Last night’s Republican debate was the ninth of 53 such events between now and November 2012, so maybe it didn’t seem totally important to watch it. You can probably close your eyes and see Herman Cain railing against the reading comprehension level of US policy right now. Much like the individual Republican candidates, the Republican debates have a sameness that prevents each of them from seeming strictly necessary. Any one is like the cracker that falls out of the box of Triscuits. It’s therefore understandable if you missed last night’s debate, but it’s also a shame, because it turned out to be the Triscuit with a vague image of Jesus on it. The CNN Tea Party Express Republican Debate tells you everything you need to know about the Tea/Republican Party in three easy juxtapositions. Or one juxtaposition of three elements, which also yields three juxtapositions. Let’s just let the math/usage wash over us and watch videos.
Element One: Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry pledge to reform Social Security for everyone but you.
The first question of the debate came from Tea Party activist Theodore Wendler, who presumably used to be named “Wendel Theodore” and wanted to switch but also wanted to keep sounding like a verb. Fortunately, the Tea Party is all about fulfilling your contradictory desires. The Wendler’s oddly-put question—how will you convince senior citizens that Social Security and Medicare need to be changed and get their vote?—turned out to be oddly prescient. Both Bachmann and Perry insisted that the programs must be reformed, while simultaneously assuring voters about to receive Social Security and Medicare that nothing would change for them.
“The United States government made a promise to senior citizens, and we have to keep that promise to them,” Bachmann said. Don’t worry, Baby Boomers: the US government does not break its promises. Younger generations will keep paying money into Social Security until you and all current Republican candidates for President are dead. I personally will keep paying double. Then, when the last Boomer has passed on or not renewed his voter registration, I can retire from a long career of hard work, run a hot bath, light a few candles, put on some soft music and fuck myself.
So what you need to know about the Tea/Republican Party is that it is 100% committed to reform of Social Security, and what they mean by “reform” depends on what they mean by “you.” If you are retired or nearing that age, “reform” means full benefits as promised. If “you” are still working for some ridiculous reason, “reform” means you pay in full now and get reduced benefits later. “You” are not a member of the Tea Party, because you are not 50. Keep that idea in your head to juxtapose with Element Two.
Element Two: Let him die
Here’s Ron Paul explaining why a 30 year-old man in a coma needs to take personal responsibility for his condition. Around the 1:00 mark, you get a few cheers for the idea that “society should just let him die.” According to certain consistently biased sources, the audience later erupted into a chant of “let him die!” These people were recently promised full Medicare benefits for the rest of their lives. Statistically, Tea Party members are wealthier than the average American and old enough to qualify for federal health insurance, plus monthly cash payments. They therefore love personal responsibility. If other, non-retired people make the personal choice to not buy the health insurance that Tea Party members get for free, well, they should be left to die. That’s an idea we can all get behind, or at least a ladder we can all pull up after ourselves.
Element Three: The US poverty rate is the highest it’s been since 1983
This element is not technically from last night’s debate; the Census department announced it this morning. As of this writing, nearly one in six Americans lives below the poverty line, set at $22,350 annual income for a family of four. The portion of Americans without health insurance is at a 20-year high. Poverty is up among all ethnic groups except Asians. It’s up among children. The only demographic for whom poverty is not up this year is people 65 and older. For them, it’s holding steady at 9%, from a record low of 8.9% in 2009.
Fact: everyone is getting poorer except the Baby Boomers. Fact: the Tea Party contains a higher percentage of wealthy, white Baby Boomers than any other contemporary political organization. Fact: The Tea Party supports cutting social services for the poor, repealing health insurance reform, and restructuring Social Security for everyone but current and impending retirees. Our parents’ generation was the largest in American history. They were and still are the wealthiest. They are the single largest voting bloc and will remain so for another 20 years. They have formed a political party. If it means lower taxes, they are ready to let you die.