Who Owns Anger?

Author: Gary Hart

Tell me the complaint, says the doctor, and I can prescribe the remedy.  For those who are not tea-partiers, it is difficult to understand clearly the nature of the complaint.

This may be in part due to the diverse nature of the party.  Looking on from the outside, anger seems to be the glue holding together anarchists, libertarians, conservatives of various kinds, and groups harboring complex grievances.

It is necessary to tread lightly in commenting on the tea party phenomenon, as I’ve learned, to avoid being considered part of some mysterious elite that, as one angry man wrote to me, “talks down to people.”  My interest in trying to understand the tea party lies in the hope of some kind of communication.  But it is hard to hold a conversation with someone who insists on shouting or who seems to want to get rid of a duly-elected president in the middle of his term or who is mad at the  Congress, every member of which was elected by a majority of voters in his or her district or state.

One thing needs to be made clear.  If anger is the admission dues for membership, then I qualify.  I’m as angry as any tea-partier.  So tea-partiers have to get over the notion that only they have a right to be angry.  A lot of Americans are angry who don’t necessarily therefore want to impeach Barack Obama, or spit on Congressmen, or scream at town hall meetings, or bring down the government of the United States.  No one, including the tea party, has a corner on anger.

For myself, I’m mad as hell about the corrupt lobbying system in Washington.  I’m mad as hell about former members of Congress, and their families, who make millions trading on a title the voters gave them.  I’m mad as hell at people who like government when their side occupies it but think they have a right to bring it down when their side loses.  I’m mad as hell at a government that wiretaps my phone or throws me in jail without a warrant.  I’m mad as hell at people who claim to revere the Constitution and hate the institutions it created and the elected officials who inhabit them.  No one in the tea party, including former governor Palin, is more angry than I am at Wall Street bankers.  They are the greediest bunch of human beings I’ve ever seen. 

Let’s get one thing straight: the president and members of Congress are elected by the people of the United States.  If you don’t like that, there are lots of other countries where this is not the case.  If you are angry at Barack Obama, or any member of Congress, you are angry at your fellow citizens who voted for them.  There is a name for this process: we call it democracy.

Simply losing an election is not sufficient grounds to advocate overthrow of the government.

If tea party anger is more complicated than losing an election, then what is it?  Is it losing a job, losing a house, having medical bills, living on food stamps, or all the above?  If so, damn straight.  I’d be angry too.  The university where I work could fire me any day, without notice.  It hasn’t happened yet, but it could.  Would I be angry if it did.  You bet.  But if this anger is something else, let’s say bitterness at a black couple in the White House, or women being more equal, or medical care for poor children, or efforts to create a more decent and humane society, then there is little we can talk about.

If the tea party draws up a manifesto to clean up the air and water, to outlaw former elected officials from lobbying, to get rid of nuclear weapons, to take care of sick children and have Wall Street bankers pay for it, to provide decent care for wounded soldiers, to lock up drug dealers and clean up ghettos, to create jobs for working people, and to enforce the Fourth Amendment, I’ll be the first to sign it.

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42 Responses to “Who Owns Anger?”

  1. Antonio Says:

    Mr. Hart,
    I appreciate your willingness to reach out and understand the Tea Party movement. You can start dropping the stereotype that the liberal leaning media and Democratic leadership in Washington having painted the movement with. Look at today’s Gallup poll which dissects the members of the movement. You’ll find that the Tea Party is very close to being a cross-section of the nation with the exception being a conservative slant and a newfound joy in political activism.

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  3. Phineas Says:

    You touched on the one group that should be blamed most of all: the American people. I am as sickened as anyone–and more than most, from what I hear on the street (or lack thereof)–about the state of affairs and the state of discourse in this country. I don’t mind the “Tea Party’s” outrage over growing deficits. But where were they when nation’s debt burden doubled during the Bush years? I don’t mind the “left’s” outrage over 4th amendment and due process abuses. But where are they when our current president surpasses George Bush in terms of the clandestine activity of our government?

    Do people really believe in the first amendment anymore? If so, why all the shouting? What about the rest of the Bill of Rights? Until we get past the idea that we should chart the most expeditious course when the going gets tough, rather than one that doesn’t trample the concepts of our founding–rule of law, due process, rights for the minority (yes, MINORITY), nobody has a right to be mad at anything. Until we return to principled, reasoned discourse, I don’t want to hear anything about how great the Founders were from people who espouse Machiavellian characteristics.

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  5. Kelly Garner Says:

    I just read at HuffPo and was frustrated that I could not comment!!

    GREAT blog Gary!! Succinctly expresses how many of us feel and aren’t eloquent enough to express!

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  7. Rudy2shoes Says:

