Following up on Tea Parties

Here are some observations on the April 15 Tea Parties.  In all the news clips, I saw not a single person of color.  I think this is because they were basically anti-Obama demonstrations with more than a tinge of racism.  These demontrations were mostly not about taxes.  They were about how President Obama is not a citizen, was not legitimately elected, and will take away your Second Amendment rights. 

Then there is the question of attendance.  Nate Silver who has been tracking this at reports his final total to be more than 300,000.  He writes

 promised that I wasn’t going to put much more work into estimating crowd sizes for yesterday’s tea party events, but here is one last update. The important thing is that we now have a credible estimate for Atlanta at 15,000 persons; we were previously relying on an estimate of 7,000 that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had initially made yesterday evening but then pulled back upon.

It’s not surprising that Atlanta had the largest turnout (in fact, the largest turnout by far, according to our collection of nonpartisan estimates). Turnout was much higher in state capitals than in other cities, and seems to have been much larger in the South than in other regions of the country. Atlanta, being by far the largest Southern state capital, therefore did very well.

His list ranges from the high point in Atlanta to 12 at the Fort Point, NY tea party.  300,000 is really not a lot of people when you think about it.  Maybe the rest of us should be glad of that.  As for the larger turnouts in the South,  I believe that Southern whites just cannot believe that a black man is really President.

So what exactly do the Republicans do with this Fox New movement?

Dan Baltz wrote in today’s Washington Post

The teabag protests that marked tax day on April 15 represent an opportunity and a risk for the Republican Party. Opportunity because they offer a jolt of energy for a battered party after two dismal elections. Risk because they supply at best only a partial answer to what ails the Republicans

For now standing back and saying no to Obama may be enough. But opposition to Obama’s policies represents an incomplete message for a party seeking to regain power. Republicans still must confront larger questions of how they can appeal nationally and how they would govern were they given the opportunity again.

Will the Republican Party try to use the issues of the Tea Parties to try to revive?  I don’t think that is the road back.  I hope and believe that Americans are beginning slowly to more past issues of race and gender.  Certainly the youngsters I see on the subway in Boston are often in mixed groups and couples are often interracial.  Maybe the race issue and the anti-Obamaism is why more people turned out in the South.  Plus we have that black president with very high approval ratings.  We will probably find out how tea parties work as a strategy when we know the results of the Kay Bailey Hutchinson v. Rick Perry (king of the Texas Tea Party) race for the Republican nomination for Texas governor.

Here are two final looks are the Tea Parties.  Tom Toles from the Washington Post

The Republicans should maybe remember Jim Jones.

And last but not least a link to Jon Stewart.

Taxes and Gay Marriage

I wrote about a lawsuit filed in Massachusetts to end the Defense of  Marriage Act back in March and yesterday Ellen Goodman published a good piece about why this is important.  Titled “A Strange Duel Citizenship”, Goodman writes

THEY ARE NOT the only married couple in America who talk about taxes and ulcers in the same sentence. Nor are they the only couple who believe they are paying more than they should. On that ground they are part of a noisy majority.

But they are a couple for whom tax season also entails an identity crisis. You see, Melba Abreu and Beatrice Hernandez file state taxes as what they are – a legally married Massachusetts couple. But under federal law, they have to file federal taxes as what they aren’t – two single women.

This identity crisis is not just some psychological blip on the cheerful landscape of their family life. In the last four years, the government’s refusal to consider them a married couple has cost the writer and the CFO of a nonprofit about $5,000 a year. As Beatrice puts it, “We don’t know anyone for whom $20,000 and counting isn’t significant.”

This is not about forcing states to choose to marry people.  It is about the simple act of recognizing legal marriages in other states.  It is not different from my straight marriage being recognized in Massachusetts even though I got married in Virginia.  Goodman concludes

So what do you say about an out-of-date law that enforces an identity crisis? What do you say about a law that “defends” marriage by denying it? The winds are blowing, but in a very different direction.

Amendment to this post

When I wrote this on Saturday morning, I hadn’t seen Stephen Colbert’s video mocking the anti-gay marriage ad – which he describes as combining the 700 Club and the Weather Channel.  Take a look.