I was as sure as you that I know all the answers to get this country back on it’s feet. If you are that sure maybe you should be in the oval office. As I said the last 8 years, you would probably argue 16 years didn’t work. If something isn’t working I change what I am doing. So I have no problem changing for change sake. I am in business, I advertise, I don’t get results, I stop advertising. This seems pretty basic to me.
    I am not arrogant enough to think I have all the answers. Nor do I believe that my beliefs will always be the right thing to do. I use to think that when I was a teenager. Now I am in my 30’s and with age comes some wisdom. I know enoough that maybe just maybe someone might know better than I. There is seldom ever something or someone that is always right or always wrong. I envy you that belief in your convictions. Personally that kind of thinking by someone scares me.

    6 I didn’t say I was a hypocrite, I said I know this will sound hypocritical, Slight difference.

  10. Ender said

    1. Aside from the accuracy, what percentage would you say the “rich” should pay? Also, define rich.

    2. Spending is a huge part of fiscal conservatism, so to say aside from that leaves out a huge element of free market capitalism, along with freeing up markets and industries from burdensome regulations. Basically, getting the government out of business. We have written many articles on more specific and in depth examples of what free market capitalism is.

    3. Your analogy is off. If you want to use that example it should read like this: If you have a headache you take medicine, headache goes away. Next day you have an upset stomach, so you take medicine and it goes away. Free Market Capitalism is the medicine to all our economic woes.

    4. My next post is on the deficit, what you are saying is off.

    5. You always bring up your age and your experience and yet you refuse to acknowledge facts. When presented with data and proof you brush it off as if it is opinion. So are you learning or just finding things that support your already entrenched views?

    6. It is hypocritical.

  11. Sue B said

    I live near Springfield, Tennessee, and attended the Tea Party that day. I wondered as our family was leaving if we were making a difference. How wonderful it was to read your perception of our gathering. It made me feel so much better to have taken a step, however small, towards recovery.

  12. […] by Ender on April 24, 2009 Recently, a commenter in this post voiced a few common misconceptions about Bush and Obama. Here is the quote: “As I said, taxes […]

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