    Are you really that niaeve? Obama was elected with a resounding majority and provided with a majority in both houses to boot and somehow anger towards our failed government may be bacause of the color of the president’s skin? Yes, you are a mainstraeam politician alright! Let me count the politico profanities in your blog: “Anachists, Libertarians, racism (black couple in the white house) sexist (equality of women). But what about “big labor, socialism, communist, welfare, etc”? Oh! wait, those are the “profanities” republicans use when we also disagree with them. You really can’t grasp that this level of anger has been around for a very long time. When people say they are fed up with phoney wars, they’re not just (former)democrats assailing Iraq, they are also (former)republicans assailing the “Gulf of Tonkin”. It goes back that far. Don’t give us that “mad as hell” crap. You can’t be one of us just by talking the talk Senator. And understand one other thing, shutting it down and starting over again is not “tearing it down” and leaving smoldering rubble. Ever heard of John Locke? It is our duty. A majority in both houses and the presidency and you cannot do the will of the people? “This process is called democracy”? Can I tell you what I’M angry about? I work for a living or own a small business. I am a military veteran, firefighter, teacher, brick mason, nurse, dentist and auto worker. I build things, I fix things and most importantly I pay taxes. Really, I work from January until mid-May to earn enough to pay the taxes I’ll owe for the rest of the year. I provide my own healthcare, make my mortgage payments and buy a little food sometimes after I pay for gasoling and heating fuel.I receive nothing, NOTHING! in return from my government, nor do I want to. I have no political party, no party represents me and never has. I am not a teabagger. I am feared by both parties because to cater to me would mean being crushed by banks and big oil. “This process is called a Democracy”? So, you “want to sign up”? Why not lead the way. You realize however, that you can’t do that from public office! If you want all the things you enumerated in your final paragraph, then help to shut down this mockery and restore it to its rightful place.
    I doubt I was much help in understanding who “teabaggers” are. My guess is that they are just another group of former democrats that are willing to allow themselves to be exploited by republicans in the name of retaliating against more broken promises from their party. The republicans are good at this. Disgruntled democrats are always a large group of potential swing votes because they are always “at-the-ready” from recent disappointment and treachery from their own party. Isn’t it interestin that the largest potential voting block in the U.S., the working class, has no party? Any party that truly and effectively represented the working class would be prepetually “in”. Of course that would require a large pool of honest, bribe-proof candidates…. Never mind. So, what do you think about the “tear it down and rebuild” thingy?

    Thank You, Gary L. Rudolph (former) democrat

  8. Gerald Says:

    Hypocrisy, plain and simple. Where was Gary Hart during the eight years of the vicious Bush haters, which included not only people from ordinary walks of life, but professors at elite universities and celebrities like Michael Moore? Where was Gary Hart’s condemnation of websites like SmirkingChimp.com, or the people who compared Bush to Hitler, and demanded that he be tried as a war criminal? What about when Bush was accused of allowing black people to die during Katrina because he was racist? The people who commonly called Bush “fascist”? And no, this didn’t just start during the Iraq War. Bush’s limousine was pelted with eggs the day he was inaugurated! People were yelling “Hail to the thief!” at Bush, the guy who was supposedly “selected, not elected.”

    How come when it was the Democrats during the Bush years it was “the right to dissent which is necessary for a healthy democracy and patriotic” but when Obama is in power, then it is time to remind everyone that the government was democratically elected? Why is “patriotic dissent” by the right “hate” and “racism” and “extremism”? When the anti-Bush protests were going on, the mainstream media and the left cheered the size of the rallies! And what about the anti-war demonstrators who went on sabotage campaigns (violence and vandalism) against “corporate war profiteers”?

    In what universe is “Fahrenheit 9/11” perfectly fine but practically all opposition to Obama is hate?

  9. Forest Henry Book Says:

    Its easy to wonder if the anger is more about their own disappointment in themselves for not getting organized and involved long before the situation in the United States reached levels of blatant abuse? In 2000 for example: Where was the outrage then? The mass demonstrations? Where was the outrage over military adventurism that has both privatized (made corporate) war, and spent the nation into unsustainable burdens of national wealth drainage? Is the anger being fueled by the desire for narrow, sound bite analysis inspiring a sense of comprehension as the method of involvement? All politicos have the “Get Involved” buttons on their websites; essentially offering involvement to mean “Donate”. Or is their anger that they know something is very wrong, and are suffering under the yolk of managed confusion? A confusion that serves to conceal a type of manufactured socialism wherein, virtually all the nations wealth flows upward, ever upwards to true documented fact:
    .09% (or less) hold more wealth than the sum of wealth held by the remaining balance of Americans? Is their anger at the fact issues that our nation has been debating since the 1960’s through the writings of Gardner, Kennedy or others; remain clearly at the center of our national debate: poverty, abuses of power, war, ignorance, education, justice for all, racism, jobs, financial stability and security? > While we are all angry at the broken national political landscape; I wonder if the anger is as a result of feeling helpless; and knowing that within these acts of anger and rage; the culprits who are responsible for creating a system which allows and encourages such people to legally undermine our Constitution and Democracy – and then “get away with it.”? Is their anger at the fact that the chief architects of our current national rancor are faceless, nameless and profiting from the rancor? My concern is that the anger is topical and fueled daily by fear; thereby confusing its proposed answers to appear to have meaning; instead have nothing to do with visionary, long term strategic analysis and implementation of governance dynamics. “Elections have consequences.” “Throw them out;” and the rest, are not methods of governance. > My concern is that the anger is misdirected, manipulated, and will give rise to some very ugly dynamics that we only need open a history book to get ideas of what may looming behind all this anger. > Be angry. Its justified. But be clear as to what is on the other side of its existence. > “To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln just 100 years ago, we must know where we are and whether we are going before determining how to get there. In this, the most dangerous and yet the most challenging period in our history, this is what is so desperately needed. Vietnam, the crisis of our cities – these matters can and will be resolved. But the larger question of whether we have advanced our civilization and the cause of freedom will depend on our own morality and our philosophy and our commitment to our ideals and to our principles. These precepts must guide us again as the great debate begins or if we do have the will, the vision, and the courage to create and to hold fast, to be shaping ideals which men follow, not from the enslavement of their bodies, but from the compulsions of their own hearts. If we do this, then we know that men will stand with us at home and abroad among our friends and even in the camp of our adversaries. For it is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands matched to reason and principle that will determine our destiny. This is the pride, this is the pride and even the arrogance of America, but it’s the experience and it is the truth. And, in any case, it is the only way that we can live.” – Excerpt from a speech delivered 4 January 1968 by Robert Kennedy. The speech title: “What do we stand for? The Liberation of the Human Spirit:

  10. Mover Says:

    Dear Mr. Hart,

    Your comments struck me as needing some help to figure out the Tea Party’s complaints. They have stated them as too much spending and governmental interference with individual lives in very unconstitutional ways.

    Are they angry? I don’t see how they could not be angry. But I wouldn’t bank on them being “too” angry as the legacy media would have us believe. I would describe the Tea Party protesters “concerned”. Concerned enough to become involved and moved to action.

    Look at it this way. If you were a supervisor or owner of a company and your employees were making decisions and changing plans, that you believe will make life far worse for your company, even after you told them to stop and start over, would you be angry? Would you contemplate firing some or all to save your company?

    The Tea Party movement was created by and consists of average Americans who can see that we are losing our country and freedoms to an ever growing and controlling government that I dare say, has become fairly blatant it’s disregard to the will of those who vote for them.

    Tea Party protesters are not politically motivated by either Democratic or Republican Party concerns, which concerns the Democrat majority. They come from all parties and backgrounds, but most do not come from a political background and they have complaints.

    The complaints:

    Congress through its actions and inaction (see below) have caused the current recession, causing the suffering of millions of Americans. The congressional response is to give huge sums of money that the country does not have to “Wall Street fat cats” (the president’s term) and without any accountability (TARP).

    The new president and congress follow on by obligating nearly another 800 billion dollars we do not have consisting of thousands of earmarks (stimulus). This, after promising to end the practice.

    Congress then hands the president the budget for the second half of FY 2009 (a unprecedented aberration) That blows up the federal spending about 10% across the board while the president is making speeches airing his concern over deficit spending.

    That is followed with the intentional bankrupting of General Motors and Chrysler that included ignoring centuries of contract law, only to divvy up the proceeds to themselves and the unions, while demanding that GM fire tens of thousands of employees and close many plants and vehicle divisions, simply because Mr. Obama and congress do not like the cars and trucks they are making.

    After that comes the congress’ “health care reform” that the citizens are three to one against, is completely partisan, filled with unlawful bribes (negotiated in secret), blows up the deficit and the debt again, guts Medicare, adds taxes galore to virtually everyone, stifles job creation, includes an unconstitutional reach into working Americans’ wallets, and does not do what it is supposed to do (lower premiums and insure 30 million more people.

    Congress’ inaction such as failing to reign in Fannie and Freddie after being repeatedly warned and actions such as failing to provide proper oversight to the SEC which allowed the ‘mark to market’ rule change that forced investment firms to immediately devalue their own holdings when market conditions change, caused the recession. They then went along with Ben Bernanke’s management of the Federal Reserve that raised interest rates in late 2007, which started the subprime market crash by doubling mortgage holders’ monthly payments on houses they could barely afford as it was. And even that had congress’ support (threatening mortgage companies who wanted credit worthy customers).

    Mr. Hart, I know that you are a Democratic Party member and are only supporting the Democratic Party like a good soldier and you are to be admired for your loyalty. However, there comes a time when the faith we put in the hands of others is mismanaged to such a point that change needs to happen fast if we are going to keep the United States the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    Thank you for your support.

  11. Loriane Says:

    Where were these sentiments during the Bush administration.
    This screed has no credibility whatsoever until Hart acknowledges the vehement anger during the Bush administration.

  12. Gary Hart Says:

    Well, if the purpose is to provoke discussion, I’ve succeeded. Obviously, every argument cannot be responded to. But some can. If I am such a loyal party member and a “good soldier” Democrat, perhaps Bill Clinton or Barack Obama would have wanted to put me in government. But that’s another matter.
    Contrary to “Mover”, I didn’t mention either party in the blog. I wrote a book called “Courage of our Convictions” condemning Democrats who voted for the Iraq war and unconstitutional executive powers.
    Whatever else I write, it is not “screed.” My point, once again, was that in an angry nation, at an angry time, no one group has a corner on anger. As to what I’m doing about it, it is teaching, writing, and trying to communicate. Unlike others, I performed public service and then moved on.

  13. Anita Says:

    Thank you for writing this.

  14. Average Joe Says:

    Mr Hart, the “Tea-partiers” also include democrats. When you describe the makeup of the group as fringe elements on the conservative side, it’s a weak attempt marginalize what in fact is a mainstream point of view. Furthermore, your attempts to characterize the whole group by the behavior of a very few, or with complete fabrications by elements of the radical left betray your stated intention of communication through understanding. Your implications of racism and sexism expose you behind your thin disguise of reason and curiosity. As for your closing statement, I hope the members of the Tea Party are concerned with more important issues such as derailing the intentions of the leftist progressive elements that have hijacked the democrat party and seem to be steering the government for the moment.

  15. Jeff Simpson Says:

    You get high marks from me, Mr. Hart. While I deplore deficit spending, I hope that others will adopt a rational, long-term view of the problems and their possible solutions. The Tea Party, as far as I can tell, seems to be rife with subjective, dogmatic, inflexible adherents. If a movement’s most articulate proponents are incapable of engaging in a rational dialectic, then this movement’s leaders must truly be either afraid or incapable in engaging in thoughtful and reasoned debate. Notice how little the critical comments mention the fact that the electorate made their decisions in 2008. Bypass the tea party and speak to the swing voters. They are the ones that matter. The tea party is largely an amalgamation of opportunistic hacks.

  16. Shannon Says:

    Great article Mr. Hart!! I found many interesting points that I can relate to…
    (quoted from your article)
    “For myself, I’m mad as hell about the corrupt lobbying system in Washington. I’m mad as hell about former members of Congress, and their families, who make millions trading on a title the voters gave them. I’m mad as hell at people who like government when their side occupies it but think they have a right to bring it down when their side loses. I’m mad as hell at a government that wiretaps my phone or throws me in jail without a warrant.”

    Yes, I feel exactly the same way! This is part of the Tea Party idea. Why does the government have the power to control these things? It took me a while to figure it out, but I realized that if we the people don’t give the federal government the power to do these things, then they can’t force us to accept it. We are in control, not them.

    It is so refreshing to hear of someone from the Democratic party that thinks the same way the Tea Party does. Keep questioning the government, no matter who is in charge. I’m guessing that you are cringing at this point, realizing that you might have just aligned yourself with the tea party movement, (and I know that was not your intention) but you cannot ignore the fact that holding our politicians accountable for their actions is a good thing, no matter what party the politicians align themselves with.

    FYI: Basically all of the Tea party people that I know are interested in upholding the 4th Amendment also. Hmm… maybe we can all reach a common ground and be friends??

  17. Tomas Says:

    One of the several reasons I have been a follower of Senator Hart for almost forty years is that he is not a blind partisan. Another reason is that he hits nails on their heads with dependable regularity, and this is another good example of that.

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  19. Kaib Says:

    Well said Mr. Hart. This should be required reading for everyone, although I think many are too angry to think clearly, which is part of the problem–a lack of rational thought and critical analysis–and in the case of those who confine their source of information to Fox News, a lack of facts.

  20. Gerald Says:

    Still waiting on Mr. Hart or his syncophants to answer the question of why left wing and Democratic anger and hateful rhetoric and massive demonstrations where hate speech was often railed during the Bush administration was perfectly fine, but during the Obama administration it is so wrong, and how we have to get back to rational non-inflammatory discourse for the sake of our democracy.

    After September 11th, a lot of people claimed that the terrorists attacked because they are angry at George W. Bush’s election and policies. Some made the insane assertion that it was because Bush did not fully participate in some U.N. racism conference. Michael Moore stated that the terrorists should have attacked “red states” that voted for Bush instead of New York, Pennsylvania and D.C. who voted for Gore.

    If it was OK for the left to be hateful during the Bush era, why is it wrong for the right to be hateful now?

  21. Phineas Says:

    To Shannon, in particular: I will sign up for the Tea Party movement as soon as I hear any of their ‘members’ deplore the destruction to the 4th amendment, due process, and U.S. anti-torture law of the past 10 years. So far, it seems to be all about taxes. All of the other “excessive governmental power” they seem okay with.

    I’m sure that as a good “Tea Party” soldier, you’re out on the front lines, railing against former President Bush’s huge budget (and off-budget) deficits, which amounted to a doubling of our public debt. And I’m sure you’re also railing against the Bush ‘stimulus’ of 2008, the TARP program, and an Iraq invasion that was never budgeted at all. And of course, you were one of the first to gasp in horror when Dick Cheney said in the early 2000’s: “Nobody cares about deficits.”

    And one note on accountability: members of congress are accountable to their constituents. We hold elections every other year. If statisitcs are correct, I’d wager you’re happy with your member of congress, if you voted for them, even though they voted for deficit spending bills in the past.

    WE THE PEOPLE did all of this to ourselves. WE THE PEOPLE want programs we’re unwilling to pay for.

  22. Gary Hart Says:

    I deplore and have deplored in the past extremists and haters of left, right, or center. Vitriol, whether directed at Bush or Obama, has no place in a serious democracy. In response to “Average Joe” and others, I realize the tea party is composed of a wide spectrum; that is why I mentioned groups with complex grievances. But if you think saving the Democratic party from far left influences (or for that matter saving the Republican party from far right influences) is more important than the issues I list at the end of my blog, you are sorely mistaken. And as to blanket condemnation of “the government”, I will say it one more time: the President and every member of Congress received a majority of the votes in their districts, states, or the nation.

  23. Jeff Simpson Says:

    I have taken from the teaparty.org website their list of “Non-negotiable Core Beliefs” and added my two cents worth to each (to be clear: only the first part is from website, the rest I have added). I don’t see how a lot of this stuff can be considered mainstream.

    Illegal Aliens Are illegal. Are we just trying to get them to admit wrongdoing, or are we going to do something about it? If we kick them all out who is going to harvest our crops? Are you ok with paying more to US workers so that fruits and vegetables go up in price?

    Pro-Domestic Employment Is Indispensable. Moving manufacturing overseas has hurt American workers, but isn’t that a very business-unfriendly stance? If you buy crap made in China at Walmart, you are guilty of complicity in shipping US jobs overseas.

    Stronger Military Is Essential. Like Samuel Gompers answered “More” in response to the question of what the AFL/CIO wanted, this is an open-ended and therefore very, very dangerous notion. Plus, it supposes that we can intimidate (or kill) anybody that we don’t like.

    Special Interests Eliminated. Like the military-industrial complex? Or farm subsidies? Or zero capital gains tax?

    Gun Ownership Is Sacred. Sacred? Not just important, but sacred? Sounds like only a step removed from “praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.” And does this mean no background checks, and everybody can buy a full-auto?

    Government Must Be Downsized. This is presumably code for ‘no social programs to benefit lazy people’ — after all, you wouldn’t want to cut the size of the defense budget.

    National Budget Must Be Balanced. I agree with this one, but good luck in the short term. Wait until we can’t roll t-bonds over and interest rates skyrocket, then we will be motivated.

    Deficit Spending Will End. Same as above.

    Bail-out And Stimulus Plans Are Illegal. No, they aren’t, and just saying that they are doesn’t make it so. The congress holds the purse strings and are allowed to spend as they see fit for the common defense, public welfare, etc. The TARP bailout was terribly wrong, but probably not illegal.

    Reduce Personal Income Taxes A Must. Nobody wants more taxes, but how else can we pay for the government services we receive? (answer: business taxes and property taxes, but that is a tough sell during a recession/depression)

    Reduce Business Income Taxes Is Mandatory. Supposedly pro-business, but every tax reduction generates a short-term boom that can lead to a bubble after the prescient cash out. The best solution would be to make wages paid at just above the national median income enjoy the lowest tax rate, but if your company pays huge salaries (and bonuses) or minimum wage, then far less of that should be tax-exempt.

    Political Offices Available To Average Citizens. They are. Unless you mean that average people should be viable candidates, in which case this sounds like campaign finance reform, or maybe requiring FCC licencees to donate free airtime to candidates. Very business unfriendly. Political advertising is a very lucrative business.

    Intrusive Government Stopped. I don’t even know what this is, except hype about death panels, or maybe those pesky social workers that we complain about because they didn’t do their jobs every time some kid falls through the cracks. And you want less of this? Or maybe the SEC, the EPA, and the Consumer Protection Agency? Do we really want a government with no ability to make businesses play fairly?

    English Only Is Required. No, this isn’t anti-immigrant, it’s pro-english. As in: If english was good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for me. The bible is, after all, written in english. (I am kidding.)

    Traditional Family Values Are Encouraged. I take that to mean that dad works and mom stays home and takes care of the kids. Isn’t that considered traditional? And that is not sexist? I believe it either means this or it means absolutely nothing. Who is going to say that it only means that we should provide a loving nurturing environment for our children, unless their parents are gay or transgender or whatever, in which case these people need to be cast out of society, etc.

    These beliefs are a loose amalgamation of zealotry, bigotry, and chauvanism, with a dash of myopia thrown in for good measure. Many of the adherents are well-intentioned, but fail to see the logical absurdity of many of the stances promoted by this organization. At least that is the way I see it.

  24. Shannon Says:

    Phineas: The tea party IS about upholding the Constitution, all of it. If you look at any tea party website, you will notice that the mission statement usually says that. Go to any tea party website, and look it up; Infact, go on the message boards and ask people how they feel about the 4th Amendment. We believe in researching and paying attention to all the things that go on in government, and holding all politicians accountable. If you personally know of any new bills being considered in DC concerning the 4th Amendment, please let me know! And I’d be right there beside you in DC protesting it.

    It isn’t only politicians that we want to hold accountable, but also we know that some big businesses and their lobbyists are also causing a problem for our country. Personally, I think it’s ridiculous that previous employees of Monsanto and Goldman Sachs have cabinet positions in the White House.

    In regards to Bush, you are obviously stereotyping me; I was a blue dog democrat most of my life, and when Bush was re-elected, I wanted to leave the country. When the ‘Patriot Act’ was created, I couldn’t believe that Americans would allow it to happen. When it was shown that Iraq didn’t have WMD, I couldn’t believe people didn’t get upset. I suppose, like many other people, I have finally reached the boiling point. We need to correct the errors of the last administrations and the current one. I don’t really care which party someone is in at this point. Wrong is wrong, no matter the party.

    And your last point, considering members of Congress; Yes, my congressman voted against deficit spending, TARP and against health care reform, as he is very libertarian-orientated. But one thing you should realize, and the idea the tea party understands…I may only vote in one district, but I can donate money to any candidate in any state that I choose. I am not anywhere near rich, but I can live with a car that is 10 years old and paid off, if it gives me the opportunity to help get accountable politicians into office. It is more important to me to give my children a good country rather than a nice car to ride around in.

    Phineas, don’t trust how the media portrays the tea party. We are simply every-day people, who are tired of letting the politicians do what they want, both left and right. We are all different in regards to education, income, race, religion; but we all believe in upholding ALL parts of the Constitution, holding government accountable for their actions,and simply trying to get people to turn off “American Idol” and pay attention to what is going on in their country!

  25. Tom Gleason Says:

    Gary:It may feel good to rant against “Wall Street bankers”in an indescriminate condemnation of our fellow citizens who work in the nation’s financial center, but it is ludicrous and unproductive to do so and certainly unbecoming of someone who has had your reputation as a thoughtful public servant.I am also disappointed to see you raise the tired refrain of some on the Left who would have us believe that criticism of this Administration is based on racist “bitterness at a black couple in the White House.” I believe the overwhelming majority of the Tea Party movement is fueled by the genuine concern of many ordinary Americans about the direction Barack Obama and the Democrat majority in Congress are taking our country.

  26. Gary Hart Says:

    In response to my old friend, and new critic, Mr. Gleason, may I say that my rant against a hand full of greedy bankers who brought our financial system near the brink is commonly shared with angry people of the left and right. If that anger makes me “ludicrous and unproductive”, then I am in very good company. As to the source of the anger of others, I merely question whether there might be some displeased with the first black president. I hope that is not the case. Where the president and Congress are “taking us” seems to me to be to liquidate two wars and a financial mess they inherited and to, finally, after 70 years of trying (including by some prominent Republicans) to provide decent health care for our citizens the same way other advanced, civilized societies do. I think that was part of our agenda, Mr. Gleason, in years past. I have not changed from that agenda.

  27. Phineas Says:

    Shannon, forgive me sarcasm. You are right that I know nothing of your personal stance on any issues, save those which you speak to directly here.

    You must understand, however, that I have indeed heard what the Tea Party has to say on a variety of issues, and that those I mentioned are conspicuously absent. I have seen interviews with many members, and listened to national figures aligned withe the movement–and none speaks to illegal wiretaps, torture, the nonsensical invasion of Iraq, or torture.

    That you are surprised that WE THE PEOPLE supported The Patriot Act, and weren’t upset at an Administration who sold us the concept of WMD in Iraq as justification for war, then you have must more faith in our fellow countryman than I.

    I am no fan of the current Administration, either. This president has either continued or exceeded the last in the abuse of executive power and the nature of executive transparency.

    But simply cutting taxes and buying more guns isn’t going to solve any of our nation’s problems. That seems to be the theme of the Tea Party movement. when you suggest to me that members of the Tea Part are “every-day people,” that’s precisely what scares me.

  28. John Says:

    Gary, agree. Tom, I honestly don’t know why members of the finance management community don’t have to drive through a gauntlet of teabaggers with pitchforks and torches to get out of their driveway every morning. I suppose it’s because they don’t yet understand where the value their parents controlled in 1973 went.

    Then, it was possible for someone to bag groceries at Safeway and put themselves through DU without loans. To walk into a Doctors office and leave after paying about 2hours of wages. Insurance was for hospitalization, catastrophes, as most could afford day to day issues. The hospital was owned by the city or county or maybe a church. The hospital manager probably made a multiple of a nurse’s salary you could count on one hand. A kid could walk into a city facility on a hot summer day without paying a user fee. Taxes had already paid for that, as a common good. That ‘value’ owned by the working class is no longer there, replaced instead by credit and working spouses and multiple jobs. Where did it go? Value is zero sum, when average salaries are adjusted for inflation across time, it must have gone somewhere.

    It went uphill, the most publicly obvious is the finance industry. So it’s easy to mad at them. And I am, but happy to be mad at a box of people that includes corporations CEOs etc, anyone that took value out of the middle class and reduced their tax burden, which insured ‘user fees’ for a kid going to the gym, for the weekend drive up through RMNP.

    The teabaggers are just scared, and looking for simple answers. If you don’t understand a complex system but know it’s broken and is hurting you, you get mad at figureheads or symbols, preferably something that can’t hit back. Worked for the church in Salem, a different one in Belfast, the Klan in Birmingham, and I’m sure it will for whatever comes next.

  29. Michael Says:

    Who would the average Tea Partier support?: The Mine Workers Unions, which constantly fight for safer working conditions for their members? Or Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who has a reputation for union busting, and has shut down entire mines that were unionized, while keeping open other mines that were cited for one safety violation after another – sometimes dozens a month. Would they even consider it “constitutional” to have federal mine inspections at all?

    Face it, for all the talk about this being a grassroots movement, it is well documented that powerful interests ranging from Dick Armey to FOX News were behind it from its conception. Recent polls have shown that 80% or more of the tea baggers are Republican or lean that way. Only 5% are Democrats or Liberals. The rest consider themselves Independents. They are gun fetishists and racists; people who are angry at the thought of a dime of their tax money going to “those” people even though polls also show a good number of them receive some form of government assistance themselves. They are, all in all, people who, despite their self-proclaimed patriotism, actually have developed a boiling rage at what the country really is and what it stands for. They have no respect for democracy and feel that only their side is legitimate. They willingly let themselves be brainwashed by the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, who validate their point of view, but use them as tools to enrich themselves, as do people like Massey CEO Blankenship, who literally wraps himself in the flag when speaking to their ilk while the men and women who work for him are denied the right to collective bargaining and, every day, descend into dangerous mines to extract coal to burn.

    Yes, there is anger on both the Right and the Left in this country. But which side is it that makes death threats to politicians? Or flaunt guns at political rallies? Or fly planes into IRS offices? Or spit on lawmakers while screaming racist epithets at them on the steps of the Capitol? And who is doing all this against their very own economic interests? When this all ends badly, as it surely will, who will be to blame?

  30. Tom Gleason Says:

    I hope I remain “an old friend,” and I am “a new critic” only because I don’t see you rising up to be the statesman our nation so desperately needs to pull us together. There was a time when your intelligence and leadership earned praise from George McGovern on the left and Barry Goldwater on the right as you offered thoughtful new policies to make our military more effective and enhance our national security. Certainly one of the most dire threats we face now is the exploding deficit spending that places us at the mercy of the Chinese who hold more and more of our debt. Falling back on the lame excuse that the Democrat in the White House and the Democrat Majority in the Congress have “inherited”that mess flies in the face of the reality that Democrats have controlled both Houses of Congress since January of 2007 when Barack Obama was a member of that majority. There is no doubt that Republicans and Democrats alike deserve the blame for the crisis we face; the only question is who will be the statesman to lead us out of this peril? Now, more than ever,we need you to be that statesman.

  31. Mover Says:

    @Jeff Simpson

    Your 2 bits on the Tea Party Non-negotiable Core Beliefs is interesting. Let me give you my thoughts on the matter. Many seen to have forgotten what this country is all about and why Tea Partiers are so exercized about it.

    If anything, this country was founded on individual freedom, security and limited government power. The 27 amendments to it have clarified and corrected all of the major oversights of the founders. (Number 28 should ban lawyers from serving in elected positions.) That has all but disappeared of late since in order to keep the dream alive, the vast majority of individuals need to be personally responsible for themselves and their families. Today most seem to pass this off to the government.

    – On illegal aliens; The problem with amnesty, as some are calling the left’s immigration reform, is that it treats a certain group of people different than other people. This violates the equal protection provisions of the 14th Amendment. All legal immigrants are on a waiting list to come to this country. Some for many years. In fact their is a reward to get the one’s waiting list cut back to 4 years in exchange for military service in the USA. That is fair because it has an agreed upon contract. Is it fair to those on the waiting lists to have those who are here illegally to get a pass on their crimes? (no).

    Another issue you raise is ‘who will pick our crops’? The answer is simple really. If it paid just minimum wage and didn’t allow the employer such total control over the workers, then Americans, especially teenagers, might ‘pick our crops’ and such. An element of the reason US workers won’t do that kind of back breaking labor is because: Why should they? Our government has made it comfortable if an American is out of work then being jobless is not a problem. The ones who are working will provide them with beer money, some help with the rent & cable TV, food stamps, free breakfast and lunch at public schools, etc. If they can’t get a really good job, why should they work at all? And if you think I’m imagining things, try again. This is not a new phenomenon. Back in the 70’s, Carter administration to be exact, a reporter asked some folks up in Maine, ‘why didn’t they pick apples?’. Apples were ripe and needed workers to get them to market. Of the interviews aired, the answer was, “why should I bust my rear for $2.50 per hour when I can stay at home and get $4.00 per hour? (40 hour week). That explains it all.

    Bottom line, the problem is government extending its tentacles into everyone’s private lives and screwing up the economy with their grandiose ideas of helping people, then making everything worse for everyone. Just look at the federal budgets each year since 1965. I saw the pattern. The national debt is just about equal to spending on social programs started by the Great Society nonsense. And you know they have been robbing Social Security to pay for all this help, so it and Medicare are broke.

    – As for the military… without it you have no country and no freedoms at all. Not even the freedom to post your opinion here. Defense of this nation is government’s primary function, followed by guaranteeing states’ powers and individual rights. Everything else is tertiary.

    – Second Amendment IS sacred. Following on defense of the nation, what about personal defense? When negotiating the the government’s enumerated powers and responsibilities, it was decided that the government: 1. Could not defend each individual in the country as it would be too impractical and expensive. That responsibility would have to be up to the individual. 2. An armed individual is a free individual. A government that can take away your means of self-defense can take anything they want. When you live under the good graces of some faceless government bureaucrat, you cannot speak freely for fear of losing your privileges and that makes you little more than a slave.

    – TARP is illegal. The federal government’s job isn’t to ensure that one business fails while propping up others with your pretend tax dollars. TARP at the very least is a violation of equal treatment . If they were going to bail out one, two or six companies, then they needed to bail out all of them. Instead, the Treasury Secretary’s old company (CEO, Goldman-Sachs) gets all the money they want, while their competitor, Lehman Bros, were allowed to fail. They even discussed it and said, ‘nah, screw’em’ in so many words. Our government isn’t supposed to be about ‘who ya know’.

    – Business taxes. Do you know who pays business taxes? You do. It comes right out of your pocket and into the general fund for congress to with as they please, including last years pay raise to themselves ($5300) and the payoffs to Goldman-Sachs & AIG. Business passes any expenses incurred to do their business on to the customer. It has always been that way and it always will be that way. So, while you’re figuring your taxes, don’t forget to ad up what the government has collected from you through every purchase you made during the tax year. That includes food transportation, housing, clothing and everything else you need or want. Everything.

    Why does the government need all that money? To help you. of course. Just ask them.

    – Special Interests Eliminated. – Of course. But you don’t limit special interests by crippling the US military. You limit special interests by limiting how much influence they have, i.e., how much can they influence lawmakers with millions of dollars that you or I do not have. The answer is limit campaign contributions and gifts to only those entities who can vote in an election. Boeing, GM, the United Autoworkers, PACs, and Goldman Sachs, cannot vote. Only people who are residents of their districts, states, or in the case of presidential elections, country. People from Iowa should not be sending money to Nevada to get rid of Senator Harry “the war is lost” Reid and the unions should not be paying off congress to get a 20% share of GM. Companies, PACs and unions can run issue ads and speak to elected officials, but their should be no exchange of money in the equation. How do you think it is that when HMO’s started back in the day that the law said you could not sue them for denying you service. Did you representative come up with that on his own? No. Some slime bag from the insurance lobby got that provision inserted into the law.

    – Traditional Family Values Are Encouraged. Of course.

    Mom might be able to stay home and help their children grow up with strong family ties. But there are two problems that come to mind right away. 1. With over half of the family income going to the various levels of government, both adults must work to be able to live in this society. 2. Family values goes against the liberal idea of freedom. You know, freedom from discipline, consequences, personal responsibility, judgment and religion. After all if people practiced these things, government would be out of the nanny business.

  32. Brian Says:

    Mr. Hart,
    First of all, let me thank you for not dismissing the tea party as a bunch of uneducated morons like many in the Democratic party seem to be doing nowadays.

    Though I am not a direct supporter of the Tea Party (I find their rhetoric and frequent (though not always) lack of intellectualism unappealing), as a “moderate libertarian” of sorts, perhaps I can provide some insight.

    I would say that their anger is not simply because of the huge Republican losses in 2006 and 2008, but at the GOP’s own failure to stand up on its principles. If one looks at then-Governor Bush’s rhetoric in 2000, you’ll find somebody who advocated for state’s rights, smaller government, balanced budgets, and a “humble foreign policy”. President Bush violated candidate Bush’s principles.

    Did he support state’s rights? No. He expanded the federal government’s role in education, and never really forwarded state’s rights during his Presidency.

    Did he shrink government? Absolutely not. He greatly increased the power of the US government when it came to security and passed an expansion of Medicare.

    Did he maintain the balanced budget? He didn’t even try. Not only did Bush start an unnecessary and expensive war in Iraq, but he also cut taxes and expanded Medicare without paying for either.

    Was his foreign policy “humble”? Quite the contrary, his foreign policy was arrogant. He invaded a country without a proven threat to the US coming from the country. He also was rather dismissive of the rest of the world.

    So as you can see, the man people elected in 2000 was never President. The only reason Bush won in 2004 was because of Karl Rove’s genius and the fear conservatives had of a Kerry Presidency. Of course, this all culminated in the TARP program, which cost hundreds of billions of dollars, was not paid for, and did not have proper oversight.

    Essentially, they’re angry because they don’t feel anybody is on their side. On one hand you have the Democrats, whom they do not like for obvious reasons. On the other hand, you have a Republican party that, while rhetorically agreeing with the Tea Party, supports increasing the size of government when push comes to shove. The GOP was only conservative when it is convenient for them during the Bush years.

    There is an argument to made that the GOP has changed and is more principled in its conservatism, but one cannot really know until they control congress. Until then, the Tea Party will remain angry while they hold their noses and vote for the lesser of the evils this November.

  33. teaparty Says:

    Good day, I see all your blogs, keep them coming.

  34. Jeff Simpson Says:


    Thanks for the nice reply. I appreciate it when people strive to find middle ground.

    Re: Immigration. Those that are already here and supporting various local economies are hardly deserving punishment. Only the most motivated illegals come here, work hard, and prosper. Those are the people we want most (excluding criminal elements). Immigration, especially amnesty, is a thorny issue, but we certainly do not want to turn away potential citizens that will do right by us. On a more pragmatic note, any party that alienates the growing Hispanic voting blocs lacks foresight. To get US citizens to pick crops will require wage increases and that will put some growers out of business, it will drive up produce prices, and as such will be inflationary and largely unpopular.

    Re: Social program spending and the national debt: Your conflation of spending on social programs with national debt seems incorrect. I believe our biggest problem is that we spend so much for a cold-war style military in the absence of that conflict. We need to spend our ‘defense’ money more wisely, and I put the quotes in to emphasize that there are better ways to protect and preserve the American Way of Life. Consider this rather extreme but nonetheless thought-provoking example. Suppose instead of carpet bombing a country (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq) we dropped the dollar equivalent of all the ordnance as $20 bills and mail-order catalogs for Sears, Macys, Lowes, Home Depot, etc. Nobody dies, local villagers suddenly look very kindly on the big planes in the sky, the local insurgency can’t compare to this obvious and tangible benefit, plus our local economy gets a boost. On the losing end of that scenario is the bomb manufacturer.

    Re: Gun Ownership being sacred: I believe in the second amendment, but I also accept the need for basic regulation. That clause about a ‘well-regulated militia’ is important. Elevation of gun ownership to sacred status seems too zealous, too fervent.

    Re: Illegality of TARP: TARP is not illegal. Legislation is, until it is ruled unconstitutional, the essence of what is legal. Odious? Yes. Illegal? No.

    Re: Cutting business taxes: Tax revenue has to come from somewhere. Anytime you get a big tax cut in one area, it sets off a big boom (low real estate taxes and low interest rates set off the housing boom, and now everybody is paying too much in interest instead of paying that same checkfat as taxes. Now we are no longer paying for what we get. We need to raise taxes AND cut services to meet somewhere in the middle. Lowering business taxes across the board is not the answer. Any successful businessman can only become this way by existing in a fertile economic environment, and for this, his or her business must reasonably expect to give something back. Raising business taxes will necessarily cause greater attrition, but not making big employers pay anything when their drain on local resources is obvious and tangible is nothing but a cost-shift onto other taxpayers, be they business owners or whatever.

    I have no problem paying taxes, but I do believe the tax code needs to be progressive so that those with the most disposable income are taxed most heavily. Unless you are the beneficiary of inheritance or nepotism, you should not fear the concomitant increased taxation that should come with success.

    Re: strong miliary and the need to stick it out: I see you still believe that we can win in our war in the Middle East. I disagree. Any occupying army whose ethnic makeup is more different than that of the local insurgency will be rejected by the local populace. We need to get out. Now. And we need to close down a quarter to a third of our overseas bases, as a starter. If you question why, I ask that you review the history of the Roman Empire, then we can continue our discussion.

    Re: apparent tangent of traditional family values: The demise of the one-earner family is sad, but again a logical consequence of the relative increase in the CPI versus median income. CPI has risen annually at 3.49% (1980-2008) while income has only risen by 1.19% for the same time period. Interestingly, GDP has risen by 6.13%.

  35. A Comment On The Tea Party « Poplar Street Views Says:

    […] of various kinds, and groups harboring complex grievances.”  You can read the comment at Who Own Anger on his blog.  It’s not a long read and does a good job framing the problem with the tea […]

  36. alan conley Says:

    Thank you for the anger ownership piece. I feel its about time. I get angry when I hear about health insurance atrocities, income gaps, a fake war in iraq. As Bob dole said : Where’s the outrage? “let your anger be the wetstone of your sword..” I have registered as a democrat to let people like the tea baggers know there is another America that doesn’t have to agree with them. It’s as if they are trying to get two votes One vote for the person and One vote for the intimidation. Anyway thank you for this piece.

  37. Mover Says:

    Dear Mr. Hart,

    Your post, “But some can. If I am such a loyal party member and a “good soldier” Democrat, perhaps Bill Clinton or Barack Obama would have wanted to put me in government. But that’s another matter.” requires a response.

    This may sound somewhat cynical, but that’s where we are these days.

    I don’t believe President Obama would have you in his government. He, as it turns out is the governing in an extraordinarily partisan fashion, blaming others for problems he had a hand in creating and would only have like-minded supporters in his administration.

    That does not describe the Gary Hart I’ve read about of since your presidential campaigns in 1984 and 1988. I believe you are a moderate, willing to discuss opposing viewpoints without any malice, vitriol or blame. There is no way this president would want someone who might temper his agenda with common sense.

  38. Jeffrey G. Says:

    The Tea Party in a nutshell: “I’m mad as hell at people who like government when their side occupies it but think they have a right to bring it down when their side loses.”

    They’re sore losers.

  39. MJR Montoya Says:

    To Mover or anyone else for that matter:

    How does the tea party respond to Arizona’s passage of laws that require citizens to keep their papers with them and to produce proof of citizenship at any time? As a person who doesn’t want to be harassed based on what I look like, can anyone tell me

    a) how this is not a violation of my 4th amendment rights?
    b) what voting groups that value individual freedoms think about Arizona’s new law.

    I’d appreciate the help. I ask this point because there’s a lot of anger circulating around Arizona’s new laws, and I want to know where the tea party stands on this.

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  42. Dann Lacrone Says:

    What in the hell is going on? Benghazi scandal, IRS scandal, government phone tapping , drones in the sky spying on us . Is this not enough? When did corruption become commonplace. Nixon went down for MUCH less than this!! Obama and Hillary are murderers, but it seems like they will NEVER become accountable.

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